Vocation


Every person has a vocation, for most this will include marriage and family life, for others the single state and for some it will be lived out within a religious community. Every person needs to spend time discerning their God-given vocation. Discernment is a process and can take many years. It is an essential process which requires effort, may bring a sense of some trepidation and/or excitement and finally a sense of coming to know oneself and one's place.

Discernment
 A person drawn to St Mark's Abbey will discern the beginning of some of the elements below:
  • A desire to love and serve God with their whole being through a contemplative life-style based on the Divine Office and prayer.
  • A desire to have direction in their life through the observance of a Rule of life.
  • A desire and maturity to give up their own will in submission to God and those with authority in the community.
  • A desire to serve others and the world through prayer.
  • A desire for fraternal sharing in a consecrated life.
  • The man or woman will be Anglican, single, without dependants or debt, aged between 23-45 years and of sound physical and mental health.

How does one go about discernment of a monastic vocation?
The following steps may be of help:
  • A deep 'Listening with the ear of the heart' through prayer and spiritual reading, reception of the Sacraments and in the events of daily life.
  • Seeking the help of an understanding priest or a monastic to whom one may have access and with whom one can be fully open and receptive.
  • Read about the Order of St Benedict and commentaries on the Rule.
  • Visit the community and take part in the Office and prayer, experience the silence and practice listening for God.
  • Speak with the Abbot and/or the monk or nun responsible for novices
  • Remember, discernment takes time and may lead one in a direction unthought of. It may be that one's path in life is in another direction, but each step one takes can be part of the discernment process
  • Discernment before entering a community is only the beginning of a life-long process. There is a long period of mutual discernment between entry and any vows. 
Beginnings
Stages of Initial Formation
A man or woman seeking entrance to monastic life, embarks on a number of stages through which the individual and the community can discern the vocation. These stages are to assist the newcomer in responding to their life-long call, be it in the community or along another path.

Explorer/Observer
Initially, the man or woman aspiring to this life will come to the guest house for times of reflection. They may share in the prayer and after a number of visits, perhaps the work, of the abbey. This may be followed by a stay within the monastery enclosure as an Aspirant. The Guest sister/brother, Abbot or vocation director could be approached to answer questions and help discernment in this early stage.

Postulancy
The next stage is that of Postulancy. This time (3-6 months) is spent within the monastic enclosure, living the life among the community. The postulant is under the care of the monk or nun responsible for newcomers and may attend classes and have a share in the community work.

Novitiate
If the community and postulant discern a genuine zeal for God and the monastic life then the postulant may request admission to the novitiate. This is marked by the bestowal of the monastic habit and beginning of formal novitiate training (minimum two years). Monastic life is a school of the Lord's service. At first the way may seem restrictive, but as love grows so life blossoms into fullness in the joy of response to God. 

Simple Commitment
After the discernment of the novitiate, the novice monk or nun, may make a commitment by promise (three years minimum) and so commit themselves to seeking God in the way of St Benedict, within this community

Solemn Profession
When, after the period of simple commitment, the genuineness of the vocation is clear to the individual and the community, then Solemn Profession may be made. This is the binding of oneself to God in the monastic life, within this community, for life. The vows of Obedience, Conversion of Life, and Stability are made.
 
The Vows of a Benedictine Monastic
Obedience
In seeking to follow the way of Jesus, Obedience sets us free from our own will to do the will of God.

Conversion of Life
This vow encompasses the very roots of monastic life-style and includes, celibacy, simplicity, and generosity in our love and service of God and others

Stability
This binds us to God who is ever faithful, and to our brothers and sisters in the community as we live and grow together.

The Eucharist
In the celebration of the Eucharist, the community, together with other members of the body of Christ, recognise and receive Christ into ourselves. Each day it is our joy and privilege to celebrate Christ’s gift of himself to us hidden in the forms of bread and wine.


The Divine Office
In the Divine Office the hours of the day are consecrated to God. We come before God as a community, seven times in the day and night to praise Him, to intercede for the world and its peoples, to listen and simply to be with Him. The church bell calls us to prayer, as the voice of God, calls to us to 'listen with the ear of our heart".
 
04.30 am : Vigils (Watching and waiting for the coming of the Light)
06.30 am : Lauds (Praise to Christ risen, ascended, glorified)
08.15 am : Terce ("Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful people and kindle in them the fire of your love")
11.45 am : Sext (Praise to Christ who forgives our sins) 
02.10 pm : None (Praise to Christ who through His death has conquered death and set us free)
05.00 pm : Vespers (Praise to Christ our light, who is with us always)
07.30 pm : Compline ("Into your hands, O Lord, I commit my spirit . . .")

Through psalmody, scripture readings and the simple beauty of the chant the Office expresses and forms the inner life of the community and of each monk and nun.

Lectio Divina, Meditation and Prayer
Approximately three hours a day are given to Lectio Divina, Meditation and Prayer. Lectio Divina is a prayerful reading of Scripture, the principle of which is to listen to what God is saying to the soul through His words in the Scripture (or at times some other inspired book).

Work
The chief work of a monastic is to give our love to God. It is to undertake the journey of moving from self and working for God, to losing our selves in God and working with Him. All our work is an expression of this. It is loving God, and hence loving our neighbour and all of God's people and creation. Prayer is not separate from work but an integral part. 

From prayer our work flows and our work flows back into prayer. Our work is a participation in the creative and loving work of God. Through our work we serve one another and God's world. It is our way of participation in the world (through our work we earn the money to sustain the community) and we can experience firsthand the fulfilment, joy, frustrations and difficulties of life in the world.

Hospitality
The Abbey guest house provides a space for people who wish to spend some time alongside the monastic community and enjoy a time of prayer and space from the pressures and business of everyday life. Parish groups, youth groups and many other interested persons come for a day visit on pilgrimage, for a quiet day, or to stay for a few days in the guest house. Visitors and guests are most welcome to attend the Divine Office and the daily Eucharist. The care of guest's physical, and spiritual needs before, during and after their stay is a considerable task, but one very much part of a Benedictine Abbey. St Benedict bids us to welcome guests as we would welcome Christ Himself. 

Care of the Garden
The Abbey garden is a place of beauty and prayer. God is worshipped in the midst of his abundant creation and through work in the garden we have a small part in that creative gift. Fruit and vegetables are also grown, and their harvest brings much thanksgiving for God's abundant gifts and the hard work of of the community who work in the garden

Mounting of Icons
Icon prints are mounted and varnished. The icon prints are sourced from many areas of the world and the finished products sold through our shop and a number of bookshops and churches.
For more information about icons

The making of Incense
Incense is handmade from finest quality imported resins and oils. The recipes used are of ancient tradition. The use of incense in worship dates from very early times and its symbolism assists prayer and worship. For more information about incense

Printing
Beginning with the quill pen and calligraphic illumination, 'printing' has long been a tradition in monastic life. Our very modern, well equipped printery continues the tradition of disseminating the Scriptures through the production of Sunday Mass Readings to over 100 parishes throughout Australia. (We print readings for both the Common Lectionary, as used with An Australian Prayer Book and the Revised Common Lectionary, as used with A Prayer Book for Australia . Contact us for further details.) 

We also print for businesses and individuals, custom cards (parish notelets, bereavement, Thank You, etc.), Service Booklets (Anniversaries, Confirmation, Weddings, Funerals, etc.), flyers, business cards -- and lots more!