Are there any modern-day christian monks?

Not a very “odd” question this time, really…

We’ve all seen christian (particularly Catholic) nuns on a fairly regular basis in the present day, but…where are the christian monks?

It just seems like all the monks that I see or hear about these days are of the Buddhist variety.

Out in the orchard pruning the trees or harvesting the apples.

I am only half joking. There are a number of orders that maintain abbeys, monasteries, or convents that are self-supporting farms and the monks provide much/most of the labor. The Benedictines are famous for this, but it is true of most orders. There are also a few cloistered groups, whom you will never see because they are separated from the world in prayer. Where you will most frequently encounter them, of course, is teaching in boys Catholic high schools. Quite a few of the teachers at schools run by religious orders are monks (or brothers or friars).

(Catholics do not have a monopoly on the situation. The Anglicans and the Orthodox also maintain monasteries (sometimes with as few as a half dozen members) and there are a few Lutherans, as well.)

The monks of new skete

I heard of them because when I worked at a pet store we had some of their books.

There is a problem with defining the word Cult. All to often it fits the Catholic church.

A few specific examples. In Belgium, there are half a dozen Trappist monasteries, who are notable for brewing quality beers such as Orval and Chimay. Or in the UK, there are the Benedictines of Prinknash Abbey and Buckfast Abbey.

Driving south through Tyrrhol, one eventually stops seeing castles in the mountains and begins seeing monasteries. It being Italy, I’d be very disappointed if they weren’t full of monks.

Oh–and my high school French teacher was a Franciscan friar.

And just what the blazes does this have to do with the subject at hand (even tangentially)?

Or is it just a bit of gratuitous Catholic-bashing?

The Coptic church also has monks and monasteries.

I think part of the confusion is that Catholic monks/brothers/male members of religious orders who are out and about in a more public way (that is, not living in a monastery, but teaching or whatever) tend to get identified by default as priests, not as monks.

Well, strictly speaking, “monks” and “nuns” are the ones that live monastically (monastic – monk). Those out and about in service-oriented orders are just plain Brothers/Friars (who may or may not be priests) and Sisters. The public has a misconception that the being a member of a vowed Religious Order automatically involves receiving the Holy Orders if you’re male. (Take for instance the Marists: they are really two orders, one of Priests, another of non-priest, but vowed, Brothers. However they are not a cloistered order but an out-in-the-street-teaching order, so it would not be right to term the Brothers “monks”.) The public may not “get” that you would take vows but NOT seek ordination – but to the Church, Priesthood is an entirely separate calling from the one to dedicate yourself to contemplative prayer or works of charity, the one need not go with the other.

However, in modern times in Western countries, with a large drop in the numbers of people joining the religious life, the greater need of the Church is for actual priests who will minister to the faithful, so it’s pretty much to be expected that those with an inclination to consecrated life will steer towards the full ordination. Meanwhile, since by definition women in Roman Catholic religious orders cannot be ordained, the sisters/nuns retain their higher profile.

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One of my best friends is a Benedictine Priest and I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of the monks, both brothers and priests. I was born into a Catholic family and through my friend discovered Buddhism (oddly enough). He became of priest because he felt called to, but there is no rule that says he has to.

The Benedictines use the Rules of Benedict to manage their lives. To have a number of men living closely together requires some disipline and requires the community (as they call themselves) to agree to respect their leaders and each others.

I find them a odd group of men. Very nice, but many have little understanding of the real world, however, they also know they don’t need to.

The Episcopal Church in the US also has monks and nuns, albeit not very many.

Another factor about the greater visibility of Buddhist monks compared to Christian could be that the Buddhists are less familiar to us and more different from Western culture in appearance, clothing and practices. This makes them more noticeable, interesting, and newsworthy.

They were all over that television commerical for whichever online internet service it was.

Also, they were everywhere in the Highlander TV series.

If it’s on TV, it has to be true, right?

There is St. Benedict’s Monastery, in Snowmass, Colorado. They have about 16 monks, I think. And there may be one more male monastery in Colorado.

I’m not Catholic, but I was curious about this place…and could not get in. The only females allowed, on the grounds, are female birds…because they have no way of keeping them out. Ha.

There’s a Benedictine monastery called Westminster Abbey in Mission, BC, just east of Vancouver. We went there on a field trip when I was in high school.

I met some very nice (but very old) Capuchin monks (not to be confused with capuchin monkeys) in Palermo a few years back; they administer the crypts there, which are open to the public. All those semi-embalmed bodies are creepy but fascinating (in the crypts, I mean; not the monks themselves). The same order apparently maintains a similar crypt in the Rome area.

The “Religious” (it’s not a ‘holier-than-thou’ usage, but one that means “under a rule [religio]”) include cloistered monks and nuns, devoted to adoration and intercessory prayer; actively ministering friars, brothers, and sisters, living under the same rules of poverty and celibacy but actively teaching, nursing, or whatever; and oblates and tertiaries under a vow adapted to enable them to remain in secular roles but live out their calling to be a part of an order following a rule of life.

Two close relatives of active board members are in the last role: my wife is a life-professed member of the Third Order of the Society of St. Francis in the Episcopal Church, and iampunha’s and dwalin’s father (phantomdiver’s husband) is an oblate of a Catholic order – IIRC of St. Benedict.

St. Procopius Abby (Lisle) does allow women to visit and can stay, I know Buddhist nuns have stayed over (The Benedictines and Buddhist monks have a inter faith dialog). My wife and I have been there a number of times to visit my friend as well as attend religious ceremonies. I think visitors in general are limited although I am told that no one is refused shelter, but don’t know if it is only men. All I know is that if you stay, you must work.

Each abby does make their own rules based on the community, so it would not suprise me to have some that do not allow women within the community.