We, the Cistercians of the Holy Cross, are embedded icons, living sacramentals; who sustain, grace, and hold together the fiber of our communities.

We live in and are influenced by the heretic nature of our culture. However, while clothed in our holy habits we become sacred icons.

When people gaze upon us they look into their hope and see reflected back the Source of all Hope. We become sacred signs, living sacramentals.

The Pax of our contemplative lives provides the necessary stillness to speak without words.

The rhythm of ora et labora and the earnestness of our vows are our martyr’s cross.

Persevere in prayer.

Gratitude will open our souls to the unity of God, self, and others. Gratitude moves us from limitations and fear to expansion and love.

Gentleness will lead others to God’s eternal intent of true joy and freedom.


Welcome to Our Site

If you are married or single and believe that God is calling you to a closer life with Him… If you always wanted to be a monk, hermit, oblate, or priest but never thought you could because someone told you “no” or you thought it was impossible for some reason, we are here to help you fulfill your vocation.

We are the Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross, Common Observance, and an independent dispersed religious order within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Our Cistercian roots date back to the eleventh century. We have captured the Cistercian charism in our love of solitude, contemplation, work, and study, as well as living under the Rule of St. Benedict and vows of Conversatio, Stability, and Obedience.

The Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross, Common Observance offers men, clerical or lay, and women, the opportunity to become monks or hermits. Men may become priests or deacons.

We describe ourselves as living under a Common Observance because our Order allows for much flexibility in exercising the Cistercian charism and being open to the authentic movement of the Holy Spirit in our time and place.

Some unique aspects of the Order of the Holy Cross are:
  1. Monks and oblates are single or married. There are few age and health restrictions. They live in their homes, not in a residential monastery. They continue the joy of their families, employment (retirement), church affiliations, and friends.
  2. They may perform works of charity, pastoral ministry, and mission work.
  3. Priests and deacons of/in the Order may be single or married. We have a realistic formation program for those men who wish to be ordained.
  4. Men and women from both the Historic “catholic” and Protestant churches may participate as third order oblates.


Our typical member is a married working man/woman who is active in their church and community and who wants to advance in their spiritual life. Several of our members are advanced in age and have a physical disability.

Our research indicates that the Holy Spirit has already called men and women who are married or single, to the life we are describing. These individuals are largely unattached to a formal institution, although they prefer otherwise because few such institutions exist. And, where they do exist, entry requirements and lifestyles are not realistic. It is our desire to support, educate, and validate such people of faith.

Our purpose is:
  1. To seek perfection through Contemplation, Work, Prayer, Stability, Conversatio, and Obedience
  2. To praise and worship God daily
  3. To produce educational materials
  4. To host retreats and maintain retreat houses
  5. To found autonomous religious communities
  6. To prayerfully intercede for those in need and for peace in the world
  7. To perform works of charity, pastoral ministry, and mission work
“Cistercian monasticism has brought to me the structure to hang on in the midst of spiritual battles, with the constant reminder that God loves me. Somehow, at some level, the fullness of the concept that God really loves me and wants to be in a relationship with me did not fully root in my soul. God has used Cistercian spirituality to begin the process of cultivating my heart so that day by day, prayer by prayer, experience by experience, miracle by miracle, I begin to realize that truly God loves me.”
In brief

We serve men and women, clerical or lay, married or single by:

  • Helping them grow in perfection through the use of the Rule of St. Benedict, our Constitution and Manual, and community life
  • Consecrating to a first-order/second order religious life
  • Validating and assisting those already living the religious life living in a formal community or privately in their own homes
  • Helping those who desire a lesser involvement in a monastic life through our third order oblate program
  • Supporting men with a call to priesthood through ordination, incardination or encouraging those who wish to stay in their existing jurisdictions
  • Encouraging our membership in a contemplative life as well as in works of charity, pastoral ministry, and mission work

It is our hope that these pages will help you to better define and respond to God’s call upon your life. If we can serve you in this regard you are welcome to contact the Abbot General. We would also be pleased to accept your application which can be found on these pages.

How to Apply for Postulancy or Oblature

Our principal geographic mission is to the Americas.

  1. Read carefully the website, www.CistercianMonks.org.
  2. Email Abbot Oscar Joseph, OCCO, abbot@nullbellsouth.net. Tell him about yourself; describe how God is calling you to a monastic life or to the Oblature, and specifically why you have chosen the Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross. Ask him any questions that you might have.
  3. The Abbot will respond to your email and send you more information on how to apply.
  4. Once your application is completed and accepted it will be brought before the admissions committee. You will be notified of the outcome and given further instructions.