II. The Mystery of Cenobitic Monastic Life

Not to us, Lord, not to us give the glory, but to your name alone.

Together with all other Christians, we who follow the Rule of Saint Benedict rejoice that we share in the mysteries of redeemed creation. Called by our loving Creator, we desire to walk in God’s presence, to be adopted children in the Spirit, and to live in the pattern of Jesus Christ humbled even to crucifixion, now risen and glorified. Firmly rooted in the fertile earth from which we come and on which we live, we humbly accept both the gifts and the limitations of our human condition. We have chosen the monastic environment in order to be formed in our search for God by the gospel and the Rule of Saint Benedict, by a living tradition, and by community customs.

Our way of discipleship is summed up in the twelve degrees of humility. With eagerness for the work of God, for obedience and for trials, we desire to be stripped of any false identity so that our conformity to Christ may be more clearly revealed. We strive together for fidelity in our personal dying and rising, believing that we encounter the incarnate Lord in the ordinary events and relationships of daily monastic living. Difficult and burdensome though our nature may find this way, we learn to see with faith beyond time to eternity. We come to know and experience the joy and peace of a life in union with others whose prayer and example are mutually sustaining.

The Spirit bestows gifts on us in the word of God and the sacraments of the Church and in the more intimate circles of community life, worship, and ministry. We are thus set free to seek God who in love draws near US. Whoever perseveres in this quest will discover the truth of Benedict’s promise: with hearts expanded, it is possible to run the way of God with inexpressible sweetness of love.


Wherever we may be, we are in the service of the same Lord. May he bring us all together to everlasting life.

A community of Benedictine women is constituted and continues in existence as long as individual Christians respond to God’s call to a cenobitic monastic way of life. It is within such a community that our lifelong search for God takes place. We are guided and sustained in our quest by the gospel, the Rule of Saint Benedict, and the General and Specific Norms of the Federation of Saint Benedict and Its Member Monasteries, 1987 and subsequent revisions in 2000.

The prioress by her love and service is the spiritual leader in the community, a visible sign of Christ’s presence. Directed by the gospel, the Rule, and these norms, she carries out her role of unifying, teaching, healing, and administering. She encourages discerning leadership among all the members, and herself exemplifies courage, gentleness, and discretion. She seeks to foster an atmosphere conducive to personal growth. With freedom and integrity, she is open to developing ministries and to continuing traditional works.

As persons committed to live a common life under the Rule of Saint Benedict and a prioress, we challenge each other to develop our gifts and live joyfully and responsibly. Mutual love and esteem for one another urge us to become what we are called to be, one in Christ. Living in community can be a prophetic sign of communion with God and of peace among all peoples.

Monastic Profession

I have come not to do my own will. Do not disappoint me in my hope.

By the grace of God we are committed in baptism to a life of faith, hope, and love. Monastic profession opens us further to this mystery of life in God begun in baptism. In daily living we seek and find God through the threefold promise of stability, conversatio and obedience. Christian monastic tradition holds that celibate chastity and monastic poverty are also indispensable to the common life.


God’s own fidelity empowers us to remain in divine love and in solidarity with one another through our commitment to stability. Divine mercy is mediated to us in a community where the reconciling ministry of Jesus is realized through loving confrontation, both affirinative and corrective. When we profess stability, we promise to persevere in our search for God, and to assume mutual responsibility for cherishing the ideals of the Rule of Saint Benedict and the tradition and customs of our particular monastery.


This life to which we are professed is, itself an expression of the paschal mystery. We enter into the dying of Jesus that we may rise with him by embracing a life of monasticconversatio. We live out our promise of fidelity to the monastic way of life through daily acceptance of our human condition and steadfast dedication to community life. Experience of God’s healing prompts us again and again to turn to our Creator. Relying on faithful love, we are gradually transformed.


United by the bond of stability, we listen attentively to the Spirit present in God’s word, in the prioress, in one another, in the Church, and in society today. Imitating Christ even to his death, we strive by the toil of obedience to incline our hearts freely to carry out God’s will. Obedience to one another in community is authentic when rooted in obedience to God.

As the Spirit draws us into the intimacy of divine life, we grow in love for God and one another. Close personal union with Jesus is at the heart of celibate chastity; it is the basis for our friendships and all our human relationships. Celibate love is expressed in warm, nongenital affection, and respect.

The recognition that all we are and have comes ftom a generous, provident God is essential to our observance of monastic poverty. With reverence for creation we hold goods in common and strive for simplicity of life and responsible stewardship. Monastic poverty is both a sign and means of unity and peace in Benedictine life.

We are humbly aware that our monastic profession is only a beginning of that perfection to which we are called by the gospel and the Rule. We believe that together with all who have good zeal and joy in the Spirit, we are hastening to the heavenly homeland which God has prepared for those who live in divine love.


Nothing is to be preferred to the work of God.

Faithful to the rhythm of communal prayer established in the Rule of Saint Benedict, we center our worship in the liturgy. Allowing the word of God to resonate in the Liturgy of the Hours, we give voice to all creation. We praise God with the beauty of sound and silence, movement and sacred space. Jesus Christ himself is present in the people gathered for worship, in Scripture, in the sacraments, and in the ministers. It is especially in the Eucharist that Jesus the Lord is among us. This sacred remembrance of the presence of God is the integrating force for all dimensions of our life as Benedictine women.

Out of fidelity to monastic tradition, we value Scripture as our primary source for lectio divina and reflective prayer. In pondering and celebrating the Word, we receive the life-giving presence of Christ. This Word creates a contemplative dimension which opens us to the Spirit who unceasingly prays in us. Promptings of the Spirit come to us in our daily community life, in the providential unfolding of events, in communal celebrations of reconciliation and anointing, and in moments of shared prayer. To the degree that we allow the indwelling Spirit to direct our prayer through lectio divina, study, silence, and contemplation, our hearts will be in harmony with our voices.

The call to pray requires both external and internal self-discipline, as well as the support and example of the community. A diligent pursuit of order and inner stillness, and of leisure cultivated for the sake of prayer, merits priority in our personal lives.


All guests are to be welcomed as Christ.

Benedictine hospitality has its roots in the example and teaching of Jesus. Following him we team to identify with the stranger, especially the poor, the oppressed, the afflicted, and the needy. In accord with the Rule of Saint Benedict and our traditions, we receive guests with gracious respect and joyful service. Those with whom we associate daily have special claim on our hospitality.

Hospitality means sharing what we have, who we are, and what we value. We invite our guests to be with us to listen to the Word of God in community prayer, to celebrate Eucharist, to sham our common table, and to enjoy monastic peace. Guests in turn enrich the community as they help us discover anew the face of Christ and extend the boundaries of our love and concern.


When they live by the labor of their hands, then they are really monastic.

These are the tools of the spiritual craft used in the enclosure of the monastery.

Within the redemptive mission of the Church, our primary work as a community of Benedictine women is to seek God in a life of prayer and service. The Rule of Saint Benedict, while specifying no particular work, affirms both manual and intellectual work as essential to monastic life. Furthermore, our work includes cultivation of the arts in our monastic environs while safeguarding the balance of prayer, labor, and leisure.

The grace of preferring nothing to Christ impels us to hear God’s call manifested in the needs of the local Church. We minister to these needs as they become apparent and as our gifts and resources allow. In our ministries we seek to be a humanizing influence on our culture. ‘Bus we offer hope to those in need as we spend ourselves to advance the Kingdom of God on earth.

Next: III – Mystery of our Mission in the World
Appendix: Sources