I am in a non-regularized marriage for thirty years – can I become a monk?

I have been in a non regularized marriage for more than thirty years. My wife and I are living as brother and sister at present in order to be able to receive the Eucharist rightly.

I have always wanted to be some sort of religious. I have always loved the simplicity and poverty of Cistercian spirituality. I realize that I must either regularize my marriage or dissolve it. The need and the hunger for the total giving of myself to God in an un-distracted way by prayer and solitude is undeniable.

This marriage has been dysfunctional since the beginning. Having been away from the Church for a number of years, till about twenty years ago, I made decisions, such as the one to get married.

In addition, my life as a husband has never really worked. Personal factors aside, I wonder if I might be being called by God to the life of a monk. If it is an escape, I am sure He can show me that as well…

Would there be a place in a Cistercian monastery, somewhere, for a frail, sinful man such as myself?

You speak of degrees of dis-satisfaction with several aspects of your life: “a non-regularized marriage”, the “dysfunction” of your marriage, a time “away from the church”, and life as a husband that “has never worked”.

It seems to me a first step would be for you to engage and attempt to resolve these conflicts in your life which, to some degree, may actually be placing you at odds with yourself and with what you deeply believe to be good and true.

You also speak of cherished blessings in your life which are undoubtedly gifts from God: the desire for “un-distracted prayer”, “the hunger” to give yourself totally to God and a “love for Cistercian simplicity and poverty”.

Alleluia! – these gifts are not given to everyone. Cherish them and cultivate them!

When you have addressed those areas in your life where you feel you might be morally compromised, I believe a fruit of this growth will be a clearer inner sight and inner hearing regarding how God is calling you to serve him in the future.

If, having embraced a more disciplined way of living that is truer to yourself you continue to believe God might be calling you to a monastic vocation, you should contact a Vocation Director at one of our monasteries for men and begin a conversation with him.

You may be beyond the age limit of some monasteries. Others might consider receiving you as a candidate having discerned in you a serious intention and manifest signs of a desire to amend your life.

I hope this has been helpful. Please know that I will be praying that the Holy Spirit guide you in the months ahead to the fullness of life. God bless you!