Introduction to the Benedictine Glossary

Hello!  I’m Br Ricky, Novice Master of the Feline Cloister.  Amma Jane asked me to put together a Glossary of Benedictine Terms for you.  It’s a great idea because today every organization has its own lingo.  Unfamiliarity with that lingo can leave us out in left field, or more appropriate here, outside the Cloister.  Amma and I want you to be in the Cloister with all of us.

I asked our Feline Cloister Novices to research and write the definitions.  This way they would learn the terms and then share what they learned with you, our Reader.  Each novice includes a verse or two from the Rule related to the term.  I think each novice did a great job, and sure hope you agree.

Nice to be with you.  God bless.

Your Feline Benedictine friend,

Br. Ricky, OSB-F
Novice Master – Feline Cloister

The Benedictine Glossary


In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus called out to God saying, “Abba, Father…” Mark 14:36.  Abba is the Aramaic word for Father.  When we use Abba, it describes a deep personal intimacy.

In the Benedictine world the superior of a male monastery is an “abbot.” He represents Christ in the monastery and is considered Father of the monastics (RB 2.2-3).  Abba, then, is a way to address the abbot, denoting both respect and, hopefully, a deep personal relationship.

From the Rule, explaining the use of “abba” by the monastics:

You have received the spirit of adoption of sons by which we [the monastics] exclaim, abba, father.  Romans 8:15 and RB 2.3


The abbot is the head of a male monastery.  Benedict explains that the abbot holds the place of Christ in the monastery (RB 2.2) and is the father of the monastics.

In my research I found out that It’s a big responsibility and challenge being an abbot.  Not only does an abbot lead the community, but he must also know the members well.  He must always have their best interests at heart. If you have a copy of the Rule check out Chapter 2 – The Qualities of the Abbot and Chapter 64 – The Election of an Abbot to learn what kind of person an abbot is to be.  My thought is that we all could have these qualities and those around us would benefit.

From the Rule:

The abbot must always remember what he is and remember what he is are called, aware that more will be expected of one to whom more has been entrusted.  RB 2.30


The abbess is the traditional head of a female monastery.  Everything that Benedict says about the abbot applies also to the abbess.  So, please take a moment or two to read the definition of “Abbot.”

Most female monasteries today in the United States use “prioress” to denote the head of their monastery.  When the Benedictine women came to the US, many of the new communities didn’t follow the strict European rules of enclosure.  They chose instead to go out of the enclosure and serve the people near their monasteries.  Because of this outreach they lost “the right” to be called abbeys.  Personally, I found this disturbing and had a long mew with Br Ricky about it.

Here in the Feline Benedictine Cloister Jane has chosen the term “abbess” as her title.  I’m glad!

I encourage you to use the abbess/abbot in The Rule of St. Benedict as a model for who you are as parent, leader, co-worker, and friend.  You will be on the solid ground of Christ.

From the Rule:

Excitable, anxious, extreme, obstinate, jealous or oversuspicious [the abbess] must not be.  Such a person is never at rest.  Instead, she must show forethought and consideration in her orders, and whether the task she assigns concerns God or the world, she should be discerning and moderate…  RB 64.16-17


“Amma” is an Aramaic term of intimate address, corresponding to “abba”, the name Jesus gave to his Father (Mark 14:36).  Amma means “mother” and is used in some female monasteries to address the abbess.  Here in the Feline Cloister, we address Jane as “Amma.”

In my research I discovered that the desert mothers were also called ammas.  The male elders were called abbas. 

From the Rule:

She should always let mercy triumph over judgment (Jas 2:13) so too she may win mercy.  She must hate the faults and love the members…Let her strive to be loved rather than feared.  RB 64.10,11,15

Researched and Written by Novice Terri

“That was interesting and fun to do!”


The cellarer distributes the goods of the monastery to the members.  I found it interesting that the word cellarer derives from the Latin cellarius, which means storeroom.  In the Benedictine monastery of old, monastics would go to the cellarer for tools, clothing, and other necessities.

The cellarer is also in charge of food and drink – wine – hence Benedict’s caution that the cellarer is to be temperate and not an excessive eater (RB 31.1).  Our cellarer here in the Feline Cloister is Sr Espy.  She may not have been Amma’s most prudent choice.  Sr. Espy needs a brush up on the qualification regarding no excessive eating in RB 31.1.

Cellarers today may be seen in front of computer screens, electronically managing monastic assets, physical and perhaps even monetary.

