Thoughts for Reflection from Benedictine & Monastic Authors

Day by Day

Life Lessons from the Monastery image

Guests and Newcomers

“St. Benedict makes it difficult for newcomers to enter the monastery. He is straightforward about this practice, beginning in chapter 58 on “The Procedure for Receiving Brothers,” with this admonition: “Do not grant newcomers to the monastic life an easy entry, but, as the Apostle says, ‘Test the spirits to see if they are from God” (1 John 4:1). Then he keeps the newcomers knocking for four or five days to test their patience and perseverance. This seems quite at odds with his open-arms approach to the stranger in chapter 53 on receiving guests.
But for both the random guest and the monastic seeker, Benedict has their best interests at heart. Occasional guests need to be assured of acceptance because of their inherent worth as children of God (as Christ), but applicants to the monastery, who are also received as Christ, must be reminded immediately of the seriousness of what they are asking. Benedict is not making entry hard for them because of some prejudice about their social status or race. Each applicant receives the same treatment as any other. Later, as monks, they will continue to be treated fairly, ranked in the community not on the basis of their age, family, education, or social rank but simply by their date of entrance.
Benedict wants the newcomers to know that they are asking for something that will change their whole lives. If they decide to stay and commit themselves as Benedictine monks, from that day every decision they make will be affected by their monastic profession.”  Pg 63

From:  Life Lessons from the Monastery
by Jerome Kodell, OSB

Click Book to Purchase.