Four Kinds of Monks


As a little exercise in my discernment I am reading the Rule of St. Benedict, since I am at the moment very interested and drawn towards Cistercian/Trappist charism. The first chapter of the rule lays out the four types of monks. St. Benedict defines them as follows:

Cenobites-monks that live in a monastery and serve under a rule and an abbot.
Anchorites (hermits)-monks that have passed the test of the monastery with the help of the brothers and now go on to fight the devil in solitude .
Sarabites-detestable monks that have no experience and live under no rule, accepting and rejecting whatever suits their fancy.
Gyrovagues-monks that travel from community to community, spending a little time here and little time there, living off of others. Benedict says that these are in every way more detestable that Sarabites.

This is a real eye-opener for me, because in my heart of hearts, I have the spirit of a gyrovague. I desire to move around a lot. I am never satisfied or happy where I am. In my vision of the future I have lived many places and met many people, but have really made no lasting relationships, haven’t opened up to anyone. Essentially I run. I run from intimacy with other people. I’ve known this for a long time and it was one of the issues that Fr. Wilhelm and I discussed at great length way back when he was my spiritual director.

But I don’t want to be a gyrovague. I don’t want to live in fear and loneliness which the life of a gyrovague is. What good is meeting thousands of people if you know not one of them? I want to live in community.

I remember when I went on Summer Project in 2008. It was one of the best experiences of my life, living in a close community of faith where we got to know each other, where we supported each other, where barriers were broken down. That is what I desire again. I want my heart to be changed so that I take the risk to be an integral part of that kind of community.

Lord, change my heart from one of a gyrovague to that of a cenobite, one who is stable in his relationships and his community. Amen.