In general, there are three states of life for members of the Catholic Church: clergy, religious, and laity. The clergy are men who have been ordained. They have received the sacrament of Holy Orders. They are deacons, priests and bishops. Religious are men and women who have professed vows. Men religious are called monks or friars depending upon their religious order. Benedictines are monks. Franciscans, Dominicans, Carm- elites and Augustinians are friars. There are many others who are not monks or friars, such as Jesuits. Monks and friars may also be ordained. They may be deacons, priests or bishops. These men are both clerical and religious. An ordained priest who is not a religious is a diocesan priest. An ordained priest who is a monk or a friar is a religious priest. So are the others, like the Jesuits. The Benedictine monk-priest is different from a diocesan priest in that he has taken monastic vows. Because of these vows he belongs to a community of monks and lives like they do. He is celibate. He does not own anything, and his superior is the abbot. When a monk-priest and a diocesan priest do parish work, they may look alike because they do similar work. But their way of life is different. The following explain the differences further: belonging, community, property and celibacy. Belonging: A monk-priest is a member of his monastery, which is usually called an abbey. His superior is the abbot. In consultation with the monk and the needs of the abbey, the monk receives his assignment from the abbot. It may be administrative work at the abbey. It could be mechanical or maintenance work. It could be helping form new members, being vocation director, or doing farm work. On the other hand, the monk may seek further education. If he is qualified, he may be involved in education. Depending on the needs of the church, the monk-priest may do pastoral work. When a monk-priest does pastoral work, he is appointed to that position by the bishop, with the approval of the abbot. If a monk is working outside the monastery, the abbot can always call him back to the monastery, taking into consideration the time needed to replace him. A diocesan priest belongs to a diocese. His superior is the bishop. He will normally work in a parish, or in a diocesan institution, such as a catholic school. If he wishes, he may be assigned to other areas of work, such as a military chaplain, teacher, or administrative work. Community: A monk-priest belongs to an abbey. Such a community consists of priests and brothers. But all are monks and all live the same monastic manner of life. The Liturgy of the Hours are prayed together. Meals are in common. They may work together. The financial ups and downs of the monastery are shared by all the monks. A diocesan priest does not belong to a religious community. He considers the parish as part of his community. In addition, his friends, especially priest friends, and the priests gathered in community around the bishop are his community. The diocesan priest desires to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with others, such as parishioners or other priests, but normally he prays it alone. His finances are under his own control. Property: A monk-priest owns nothing. He does not have property in his name. The car he drives belongs to the abbey. The monk-priest’s salary check is made out to the abbey. It is used to educate younger monks, maintain the abbey buildings, care for the elderly monks, etc. He receives from the abbey what money he needs, keeping with monastic simplicity. A diocesan priest personally owns what he has. The car he drives is his. His salary check is made out in his name. He is called to live a simple life. He pays taxes. Celibacy: Celibacy is an integral part of a monk-priest’s vocation. It cannot be changed. It is part of his fundamental consecration to God. His celibacy is not tied to a church precept, but to the very nature of his vocation. Celibacy is also basic to a diocesan priest. But that is due to church precept. If priests would ever be allowed to get married, it would only apply to diocesan priests. It would not apply to monks or to other religious priests.
Here are some answers to two questions very often asked by persons interested in monastic life.
Monastic Life? What is the difference between Monastic and Diocesan Priesthood?
What do Monks do all day?
