I'm really interested in the practices of monks, one of which is being quite confined from society.

I very much respect their practices and am curious to know what fruits they bear in the Christian Church? For instance: Jesus commands us to go and make disciples. Do the Monks find themselves making disciples with newcomers in their monasteries or are there other practices which take place which build up the church?

  • This search has many "day in the life of" links. Fascinating: google.com/…
    – Steve
    Commented May 20, 2017 at 11:43
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    Welcome to the site, Oliver. It is more the individual who joins a particular monastery. Monks live their lives through their faithful example to their particular rule and holiness. St Benedict asks that entrance into to monastic community not be accorded easily, but should be tested at first to see if the future vocation is truly from God. It is a two way street.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 20, 2017 at 12:35
  • For an excellent book on this, see Dom Marmion's Christ: The Ideal of the Monk.
    – Geremia
    Commented May 20, 2017 at 16:45
  • Interesting link @Steve thanks for sharing!!!
    – Oliver K
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 7:26
  • I'm not all that familiar with all the Roman Catholic stipulations enough to give an answer, but I would say that (A) monasticism needn't be exactly the same as esotericism, and (B) one could consider monasticism the intellectual and spiritual equivalent to fasting: done regularly, it seems to have health benefits. Just take it seriously, and don't do it if you're not ready for it. Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 4:14

2 Answers 2


The Catechism of the Catholic Church has the following to say about consecrated life in general (i.e. professing vows to live in a more dedicated expression of faith, as with friars, monks, sisters, and nuns). Emphasis mine:

916 The state of consecrated life is thus one way of experiencing a "more intimate" consecration, rooted in Baptism and dedicated totally to God. In the consecrated life, Christ's faithful, moved by the Holy Spirit, propose to follow Christ more nearly, to give themselves to God who is loved above all and, pursuing the perfection of charity in the service of the Kingdom, to signify and proclaim in the Church the glory of the world to come.

926 Religious life derives from the mystery of the Church. It is a gift she has received from her Lord, a gift she offers as a stable way of life to the faithful called by God to profess the [evangelical] counsels. Thus, the Church can both show forth Christ and acknowledge herself to be the Savior's bride. Religious life in its various forms is called to signify the very charity of God in the language of our time.

927 All religious, whether exempt or not, take their place among the collaborators of the diocesan bishop in his pastoral duty. From the outset of the work of evangelization, the missionary "planting" and expansion of the Church require the presence of the religious life in all its forms. "History witnesses to the outstanding service rendered by religious families in the propagation of the faith and in the formation of new Churches: from the ancient monastic institutions to the medieval orders, all the way to the more recent congregations."

So the temporal goals of consecrated life are to:

  • Provide an example of the world to come (in terms of lifestyle, focus on God, etc)
  • Provide a stable way of life with which to practice the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience
  • Signify the charity of God in ways appropriate to the present time
  • Collaborate with their bishop to evangelize, “plant”, and expand the Church

A monk would be a type of consecrated life called an “eremitic” or “cloistered” life that does not have contact with the world and thus cannot directly evangelize or perform acts of service. The Catechism discusses that too:

The eremitic life

920 Without always professing the three evangelical counsels publicly, hermits "devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance."

921 They manifest to everyone the interior aspect of the mystery of the Church, that is, personal intimacy with Christ. Hidden from the eyes of men, the life of the hermit is a silent preaching of the Lord, to whom he has surrendered his life simply because he is everything to him. Here is a particular call to find in the desert, in the thick of spiritual battle, the glory of the Crucified One.

So the purposes of eremitic life are to:

  • Demonstrate a personal intimacy with Christ
  • Be a silent preaching of the Lord

What part do Monks play in the Christian church?

This is a great question and one that I was unaware had been posted before; otherwise I would have answered it before now.

It is more the up to the individual who joins a particular monastery is fit for them. Each monastery has a unique chrism and gifts they offer to the Church. Monks live their lives through their faithful example to their particular rule and holiness. St Benedict asks that entrance into to monastic community not be accorded easily, but should be tested at first to see if the future vocation is truly from God. It is a two way street.

This totally reminds me of the comment that G. K. Chesterton once made; it sounds more like a prophecy:

“Whenever monks come back, marriages will come back.”

As to the part monks play in the church, be that of the Catholic or Orthodox Churches is quite unique. Their most important part is contemplation and praying for the good of the Church and the salvation of souls. This is true not only of monks, but of all Catholic religious, male or female.

For example, the founder of Western Monasticism, St. Benedict is the patron saint of exorcists.

The sister of St. Benedict, St. Scholastica, is the patron saint of Patron Saint of Benedictine women's communities; school; tests; books; reading; convulsive children; nuns; and is invoked against storms and rain.

Moreover, monks provide a variety of services for the Church. They run seminaries, farms, and many other services for the Church. Above all they live a life of consecrated love of God and an example of prayer life dedicated to Almighty God.

The Abbey of Solesmes has been ask by the Holy See 🇻🇦 to preserve and restore the usage of Gregorian Chant by Pope Leo XIII. A work of love that they still maintain.

This anthology of Gregorian chants is of great interest as the contents are in liturgical order, following the principal seasons (Christmas, Holy Week, Easter, and Marian Feasts) representing the entire liturgical year. The beautiful Gregorian chant illumunates the liturgical texts, inviting the listener to contemplate the life of Christ and the foundation of the church. This overview will provide more enjoyment for the experienced listener while making a splendid introduction to the beauty of Gregorian chant for the novice. Throughout the anthology the unique interpretive insights that are the hallmark of Solesmes' recordings are carefully preserved. In the late 19th century, Pope Leo XIII charged the Abbey of Solesmes with the restoration and preservation of Gregorian Chant according to the original 10th-11th century manuscripts. The care and zeal with which the monks undertook this mission quickly extended the Abbey’s influence beyond Europe. Their goal: that Gregorian Chant be available to all people so they may “pray with the help of beauty” (Pop St. Pius X). Today, the Abbey continues to be a vibrant source of research and liturgical prayer with their library of over 200,000 volumes, and a musical palaeography workshop second only to the Vatican. But above all, Solesmes is a living community of Benedictine monks searching for God and sharing their spirituality, community life, and heritage. - GREGORIAN CHANT ANTHOLOGY

Westminster Abbey, Mission, BC is a great example of a Benedictine community not only trying to educate seminarians in a seminary, but also forming a generation of saints through prayer, sacrifice and religious discipline.

St. Gregory's Abbey in Shawnee, Oklahoma ran a university for a number of years, before closing in 2017.

Although not truly monks but rather friars, some Capuchins run a soup kitchen. In the rule of St. Benedictine monks are also to feed the poor and bury the dead. I can go on and on, if one wishes.

They also give the faithful an amazing example of fidelity towards God, how to pray, fast and be charitable towards one’s neighbor.

The monk does what is asked of him so that I all things God may be glorified. This has become the motto of Benedictine monks the world over.

Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus.

  • I assume you will be adding info here?
    – 007
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 1:50
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    @Kris I am working on a new iPad and things are a little different for me.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 2:03

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