Monastic life has drawn men and women throughout the ages. Those drawn to the monastic way of life find in it the way in which they are able to most authentically be who they were created by God to be. The life of a monk is one of a twofold discovery—discovery of God and self. The man seeking admittance to monastic life at Mount Michael will petition the Abbot to be able to seek God through the life of this particular monastery. A vocation to Mt. Michael Abbey is a very specific vocation within the life of the church. Not only is it a vocation to live the monastic style of life, but it is also particularized by the call to the monastic style of life as expressed by the monks of Mt. Michael.
The monastic life lived at Mt. Michael is formed by the great tradition of monastic life that stretches all the way back to the times of the early centuries after the life of Christ. Throughout the ages, monastic life has been shaped by certain individuals and communities; the monks of Mt. Michael continue in this tradition of taking the manner of monastic life lived by our forefathers and shaping it to the world of today.
Certain aspects of monastic life are generally unchanged and consistent throughout the ages. First and foremost among them is a commitment to seeking God. God becomes the center of the monk’s life. Another consistent aspect of monastic life is community. The monk seeks God within and through a specific community life. Even monks who are called to a greater amount of solitude through the monastic life of a hermit are always connected to and formed by a particular community. Community is one of the chief blessings of the monastic life. Similar but not identical to family life, community life supports the individual monk in many ways. The community supports the monk in a way that frees him to focus on seeking and serving God without having to worry about the concerns of meeting the basic needs of life. At the same time life in community gives the monk a sense of purpose as each monk through his prayer and work contributes the community’s ability to support each other.
Community life is full of opportunities to love and be loved by others in a fraternal manner. The love the monks show one another helps them align themselves to the commandment of Christ to “love one another as I have loved you.” Jn 13:34. This love is shown in mutual acts of service, through moments of recreation and joy, and especially through forgiveness.
At Mt. Michael the life of the monk is a cherished life reflecting the gospel value of love of God and neighbor. The monks of Mt. Michael free themselves through a communal life to allow the generative love of God help them reach out to meet the needs of the church and world in which they center themselves.
A Declaration on Benedictine Monastic Life for the Monasteries of the Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation