May 04, 2007

Vow of poverty in danger

The last day of my three years of service at the parish was Monday. The rectory was very large. The pastor assigned me a suite that has a living room, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. I used one of the bedrooms as an office. Over the course of the three years, the number of material things in the apartment slowly grew.

I am in the midst of sorting through everything to determine what goes to the monastery for other monks to use, what goes to the poor, what goes to the trash, and what I continue to use myself.

On top of that, I am also going through the things that I left in my cell at the monastery before I went to the parish assignment.

My cell was simply locked for three years. No one touched it. Some of my fellow monks dusted and vacuumed my cell before I returned. One of them left a note on my door. "We vacuumed the first 23 layers."

Because of the vow of "stability" (again, explained at, monks belong to one single monastery for life. Non-monastic orders, like the Franciscans (who are FRIARS, NOT monks) belong to an entire geographical province, and may be transferred from place to place within the province throughout the course of their lives. So, as a monk, I received my own cell.

"Pack-rat in a black habit" = oxymoron
"Pack-rat in a black habit" = oxymoron
"Pack-rat in a black habit" = oxymoron
"Pack-rat in a black habit" = oxymoron


Anonymous JV said...

Father, I'm curious about the origin of the term "cell" to describe a monk's room. Does the meaning lie in the etymology of the word, or is there some philosophical connection with imprisonment (i.e. slave of the Lord)?

I loved getting a peek into the cells of those Carthusians in Into Great Silence.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

From the Latin "cella" meaning a compartment. Like the cells of your body, a room for housing a monk or a criminal

1:27 PM  
Anonymous JV said...

Thank you!

6:43 PM  
Blogger DilexitPrior said...

Welcome back home Father! :-)

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Loyolalaw98 said...


In Poland, one of the terms used to describe a house where religious live (usually when in proximity to a college) is a "convict."

Years ago while attending classes at the Catholic University of Lublin, in Poland - at that time the only private college in the entire Soviet Bloc - I was told that I could live in the "Dom Academiski," i.e., the men's dorm, or in the "convict."

I chose the dorm for it's tavern in the basement, but always remembered the name for the religious house, apt as those who live there possess conviction, i.e., love for God.



11:40 AM  
Blogger Coffee Wife said...

Hello Father! WOW your suite was bigger then my entire house haha! Are you a Priest or a Monk or...can Monks be Priests?? I'm just learning about the Benedictines - I'm hoping to become a Benedictine oblate at Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland.


2:17 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Some monks receive priestly ordination. That's not necessary, however, in order to be a monk.
I was ordained a priest in 1991. However, I entered the monastery in 1981.

5:50 PM  
Blogger The Perpetual Malcontent said...

I'm curious about the manner in which priestly formation is carried out in well-established monasteries. Do you have an in-house formation or do you send candidates to the local diocesan seminary?

12:39 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Each monastery has its own policies about priestly formation.

My own monastery sends no one to study for the priesthood until after perpetual vows (that is at least 4.5 years after entering the monastery).

We send monks to study theology for the priesthood at schools or seminaries run by other Benedictine monasteries.

We have two men in their first year of theology at Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon.

I studied at the international Benedictine university in Rome.

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Amy said...

I know the feeling! I just sold my house in preparation for entering the Little Sisters of the Poor this fall. There was stuff, stuff, and more stuff to pack. And then there was more stuff. Even after the movers came. Some stuff has already gone to my siblings that needed it. But I have lots of stuff in storage and at my parent's house. And my Grandma's garage. Ugh!

8:55 AM  

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