What about men who wish to become monks?
Requirements can differ slightly (especially the age requirements) from monastery to monastery. There are Cistercian monasteries in Denmark, England, Caldey Island (off Wales), Ireland, Belgium, Holland and Germany as well as in most of Western Europe. The Abbey of Cîteaux is starting a pre-foundation near the ruins of Munkeby in Levanger. If you are interested in this project, go to their website http://www.munkeby.net.
How do I know if I am called to be a monk or nun?
Each one experiences a call to the monastery in a different way, unique to their own background, personality and life experiences. One person may experience a definite call from God in the deepest stirrings of the heart. Another person may simply have a desire to pray, or at least to know God better. The best way to understand these things is to talk with a monk or nun.
If I talk with a monk or nun, will they pressure me to enter their monastery? I’m not sure if this is for me. I just want a little more information.
There is no way that a monk or nun will pressure you to do anything. A call to this way of life is exceptional. It is not for most people. It takes a long time to sense if this is something for you. This is why both you and the monastery need a long time (months or years) to get to know one another, before any ties are broken with your present way of life.
Most people are not called to be monks or nuns but God may be inviting them to a deeper life of prayer, a more intimate relationship, or perhaps a simplification of life-style.
Many people come to monasteries for a few days of rest and prayer. This is called a retreat. It’s a kind of pilgrims’ journey to find God. Or it’s simply a time for looking at one’s life from a new vantage point.