The Cistercian Order – What is it?

The Cistercians are an order of Saint Benedict monks who began in 1098 in the French city of Citeaux. Saint Robert of Molesme led the first group, who wished to begin a Roman Catholic order which balanced prayer and serious work, detached from worldly pursuits, lived a communal lifestyle, and melded monastic tradition and modern culture.

From the Cistercian Order came the Trappist monks, named after the monastery in La Trappe, Normandy. Another group of Cistercians became the Common Observance Cistercians.

The Our Lady of Dallas abbey in Irving, Texas is the only Cistercian abbey in the United States. Other Cistercian monks and nuns live in abbeys throughout the world. Most focus on education and extending the Benedictine life. The Trappists continue to adhere to strict monastic tradition while the Common Observance Cistercians mix in the culture with tradition.

Being Catholic, the Cistercian Order mixes biblical truth with human tradition and follows the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Religious orders tend to offer a certain amount of comfort through legalistic rituals and earning salvation or demonstrating oneself to be righteous through following rules God has not required. But the Bible presents a different plan. Our salvation is not a result of our own effort (Ephesians 2:8–10). Jesus saved us by His work through grace, not through our own works (Titus 3:5). While it is good to be devoted to God and there are certain things God expects of us in obedience to Him (John 15:1–17), we are no longer governed by law but by grace. We are judged under the law of liberty (James 2:12).

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