What is a monk?

A couple of nights ago over dinner my brother-in-law asked exactly that, “what is a monk?”  I had to stop and think. I could get out, “a group of people who live apart.”  Monk comes from “monos” a Greek word which means “alone.”  Wikipedia also defines a monk as a person who practices “religious asceticism.” Either of those definitionns could apply to a number of people and not be limited to a group of men or women living in a monastic community. By Wikipedia’s definition I am a monk. The monks we visited today at the Monastery of St. Anthony the Great are cenobitic monks. That means they live in community.  I live in community with my wife, but that might not meet the criteria of being a cenobite. In fact in most circles I’m sure it doesn’t. But , there is a very strong tie between me and those monks today and the monks that I normally visit at the Abbey of the Genesee in Piffard, New York.

There can be no doubt that my life has been strong influenced by the monks at Abbey of the Genesee, Mount Saviour, Holy Cross Monastery, and the Friars at Mt. Irenaeus.   There is within me a contemplative dimension that has been awakened gradually over the past nearly thirty years.  There is a mystical dimension that I am repeatedly drawn to.  I no longer apologize for it. It is a gift and I treasure it and I’m grateful for it.

2 Replies to “What is a monk?”

  1. I know a number of ventures where married couples with/out children are included in the community – see our ecumenical list of 370 members (bishops, religious, priests, laity, religious from many denominations) on Yahoo at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/monasterion for discussions of subjects related to monasticism (traditional, neo/new) etc. There exist orders (like the Cistercianmonks.org) that have members who are married and live in their homes.
    John (monk)

Comments are closed.