For over 2,000 years men and women have set out for places of seclusion and peace in hopes of finding communion with God. While our vocation to marriage looks vastly different from the call of monks and nuns, we ultimately desire the same end.
Most of us can’t pack up our stuff and move our lives to a quiet cabin in the woods, but we can learn so much from our brothers and sisters who live within the monastery walls; many aspects of the monastic life can be modified and applied to the Catholic home in order to help married couples and families grow closer to God.
Create a Rule of Life
Monks lead lives of discipline and order. Each religious order has their own set of precepts called a Rule of Life, which serves as a guide to keep their eyes fixed on God while living in their vocation.
Building a structure that influences your day-to-day is a beneficial practice for every couple and family that will help you and your marriage flourish.
In our vocation of marriage we have duties to our husbands, to our family, to our home, to God, and to ourselves. Having a Rule of Life helps ensure that each of these areas are receiving the attention they need, allowing you to find a deeper peace and a more profound freedom.
Create a Sacred Space
Monks and nuns in a contemplative order will spend much of their lives praying in a place secluded from the rest of the world. For those of us called to the vocation of marriage and family life, that isn’t really possible (nor should it be!)
However, we can create a space in our homes that functions as a “little monastery.”
Your home’s sacred space doesn’t have to be elaborate, it adds a lot of beauty to your home, and setting aside a wall or corner that fosters prayer and contemplation will help you refocus your attention on God.
Every successful rule of life includes daily prayer, a necessity for anyone striving for holiness. Even incorporating simple daily prayers can bear immense fruit and can easily involve your spouse and your children.
You might consider praying a rosary (or a decade of the rosary) everyday, or take up saying the Liturgy of the Hours. You could also add an Examen to your evening routine, or if possible, go to a daily Mass at a nearby parish.
In the words of monk and author Thomas a Kempis: “In silence and quiet the devout soul advances in virtue and learns the hidden truths of Scripture.”
However, work, kids, and the constant buzzing of our phones and social media apps can make silence difficult to find outside of a monastery. Thankfully, there are many little changes you can make to cultivate silence even on the busiest of days.
You can try limiting your phone usage especially in the morning or before bed. Or you can try waking up before the kids and enjoy your coffee, or turning the radio off on your commute.