Frequently Asked Questions About Monastic Life At St. Peter’s Abbey
Where is St. Peter’s Abbey located?
St. Peter’s Abbey is located on the Prairies one and a half hours east of Saskatoon.
What is the affiliation of St. Peter’s Abbey with the Roman Catholic Church?
We are a member of the American-Cassinese Congregation that includes 23 abbeys in North America. St. Peter’s Abbey is a community of 18 monks who have committed themselves to vows of stability, conversion, and obedience.
Founded on the Gospel and the monastic tradition of Benedict, we seek to be a caring, fearless community, answering the Spirit’s call to holiness and universal reconciliation.
We seek to provide prophetic witness through a monastic lifestyle of prayer and work that gives priority to the praise of God. We embrace service to God’s People through hospitality to guests and, according to our resources, through involvement in parish ministry, education, the press and sustainable agriculture.
We follow the Rule attributed to St. Benedict of Nursia in the early sixth century. The Benedictine motto “Ora et Labora” (Pray and Work) describes our style of monastic life. Through prayer a constant awareness of God’s presence is fostered. As a community, the monks of St. Peter’s gather daily for morning prayer (Lauds) followed by the Eucharist, noon prayer, evening prayer (Vespers), and vigils.
Depending on a person’s abilities and talents, each monk spends part of his day at some suitable occupation. At St. Peter’s we have undertaken a variety of apostolates and activities. We have St. Peter’s College affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan; St. Peter’s Press which publishes a weekly Catholic journal, the Prairie Messenger, and does various printing work. Monks are involved in the upkeep of the abbey property. As well, monks who have been ordained are involved in parish ministry in nearby communities. In addition to the above enterprises, we have a guest wing for people in need of rest, spiritual growth and enrichment.
Because of the needs of the Church in a particular area, each monastic community has developed its own spirit and charisma. Every monastic family, therefore, is open to receiving new members. In fact, the reception and retention of those who come to live in a particular community is often the most telling sign of whether the life is being lived with fidelity and authenticity.
1,500 years of experience tell us that the Rule of St. Benedict has encapsulated remarkably well the wisdom and gentleness that enable people to live together in relative harmony as they engage in a communal deepening of their search for God and service to God’s people.
What is meant by the Benedictine monastic vows of stability, conversion, and obedience?
By his profession of stability the monk commits himself to perseverance in the monastic community of his profession until death (cf. RB 4:78; Prol 50). This commitment binds the monk not only to the community of a particular locality but especially to the monastic way of life of that community. By strengthening the monk’s resolve to remain in loving service of his Lord and his brothers within the concrete circumstances of his own monastic family, such stability fosters his abiding in the love of Christ (cf. Jn 15:10,12).
By his profession of conversion through a monastic way of life (conversatio morum), the monk commits himself to the persevering exercise of monastic discipline and self-denial that school him for growth towards the fullness of love (cf. RB Prol 45-49; 7:67). The ascetical labour of sharing in Christ’s passion by dying to sin and by leaving unchosen many things of great value for the sake of the Kingdom leads to the life and freedom of the resurrection (cf. RB Prol 50). This paschal character of the monastic way of life shines forth in the monk’s following of Christ in his poverty and celibate love.
By his profession of obedience the monk seeks to enter more fully into that mystery of loving obedience whereby Christ, fulfilling his Father’s will, laid down his life for all and opened for the future the hope of the resurrection. Through his listening for and heeding of God’s will as it is mediated to him both by his abbot and by the needs of his brothers, the monk seeks to express the lordship of Christ over his entire life (cf. RB 5:12-13). It is in this spirit that the monk binds himself to obey his superiors, including the Supreme Pontiff (CIC 590.2), in accordance with the Rule of Saint Benedict and the proper law of the Congregation (CIC 598.1; 601).