If there is one pithy summary of the monastic life, it is from that rule of St. Benedict: “Prefer nothing to the love of Christ.”
In my rule, the Rule of St. Augustine, it is “Before all else, dear brothers, love God and then your neighbor, because these are the chief commandments given to us.” That describes the Christian life in general, but it is instantiated in monastic life as: “… The main purpose for you having come together is to live harmoniously in your house, intent upon God in oneness of mind and heart.”
The Monastery of Norcia in Italy is an American foundation of Benedictines. They are very strict monastics, and they have recently put up a “trailer” for a future video on their monastic life that they intend to release. While my group – friars – are not monks, St. Dominic in particular wanted his brethren to preserve significant amounts of monastic observance in their daily life (not to mention supporting the preaching mission with the prayers of the Dominican nuns!). This video makes my heart crackle with joy. If crackling is what joy does….
Anyway, it’s only 5 minutes and its quite good.
Even though every Catholic is certainly not intended to become a monk, I think that every Catholic should certainly visit a monastic setting at least once in their life (we Dominicans love guests!). Supporting monasteries is also a very nice thing both to share in the good works of the monastery themselves (the money they make from, say, selling soap, goes to very charitable projects apart from their upkeep – and that’s just icing on the cake compared to the value of their prayers!).
To drop a not-too-subtle hint, you could always support our little Dominican building project…. We’re moving in come December 12th or so! Say a prayer or stop by to visit us here in St. Louis!
Yours in Christ,
Br. James Dominic Rooney, OP