Even if you are not able to maintain the strict and ascetic life of a monk in a monastery, there are some ideals you can emulate at home.
Living like a Catholic monk at home can help you live a more spiritual life. It’s also a great way to practice mindfulness and gratitude, and avoid the excesses and materialism of modern life. Here are tips on how to live like a Catholic monk at home.
What You'll Learn Today
How Do Catholic Monks Live?
To live like a monk at home, you need to have an idea of how actual monks live their daily lives in monasteries.
This is easy to find out. Many monasteries today have websites where you can find their daily prayer and work schedule. For example, here is the daily schedule for Saint Joseph’s Abbey.
Generally, monks spend most of their time praying, meditating, reading scriptures, and working.
In most monasteries, monks wake up early, usually between 4am and 5am. The day is split into sessions of prayers, scriptures and work.
Depending on the particular monk community, the monks may also engage in additional activities like reading and writing, as well as social and charity work.
What Values Do Catholic Monks Live By?
More important than knowing a monk’s daily schedule is knowing their values. That’s what you need to emulate.
These are different from the vows they take; vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. It’s difficult if not impossible to adhere to these strict vows while at home.
But there are values and ideals you can copy and implement into your own life.
Most monasteries follow the Rule of Saint Benedict. This consists of several values and rules that Benefictine monks live by.
Some of these values include moderation, service to others, community, humility, and respect for others.
How to Live Like a Catholic Monk At Home
You can try to replace the exact life of a monk at home, including their daily chants, recitals, prayers and hard manual labor.
But it’s difficult for most people. What you can replicate instead are the ideals monks live by.
Here are six ways you can live like a Catholic monk at home.
Prayer is the foundation of a monk’s life. It’s a big reason monks seclude themselves in a monastery – it gives them the space and time to pray deeply and constantly to draw closer to God.
Try to create a daily prayer schedule. Even twice a day – when you wake up and before you go to bed – can help you experience some of the serenity and peace monks experience through prayer.
And remember praying is not restricted only to specific moments with your rosary. You can talk to God anytime and anywhere.
Those silent prayers as you go about your day help you stay in constant communication with God, which gives you peace, joy and strength for any situation you encounter.
Here’s what Ephesians 6:18 says about prayer.
…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…
The other important foundation to a monk’s life is the Bible. Monks read and recite the Bible at various times during the day.
Try to do the same at home. Have one or two quiet moments at home when you sit down and read the scripture.
And not just reading, but also understanding it and meditating on how it fits into your life and relationship with God.
If you are not sure where to start, there are many excellent Bible reading guides and diaries you can find online or in the form of apps.
3. Hard Work
Many monastic orders believe that hard manual work is an important balance to the mind and spirit. Manual labor makes up a big portion of their day in the monastery.
Working also ensures you are not idle and reduces temptations. Here’s a quote from the Carmelite Rule on work.
You must give yourselves to work of some kind, so that the devil may always find you busy; no idleness on your part must give him a chance to pierce the defenses of your souls.
And here’s what the Bible says about work in Colossians 3:23.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
You don’t have to do hard manual labor. Your formal job counts as work. If you spend your day at home, take up gardening, carpentry, painting, or something else to keep you busy.
You probably would not be able to match the life of extreme self-denial that monks live. It’s hard to live a life of wilful chastity and poverty.
But you can incorporate moderation into your life. Don’t buy unnecessary material goods or seek excess earthly pleasure.
Don’t wait for lent to deny yourself certain luxuries you think you can’t live without. Moderate those luxuries right now or eliminate some of them.
The same way the vow of poverty allows monks to freely seek God, moderation can free up your mind and soul to spend more time growing spiritually.
5. Service To Others
Most monastic orders are involved in some form of social or charity work. Service to others, especially the less fortunate in society, is an important part of a monk’s life.
It’s easy to replicate this one at home. Always be ready to offer your time, skills, effort or money to others around you and anyone you meet.
Related to this ideal of service is respect for others. This is an especially big part of the Rule of Saint Benedict.
Show respect for God and respect for others around you. That involves treating everyone kindly and seeing them as children of God, even if they are not believers.
A monk’s life is quiet, serene and free of distractions. Of course, it helps that they live in a monastery separate from the bustles of the world.
But you can try to find your own quiet moments at home, at the park, or where you can.
Take that time to pray or meditate. Or just let your mind wander and just enjoy the moment.