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.