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 III: Monastic Life and the World D 49-61

UR 5,9

Jn. 3:16-17; 12:47
PC 1

D49 The monk's personal gift from the Holy Spirit is also given for the Church and for the world. Like the larger Church of which it is a part, the monastic community stands before the world in Christ's name, witnessing to the world as created by God. The monastery is a witness of the Kingdom, especially in announcing and supporting the human and spiritual values the world tends to forget. Monks try to have the attitude that Jesus had toward the world. They realize that all people of good will are concerned for the same freedom, justice, unity and peace, and that monks can learn from the dialogue this common concern generates.

Acts 20:35

A. Prophetic Stance

D50 The monastic pattern of life constitutes a challenge to the values of the earthly kingdom. But it is meant to be more than that: a witness to unseen realities, a sign of the true kingdom. Above all, monastic life proclaims to all the good news of the gospel, a message of joy and hope. Humanly speaking, the world often seems a place of evil, but by the blood of Christ it has been filled with grace. Death has been mortally wounded, and faith, hope and love have taken the place of fear. The monastic life announces that there is no real security in material advantages, but that the future is assured by loosing the bonds that chain one to the earth, that joy and peace come from self-giving love for others, that life is received when it is given. C3

Rom. 8:3
1 Jn. 4:18
1 Pt. 1:18-19

B. Witness of Incarnation

D51 The community of monks bears witness to the action of God in a world being transformed by Incarnation. The monastic life proclaims the goodness of all human life. Though monks renounce sin-centeredness, the "wisdom of the flesh," they do not turn their back on the world. By their dedication to seeking God in community life and in solitude, monks encourage the search for divine communion to which every person is called. C39, 48, 52, 57, S47

Rom 8:6-7


RB 4

D52 Benedictine tradition affirms the values of human development, and monks have preserved and furthered art, music, literature and science. Monks celebrate the progress of humanity as a continuation of creation and redemption. In their own programs of education, monks try not to confuse learning with information, but aim at the training of the whole person. Their service to learning and human development is fulfilled primarily in the sphere of the monastery, but monks can also assist growth and progress in the Church’s mission to other lands. C4

GS 23-32

RB 4:78

D53 Monks participate as citizens in the civil and social programs that further the spread of God's kingdom. They too ask questions sparked by the events of the day, and they listen for the voice of the Spirit amid the confusing noises of the modern world. Their contribution to the puzzling questions of life should be a sensitivity to the plan of God, sharpened by prayer, fasting and holy reading. C39


GS 4-10

C. Reverence for Creation

D54 The sinfulness that draws people down makes heavy attacks on human life. It sees human life as a commodity, an instrument for achieving goals, a higher form along the scale of animal life. In such a limited view, life's value is in its usefulness. Because it is merely human in origin, people consider it their own business. But human life is a sacred gift from God.


D55 The Benedictine brotherhood pays close attention to the gospel command to see Christ in everyone. He is in the abbot, in the sick, in
the guest, in the poor, in every brother. Every person is the image of God even before being able to know it, and this is the primary consideration before or after talents are measured, decisions are taken, or products are weighed. The monk respects and loves human life, and stands against any challenge to it.

1 Kgs. 18:28
Mt.10:40; 25:35-40
Acts 9:5
1 Cor. 8:12
RB 2:2; 36:1-2, 53:1, 7, 15

D56 The quality of monastic community living is gauged by the sincerity of this reverence for life in the brotherhood. The monk shows by his concern, love, and honesty in his dealings with others that he regards life as a grace, not as an obstacle. When all anticipate one another in honor, each monk feels encouraged to grow into full maturity in Christ, and supported in searching for new ways to serve. The obedience monks show to one another is response to the Spirit living in their midst and forming them into Christ.

Rom. 12:10
Eph. 4:13

RB 71; 72:4, 6
PC 15

D57 Because of his reverence for creation, the monk is concerned about the protection of the natural environment of the monastery. He conserves its beauties and resources as part of his stewardship of all the gifts of the Lord. His care reaches out to created life in all its forms, and in his prayer he sums up and offers the praise of all creation. He also seeks to participate in God's creation and so values artistic beauty as an essential manifestation of God's mystery.

Ps. 148
Acts 14:17-18

D. Pattern for Christian Life

D58 In modeling its life on the ideal community of the early Church, a monastery gives expression to values shared by all human beings. Unity and peace are possible, the first Christians preached, if in imitation of Christ, people will love one another, share their goods, pray together, forgive each other's failings and help one another. The monastery does not approach this gospel life as a burdensome task, but finds in it freedom and joy.

Mk. 11:25
Jn. 15:9-17
Acts 2:42-46; 4:32-35
RB Prologue: 50
RB 33:6; 34:1; 55:20

D59 The monastic profession of stability in community is based on the conviction that God helps those with commitments made in faith. Opposed to infidelity, stability proclaims covenant perseverance. Human beings can promise the future even in present darkness, if they humbly admit their weakness and rely on God's fidelity for strength.

2 Cor. 12:9-10

1 Kgs. 18:28
Mk. 2:17
Heb. 3:7-8

D60 Monasticism believes in the grandeur of daily living. Saving grace does not have to be hunted in the elite and the heroic; it is everywhere, but human hearts are hardened by pride, selfishness and fear. People cannot readily conceive a sanctity within the reach of everyone, though Jesus said he came to save sinners, not the righteous, and he mixed mostly with the poor, the uneducated and the outcast. God is a loving Father who only wants human beings to open their hearts to him. The discipline of the monastery opens monks and others to the divine presence through a regular observance of prayer and work in obedience, silence and humility.

RB 5,6,7

Rom. 8:6;8:9, 13
Gal. 5:24
Phil. 4:7
Col. 3:15
Heb. 12:14

RB 72

D61 In a world ruled by sin, monks cannot be smug about themselves. They know that sin still plays a part in their own lives. The victory already won by Christ has yet to be established completely in his followers both inside and outside the monastery. But the choice is not between complacency and defeat. Monks go forward, joyful in hope, putting to death the deeds of the flesh. The search for God is never finished, but God is always present. Trusting that their own confidence in God will be a strength to them and to their brothers and to all who witness their life together, monks commit themselves to God and to their community in a covenant of peace.

Search | Home


Table of Contents


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