Monastic vocation

monastic vocation

Monastic vocation – News

Next Vocation weekend – 19-21 February 2016

publication of  To Prefer Nothing to Christ 20 November 2015

If you would like to know about monastic vocation, or if you would like to stay at the monastery with a view to discerning your vocation, please phone or write to:
Abbot Martin Shipperlee, Ealing Abbey, Charlbury Grove London W5 2DY –

tel. (020) 8862 two zero zero zero
e-mail: Abbot Martin Shipperlee, dmartin AT ealingabbey.org DOT uk

A monastic vocation is heard and seen and followed. If anyone has a sense that they might be called to monastic life we are always happy to talk with Catholics, men and women, young and old, who sense that they have such a vocation.

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it in abundance.” [John.10:10] and this is what a vocation from God implies; we learn new practical, professional and interpersonal skills in order that we may live to the full.

A monastic vocation is heard and seen and followed. If anyone has a sense that they might be called to monastic life we are always happy to talk with Catholics, men and women, young and old, who sense that they have such a vocation.

Everyone needs life, but with particular regard to those who may have a monastic vocation at Ealing Abbey, experience has shown that after one’s mid to late thirties, it is difficult to adapt to monastic life, to submit to the process by which one yields to the demands of life “under a Rule and an Abbot” (Rule of Saint Benedict 1:13).

The following are the steps young men are asked to take in the process of applying to join us.
Aspirants are those who are actively making enquiries about our life.
Postulants are those who have made a definite request to join us, and have been
accepted to live with us for up to six months of “living alongside”.
Novices have been accepted by the abbot and the monastic council and have received
the monastic habit.
Temporary profession includes those who have made promises for three years

If a man brings with him a cheerful, flexible disposition and the ability to adapt to changes in routine and in life, he will do well with us.

How to become a monk

The first step is to come and stay at the monastery to see the way of life at first hand. A number of visits are usually recommended, but at some time one should contact the Novice Master and discuss one’s feeling of vocation. If both parties believe God is really calling the candidate, the next steps are usually as follows. Firstly the Novice Master offers the chance of a month in the noviciate, to experience life ‘alongside’. If this works out, a time is fixed for the postulancy to begin, which usually lasts six months. This is followed by a year long noviciate, which begins with the rite of monastic initiation during which the novice is given a new name and the habit. The noviciate is a period of formation in the monastic life, with classes in the life of prayer, the Holy Rule, Monastic Tradition, the Psalms and Gregorian Chant, as well as participation in the work of the community. During it the novice is free to leave at any time and may also be asked to leave.

After the end of the noviciate, there is a vote of the community to allow the novice to take temporary vows. These vows last for a minimum of three years during which time the junior monk receives further formation in Scripture, Catholic Theology and Liturgy, to enable him to live a fruitful monastic life. After another vote of the community he may proceed to Solemn Vows which make him a full member of the community. There is thus ample time, at least four and a half years, to make a free and informed decision to commit oneself to the monastic life as it is lived at Ealing. For those who are thus called it is the best way to serve God and the surest way to peace in this life and eternal beatitude in the next.

“He who can receive this, let him receive it” Matthew 19:12.

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The School of the Lord’s Service

In the Prologue to his Rule, St Benedict addresses a man thinking of entering the monastery: “Hearken, my son, to the precepts of the master and incline the ear of your heart; freely accept and faithfully fulfil the instructions of a loving father, that by the labour of obedience you may return to him from whom you strayed by the sloth of disobedience. To you are my words now addressed, then, if you are ready to give up your own will, once and for all, and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to fight for the true King, Christ the Lord”. This perfectly expresses the loving, austere, obedient and humble life of the cloister and, without any compromise, situates the monk on the victorious side in the cosmic battle between good and evil. He fights in this spiritual combat “against the spiritual hosts of wickedness” (Ephesians 6:12) as part of a community, and his warfare is simply and humbly to live the common life of the monastery. For the Benedictine monk, the monastic community is the context for spiritual struggle and growth.

The Prologue ends with a magnificent vision of the monastic life: “Therefore we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service; in founding it we hope to set down nothing that is harsh or burdensome. The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love. Do not be at once dismayed by fear and run away from the way of salvation, of which the entrance must needs be narrow. But as we progress in our monastic life and in faith, our hearts shall be enlarged and we shall run with inexpressible sweetness of love in the way of God’s commandments; so that, never abandoning his instructions but persevering in his teaching in the monastery until death, we shall share by patience in the sufferings of Christ that we may deserve also to share in his kingdom. Amen.”

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Monastic vocation at Ealing Abbey

If you think that God is calling you, please write to:
The Novice Master
Ealing Abbey
Charlbury Grove, London W5 2DY

(We can be contacted by e-mail but in this case please write a letter, including your postal address)

contact:
dmartin AT ealingabbey.org DOT uk

When a newcomer is clothed as a novice he is placed in the care of the Novice Master, a senior monk who will try to help him grow in the Benedictine calling – a lifelong pursuit. With the other novices he will study the Rule and its basis in Scripture and will find that it still speaks eloquently of what is meant by seeking God more completely in the monastic life. Moderation is the keynote of the Rule: Benedict cut out the harsh extremes of penance and solitude which had been prescribed by the Desert Fathers before him. The novice learns that the head of the monastery, the Abbot, is “to hold the place of Christ” among them and is charged to care for those entrusted to him, leading them by example and not just by words. The monks, for their part, arc to accept the Abbot’s decisions with loving obedience but have also a share in advising him – and indeed are responsible for choosing him in the first place. The novices meet regularly with the Abbot, but under him the Novice Master has responsibility for them and meets them each day to study the Rule. Others may give classes in church history, scripture, spirituality, liturgy and music, and in a wider sense all members of the cornmunity share in this work, exercising their joint responsibility for admitting novices to profession. Although there is a certain amount of seclusion, the novices have daily contact with the rest of the community and they may undertake tasks (such as working with disabled people) which will help them develop their talents and give them experience of the like and work of the community that in due course will be theirs.

The monk will go on growing into the monastic life all his days, but the purpose of the year’s novitiate is to decide whether or not the novice is indeed called to be a member of this particular monastery. If the answer is yes, the Abbot and community will be the living, loving environment through which the Spirit will work in him to fashion him in “the likeness of Christ”.

© Ealing Abbey, copyright 25 August 2015