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The two most important activities of monks are praying together (The Liturgy of the Hours) and praying alone. Communal prayer along with Mass takes about three hours a day. A monk is to devote an hour a day to private prayer — reading the Bible, reflection on its meaning and personal prayer. Beyond this prayer is the regular work that needs to be done to earn a living and maintain our life. The work we do is divided into two aspects: work at the abbey and work outside the abbey. Work at the abbey: Here at Assumption Abbey, monks work an average of six hours a day. Along with communal and private prayer, meals and some time to socialize with each other, we have a full day. Our work might be anything from business office accounting to maintenance of our buldings and grounds. We believe that sound spiritual living requires a balanced life. A monk who does not work lives an unhealthy spiritual life. As a guide, the ancient Rule of St. Benedict tells monks, “if the circumstances of the abbey, or their poverty, should require that monks themselves to do the work of gathering the harvest, let them not be discontented; for they are true monks who live by the labor of their hands.” The abbot assigns the work, balancing the needs of the abbey with the talents of the individual monk. Sometimes these dovetail nicely. More often, generosity and fortitude on the part of the monk is required for necessary tasks to be done. Monastic life is fueled by charity, and nowhere can this be seen in more concrete fashion than in service to the community in work. For example, nobody is exempt from doing dishes or pots and pans. Humble tasks, such as cleaning bathrooms and washing floors, are done by all — priests and brothers, the elderly and the younger. Maintenance work requires muscle and many skills, and fortunately there are monks with both. Administration and business concerns require sharp minds and good judgment. Fostering vocations to monastic life, teaching and helping new members adjust to monastic life need training and skill. Planning for the future and doing all the things necessary to operate the abbey require knowledge and hard work. In addition to the above mentioned things, here at the abbey monks tend gardens, mow lawns, shovel snow, trim trees, pick fruit in the orchard, make soap, wash laundry, conduct tours, welcome guests and groups and see to their needs, answer phones, clean windows, bake bread, maintain cars and trucks, paint walls, maintain boilers and electricity, and do many, many other essential things. Most of the monks have multiple jobs. In fact, at Assumption Abbey, monks are so insistent upon doing their own work that there are very few employees on the payroll. Work outside the abbey: The second aspect of our work is work done outside the abbey. In brief these are employed as hospital chaplains, convent chaplains, teachers and pastors. At present, several monks work outside the abbey. Assumption Abbey also has a satellite community in Bogotá, Colombia, where the monks maintain two schools.
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In general, there are three states of life for members of the Catholic Church: clergy, religious, and laity. The clergy are men who have been ordained. They have received the sacrament of Holy Orders. They are deacons, priests and bishops. Religious are men and women who have professed vows. Men religious are called monks or friars depending upon their religious order. Benedictines are monks. Franciscans, Dominicans, Carm- elites and Augustinians are friars. There are many others who are not monks or friars, such as Jesuits. Monks and friars may also be ordained. They may be deacons, priests or bishops. These men are both clerical and religious. An ordained priest who is not a religious is a diocesan priest. An ordained priest who is a monk or a friar is a religious priest. So are the others, like the Jesuits. The Benedictine monk-priest is different from a diocesan priest in that he has taken monastic vows. Because of these vows he belongs to a community of monks and lives like they do. He is celibate. He does not own anything, and his superior is the abbot. When a monk-priest and a diocesan priest do parish work, they may look alike because they do similar work. But their way of life is different. The following explain the differences further: belonging, community, property and celibacy. Belonging: A monk-priest is a member of his monastery, which is usually called an abbey. His superior is the abbot. In consultation with the monk and the needs of the abbey, the monk receives his assignment from the abbot. It may be administrative work at the abbey. It could be mechanical or maintenance work. It could be helping form new members, being vocation director, or doing farm work. On the other hand, the monk may seek further education. If he is qualified, he may be involved in education. Depending on the needs of the church, the monk-priest may do pastoral work. When a monk-priest does pastoral work, he is appointed to that position by the bishop, with the approval of the abbot. If a monk is working outside the monastery, the abbot can always call him back to the monastery, taking into