I was impressed with Benedict’s vision in CHAPTER 31 – Qualifications of the Monastery Cellarer, regarding the personal qualities and actions of the cellarer.  I think they are good for all of us, and not just for the cellarer.  Check it out!

From the Rule:

The cellarer should not annoy the monastics [Sr Espy really annoys us in the Cloister]…but reasonably and humbly deny any improper request.  RB 31. 6,7   The cellarer should not be prone to greed, nor be wasteful or extravagant with the goods of the monastery.  RB 31.12


In Chapter 1 – The Kinds of Monks, Benedict explains that a cenobite belongs to a monastery and serves under a rule and a superior.  Cenobites are what we feline novices are striving to become.

Benedict also describes the three other kinds of monks in this chapter – hermits, sarabaites and gyrovagues.  Hermits first lived in a monastery and are now strong and self-reliant to live on their own to battle the devil.  Sarabaites, “the most detestable kinds of monks” (RB 1.6),  make up their own rules without anyone guiding them.  They do whatever they want.  Gyrovagues wander about from monastery to monastery, never settling down.  They flee when they are asked to work (RB 1.10-11).  “In every way they are worse than sarabaites (RB 1.11). About the last two Benedict writes…

From the Rule:

It is better to keep silent than to speak of all these and their disgraceful way of life. Let us pass them by, then, and with the help of God, proceed to draw up a plan for the strong kind, the cenobites.     RB 3.12-13


Here is a great example of the need for a Benedictine definition.  To me, “chapter” always meant part of a book.  In the Benedictine world, “chapter” denotes a gathering of the monastic community for decisions, such as voting for a new superior, or for instruction. 

Benedict was keen on calling the community together to search out the best course of action.  He promotes this in Chapter 3 – Summoning the Monastics for Counsel.  I really like that instruction because there is always more wisdom in a group of people or felines. 

And, even more important, Jesus said, “For when two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them.”  Mt 18:20

From the Rule:

The reason why we have said all should be called for counsel is that the Lord (Benedict usually uses this title for Christ) often reveals what is better to the younger (This could mean either youngest in years or in tenure).  RB 3.3

As an aside, I mewed a suggestion to Amma Jane at our last Chapter.  Like a good superior she listened to me – more consistency in mealtimes.


One picture is worth a thousand words.  The drawing below is a rendering of what Benedict’s monastery at Monte Cassino in Italy may have looked like in 1075.

The cloister is the open square nearly in the center of the drawing.  The church is on the left, the refectory and dormitory on the right.  Benedict’s own monastery buildings were destroyed not long after his death in 547 C.E.

Amma Jane has LOTS of books on Medieval and Gothic architecture.  I delved in and thought this was interesting.

“The most enduring achievement of [medieval] monastic builders lay…in the invention of the cloister…completely separate from the outside world, a haven of peace at the heart of the monastery…[along with] an efficient communication system between the various buildings of the monastery, providing a series of well-define routes, sheltered from the elements…[the design] helped to conceal the structures behind, giving the impression of a unified architectural ensemble.”

                                                        Early Medieval Architecture by Roger Stalley, 182.

From the Rule:

The monastery should, if possible, be so constructed that within it all necessities, such as water, mill and garden are contained, and the various crafts are practiced. Then there will be no need for the members to roam outside, because this is not at all good for their souls.   RB 66.6-7

Cloister Contemplative

I hunted all over the Rule to find what Benedict said about the “Cloister Contemplative.”  Not finding a thing I was convinced that I was given an impossible task as St. Benedict describes in Chapter 68 – Assignment of Impossible Tasks to a Member.

Feeling “the weight of the burden being altogether too much for my strength,” I chose an appropriate moment, right after our midday rest, and patiently explained to Novice Master Br Ricky why I could not perform this task.  (RB 68.2)

Br Ricky understood.  He clarified that the role of Cloister Contemplative was created just for the Feline Cloister by Amma Jane.  This role was not in the Rule.

There is much debate and misunderstanding as to what a “contemplative” is, he explained.  For now, just let the readers know that a contemplative is one who lives deeply in God and deeply in the world.  A contemplative is one who has awakened to the Presence of God in everything and responds in love, to God and to others.

This sounds wonderful.  I think all of us could become contemplatives when we make room in our lives to respond to God’s call.

