Monastic formation is a lifelong process.
In his introduction to the Rule, St Benedict tells us that he wishes “to establish a school for the Lord’s service” (v. 45).
A school where we search for God
This is a school where we search for God in community through worship, study and work. And the goal of our searching is to journey “all together to everlasting life.” (RB 72:12) Benedict’s school is not a place where we learn certain skills and accumulate expertise and knowledge, but rather a workshop of the Spirit where we are formed and grow in the likeness of Christ.
A monk’s life is above all a life of praise which proclaims to the world that God comes first in his life and that it is this relationship which gives him joy.
“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else.”(RB 4:20-21)
Not an easy option
St Benedict did not see the monastic life as an easy option. In chapter 58 of the Rule he says that anyone seeking to join should not be given an easy entrance. It must be seen “whether the novice truly seeks God and whether he shows eagerness for the Work of God [community prayer/lectio/study], for obedience and for trials. The novice should be clearly told all the hardships and difficulties that will lead him to God.” (RB 58:7-8)