I spent half the summer at a monastery

I had the opportunity to spend some time at a monastery over the summer and took it.

I have to say it was I read about monasticism here and in other places and it was nothing like that. Most people over romanticize it.

If you have any questions feel free to ask

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I don't know a single person that does that, or else everyone would be leaving for the monastery.

What I mean is that I've seen a certain type of reaction from visitors that express how peaceful and beautiful the monastery is, how great it must be to be able to concentrate on prayer and not have to stress about life in the real world. Certainly it is, however that's not really what it feels like living in a monastery.

I had the same reaction my first visit to monastery, I thought it was like a spiritual paradise

What is it like living there? I've contemplated joining a monastery before, but I never knew what I'd be getting myself into.

I'm not dodging the question but the only real way to find out is to go and do it. If I could have read about it I would have no need to go live there.

My experience will different from yours so I will just tell you about how it felt to me.

In one word, work. It is all work. Even in the 1-2 hours I was lucky enough to have in alone time, I felt like I was working. A mixture of physical and spiritual work of course. And all days are more or less the same, lots of routine. If it was not for the calendar I could not tell what day of the week it was.

That's about what I figured to be honest. What kind of Monastery was it? What is the work like? I'd assume its gardening, carpentry, etc.

Oh and how did you feel after leaving the monastery and returning to general society?

Yes all kinds of manual labor and house work. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, landscaping, whatever it takes to maintain the buildings

You seem like you have a good handle on what to expect. Call an abbot and ask for a blessing to stay if you have the chance

Same, thought about being a Carthusian Monk or a Dominican Friar

Same, thought about being a Carthusian Monk or a Dominican Friar

This was harder than I expected. You lose everything almost immediately. I'm not even novice level so I don't know how to be in the world and keep that same type of calmness and will to fight inside the heart

I sinned so much when I got back

Honestly, I think every young man should stay at a monastery for an extended period once. It is great at finding your path in life whether it be priest, monk, or husband

Not to say that I didn't sin in the monastery it was just a different type of temptation.

Out here it's woman, food, alcohol, laziness, etc
In there it's a different beast. I can't even talk about it because it's too personal

Do you really mean everything? Would they let me keep some of the sacramentals I have like the Medal of Saint Benedict or any devotional candles, or would they not allow those in the monastery as well?

I definitely want to, but I'm currently going through RCIA. Like I said I've contemplated it, but I'm not prepared for it yet.

In spite of the piety and holiness of monastics I'm sure that demons and the Evil One are even more active in monastaries attempting to sway men from the Lord's path

Forgive me, I meant any kind of virtue I began to build was instantly gone. I got to keep a few candles

This is one thing I encountered that was unexpected. There were more than one visitors who were not even baptized but showed lots of interest in monasticism.

I would say the number of people who imagine it as some kind of comfy NEET life where you simply pray most days and read the Bible is not insignificant.

That makes sense. You move from the extreme holiness and beauty of the monastery to the extreme impiety and ugliness of Modernity, and it will immediately cause you to lapse. Because despite how ugly Modernity is its still very enticing.

Ora et labora…eh…I always knew this; they’re not just walking around “chilling”. You need to have a certain state of mind, not necessarily more faith, to eventually tolerate it and then enjoy it.

I have no clue what it would be other than laziness or masturbation.

Please brother, please try to describe what you mean here. Remember, you're anonymous here. If you can't talk about it out of a certain ineffability of the experience, then I understand. But if you can't talk about it because it is too embarrassing or something, could you please try to fight that feeling? I have been thinking about monastic life since I converted. I feel like God may be calling me to that path. But I don't know if I have the spiritual fortitude to withstand it. If you can shed any sort of light on the darkness that may surround you in a monastery, you may indeed be helping a fellow sinner.

Also, what kind of monastery was it?

I'm also interested in what you mean by it being a different beast, you can be vague if need be. Was it more like the devil tempting your belief in our Lord?

It could be unwanted sodomitic urges aided by the restricted male-only prison-like environment in which there is close contact along with tiring work which weakens you if not used to it thus makes you feel more vulnerable to temptations.

…and he doesn’t want to talk about it since having had such perverted fantasies in a holy place makes him feel like a blasphemer and corrupter.

I know what you mean. I've visited monasteries and i've stayed in some for a few days. For what another pilgrim told me, there're slightly differences in style.
Koinobia (commune), which are also the most common monasteries, is your typical hard working, no sleeping, men only institute, it greatly reminded me of the army.
Then you have the hesychasteria, small huts or caves close to the konobia. There go the monks who have lived for a long period of their lifes in the koinobia and have reach a sertain state of virtue. They ask for a blessing and go to live more isolated.
The hesychasteria are memed the most because that what people usually search for, peace of mind and a closer connection to God, and that's why they are more known to the public. But for what i've understand, for people like us to go live isolated from the world without the proper preparation is very dangerous. You can easilly loose your mind, let alone that demons tend to visit people who live in remote places more often. The book of sayings of the desert fathers is full of stories of demons visiting monks.

I would imagine the chief of all evils afflicting men of piety is pride.

