Through our baptism we are called to be ministers in Christ’s church. Some are called to be Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Religious, and the most noble of all orders, the Laity from which all orders come. We are all called to a holy vocation, a royal priesthood. No office or position is greater. We all serve Christ’s church on our path to salvation.
There are various types of Religious. The Holy Spirit gives each Order a specific charism so that the church may be served and strengthened. For some time I have felt a call to monasticism. You might be curious as to what exactly monasticism is or Monastic Life. In a monastic vocation an individual feels called to renounce worldly pursuits and to devote ones self to spiritual work. The craft of the monastic can vary from Science to crafting beer. Yet, for Benedictines their core work is prayer. Following a moderate rule of life monastic’s pray the Liturgy of the hours, sometimes called the Work of God.
The Church for centuries has recognized the importance of monastic prayer and have called their work the “prayer engine of the church.” While many people attention is directed to things of this world, the monastic’s offer up prayers for the world. They are the beacons of light that shine in an often dark world. Monasteries are set like a city on the hill; offering refuge, healing, and direction to a sick and dying world. Through the centuries many have forgotten about Religious life, this is especially true in the Anglican/Episcopal Church. Religious life disappeared after King Henry VIII banished Religious life from England when he broke away from Rome to secure an another wife. Benedictine life did not return to England until 1904 and in the United States until about 65 years ago.
The Church says only about 4% of Christians are called to Religious life. Through spiritual discernment I was drawn to a Benedictine community. I have been in relationship with the Abbot for about 2 and a half years. The Abbot and I believe that the Holy Spirit is calling me to be part of that 4%. It is a path to salvation that is built on structure, discipline, and prayer; of dying to self and becoming the man God called me to be at my baptism. Like all of us conversion is a work in progress. Mine will just be a bit more visible.
This past May I entered the religious community of The House of Initia Nova (New Beginnings). It is a Benedictine Community whose Mother House is in Houston Texas. They have lay members and religious all over the world. They also have a few who live in community at the Genesis Abbey.
I am currently in my postulancy. In this time I get to try on this life, and see if it fits. At the Abbey I was figuratively stripped of my garments, and clothed in the tunic of a monk. My name was changed to signify a new life in Christ. My new name and the black clothing is a continuing symbol of the renunciation to the world, and a new continuation in my life with Christ. For many my name change has been somewhat a struggle. To many I will always be Kirk, to other Kirkus, and that is ok.
After my postulancy I will enter the novitiate and from there into Professed life. Each step requires commitment and inward change. Some of the steps will be represented by some exterior change, an external symbol of an internal grace. It is my prayer and hope that over time my life and the symbol of my monastic life will become a blessing for me and for you. It is something that will be a slow progression in our life together. I do not want to be a distraction from our worship life together. Praying the daily office, and serving at the altar of our Lord I will continue as I always have.
If you have any questions regarding religious life, lay orders, or my call please feel free to ask. Thank you all for your continued support, love, and prayer.
Br. John-Paul, p/OSB (Kirk Broyles)
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