Becoming a monk

Calling from God ?

Those who are thinking about a monastic life usually start by staying at the monastery's hostel. After an initial contact with the guest master, they can ask to meet the Novice Master or the Abbot.
It is through dialogue with them that they will be able to recognise if their desire comes from an authentic calling from God.

abbaye bretonne morbihan
« The monk is like any other Christian: he carries out the energies of his baptism, and through the grace of the Holy Spirit, prepares for the ultimate accomplishment that is eternal life. Evidently, the monk's path is steeper than most : his forsaking of material life is obvious. However it is eage
rness that characterises monastic life, the eagerness that comes from love. »
Dom Robert Le Gall, abbot of Kergonan from 1983 until 2001, The Spirit of Saint Benedict for all, Cahier de l'école cathédrale n. 17, Paris, 1995, pages 63-64.

« Let not an easy entrance be granted to one who cometh newly to Religious life. »
We will examine the candidate to see «whether he truly seeks God, and is eager for the Work of God, for obedience and for humiliation. »
Saint Benedict, Rule of the monks, chapter 58.

« In Benedictine life, one aptitude is mostly needed : the inner ability to sanctify oneself. And this aptitude exists when we are determined to develop the energies of our baptism. » Dom Paul Delatte, abbot of Solesmes, Commentary on the Rule of Saint Benedict, (1913), p. 426.

« A monk must be a well balanced person. According the word of Saint Benedict, he must sincerely seek God, must be able to live in a group, simply and compassionately. He must also have strong virtues, and must be able to serve generously and with his heart, he must be humble and gentle and above all, he must have the desire to convert himself and to learn. » Thomas Merton

Trial period

After a few stays at the abbey, the novice master usually suggests a trial period at the noviciate. For one to three weeks, the candidate shares the life of the young trainee brothers.
Here are the different stages of the formation of a monk:

•    The candidate is first called a Postulant (= the one who asks) : for 1 to 2 years, he receives a basic initiation to the monastic life and starts learning Latin, Gregorian chant, the liturgical life and community life.

•    If he perseveres, he is admitted as a Novice (= the new one, the apprentice) : for 1 to 1 and a half years, he is directly prepared to the vows ; the formation mostly relates to the Rule and spirituality of Saint Benedict, the liturgy, the history of monasticism.

•    At the end of the noviciate, the novice can be admitted by the abbot, who consults the novice master and the community by vote, to make his temporary profession. The temporary profession is for a duration of three years and can be renewed. The novice then becomes a junior monk. He first stays under the leadership of the novice master and is later integrated into the community.

•    The monk in temporary vows can then be admitted by the abbot to profess his permanent vows. This is the Solemn Profession, after which the junior monk finally becomes a monk, with full voting rights in the chapter house.

•    The Holy Orders (deaconship or priesthood) are received, for those called by the abbot, at an opportune moment, either after the theological studies or later.

devenir benedictinThe novice Master

It is at the end of this first stage, which usually spreads out over a year that the candidate can be admitted at the monastery as a postulant. He then enters the formation and discernment stage during which he is prepared for the vows (temporary profession, solemn profession) and possibly for the Holy Orders (deaconship, priesthood).

> You could contact The novice master or The Abbort to discuss about your vocation.