How come your order follows the Rule of St. Benedict?

I have been discerning monastic life for almost my entire life, I first went to a monastery when I was three but didn’t get the true call to the life until I was twenty seven. I then went to a Benedictine monastery and thought it was good but not “strict enough,” so I decided to see the Trappists. So now my question is; how come your order follows the Rule of St. Benedict and not Rance or maybe even the Cistercian Fathers or any Cistercian in history? It seems to me that the Church already has an order that follows the Rule and they’re the Benedictines. I actually heard from one Vocation director that they don’t even follow the Rule or even the Pope! So, to say the least I have been confused and very disturbed by all this, what are you thoughts?


I appreciate your trust – and promise to keep your search, your discernment, in my prayer.

The 10th and 11th centuries were a time of renewal within the Church. The Benedictine Order was still very vital, but there were some (like the founders of our Cistercian Order) who felt that something had been lost of the original simplicity and balance of St. Benedict’s Rule. Hence the choice to try to return to that by founding a new monastery.

In later centuries, due to many things including the sad state of Europe during the time of the Bubonic plague and all the wars going on, there was a falling away from this ideal of our Cistercian founders – and hence various attempts at another renewal. As you mention, one of these was that promoted by Abbot de Rance. He had a special focus on penitential practices (because of all the abuses of his time in history) which was somewhat foreign to the spirit of the founders of Citeaux as I have described above. Their genius was their intuition that the Rule of St. Benedict was a real school of charity (and all the other virtues!) and that its discretion and balance were what made it so.

Our Trappist/Cistercian life today is based on that inspiration of our Cistercian Fathers (and Mothers!) – with some of the additions of the centuries and “extras” left aside in favor of the contemplative orientation and balance of the original Rule of St. Benedict. This Rule is lived in different ways – by some lay people who try to incorporate some of its practices into their daily Christian lives. And by some Benedictine monks and nuns who combine prayer with various apostolic activities. And by the Trappists who try to live it fully within their monasteries especially by prayer. We believe that we are carrying out the intention of our founders, adapted to our time – as the Church has urged us to do. I hope this helps – and again, I will hold you and your vocational searching in my prayer.