Concepts of Monastic Life
St. Benedict's model of monastic life centers on community, prayer, hard work, and living according to The Rule. Inside the monastery's walls life is organized and highly structured, like a well paved road for spiritual individuals to follow towards a life of holiness and purity. There is great focus on obedience, above all to God, to their fellow monks, and to their Abbot. Daily routines, including work, prayer, and study are all clearly planned, as idleness is extremely discouraged by St. Benedict.
Monastic life as described in The Rule of St. Benedict is meant to be a life of absolute spiritual focus and regular activity, whether it be physical labor like managing libraries, or spiritual activity like practicing the Lectio Divina. Living inside the monastery's walls, a cenobite (a monk living within a community) leaves behind self-focus, vices, temptations, and personal will in order to follow God. They take on a vow of obedience and charity to God and to their spiritual family at the monastery. "They no longer live by their own judgment, giving in to their whims and appetites; instead they walk according to another's decisions and directions, choosing to live in monasteries and to have an abbot over them. These men unquestionably conform to the saying of the Lord: I have come not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me" (The Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 5).
The oblates (those adhering to a deeply spiritual life but outside the monastery) dedicate their lives to hard work, serving their communities, prayer, and spreading the word of God to others. The abbot has the role as a spiritual leader and serves as a virtuous example for the monks to follow: "He is believed to hold the place of Christ in the monastery [...]anyone who receives the name of abbot must lead his disciples by a twofold teaching, he must point out to them all that is good and holy more by example than by words" (The Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 2).
The foundation supporting the monastery is therefore in the strength of its residents: hard-working individuals who have renounced self in search of a life of sanctity, praying and working for the betterment of an entire community.