References and Glossary

By God's grace I am what I am. Rule of Benedict

Learn More: References and Glossary

Many excellent books, articles and Web sites are available to you, in your quest to learn more about Discernment, Benedictine Life, and Spirituality.

Scroll down for a brief Glossary of terms used in Benedictine life.

Benedictine References


  • Barry, SJ, Rev. William A., Paying Attention to God, Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1990.
  • Bryant, RSC, Sister Kathleen, Vocations Anonymous: A handbook for adults discerning priesthood and religious life, Chicago, IL: National Coalition for Church Vocations, 1997.
  • Catholics on Call by Robin Ryan

The Rule of Benedict

  • Böckmann, Aquinata, Perspectives of the Rule of St. Benedict, Liturgical Press, 2005.
  • Chittister, OSB, Joan, The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages, NY: Crossroad, 1995.
  • Chittister, OSB, Joan, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today, NY: Harper Collins, 1990.
  • de Waal, Esther, Living with Contradiction: Reflections on the Rule of St. Benedict, NY: Harper Collins, 1989.
  • Grün, OSB, Anselm, Benedict of Norcia with the Legacy of St. Benedict by Philip and Sally Scharper, BMH Publications: Schuyler Spiritual Series, 1992.
  • Romero OSB, Mary Jane, Seeking: Reflections on the Rule, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1972.

Benedictine Life

  • de Waal, Esther, Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1984.
  • McQuiston, II, John, Always We Begin Again: The Benedictine Way of Living, Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1996.
  • Norris, Kathleen, The Cloister Walk, NY: Riverhead Books, 1987.
  • Sammon, FMS, Sean, An Undivided Heart, Making Sense of Celibate Chastity, Staten Island, NY: Alba House, 1993.
  • Tomaine, Jane, St. Benedict's Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday BenedictineLiving,Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 2005.
  • Wiederkehr, OSB, Macrina, The Song of the Seed: A Monastic Way of Tending the Soul, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995.
  • Casey, Michael, Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina, Liguori, MO: Triumph Books, 1996.


  • Bondi, Roberta, To Pray & To Love. Conversation on Prayer with the Early Church, Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1991.
  • Brueggemann, Walter, The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary, Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1984.
  • Dumm OSB, Demetrius, Flowers in the Desert: A Spirituality of the Bible, NY: Crossroad, 1987.
  • Funk, Mary Margaret, Thoughts Matter: The Practice of the Spiritual Life, NY: Continuum, 1998.
  • Keating, Thomas, The Kingdom is Like...Reflections on the Parables, NY: Crossroad, 1994.
  • Keating, Thomas, Open Heart, Open Mind, NY: Amity, 1986.
  • Main, John, Word into Silence, Ramsey, NJ: Paulist Press, 1981.
  • Nouwen, Henri, With Open Hands, Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1972.
  • Pennington, OSCO, Basil, A Place Apart, Doubleday, 1983.
  • Stella, Tom, The God Instinct, Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2001.
  • van Breemen, S.J., The God Who Won't Let Go, Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2001.
  • Wiederkehr, OSB, Macrina, A Tree Full of Angels, NY: Harper Collins, 1988.
  • Wiederkehr, OSB, Macrina, The Song of the Seed, ISBN 0-06-069554-4.

Web Sites - articles on vocation discernment and religious communities

Magazines and Newspapers

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Glossary of Benedictine Terms


A monastery canonically erected and autonomous, with a community of not fewer than 12 religious, with an abbess as superior for women's communities, and an abbot as superior for men's communities.

Active or Apostolic Communities

Members of active communities are called to ministry primarily outside their communities, often in education, health care and pastoral work. Members of active communities may or may not live together.

Centering Prayer

Centering Prayer is a silent form of prayer in which the intellect is quieted in order for one's spirit to rest in God.

Cloistered or Contemplative Communities

Members of cloistered communities live and work within the confines of their monasteries, rarely going out. Their priority is to pray, study and work together.


Night prayer, or Compline, is sung together on Sundays at St. Mary Monastery.

Contemplative and Active Communities

Members of communities that are both contemplative and active give priority to living and praying together every day, but also pursue outside ministry.


