Solemnly Professed Monks and life-long Internal Oblates form the Core Community. Solemn Profession is a life-long covenant involving vows of Stability, Conversion of Life, and Obedience (including Chastity and Poverty). A Lay Brother life-style is an option within the Core Community.
As Trappist-Cistercian monks, our monastic day is a balance of Liturgy, Lectio, and Labor. Following the Rule of St. Benedict, we profess three vows:
Stability means that we choose this community and this monastery for our own spiritual family and home.
Conversion of Life is a promise to adopt this monastic form of Christian life and that we will keep working to heal and grow, always moving toward becoming a truer monk.
Obedience to our abbot professes our faith that this Rule is a true expression of the Gospel and that the abbot governs us as our spiritual father in Christ. (This vow also embraces the traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.)
A man makes his life-long commitment only after spending six or more years in formation within the monastic community. This gives ample time, both for him and for the brothers, to discern by the fruits in his life if he has found his true vocation.
The "core community" includes solemnly professed monks, lay brothers, and life-long internal oblates. A lay brother follows a simplified form of our life, usually devoting less time to the Divine Office in choir, lectio divina, and study, while spending more hours daily at the manual labor needed to sustain our community. Since as Trappists we do not serve others by an apostolic ministry, we support ourselves materially by our own manual labor. Contemplative monks serve the Church and the world through our life of intercessory prayer and sacrifice.
A monk receives his initial formation before final vows, yet he commits himself to open-ended ongoing formation even as a solemnly professed monk. Our Cistercian Fathers saw three stages of spiritual growth for a monk. The beginner lives a more purgative way, and then makes progress in a more illuminative way, finally coming to fulfillment by a more unitive contemplative way.
Another description of this life-long growth begins with Conformity ("I will live the monastic way"), followed by Identity ("This way is right for me"), leading to Interiorization ("This is my true self in Christ"). St. Bernard says we progress from the obedience of a slave who fears punishment, to the obedience of a hired hand who looks for reward, culminating in the obedience of the Son who loves His Father and fulfills His Will.