The Benedictine Monastic Vocation

Saint Benedict window, Sacred Heart Monastery

All vocations in the Church are rooted in the universal call of all baptized Christians to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Risen Savior. The bishops of the Second Vatican Council wrote of this call in Lumen Gentium: “Each disciple of Christ has the obligation of spreading the faith to the best of his [or her] ability” (17). Each vocation within the Church, including the monastic vocation, offers a unique way of fulfilling that sacred obligation with the grace that God supplies through the Holy Spirit.

Monastic women and men who follow the Rule of St. Benedict belong to a 1,500-year tradition of seeking God and witnessing to Christ through a lifelong commitment to prayer and community living. Inevitably, this vowed life overflows into a wide variety of works and forms of service that respond to the needs of specific social and cultural environments. Unlike apostolic communities that were founded in later centuries to perform specific kinds of service within the Church, Benedictine monastic communities have served the People of God for over fifteen centuries in a wide variety of ways, including education, health care, agriculture, hospitality, social and pastoral services, and advocacy for the poor.

Whatever forms of work monastic women and men undertake, our lives are ultimately committed to the search for God within the context of community and to being transformed by the Word of God. We have dedicated ourselves to daily celebration of communal prayer through the Liturgy of the Hours and Eucharist and to personal prayer with Sacred Scripture.

Saint Scholastica statue, Sacred Heart MonasteryThe monastic profession formula of Benedictine men and women predates by several centuries the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience which are taken by those in other religious congregations.  The profession formula was established by St. Benedict himself in Chapter 58 of his Rule.   In the presence of God, the saints, and the gathered community Benedictine novices "promise stability, fidelity to the monastic way of life, and obedience."

Stability is the dimension of monastic profession that keeps members of the community connected to each other through the many phases and tonalities of life. It is a life-long commitment to seek God with and within a particular community of men or women.  The local monastic community of one's profession remains one's community for life. 

Fidelity to the monastic life is a daily commitment to the whole of the monastic enterprise, its challenges and its blessings. This promise presupposes both poverty and celibacy as essential elements of a vowed monastic life.  The commitment is to a lifetime of continual conversion of heart effected through immersion in Sacred Scripture, in liturgy, and life in monastic community.  

Detail from Benedictine Medal image in clerestory window, Sacred Heart Monastery Chapel

Monastic obedience imitates the humble submission of Christ to the will of the Father by recognizing the wisdom and authority of the Rule, the Prioress or Abbot, and the community.

The distinctiveness of the Benedictine vocation is best exemplified by the profession promises that are unique to monastics: stability and fidelity to the monastic way of life.  This commitment to seek God within a particular community for a lifetime, along with fidelity to the unique demands and graces of the monastic way of life, give the Benedictine vocation its distinctive character. 

If you wish to learn more about the monastic vocation as it is expressed in our Benedictine community, we welcome you to contact us.

Sister Karen Ann Lortscher, OSB; Director of Vocation Ministry

Sister Magdalena Craig, OSB; Vocation Team

Sister Michelle St. Marie, OSB; Vocation Team

(256) 734-2199

vocations [at] shmon.org