Frequently Asked Questions
But wouldn't you be better off out doing something for the world? Isn't it wasteful and selfish to lock yourselves away in your peaceful monastery?
This can be a real stumbling-block for many sincere Christians. Aren't we wasting our lives in this monastery, when there's a world out there in such great need? Instead of holding monastic and contemplative orders in such high esteem, why doesn't the Church tell us to get out there and use our energy and goodwill in the service of the needy?
In the first place, monastic life points to the supremacy of "being" over "doing". What we are is more important than what we do. And somewhere in the life of the Church, there must be a place where this is made manifest. Preaching the Gospel, working for peace and justice, liberating the oppressed, healing the sick... yes! But there is also a need in the Body of Christ, whose members do not all have the same function, for some whose lifestyle points out that, ultimately, action is not everything. There is another dimension. Monastic life points to the supremacy of the transcendent.
In the heart of every Christian there exists a two-fold pull - one, a pull towards active service of Christ in the poor and the needy, the other, a pull towards the desert, solitude, seeking God in a contemplative life. Those engaged in active ministry sometimes wish that they could follow the pull towards the desert... but deep down they know that it's not for them, at least not permanently. Likewise, those in monastic life sometimes wish that we could do something to alleviate the suffering and anguish of the world... but we know, deep-down, that the best thing we can do is to stay here, in faith. It would not be right or good for the Church if the majority of Christians opted for a permanent monastic lifestyle. But the Church needs some to follow that call to the desert, and supports and encourages those who do so.
The Church also esteems monastic life because of the value of prayer. All Christians are called to a vital and personal relationship with God, which is prayer, but the structured lifestyle and absence of active apostolate frees monastics for prayer in a special way. Every day we pray in the name of the whole Church, offering to God a sacrifice of praise, and interceding for the needs of the world. We also provide, in our guest-house, a place where people can spend some days in quietness and prayer, being renewed in spirit. And all guests are welcome to join in our liturgical worship.
As regards the mission of the Church and the needs of the world, we are not indifferent - far from it! We bear all its concerns in our hearts. But we believe that our life itself - our whole life, not just our prayer - is a hidden source of apostolic fruitfulness for the Church.
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