The vows

Everyone who chooses to seek God as part of a monastic community takes vows. He publicly promises to live the life of a monk. Life in the monastery according to these vows is a consciously designed brotherhood.

In chapter 58 of his Rule, Saint Benedict emphasises that he has clear ideas regarding the vows <commitment, promise, here regarding life in the monastic community>. This is where the primary elements of monastic life are found, as understood by Benedict:

“Let him then who is to be received, in the oratory, in the presence of all the brethren, make promise of stability, of conversion of life and of obedience, in the presence of God and of His saints, that if he should ever act otherwise he may know he will be condemned by Him Whom he mocks. And concerning that promise of his let him make petition, calling to witness the saints whose relics are there and the abbot there present: the which petition let him write with his own hand and place it upon the altar. And when he shall have placed it there let the novice himself immediately begin this versicle: ‘O stablish me according to Thy word, that I may live: and let me not be disappointed of my hope.’ (Ps 119, 116). Which versicle let the whole community repeat thrice, adding “Gloria Patri.” Then let him, the novice brother, prostrate at the feet of all that they may pray for him; and from thenceforth let him be accounted one of the community.” (Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 58, 17-23)

In the three “ceremonial vows”, the monk promises:

Stabilitas: Persistence and loyalty to the Benedictine form of life and remaining in the community of the monastery to which one is bound.
Conversatio morum: The monastic moral conduct demands concentration on the essentials and continuous striving for conversion, renunciation of personal property and celibacy.
Oboedientia: Obedience determines the Benedictine tenor: listening. For Benedict, being a monk means hearing the word of God and answering. Obedience is understood as openness to God and humanity. Therefore, mutual obedience and mutual esteem as well as humility are indispensable elements of the monks’ joint search for God.

Andechs Monastery Emblem