From the Rule:

Let us get up then, at long last, for the Scriptures rouse us when they say: It is high time for us to arise from sleep (Rom. 13:11). Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from the heavens that every day calls out this charge: If you hear God’s voice today, do not harden your hearts (Ps. 95:8).  Prologue 8-10


Researched and Written by Novice Sebatian Thomas

“Doing the research was sort of overwhelming at first. But Novice Terri gave me some tips, and then it went okay.”

Conversion of Life

Conversion of Life (conversatio morum) is one of the three vows taken by women and men who enter the Order of St Benedict (OSB).  This is a tough term to define, a fact even stated by Benedictine scholars.  I am not a scholar, but here is what I offer.

From Amma’s book, St. Benedict’s Toolbox:

For a Benedictine religious, it can mean fervently living the monastic life as outlined in the Rule of Benedict, being open to conversion or transformation…Conversion of life calls us to change and grow, to be transformed by the Spirit…Conversion of life is made possible by a quality of openness that enables God to change our hearts.  (58)

The other two vows, also defined in this Glossary, are Stability and Obedience.  Wow!  Not popular words in today’s world.  Please check these out for they show a path to God and to loving relationships.

From the Rule:

But as we progress in this way of life (converationis) and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.  Prologue 49

Following the instructions in Chapter 68 – Assignment of Impossible Tasks, I had mewed fervently to Br. Ricky that this definition was an impossible task for me.  But he kindly gave me some help. Trusting in God’s help and in love, I obeyed.  RB 68.5   Br Ricky said I did a good job!


Moses appointed elders to help him with the burdens of leadership (Exodus 18:13-23).  Benedict advises appointing deans to assist the leaders of the monastery with all that is required.

A dean is chosen “for their good repute and holy life” (RB 21.1).  In the rule, each dean is to take care of groups of ten.  Deans are to manage all affairs “according to the commandments of God and the orders of the superior” (RB 21.2).  

From the Rule:

The deans selected should be the kind of monastics with whom the superior can confidently share the burdens of his or her office.  RB 21.3

I can get worn out easily. Can you, too?  Perhaps we need to appoint others to help share the burdens we have.  That is a message I take from the deans of the monastery.

Divine Office

The Divine Office is also called Opus Dei, “the Work of God.”  Other names used are “the Daily Office” or “the Hours.”  The Divine Office is the main work of the monastic following The Rule of St Benedict.  Beginning in the middle of the night, long before dawn, and running through to the evening, Benedict’s community would meet eight times to praise God and to ask for guidance and help.  Each Office consists of Psalms, other Scripture, canticles, and hymns.

While there are some monastic communities today that continue to pray these eight Offices, many meet for four – morning, noon, evening and Compline, the last service of the day.  Us novices were relieved to learn that this is the practice here in the Feline Cloister!

The Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, CT, follows the eight services proscribed in the Rule.  You may enjoy reading about their worship and their way of life.  For those curious like us felines, please click here.

From the Rule:

Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God.  RB 43.3


A monk is a male religious who has chosen to dedicate his life to God within a monastic community.  The term derives from the word monachos, in ancient Greek meaning “single” or “solitary”.  Early monks were solitary and lived in the desert.  Later they gathered in communities.  After a nap, I realized that the terms monasticism and monastery also derived from this Greek term. 

Monks under The Rule of St. Benedict take vows of stability, obedience and  conversation morum, the latter often translated as “conversion of life.”  Check this Glossary for the definitions.  Benedictine monks are identified by OSB (Order of St. Benedict) after their name. 

From the Rule:

When [the monk] is to be received, he comes before the whole community in the oratory and promises stability, fidelity to monastic life [conversation morum] and obedience.  RB 58.17

Researched and Written by Novice Miss Sassafras

Miss Sassafras tuckered out after researching and writing her four definitions


Novice!  That’s me!  I was excited to do this definition.

Before a woman or man or feline takes the final promise to join a Benedictine monastery, they are called “novices.”  It’s a time of learning about the Rule and what it takes to live in a Benedictine community.    The purpose is to make sure that each person or feline knows in their heart that this is the community life they want.  The community needs to feel the same way, too.

Benedict’s process is described in Chapter 58 – The Procedure for Receiving Monastics.  Years ago novices lived apart from the rest of the community “so as to inculcate monastic ideals while shielding them from some of the harder aspects of reality.”  (I wondered what this “harder aspects of reality” was all about.)  “Today there is more concern to equip the novices with a spirituality that will nourish them in life as it is actually lived in the local community.”*

From the Rule:

Do not grant newcomers to the monastic life an easy entry, but, as the apostle says, Test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 John 4:1).  RB 58.1

I need to tell you that the “testing” is a good deal gentler today than in years past.  Our Novice Master, Br Ricky, is patient, especially with me.  I can be stubborn.  Like other Novice Masters, he wants us to learn and to grow in the Spirit.