consideration the time needed to replace him. A diocesan priest belongs to a diocese. His superior is the bishop. He will normally work in a parish, or in a diocesan institution, such as a catholic school. If he wishes, he may be assigned to other areas of work, such as a military chaplain, teacher, or administrative work. Community: A monk-priest belongs to an abbey. Such a community consists of priests and brothers. But all are monks and all live the same monastic manner of life. The Liturgy of the Hours are prayed together. Meals are in common. They may work together. The financial ups and downs of the monastery are shared by all the monks. A diocesan priest does not belong to a religious community. He considers the parish as part of his community. In addition, his friends, especially priest friends, and the priests gathered in community around the bishop are his community. The diocesan priest desires to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with others, such as parishioners or other priests, but normally he prays it alone. His finances are under his own control. Property: A monk-priest owns nothing. He does not have property in his name. The car he drives belongs to the abbey. The monk-priest’s salary check is made out to the abbey. It is used to educate younger monks, maintain the abbey buildings, care for the elderly monks, etc. He receives from the abbey what money he needs, keeping with monastic simplicity. A diocesan priest personally owns what he has. The car he drives is his. His salary check is made out in his name. He is called to live a simple life. He pays taxes. Celibacy: Celibacy is an integral part of a monk-priest’s vocation. It cannot be changed. It is part of his fundamental consecration to God. His celibacy is not tied to a church precept, but to the very nature of his vocation. Celibacy is also basic to a diocesan priest. But that is due to church precept. If priests would ever be allowed to get married, it would only apply to diocesan priests. It would not apply to monks or to other religious priests.
Monastic Life? What is the difference between Monastic and Diocesan Priesthood?
What do Monks do all day?
The two most important activities of monks are praying together (The Liturgy of the Hours) and praying alone. Communal prayer along with Mass takes about three hours a day. A monk is to devote an hour a day to private prayer — reading the Bible, reflection on its meaning and personal prayer. Beyond this prayer is the regular work that needs to be done to earn a living and maintain our life. The work we do is divided into two aspects: work at the abbey and work outside the abbey. Work at the abbey: Here at Assumption Abbey, monks work an average of six hours a day. Along with communal and private prayer, meals and some time to socialize with each other, we have a full day. Our work might be anything from business office accounting to maintenance of our buldings and grounds. We believe that sound spiritual living requires a balanced life. A monk who does not work lives an unhealthy spiritual life. As a guide, the ancient Rule of St. Benedict tells monks, “if the circumstances of the abbey, or their poverty, should require that monks themselves to do the work of gathering the harvest, let them not be discontented; for they are true monks who live by the labor of their hands.” The abbot assigns the work, balancing the needs of the abbey with the talents of the individual monk. Sometimes these dovetail nicely. More often, generosity and fortitude on the part of the monk is required for necessary tasks to be done. Monastic life is fueled by charity, and nowhere can this be seen in more concrete fashion than in service to the community in work. For example, nobody is exempt from doing dishes or pots and pans. Humble tasks, such as cleaning bathrooms and washing floors, are done by all — priests and brothers, the elderly and the younger. Maintenance work requires muscle and many skills, and fortunately there are monks with both. Administration and business concerns require sharp minds and good judgment. Fostering vocations to monastic life, teaching and helping new members adjust to monastic life need training and skill. Planning for the future and doing all the things necessary to operate the abbey require knowledge and hard work. In addition to the above mentioned things, here at the abbey monks tend gardens, mow lawns, shovel snow, trim trees, pick fruit in the orchard, make soap, wash laundry, conduct tours, welcome guests and groups and see to their needs, answer phones, clean windows, bake bread, maintain cars and trucks, paint walls, maintain boilers and electricity, and do many, many other essential things. Most of the monks have multiple jobs. In fact, at Assumption Abbey, monks are so insistent upon doing their own work that there are very few employees on the payroll. Work outside the abbey: these are employed as hospital chaplains, convent chaplains, teachers and pastors. At present, several monks work outside the abbey. Assumption Abbey also has a satellite community in Bogotá, Colombia, where the monks maintain two schools.
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Phone (701) 974 3315 Address PO Box A Richardton, ND 58601