A Declaration on Benedictine Monastic Life
for the Monasteries of the
Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation

Adopted 1975 by the General Chapter with changes approved in 2005.

Part I: The Mystery of the Monastic Life D 1-10

A. The Trinity

1 Pt. 2:9
Col. 1:13
Eph. 1:3-5
1 Cor. 12:4-11

Gal. 4:6
Rom. 8:15

RB Prologue 22

D1 Benedictine monastic life is rooted in the mystery of the revealing God. The Father calls his children out of darkness into the light of the divine Son, bestowing the gift of the Spirit. The monk hears the Father calling him personally and cries out "Abba, Father" like every Christian, opening his heart to the particular demands of this beckoning love. Through Christ, the Spirit imparts a variety of gifts to those called by the Father. The monastic life springs up from within this Christian mystery in response to a particular gift which accompanies the Father's call. C3,4
Jn. 1:14
Phil. 2:5-11; 3:10-11
Heb. 5:7ff.; 10:16
Gal. 4:19

RB Prologue:20, 50
LG 5

D2 The Triune God reveals himself in the space and time of human history. The Father creates the world for human beings and continues to create by calling them into a covenant with himself. He spoke through the prophets, and then he revealed himself in his own Son, a model of faithful obedience and humble surrender to the will of the Father. All God's revelation is finally Word made flesh, and monks, with other Christians, are summoned to bring Christ to birth in themselves by the power of the Holy Spirit. Their response to the Father's call is life in a monastic community under a rule and an abbot. They strive to live out their vocation to holiness with their brothers, so that by perseverance in the monastery, all may learn to participate in the passion of Christ and together be made sharers in His kingdom.
B. The Church

RB 71
LG 1, 41, 44. 46

D3 The monk is first a member of the Church, the larger community of faith. Baptism is his first public Christian response to the Word of God. Each Christian accepts the initial invitation and then seeks prayerfully to learn its special meaning in his own life. How does the Father want me to serve? How will my life reveal God's love and promote his glory? When the monk joins a community, it is not in answer to a different call, but because the original word to him is understood in a new way. He senses the Spirit leading him along the path of obedience in community. His membership in the Church remains the same, but his role changes. By binding himself to his brothers in following Christ, the monk enters a covenant within the Covenant. The life he lives as a Christian is sacramental, a sign to the world of Christ's victory; it will be a sign from within this community, a shared witness to the kingdom. The community of monks becomes a focus of the Church as a sacrament of Christ.

1 Thess. 5:17

SC 2. 10
PC 7,9
LG 9
RB 19:2; 43:3

D4 The community finds and expresses its unity in the liturgy, the summit of the Church's activity and the source of her power. The monk's day is anchored by the Liturgy of the Hours. Coming together at regular times to pray, monks testify to the importance of prayer in their life. The hours set the tone for a contemplative spirit and support the monk's desire to pray always. At the center of the Church's sacramental life is the Eucharist. Here, above all, the Church appears as a sign of unity, peace and salvation for the whole world. In this climax of worship around the altar, all that the monastic community believes about itself as the People of God is celebrated in hope. C47

Eph. 4:16
1 Cor. 12:4-11

PC 6

D5 The monastic vocation is one of many charisms in the Church, a specific gift of the Holy Spirit for the building up of the Body of Christ. The Spirit pours forth his gifts to each as he wills. Charisms in the Church do not depend on the teaching authority for existence or authenticity. But every charism is under the guidance, protection and discernment of the Church's teachers, who are themselves guided by the gift-giving Spirit. There are different gifts but the same Spirit, different ministries but the same Lord, all of them given to enrich and strengthen the unity of believers.

Jn. 17:21
1 Cor. 12:7
Rom. 8:19-21
2 Tim. 1:9
PC 9
LG 43, 46

D6 The Church does not seek this unity for her own sake alone, but that the world may believe, and monastic life within the Church does not exist only for itself but as a gift to the world. Every charism is a call to service, every faithful response an act of love for the entire human family. The monk expresses his love for all people by being true to his gift from the Spirit. His life in community calls the whole of humanity to grace and freedom, and hastens the redemption of all creation.

Jn. 2:24-25; 18:36
1 Cor. 7:31
2 Cor. 5:7; 4:18
Heb. 13:14;

RB Prologue: 3

D7 The monastic community shares in the mission of the Church first of all by the life it lives. Monks reveal God to one another and to the world, taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience to seek him in faith through prayer, work, silence, asceticism, a common life in peace. They carry forward the Gospel-tradition by love and mutual service, especially attentive, through their Liturgy of the Hours and holy reading, to the voice of the Spirit in Sacred Scripture. By refusing to trust itself to the world or to be seduced by the values of an earthly kingdom, the monastic community proclaims that the world as we know it is passing away and bears witness to a kingdom visible only to the eyes of faith. C 3-4 39, 47, 50, 53, 63

Mt. 25:31-46

PC 9

D8 The life of the community radiates outward also through its apostolates. Monks broaden the scope of their service by sharing the concerns of world, Church and neighborhood, mindful always that they, like all Christians, will be judged on the basis of what they have done for Christ in the least of his brothers. This involvement adds an important dimension to community life, keeping the monks aware of the needs of others, and arousing energy and talent for the spreading of the kingdom. C3, 4

Is. 45:15
Jn. 1:4-9
2 Cor 4:10-12; 12:10
1 Cor. 1:26-2:5
Col. 1:12-13
1 Jn. 3:2
LG 8,9, 48-51

D9 The monk rejoices in the Father's word to him, but he knows that the God who is revealing remains a hidden God. One who walks with God must walk in faith. The mystery of Christ is full of contrasts, tensions of grace in the life of every believer: light and darkness, life and death, present and future. The monk knows the feeling of pilgrimage. He is not what he once was, but he is not yet what God calls him to be. Tempted to give in to defeat, he and his community still struggle to remain faithful to their call. The monk goes forward with his brothers, believing in the power of Christ to reveal divine strength through human weakness.

Mt. 16:24-26; 20:28
Mk. 10:45;
Rom. 6:1-4; 8:14
Phil. 2:5-11; 3:10-11
1 Jn. 3:16
RB Prologue: 2,50
PC 1

D10 The Rule of Benedict invites monks to a labor of obedience in returning to the Father, imitating his son Jesus who humbled himself, becoming obedient to death on the Cross. Led by the Spirit, monks are called to serve one another in self-forgetfulness, laying down their lives for their brothers in love and trust. They were plunged into Jesus' death and raised to new life at baptism. Their Christian dying to sin and living to God is carried out in the daily giving of themselves to the life of the community. Here they lose their lives that they may find life. Their asceticism is full of hope, a formation into the pattern of Jesus’ death, a pledge of resurrection with him to glory.

Part II: Life in the Monastery Life in the Monastery



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Rev. 08 Apr 2009 | www.osb.org/swissam/declaration/I.html