*From The Benedictine Handbook, 345


A nun is a female religious who has chosen to dedicate her life to God within a monastic community.  Unlike sisters who take on charitable work beyond the monastery, nuns do not leave the enclosure to work or carry out other ongoing responsibilities.  In the early centuries, the Latin nonna, meaning “grandmother,” described women religious.

Nuns under The Rule of St. Benedict take vows of stability, obedience and  conversatio morum, the latter often translated as “conversion of life.”  Check this Glossary for the definitions.  Benedictine nuns are identified by OSB (Order of St. Benedict) after their name.

From the Rule:

When [a nun] is to be received, she comes before the whole community in the oratory and promises stability, fidelity to monastic life [conversatio morum] and obedience.  RB 58.17


Novice Master Br Ricky, OSB-F showed a sense of humor in assigning me this definition.  I m not always obedient.  Like many people today, the word “obedience” is not on my Top Ten list with treats and catnip (both scarce in the Feline Cloister).  But the Benedictine spin on this word is different from the use of it today.

Amma Jane wrote in St. Benedict’s Toolbox that obedience is…

“…listening to what God is saying in all aspects of life and responding to what we hear.  Women and men who take this vow turn their lives over to the superior of the monastery, to the Rule, and to the members of the community.”  St. Benedict’s Toolbox, 58

The goal for all of us is to figure out what God is asking us to do in a situation or even with lives.  Then, we respond in love to how we are being called.  You need to know, too, that the very first word in The Rule of St. Benedict is Listen!

Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from one who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.  Prologue 1

More from the Rule:

Obedience is a blessing to be shown by all, not only to the prioress and abbot but also to one another, since we know that it is by this way of obedience that we go to God.  RB 71.1-2



Not everyone’s station in life allows them to enter a monastery.  Men and women who see great value in the wisdom and practices in The Rule of Benedict can associate with a monastic community as an oblate, associate or third order member*.  Oblates live and work outside the monastic community.  They make temporary commitments to live the Rule as best as they can, given the circumstances and responsibilities of their lives. 

The only mention of “oblation” in the Rule is when children were brought to the monastery to live.  The parents presented gift (oblatione) to the community.  The idea was that the children would grow up and remain in the monastic community, taking vows.  This practice is no longer followed. 

In checking further, I found the history of oblates really interesting.  If you would like to learn about this history, click here.

From the Rule:

If a member of the nobility offers a child to God in the monastery, and the child is too young, the parents draw up the document mentioned above; then, at the presentation of the gifts (oblatione) , they wrap the document itself and the child’s hand in the altar cloth. That is how they make their offering.  RB 59.1-2

If I don’t make it as a vowed member of the Feline Cloister I’ll ask about becoming an oblate.  My designation would be OblOSB-F.

* A third order member resides at the monastery but does not take vows as a Benedictine religious. 

Researched and Written by Novice Mickey

“Well, I did my assignment.  Now I’m wondering if my definitions are helpful to you.  Hope so.”

Order of St. Benedict (OSB)

What is an “order?”  That was the first question I mewed, knowing that common usage of this noun often relates to an online purchase.

Merriam-Webster defines “order” as “group of people united in a formal way such as a fraternal society or community under a religious rule.”  People in “orders” join around a common rule or purpose.

Over the centuries there have been many monasteries who have followed the Rule of St. Benedict.  That history is a whole book in itself!  One characteristic was that there was no central organization.

In 1893 Pope Leo XVIII established the Benedictine Confederation within which are gathered Benedictine Congregations and monasteries of the Roman Catholic Church.  These communities remain autonomous, meaning they are self-governing.  The Abbot Primate is the head of the Benedictine Confederation. He is elected by the Congress of Abbots.  The current Abbot Primate is Gregory Polan, OSB, an American monk born in Illinois.  From his picture he looks like a pleasant and congenial Benedictine as most are.

