Contemplative monastic life is a lived response to a call from God, heard within the heart; a call to go apart and enter more fully into the search for God. It is marked by a life of intense prayer cultivated in silence and solitude but lived within a human community which offers the constant invitation to conversion of heart. This is the process of ‘saint-making’ to which St. Therese of Lisieux and Thomas Merton referred in their writings.
The daily contemplative monastic horarium or schedule is centered upon the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Mass, like the central diamond in an elaborate ring, is surrounded by other gems: the Liturgy of the Hours (the official public prayer of the Church set for various times of the day), and extended time for personal prayer, private meditation, and spiritual reading.
With Liturgy and prayer so central to the life, the rules of enclosure or the cloister are necessary to preserve this focus. Communities usually support themselves through some sort of work that can be done within the monastery itself and benefit from the generous support of benefactors.
Today, the monastic way strives for development of the whole person; spiritual, emotional and psychological. Recognizing the complexity of the human creation and the necessity of calling forward the true self while abandoning the false one, the life strives for balance and looks for the invitation of Jesus Christ revealed in all things.