When Saint Benedict of Nursia established a rule for monastic life more that 1,500 years ago, he urged monks to dedicate their lives to opus dei, "the Work of God." At Saint Joseph Abbey, monks gather five times a day for common prayer, thereby establishing a rhythm that becomes the fabric of their lives. At the day's center is the celebration of the Eucharist with the seminarians of St. Joseph Seminary College, retreatants and people in the surrounding area. Saint Benedict's goal is that monks become more Christ-like in the humble obedience to the Father.
As a context for the Work of God, Saint Benedict requires monks to pray, read and reflect privately as well. Lectio Divina, that is, prayerful reading, flows from common prayer to the interior life of the monk and relation to God Monks read and meditate on sacred scripture, the fathers of the Church and other spiritual writings. This leads them to acquire, like Mary, an appreciation of the Word of God in all creation.
ORA ET LABORA
The interior life of monks finds outward expression in the work they do. Always seeking a balance, Saint Benedict asks monks to pray and to work - ora et labora. At Saint Joseph Abbey, monks teach at Saint Joseph Seminary College, minister in nearby parishes, operate the Pennies for Bread program for the poor, sponsor retreats at the Christian Life Center, sponsor Camp Abbey, and do what is necessary to maintain the physical plant. Monks can be found painting, cooking, doing graphic design, pottery, almost anything. Even the simplest of tasks becomes praise of God, who calls us to new life in Christ.
Saint Joseph Abbey is a community of about 45 monks. Some of the monks are ordained to the Roman Catholic Priesthood. All have come to the Abbey to follow the rule of Saint Benedict and profess the monastic vows of stability, obedience, and fidelity to monastic life.
The process for admission to the postulancy of Saint Joseph Abbey is as follows: Once an individual has determined that he may have a vocation to monastic life, the first step is to meet with the vocation director. If the vocation director and the individual discern a possible vocation, the vocation director arranges a brief stay in the monastery for the applicant. During this stay, the individual is introduced to the monastic community and participates in the prayer life and work of the community.
If the applicant wishes to pursue a monastic life here, he then arranges for a longer stay at the abbey. During this longer stay, he meets with the abbot and formation director. After these meetings, the abbot and director decide if he should begin the formal application process. The vocation director will then guide him through this.
The application process includes submitting the application form and letters of recommendation. Health, eye, and dental exams as well as a psychological evaluation are required.