As of 2018 the Confederation numbers around 7500 monks in 400 monasteries, belonging to 19 different Congregations.  Around 13000 nuns and sisters also belong to the order. The Benedictines work closely with the Cistercians and the Trappists, orders which also follow St Benedict’s Rule.”  (From

Today, women and men outside the Roman Catholic Church also follow the Rule of St. Benedict within monastic communities.  Monasteries are present within  the Anglican Communion, which includes the Episcopal Church in the United States.  There are also dispersed communities of men and women who seek to follow the Rule as lay person not living within a monastery.  These also take the Benedictine vows and receive the designation “OSB.”

Did St. Benedict intend to establish an “order?”  I didn’t find any concrete evidence of this.  My thought is that he would be very surprised to learn that there is an order and designation bearing his name – OSB.    Knowing his humility, I think that he would not necessarily be pleased, but would understand the need for gathering like minds in the search for God.

From the Rule:

Therefore we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.  In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome.  Prologue 45,46

Order of St. Benedict - Feline (OSB-F)

The Order of St. Benedict – Feline (OSB-F) is a special community of felines who follow St. Benedict’s Rule. We are gathered for the following purpose and mission:

Through non-judgmental observation and gentle sharing of feline Benedictine wisdom, members of the Feline Cloister strive to teach humans about The Rule of St. Benedict and how this Rule can help humans find peace and joy in daily life.

Our Abbess is Amma Jane, who created the Cloister. Our Prior is John, Amma’s husband. Most cloister members reside in New Jersey with novices dispersed around the United States.

To learn more about the Feline Cloister, click here.

From the Rule:

This, then, is the good zeal which members must foster with fervent love: “They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other” (Rom 12:10), supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior, and earnestly competing in obedience to one another. RB 73.3-6


My first thought about “porters” was, “Oh, monasteries have members who carry luggage!”  That’s not what St. Benedict had in mind.  St. Benedict’s porter has a different role and it’s very important.

The porter is the person or feline who stays right by the front door so that visitors and guests like you will always find someone close by to answer your knock. (RB 66.2)  Hospitality is a key part of the Rule and the porter is to be the essence of hospitality.

Sr. Nikki is the porter of our Feline Cloister.  As porter she must greet each visitor with “gentleness” and the “warmth of love” for she is welcoming Christ (66.4 and 53.1).  She needs to be a good listener, too, to mew the needs of the visitor to Amma Jane.  Benedict instructs that the porter be given help when needed (RB 66.5).  I am often called to help Sr Nikki when things get really busy.  I love mewing a welcome to guests!

From the Rule:

At the door of the monastery, place a sensible person who knows how to take a message and deliver a reply, and whose wisdom keeps them from roaming about. This porter will need a room near the entrance so that visitors will always find someone there to answer them. RB 66.1-2


The Prior and Prioress are monastic leaders.  In Chapter 65 of the Rule, Benedict gives the abbot of a male monastery the option to appoint a prior to help lead the community.  I found it really interesting that nearly every verse of Chapter 65 presents cautions about having a prior.  He could get puffed up with pride and foster discord (65.2).  The prior and the abbot could pursue conflicting policies and endanger their souls (65.8).  Or “God forbid,” as Benedict states in cases of extreme shock monastic behavior, the prior could show “open contempt for the holy rule” (65.18).  Reading between the lines, I would say that Benedict had tough challenges with priors!

Today, there are Benedictine monasteries whose superior is named a prior.  This is the case with the Episcopal Monastery of the Holy Cross.

A Prioress is the superior of a monastery of women who do not lead a cloistered life.  Most female monasteries today in the United States use “prioress” to denote the head of their monastery.  When the Benedictine women came to the US, many of the new communities didn’t follow the strict European rules of enclosure.  They chose instead to go out of the enclosure and serve the people near their monasteries.  Because of this they lost “the right” to be called abbeys.  I question such a decision.  Today, monks go outside the monastery to work or serve in the surrounding community.  Their monasteries have not lost the “right” to be called abbeys and their superiors, abbots.

The counterpart of prior in women’s monasteries is subprioress.

From the Rule:

The subprioress and prior for their part are to carry out respectfully what the prioress or abbot assigns, and do nothing contrary to their wishes or arrangements, because the more they are set above the rest, the more they should be concerned to keep what the rule commands.  RB 65.16-17

Rule of St. Benedict (RB)

Benedict wrote a Rule for his monastery at Monte Cassino to help the monks seek God and salvation in community.  The Rule has a Prologue and seventy-three chapters.  Benedict details liturgical instructions for prayer services.  Another important part of the Rule covers ways to live with one another in community – through respect, humility and love.  The Rule also details responsibilities and procedures for various roles within the monastery such as the abbot, the cellarer and the porter at the gate.