A religious community of either sex (most commonly used to refer to nuns)


Used by monastics to discover God's will, discernment is decision-making in a prayerful, God-centered context.

Divine Office

Also called Liturgy of the Hours, the Divine Office is prayed at regular intervals of the day. At St. Mary Monastery, the Sisters of St. Benedict pray Lauds, Noon Prayer, Vespers and, on Sunday evenings, Compline together.


The Sisters of St. Benedict celebrate Mass – or Eucharist – daily.

Fidelity to the Monastic Way of Life

This is our promise to work through life – and life's changes – with God at the center of our lives. We seek to be faithful to this way of life ... and this life transforms us when we are faithful to it. It transforms us so that we turn to God in the midst of everything that happens in our lives – in joy, in pain, in everyday events. It transforms us during communal and private prayer, so that we can deal with the everyday stuff of life.


The peasant cloak was once worn by all Sisters to signify their allegiance to ordinary people, who, in ancient times, dressed the same way. After the Second Vatican Council many orders retired their habits, acknowledging that such cloaks are no longer worn by ordinary people. The Sisters of St. Benedict wear everyday street clothes, to signify their allegiance to ordinary people.

Hoeveler, Ottilia

Ottilia Hoeveler founded the community of the Sisters of St. Benedict in Nauvoo, Illinois, when she established a boarding school for girls in 1874. The community moved upriver to St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island, Illinois in 2001.


Lauds is the morning prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours at St. Mary Monastery.

Lectio Divina

A meditative approach to reading scripture, Lectio Divina literally means "holy reading."

Liturgy of the Hours

Also called the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of the Church in which the Psalms are recited in choir. At St. Mary Monastery, the Sisters of St. Benedict pray Lauds, Noon Prayer, Vespers and, on Sunday evenings, Compline together.


A community of women or men under the rule of one superior. American Benedictine communities generally use the term 'monastery' to describe their home.

Monastic Profession

Before becoming a professed member of the Sisters of St. Benedict, a candidate makes her perpetual monastic profession in which she embraces a permanent commitment to obedience, stability and fidelity to the monastic way of life.


American Roman Catholic monasticism usually applies to Benedictine women and men who have chosen to live together to seek and serve God, following the Rule of Benedict under the direction of a prioress (women's communities) or abbot (men's communities).


In the United States, Roman Catholic "monastics" refers to Benedictine Sisters and Brothers.

Noon Prayer

The bells ring at 11:30 each morning but Sunday to call the Sisters together for Noon Prayer, which they sing in two choirs.


Members of cloistered women's religious communities are referred to as Nuns.


This is our promise to be faithful listeners. We listen to the voice of the Spirit in Scriptures, in the Rule of Benedict, in the Prioress, in one another. We try to be guided by the question of what is truly best for ourselves, and for the community. Then, we seek to respond with generosity and courage.

Opus Dei

The term St. Benedict used to describe Benedictine common prayer, Opus Dei literally means the "Work of God."


The prioress is the spiritual and business head of women's Benedictine communities (the abbot is the head of men's communities). At St. Mary Monastery, we elect our prioress through a process of prayerful discernment every four years.


A monastery whose superior is a prioress or prior.

Riepp, Benedicta

Mother Benedicta Riepp founded American monasticism when she came from Eichstatt, Bavaria to help educate immigrant children in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

Rule of St. Benedict

St. Benedict and his sister, St. Scholastica, founded Benedictine communities for men and women in the late 500's, AD. St. Benedict wrote a guide to living in community for his followers called "The Rule of Benedict." As relevant today as it was 1500 years ago, the Rule celebrates the values of love, service, hospitality, stewardship and humility that we seek to show all God's people.


Women who live in active, uncloistered religious communities are usually referred to as Sisters. Most American Benedictine women are referred to as Sisters, while cloistered European Benedictines are referred to as Nuns.


This is our promise to live the Benedictine life together. Rooted and strengthened by our lives in this community, celibacy enables us to devote our time and energy as Christ, in the service of others. Celibacy allows us to share ourselves fully with the world. Monastic poverty asks that we live simply, balancing our wants and needs.