[The following is from the program notes from our last celebration of Solemn Vespers.]
“The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent,” writes Saint Benedict, the Patriarch of Western monasticism and Patron of Europe. What characterizes the life of a monk? The vows that a Benedictine monk or nun makes today go all the way back to Benedict’s Rule, composed around the year 540 A.D. Rather than the later ‘traditional’ vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, Benedictines vow obedience, stability and “conversatio morum.” The latter phrase is notoriously difficult to render into English. The contemporary Benedictine who makes this vow is saying, “I promise to live like a monk!” “Conversatio” is an entire ‘way of life’, and Saint Paul says that for all Christians, our true conversatio is in heaven [Philippians 3: 20].