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How Do I Become a Monk?

Monks dedicate their lives to service God.
The Dalai Lama, a monk of the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
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  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2014
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A monk is a person who has decided to live his life in complete service to God. He gives up normal life to live in a monastery or temple, spending his time in prayer, meditation and service. There are monks in several religious traditions, including Catholicism and Buddhism; the path to becoming a monk in either takes years of commitment and study. Both start, however, with the same calling to devote themselves to their religion.

To become a Catholic monk, a man must be of sound mind and body. He must be a Roman Catholic, and have received the Sacrament of Confirmation, a ceremony usually performed in the adolescent years that makes a person an official part of the Catholic Church. Before embarking on the road to become a monk, a man must be free of all debts and responsibilities. He must have lived a good, moral life for several years, and, preferably, have an active roll in his church community.

The first step to become a monk in the Catholic Church is to visit a monastery, preferably several times. These visits should help the man decide if this a life he would be able to cheerfully lead. The next step is to contact the Novice Master, who is responsible for overseeing the training of new monks.

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There is usually a trial period, called the postulancy, which lasts up to six months. During this time, the Novice Master and the monk in training see if becoming a monk is the right choice for the man. After this, the man will enter the novicate stage, where he will spend a year being trained to be a monk. After a year, the community can vote for him to take temporary vows and to be able to wear his first robe. At any time during this trial phase, the man can choose to leave, or be asked to leave, without any official action being taken.

After being voted in as an official monk in training, the man will spend a minimum of three years continuing his education to become a monk. At the end of this time, the community of monks will again vote to decide whether or not he should become a monk. If he is accepted, he will be allowed to take his vows and will become an official member of the community. There are three vows a man must take to become a monk: the vow of obedience, the vow of stability, and the vow of conversion of life, agreeing to give up his previous life to fully enter the monastery.

The path to become a Tibetan, or Buddhist, monk is similar to the path for becoming a Catholic monk. The first step is to study the Buddhist teachings and find meaning in them. The next step is to find a spiritual guide, someone who can act as an adviser and as support for the monk in training. The next step is to spend some time in a monastic community, to experience life as a monk.

After deciding that the life of a Tibetan monk is the right choice, a man then enters several years of training and education. During this time, he is expected to live his life in a way that honors the Buddhist teachings. At the end of his initial training, the man will take part in a ceremony, under the leadership of an experienced monk, to become a novice monk. After more training, the novice can become an ordained Buddhist monk, or a bhikkhu.

Most often, the term monk specifically refers to a man who has chosen this calling, while women are called nuns, although the two positions are not identical. There are some cases in which a woman may become a monk, however. Although the Catholic Church does not permit women to become monks, some other Christian denominations do. There are also female Buddhist monks.

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anon285869
Post 6

I think being a monk is a lifestyle. It's being a normal individual who has accepted the fact that his life is perfected in that solitary life and he is working with God and being a voice of God, and celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ in a timely manner. --Lee

anon244632
Post 5

There are, indeed, Benedictine orders for Lutheran and Anglican brothers and sisters. In the Rules of St. Francis of Assisi, though, he wanted his followers to be good Catholics.

Protestant denominations have not typically had monastic orders because Martin Luther had been a monk and didn't have many good things to say about monastics. Nuns are indeed our monastic sisters, called of God and live by the same vows and rules as the monks. It's debatable as to which group sings the antiphons the best.

anon163063
Post 4

To elizabeth23: The martial monks of Shaolin temple are the monks that inspired the idea in the Final Fantasy games. They are some of the most physically trained and developed devotees in all of martial arts, and are able to perform feats of endurance and strength that defy logic.

As advanced as they are physically, they are equally or more so developed in their spiritual practice, for this is where they accredit the source of their power to perform their amazing abilities.

elizabeth23
Post 3

In the Final Fantasy series of role playing video games, there are types of characters called "monks" who fight with their bare hands, sort of like martial artists. I always thought this was ironic, and wondered if there were any monks out there who could really do serious damage with their fists. I think it would be pretty cool, though hopefully they would only use these powers for good.

watson42
Post 2

How do you become a monk if you are a different religious denomination? That is what I have always wondered. As a girl who is Lutheran, I have often wondered if anyone has just started Lutheran monastic orders, just for fun. It seems like any denomination should be able to have monks and nuns, but so few do.

helene55
Post 1

When I was little I always thought that being a monk would be very cool, of course to find that only men could become them; while women can be nuns, that never struck me as nearly so interesting. These days I have no desire to enter the clergy, but I still find it unfortunate that the Catholic church and some other denominations have so many gender restrictions in these sorts of roles.

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