A Benedictine monk is one who finds it a joy to seek God in a life of deep prayer. Yet, he is also one who finds it a joy to seek God within the context of a community. It is often said that the fastest way to holiness is by living in community! We learn much about ourselves—strengths and weaknesses—by rubbing shoulders day in and day out with other confreres, some who may be quite similar and some who may be quite different than oneself. While a monk is certainly one who must be comfortable with solitude and silence, he must be equally comfortable to eat, pray, and work with other men who likewise desire a deeper relationship with God. Solitude and community, then, form the hinges on which the monk lives out his vocation to be a man for God and others.
Solitude is experienced through the monk’s private prayer, especially lectio divina, and the various opportunities to seek God through study, through exploring nature, or other personal hobbies, like art and music.
Community is experienced through the monk’s sharing in common meals, common prayer, shared work, and periods of common recreation. Table reading, community retreats, abbot’s conferences and chapter of faults (acknowledging our failings in community life to one another) also offer means of fostering fraternal bonds within the monastic community.
Through solitude and community, the Benedictine monk’s life results in an intimate bond with both God and others in the community. Life is enriched by these mutual bonds and offers the monk an opportunity to participate most fully in the life of the Trinity. What results is a life of deep peace and joy, even wonder.