Sins of the flesh are a tangible evil, one that can be fought or beaten back with relative ease with enough support from your brothers.

Pride on the other hand… well… how easy is it to justify yourself by how pious you are? To look down on others outside the walls for their depravity? To look down upon even those within the walls? To dedicate yourself to holiness is to open yourself up to a whole new host of spiritual attacks as the enemy can no longer get to you through possessions, so he must get you in the mind, and most easily by inching your heart's position, slowly inching your view of yourself above God's rightful place.

Here's one of the monk stories that made an impact on my way of thinking about solitude
Apparently, you must live many years in a noisy communal monastery, working and doing liturgies non stop until you're ready to live as a hesychast, if ever.

Read The Discourses of Abba Dorotheos of Gaza, he explains it better but I'll try.

In the world the devil tempts us in obvious ways. Enjoy life, go fornicate, be one with the world, etc

In the monastery the devil knows that none of that is available to us so he doesn't even try because it's too obvious. He attacks in much more subtle way.
He will bring up things from your past, from your childhood even, that had a negative effect on your life and use that. It's a completely different fight because it's not carnal anymore.
Being in a monastic environment is like a pressure cooker. All of your hidden sins suddenly rise to the surface, you're faced with something new that you haven't seen before, and it catches you off guard.

You are mistaken. That was not my experience. I sinned plenty in the monastery, that's the whole point of being there. Falling down and getting back up everyday. It's a constant fight, it's non stop work. Through this fight the goal is to make progress but that takes many years not half a summer.

You get it.
My thoughts would defeat me everyday. I judge a novice to be lazier than me, I thought I was better than him even though I had been there only a few weeks. I was asked to chant during one of the services and afterwards it went straight to my head. Even in church while I am praising God I was subject to vainglory and pride. I never thought myself as having a problem with pride until I spent time in a monastery.


It was a cenobitic/koinobia communte like describes

Even if I shared my darkest experiences it wouldn't help you. You have to go and see for yourself if you have the temperament for it and if God truly is calling you to it.

My first day there I wanted to leave. I kept thinking to myself I could be on vacation at the beach right now. I calmed down and got over it. Other guys that were staying for the summer were not so lucky. Some stopped participating and downright ignored the abbot. Others left early. You really don't know how you will react until you are there.


Thank you, my brother. I appreciate you sharing your experience with us. Unfortunately, due to paying off a (relatively small) debt along with some minor legal trouble, I cannot make it to a monastery for any extended period of time. I will continue to pray, to read, and seek God's will, and if That includes a monastic life for me then may His will be done.

What orders do these kind of stay-ins?

Irish guy in Asia here, there's definitely a trappist monastery where I'm living, but back at home there are tons of monasteries, I'd consider doing one whenever I move back home

I go to monastery every summer in August.
I don't see any over romanticizing, I can literally feel the difference in everything I do.

Yeah, even in the introduction to The Mountain, The Guru, and the Young Man, the author explains that the vast majority of monks are just normal guys.

Really makes you think that God just gives people gifts as he sees fit for his purposes and this ascetic striving is kinda pointless because it's all a free gift anyway…

Nobody said that they aren't normal guys. And nobody said that the gifts aren't given by God.
What we say is that he doesn't give them at random…

I would agree with that to an extent. The problem is always the mentality behind these things. And you can't deny that monasticism confuses so many lay people.

People that are given gifts would say that they are sinful and do not merit them. The disciplines and works that people do are actually done by God. This is what Paul explains.

I truly believe that you would be more likely to manifest the holy spirit by following Reformed protestant teachings merely because they do not leave any room for self-merit.

I'm dying to ask you about everything… I'm thinking about becoming a monk in an Orthodox monastery more than anything.
I live in Romania and there are plenty of options for me here.
I don't even know what to ask exactly I just want some advice from you… I have never stayed even for one night at a monastery before.

But user, every one of the people that have reached a degree of holliness always said that they are they are the most sinful and that they really don't merit anything.
Taking pride on the gifts that've being given to you by God is one the most usual reason for the fall of monks.

An advice from me if you like is to go visit and try to stay for a few days. Try to follow the monks schedule, see if you can follow up and if that's what you're really searching for. It's a very hard life i'm warning you.

I know. That's what I said.

I'm just trying to figure out why the Puritans sound so much like Orthodox monks. The similarities are uncanny. Which makes me lol when Orthodox people go off on ridiculous caricatures of protestants

I'm a bit socially autistic. How does this work?
I just ask the abbot father if I can stay for a few days and practice some obedience so I can get the taste of monastic life?
I should also ask my father confessor maybe he can tell me how to do this…

The first reformers tried to approach the Orthodox but a number of events prevent it. Especially Melanchthon.

Yes, you can call or just pay a visit and ask there. You don't have to tell them that you're thinking to become a monk, many people stay in monasteries just as a pilgrimage. But of course it's better for your spiritual father to know, maybe he'll have something to suggest you.

Thank you so much for the advice, user!
I'm really intensely thinking about monasticism. I've watched tons and tons of monastic tonsure services on Youtube and I dream of giving my life to Christ like that one day, with the help of God…

God bless brother