What is a Monk?
A monk is a man who practices dying as a way of life.
A monk dies to his false self: his egoism, his self-deception, to the illusions about who he should be and what life is all about that his upbringing and his culture have laid upon him; he dies to his compulsions and to his raw emotional responses to people and to situations.
A monk is also a man who practices coming to life and living his true self. At the same time that he is dying, he discovers an exhilarating freedom for life and for love. He discovers who he really is, and that discovery is not different from the discovery of the true God and the Destiny of the Universe, the God who is Love, the Father to whom all are being drawn into One.
The monk is a man who has followed Jesus Christ. He has followed him into the wilderness to spend his life in prayer to the Father; and he has followed him to the Cross to spend his life in service and in forgiveness. He follows Jesus in the company of other followers, men open to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the Church, the Body of Christ.
We Cistercian monks carry out our dying, rising to life, and discipleship, within the embrace of the monastic buildings and their surroundings. At Ava, our Ozarks woods afford an enviable solitude where we are happy to be simply a little Abbey in the woods. Our clothing and food are simple and plain, our silence large and full, and for entertainment, there is the change of seasons, the song and flight of birds, the romping with the dogs in fresh fallen snow.
The search for God is something deep and basic in human nature. In every time and culture there have been some who fell drawn to leave ordinary pursuits in the world aside, and devote themselves to a deepening union with God. Through a hidden life of intercessory prayer and sacrifice, they ask God’s mercy and the redeeming grace of Christ for Their brothers and sisters in the world.
Monks support themselves by their own manual labor. We made concrete blocks from the sand and gravel of our creek for twenty five years. Our blocks were used in the construction of our permanent monastery building. In recent decades baking fruitcakes earns our bread and butter.