The Contemplative Life Is A Vocation

Should I consider joining the Contemplatives of Saint Joseph?

Our Contemplative Life

The contemplative way of life is often an objective of individuals who seek to join with a group of others for the purpose of giving themselves wholeheartedly to God. To live a contemplative life is a great gift, not given to many.

  • It is a gift that should be treasured and celebrated.
  • It should be cared for with the totality of our being.
  • It should not be taken lightly.

The COSJ and everything about it is founded on the contemplative spiritual tradition, which emphasizes silence during our periods of daily deep prayer.

Living in community also means that we share our resources, our personalities, our faith and our talents. We have the obligation, right and duty to build up our community, to be patient, longsuffering, humble, charitable, and true witnesses to contemplative repose.

The Active Apostolate

The life commitment the priests and brothers of the COSJ share is to support one another in entering ever more deeply into the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The COSJ active apostolate takes us outside our monastery. We reach out in order to help priests, deacons, seminarians, religious nuns and sisters and the laity to grow in their commitment to contemplative prayer.  Please see the Active Apostolate page for further information.

Vocations to the COSJ require men who are:

  • In good standing with the Catholic Church and free from all moral and financial obligations
  • Faithful to Catholic Church teaching and sincerely wishing to seek God
  • In good physical, mental and emotional health
  • Between 22 and 55 years of age -- some exceptions can be made for men over 55
  • Able to engage in the Active Apostolate
  • Hearing a serious calling to contemplative prayer

Please see our Vocations page for more information.

What about Religious Vows?

Religious Vows

When one of us takes the profession of vows, they are taken with the aim of continually deepening our union with the Holy Trinity. The Evangelical Counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience form the threefold expression of solemn vows and consecration.


Within our vow of Poverty we strive to live simply and without greed. Our emphasis is on moderation, not excess; on the middle, not extremes. Practicing contentment counteracts greed. Making do with sufficient material goods allows space for more of God's grace, more nourishment for the heart, more joy, and more satisfaction in life.


Within our vow of Chastity is the virtue of continually striving to become morally and sexually pure in thought, word, and deed. The vow of chastity is a true and rare calling. If God calls one to chastity, He will see to it that chastity becomes mostly easy and enables growth into being a joyful person with a fruitful vocation.


Obedience means that we bring the best of ourselves to tasks assigned. Obedience means learning to listen with our hearts. Obedience also entails obeying our COSJ brothers, for we are one family. In Chapter meetings, we are obedient to the needs, decisions, and requests of others. We listen closely so that we can discern the will of God who is surely in our midst. Obedience is also one of the keys to keeping peace within our community.


Would I receive Training and Education?

Initial Assessment

Before admittance to the Novitiate, our candidates must spend at least three months and no more than one year as a Postulant.This is a time to look and see, learn about contemplative prayer, spend time in the day-to-day rhythm of our life, experiencing silence and prayer first hand, discovering what community life is like, and helping out in the various ministries of the community within the Archdiocese of San Francisco. It is also a time for the members of our community, including our Superior, to learn about our novices.

Contemplative Life Development

The formation of novices is the responsibility of the novice master, as directed by the Superior throughout the twelve to twenty-four month novice period. The first months of the Novitiate are dedicated to developing a deeper understanding of contemplative life and prayer. Time is spent studying Scriptures, Catechism of the Catholic Church and contemplative spirituality.

This training leads novices to:

  • Cultivate human and Christian virtues
  • Find a fuller way of perfection by prayer and self-denial
  • Contemplate the sacred mysteries of salvation
  • Meditate on the scriptures
  • Cultivate the worship of God in sacred liturgy
  • Learn about the character and spirit, purpose and discipline, history and life of the COSJ
  • Be imbued with love for the Church

During formation, our novice, with the novice master and our Superior, will begin a process of discerning whether he is called by God to become either a priest or a brother.

Temporary Religious Profession

Temporary vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience within the COSJ last three to five years. Just prior to completing the period of temporary vows, novices are required to make a solemn profession, or they will be required to leave the COSJ.

During the first three years of formation, aspiring priests and brothers follow the same formation program. At the fourth year, the aspiring priest proceeds to seminary studies, and the aspiring brother follows a path of studies suited to him and that benefits the COSJ community.

During the fifth year, each community member will have a special desert period of silence for up to six weeks, after which solemn vows are taken. During the desert experience, preparations are made for final vows with intense entry into silence for the purpose of contemplative prayer growth. This includes study of spiritual direction, understanding what it means to be a confessor, immersion into contemplative spirituality, and reflection and study of moral theology and patristics.

Final, solemn vows are taken at the end of the fifth year of formation. Those entering the priesthood will spend approximately three more years in seminary studies.


What is the Daily Life in the Monastery?

Within the monastery setting, we center our lives on full immersion into the Eucharist, cultivating the silence conducive to hearing the Word of God in the depths of our hearts. Our rhythm of prayer includes the Divine Office, interior prayer, study and practice of Catholic contemplative spirituality, intercessory prayer, the Jesus prayer, Lectio Divina with Sacred Scripture, filial devotion to Mary the Holy Mother of God, and adoration prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

In addition to daily Eucharist, we regularly hold a Chapter meeting to discuss monastery business and offer general spiritual direction. We have community meals; time is scheduled for manual, intellectual, and spiritual work. We pray together many times each day.

The Superior, as spiritual father, meets with each priest and brother monthly on an individual basis. Each COSJ priest and brother also has a spiritual director and confessor outside the community.

Meals and Fasting

All of us attend all formal meals. We do not have specific dietary restrictions, although we desire to eat simply. Since we have the responsibility to care for the body that we are given by God, we also try to eat in a healthy manner. We do not eat between meals, except Sundays, Solemnities, recreation days, vacations, and community pilgrimages. When we must eat outside our residence, we are excused from our community fasting rules and eat whatever is placed before us.

Except during Octaves, we fast on Mondays, our Desert Day. During Lent and Advent we fast on Mondays and Fridays.

Personal Time

We include walks and other physical exercise in our personal time. We also have hobbies that interest us, and phone calls and emails are attended to at this time.