Individuals “hear” this call in different ways, and not normally as a result of any great vision or revelation! God speaks with a “still, small voice of calm.” Perhaps phrases like “tune into” or “pick out” would be more accurate for most of us. For we have to listen carefully to the Holy Spirit in the depth of our heart, against a background of a lot of other noise and disturbance.
There are often two indicators that can be made out. One is negative: a fundamental dissatisfaction with a person’s present life and activities. Not because it is bad, but it just isn’t your true work, however lucrative or highly esteemed by others. You just get a sense that there is something more that you are being called to than what you are presently doing. The other is positive: a definite desire to follow Jesus and do his will, even though it may be unclear for the time being what he wants you to do. In some sense, the very fact you are reading this shows you are already somewhat interested in learning what this “monk” thing is all about.
We will almost certainly feel hesitant, because we will be unsure what is going on. As we monks can tell you, you will soon see that we cannot answer the call with our own resources. God is at work, and we are utterly inadequate without his help and encouragement. In fact, this is where the Holy Spirit comes in. He helps us answer God’s call. If we want to respond, we must ask for the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is always with us too, and he will help us through the sacraments as well as through other people.
The process of introduction to Subiaco Abbey begins with communication between Br. Francis or Fr. Elijah and yourself. We suggest a visit or two to the abbey. Simply tell Brother or Father that you’d like to talk or learn more about this way of life as a monk. As a regular practice, we make available the first weekend of every month for men interested in this way of life to visit and live with us. You can click on the “Vocation Visit” link to learn more about this. For those that prefer to come with a group for a longer period, we have an annual “Come and See Monastic Discernment Retreat.” For five days, you pray, work, and live among us to get a feel of the monastic vocation.
As you move along in discerning if Subiaco Abbey is the place where God is leading you, then you apply for entrance into our formation program, which lasts four and a half years, until solemn profession. New candidates enter the abbey in September or February for a period of six months. This is a time for testing the waters and experiencing monastic life up close. At the end of that time, you are voted upon by the community before entering your novitiate. This next step is moving deeper into the monastic life with a year long immersion into our way of life. Towards the end of this novitiate year you are voted upon again by the community and, if accepted, make first profession of vows for a period of three years. This gives ample time to live in community and be certain that this is where you can best serve God. Another vote by your fellow monks at the end of your three years determines if you can proceed to solemn profession.
In a powerful ceremony that takes place during Mass, you pronounce your vows and intone the words of Psalm 119: “Sustain me, O Lord, as You have promised, that I may live, and disappoint me not in my hope.” When you have lived the monastic life fully for some years, you realize how responsive God is to that petition — He generously rewards you, never disappointing you in your hope and expectations.
So, if you feel God might be calling you to monastic life at Subiaco, then contact Brother Francis or Fr. Elijah to speak further. Their contact information is at the bottom of this page. Stop by and spend some time with us to see if God might be calling you to become a monk at Subiaco Abbey. We would be honored to chat with you!