Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Benedictine monk or nun?
A Benedictine monk or nun is one who lives in a monastery in the spirit of the rule of Saint Benedict.
What is a monastery?
A monastery is a center of Christian living, where we live together in charity, devoted to prayer, study, and good works.
What does it mean to lead a life of prayer?
A life of prayer is a life dedicated to seeking God in everything and offering it entirely to Him. The prayer of the monks and nuns is expressed in community by a peaceful chanting of the mass and the Hours, which bring them together in church in the early morning, at midday, and in the evening.
Their prayer is also expressed silently in the quiet of their room, in the garden, in the workshops, or in fact wherever they may be. Their prayer should lead them to perfect union with God in charity, and this should overflow in love for all humanity and all creation.
Do monks and nuns work?
Yes, there is a rich variety of monastic work. Many Benedictine Abbeys have schools, so their work would naturally have an academic character. Abbeys without schools have to develop an art, literature, or industry, in order to support themselves and make their monastery economically viable. Therefore, the work may be either administrative, artistic, literacy, domestic, or agricultural.
Do monks and nuns study?
Yes, their studies include a prayerful reading of the scriptures and the spiritual writers and any study which is useful to themselves and to society. A monastery always contains a library, often numbering many thousands of books on a variety of subjects.
What is an apostolate?
The apostolate of monks and nuns in an apostolate of presence, witness, and service. They build their monasteries on the hills, or in the valleys, as fortresses of the fiat, and lanterns of light, always present to all around them. There they bear witness down the centuries as the first Christian monk bore witness to the Lamb of God and the Light of the world. And there they remain at the service of all who come to them for help, comfort, and instruction.
What is the Benedictine Confederation?
The Benedictine Confederation is not a centralized Order governed from Rome or Monte Cassino and spreading outwards from there to all parts of the world. It is built up from below by individual and autonomous Abbeys, which are the units of the great structure. These units are loosely grouped together in what are called Congregations.
These Congregations are groups of Abbeys united to help one another in their monastic observance and to preserve the tranquility of order. At a still higher level, these groups of Abbeys are united in a non-legislative assembly called the Benedictine Confederation. But it all builds up from below.
What makes your Abbey special?
Each Abbey in the Confederation has its own individual history, its own traditions, and customs and its own works. All Benedictine monks live according to the spirit of the Rule of Saint Benedict, but they interpret it differently and accommodate their timetable and the details of their life to suit the work they have to do and the environment in which they live. In answer to the questions: How do you live? Each community would have to reply: Come and see.
What roles are defined in the Abbey?
So that things may run smoothly, the Abbot of the monastery appoints officials to administer the variety of work that has to be done during the day. These officials very often have assistants to help them, so that the work may be shared. They are broken down into the following roles:
The Precentor is responsible for all the music, the singing and the readings in the church.
The Cellarer looks after the temporal administration of the house and estate.
The Bursar keeps the accounts and pays the wages of the workmen employed by the Abbey.
The Guestmaster receives the guests and shows them a generous hospitality.
The Novicemaster has care of the novices, and teaches them how to be monks.
The Infirmarian looks after the sick, and calls in the Doctor when necessary.
The Librarian is in charge of the library and its contents.
The Headmaster is appointed to oversee the school, if one exists in the community.
The above contents have been adapted from information from Rev. Dom Alban Léotaud - Prinknash Abbey