Benedict had no thought or idea that his Rule would become the main monastic rule by the 8th century, let alone that, over fifteen centuries later, people outside the monastery would find the Rule valuable in their own lives.

For more details, join the novices as Br Ricky, Novice Master, teaches about The Rule of St. Benedict.  Just click here.

From the Rule:

Are you hastening toward your heavenly home?  Then with Christ’s help, keep this little rule that we have written for beginners.  After that, you can set out for the loftier summits of the teaching and virtues we mentioned above, and under God’s protection you will reach them.  RB 73.8-9

Researched and Written by Novice Little Jenny

“Br Ricky really challenged me with these terms. But I figured it all out and, wow – this is fascinating!”


Sisters are women religious who leave the enclosure to live, to work, to serve the community or to make extra money for treats and such.*

When Benedictine women came to the US, many of the new communities didn’t follow the strict European rules of enclosure.  They chose instead to go out and serve the people near their monasteries.  They are not called “nuns” by the Roman Catholic Church, the designation of women religious who do not leave the enclosure.

Today, sisters may go out of the monastery to do ministry in the local community as well as engage in various ministries within the monastery.

NOTE:  A correction by Br Ricky, Novice Master, follows:

*  Monasteries today face similar financial challenges as do many individuals and households. Some sisters work outside the monastery today to help make ends meet, not to buy personal goodies or trinkets!

From the Rule:

Members who work so far away that they cannot return to the oratory at the proper time–and the prioress or abbot determines that is the case–are to perform the Opus Dei where they are, and kneel out of reverence for God.  RB 50.1-3


Stability is one of the vows a man or woman takes under The Rule of St. Benedict.  From Amma’s book, St. Benedict’s Toolbox:

“For a monastic living under the Benedictine Rule, Stability is a vow to remain in a particular monastic community.  For us, Stability asks us to remain where we are and to find grace in that relationship, place, or situation…not fleeing or distancing ourselves physically or emotionally.”

Have you ever wanted to run away from a person, a feline, a community or a situation that is frustrating or that you don’t like?  I really want to hurry away from this definition because I need to do reading for Chapter today.  But, the promise of Stability tells me to stay right where I am.  I am not to make a hasty exit.  So I will stay with this.  We are asked not to move our paws but to listen.  God is trying to help us learn something.

The English Benedictine Basil Cardinal Humus* wrote this of Stability:

“We give ourselves to God in a particular way of life, in a particular place, with particular companions.  This is our way:  in this Community, with this work, with these problems, with these shortcomings…we embrace life as we find it, knowing that this, and not any other, is our way to God.”

NOTE:  A correction by Br Ricky: * The Cardinal’s last name is Hume.  Novice William pleaded computer spell-checking for this error.

From the Rule:

[Novice William neglected to include a Rule quote.  Br. Ricky added the following:]

If [the novices] promise perseverance in stability, then after two months have elapsed let this rule be read straight through to them, and let them be told: “This is the law under which you are choosing to serve. If you can keep it, come in. If not, feel free to leave.” If they still stand firm, they are to be taken back to the novitiate, and again thoroughly tested in all patience.  RB 58.9-11

Amma Jane thinks Br Ricky has his paws full with Novice William!


To save time, I borrowed the following from Amma’s book, St. Benedict’s Toolbox.

“When men and women commit to religious life under the Benedictine Rule, they take three vows that convey the core of the Rule.

Stability – to remain present and faithful to people and place

Obedience – to listen and respond to God’s direction coming through people and the situations of life

Conversion of Life – to remain open to transformation and live fervently as a monastic or as a Christian outside a monastery.”

Conversion of Life in Latin is conversation moron.*

There is a fourth vow – poverty – which sounds pretty unreasonable if you ask me.**

NOTE:  Corrections by Br Ricky, Novice Master:

* Not conversation moron, but conversatio morum.   Novice William also pleaded computer spell-checking for these errors.

** Poverty is not a vow taken by Benedictines.  The vow of poverty is taken in other religious orders.

From the Rule:

When [the novice] is to be received, he or she comes before the whole community in the oratory and promises stability, fidelity to monastic life [conversion of life] and obedience.  RB 58.17

Researched and Written by Novice William

“I’m sure I did a good job.  Now I am going to congratulate myself.”  (Br Ricky is planning some one-on-one instruction on humility.)