“What do you desire?”
That’s the first question you’re asked when you’re received as a postulant, when you receive the habit as a novice, and you’re asked it again when you make the three-fold Benedictine vow of obedience, stability, and conversion of life to the monastic way.
The question of desire drives the Benedictine Way, and indeed the Christian Way. In his Rule for Monks, Benedict gives a very simple and very challenging answer: prefer nothing whatever to Christ.
You see, Benedict knew that, contrary to the image of monasticism in popular culture as a dour and serious life, the monastic life is really a love affair. For fifteen hundred years Benedict’s rule has provided a structure and a context for pursuing the deepest longing of the heart for wholeness and unity in God. The Christian mystical tradition calls this search the pursuit of “purity of heart,” though we might more accurately describe it as “unity of heart,” which is to say the uniting of our entire being