Cistercian life at Nový Dvůr
The monk’s training
“Someone asked one day the monk Paesios: “What should I do for my soul – it is insensitive and does not fear God?” And he replied, “Go, attach yourself to a man who fears God, and in that frequentation he will teach you to fear God as well.”
Sentences of the Desert Fathers, Father Poemen
“Listen, my son, to the precepts of the master and lend the ear of your heart. Receive willingly the teaching of such a good father and put it into practice in order to return, by the practice of obedience, to Him from whom you moved away by the cowardliness of disobedience. It is to you that I address my word, to you, whoever you may be who renounces at his own will and takes the strong and noble arms of obedience to combet under the flag of the Lord Christ, our true king.”
Saint Benedict, Rule for Monks, Prologue.
The monk is a man like all others but that a call of God had torn away from normal life to turn him to the Christ Jesus. Following this supernatural call, he accepts to renounce everything to consecrate himself completely to the Lord Jesus: “If you want..., go, sell all you possess, then come and follow me.”
Matt. 19, 21
This calling is a great mystery, first of all for the monk himself.
A (young) man presents himself at the door of the monastery and expresses his desire to be a monk; he gets to know a young brother, then the Father Master of novices. If his desire is sincere and serious, he becomes a “postulant” after a few stays in the community. At Novy Dvur, the postulate generally lasts between nine months and a year, sometimes more. Once the postulate is finished, he is admitted to receive the novice’s habit. the novice is initiated to the practice of the monastic life at once in its human and spiritual aspects. the novitiate lasts two years. Then the novice pronounces his first vows. He commits himself for a time of three years to stability in the monastery, the conversion of manners and obedience. In the magnificent expression “conversion of manners” Saint Benedict englobes the vows of poverty and chastity; expressed in other words, the monk vows himself to live in the monastery, according to the way of life of Cistercians, seeking ceaselessly to convert himself, to not install himself, to be always on the alert, but in a tranquil alertness, for the service of the Lord.
Once these three years have passed, the young profession pronounces his definitive solemn vows. the brothers in training follow the teaching given in the monastery: in particular the Holy Scripture, philosophy, dogmatic and spiritual theology.
Those who have the calling for it are ordained priests, a few years after their solemn profession. By his hidden life, the monk-priest exerces his priesthood in a close union with the Christ.
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