Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

10/28/2011 (4 years ago)

Standing on My Head (

The words 'monk' comes from 'monos' or 'alone'. In other words, 'alone with God'.

You thought monks were just cutting themselves off--doing something radical and a little bit misanthropic. In the meantime they were doing something beautiful for God. Hidden away in the desert, they are cultivating the power of prayer and planting the seed of God in the world.


By Fr Dwight Longenecker

Standing on My Head (

10/28/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in Vocations

Keywords: Monks, monastic, monastery, religious order, prayer, Fr Dwight Longenecker

GREENVILLE, SC (Standing on my Head) - The words 'monk' comes from 'monos' or 'alone'. In other words, 'alone with God'. Nobody but me and God. Everything else and everyone else given up for God. Alone with God. God alone.

This example was first set by the desert fathers in the early fourth century. Christianity had become fashionable. The emperor and his mother embraced the faith. People were converting in order to be part of the inside circle. So St Anthony took off to the desert to live in a cave.

The desert fathers of Egypt therefore set an example of renunciation. They deliberately walked away from the power, the privilege, the prestige, the prosperity and the pride that could have been theirs. Instead they lived in caves, did quiet, repetitive work, kept silence and learned to pray.

Now the thing I have always loved about the monastic founders--whether it was St Anthony of Egypt or Pachomius or Benedict--is that they didn't set out to start a 'movement'. They just did what they had to do.

They were faithful to their vocation and calling. That others joined them, and that a movement developed was not only an unexpected growth, but often an unwelcome one at that.

Furthermore, they changed history, and that is also something they didn't set out to do. Anthony and Pachomius and Benedict went out to mind their own business, work hard, pray hard and study and be true to themselves and their God.

They ended up preserving classical learning, laid the foundation for a new christendom, and established a refuge for what was left for civilization, thus planting a seed for a new civilization.

You thought monks were just cutting themselves off--doing something radical and a little bit misanthropic. In the meantime they were doing something beautiful for God.

Hidden away in the desert, they are cultivating the power of prayer and planting the seed of God in the world.


Fr Dwight Longenecker is parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish and Chaplain to St Joseph's Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina. Read his blog and connect to his website at  


Fr. Dwight Longenecker is Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. A former Evangelical, he studied at Oxford and was ordained as an Anglican priest in England. He was received into the full communion of the Catholic Church in 1995 and ten years later, ordained a Roman Catholic Priest.He is a prolific writer, sought after speaker and dedicated blogger. Connect to his website and blog at


More Vocations

Late-vocational priest shares story of entering the priesthood Watch

Image of Reverend Thomas Woodhouse answered the call to join the priesthood following years of gentle prodding.


Despite attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and joining the U.S. Marine Corps, Thomas Woodhouse was welcomed as a new priest at the Saint Patrick Church in Cumberland, MD despite his late answer to the call. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The journey ... continue reading

Orlando Bishop strikes amazing movement to inspire Hispanic Catholics into vocations Watch

Image of Orlando Bishop John Noonan presented a vocation workshop at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, New York (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz).


Bishop John Noonan spoke on the first of a two-day Hispanic vocations workshop sponsored by the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors at a Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, New York on October 29. Noonan spoke of the high number of Hispanics ... continue reading

'What about you?': Pope Francis' Philadelphia homily calls on religious to inspire vocations Watch

Image of Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During Pope Francis' U.S. tour, he led mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. Though each U.S. mass the pontiff held was touching, it was this homily that stood out among the others with a focus on the words "What about you?" LOS ... continue reading

Napa Institute: Where Leaders Turn for Formation

Image of (Napa Institute/Facebook)

By Caitlin Bootsma

Many of us benefit from the example and outreach of men and women who are leaders in our Catholic faith. These faithful servants help propel our knowledge and love of the Lord, be it through their witness, their virtue, the ministries they run or-in the case of ... continue reading

'You trust in the Lord, and you trust where he's leading you.' Want more religious vocations? Improve your family life, nun says

Image of

By Ann Schneible, CNA/EWTN News

As the Church brings the needs of the family to the forefront with the upcoming Synod this fall, one Dominican sister says it is no surprise that Pope Francis should also dedicate this year to the consecrated life. Rome, Italy, May 18, 2015 / 02:51 pm (CNA/EWTN ... continue reading


Image of

By Ambassadors of Christ

Much has been written about and many homilies have lamented the vocation crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States.  Religious Orders which used to have large classes of  novices each year now go for years without a new entrant. Dioceses which used ... continue reading

Nuns watching soap operas and the 'terrorism' of gossip: Pope Francis and Naples' religious Watch

Image of

By Elise Harris (CNA/ETWN News)

In a wide-ranging, off-the-cuff speech to priests and religious in Naples, Pope Francis addressed various challenges of consecrated life, emphasizing above all the importance of poverty and resisting gossip. ROME, ITALY, March 21 (CNA/EWTN News) - "For me there is a ... continue reading

Faithlessness Breeds a Guilty Conscience Watch

Image of

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT

Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke HYTHE, KENT, UK (Catholic Online) - Don't judge me.  How many times have you heard this? It is a fascinating phenomenon that the more a person or a culture strays ... continue reading

Gaudete Sunday is a Blueprint for Consecrated Life - Year of Consecrated Life Watch

Image of SOLT Sisters on the day of their Perpetual Profession

By Fr Samuel Medley SOLT

I remember the day I started smiling and have not been able to stop since. I was a novice. It was the moment, in a 15 day silent retreat where I discovered in a way that was, at that time and every moment since, beyond my comprehension, how I am tenderly, ... continue reading

What is the Burning Question in Priestly Formation?

Image of

By Fr Samuel Medley SOLT

The Word will never be given you without giving you also a mission.  It will make you aware of the suffering of the people right next to you that you didn't notice before.  It will open your eyes and see the world differently, and make you act differently in ... continue reading

All Vocations News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • St. Eligius: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, December 01, 2015
  • Daily Readings for Tuesday, December 01, 2015
  • 'Body lifted from the ground': Young Central American woman dies ...
  • Prayer For Faith HD Video
  • Pope Francis does the unthinkable following emotional tragedy in ...
  • Opium, heroin or cocaine: What drug is YOUR country known for?
  • Parents' Prayer For Their Children HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 11:1-10
1 A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse, a new shoot will grow from ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 72:1, 7-8, 12-13, 17
1 [Of Solomon] God, endow the king with your own fair judgement, the son ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 10:21-24
21 Just at this time, filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, he said, 'I ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 1st, 2015 Image

St. Eligius
December 1: Eligius (also known as Eloi) was born around 590 ... Read More