Amazingly, despite being secluded from the outside world, the monks are able to relate with their guests.  In a pivotal scene, Brother Gabriel makes the difference in convincing Jon to not leave the program and give God a chance.  The next morning, Jon apparently is getting past what he felt was a "prison sentence" at the monastery.  "It's a leap of faith," he says.  "But I'm not ready."  It will be interesting to see how he progresses or regresses in the following episodes.

What I found most refreshing was the honesty between the monks and the men.  "We're not super people" say Abbot Phillip Lawrence, who heads up the monastery.  "We're just ordinary men."  In tearing down the curtain and shattering any illusions the men may have had about the monks, the Abbot's begun to build a bridge and invite them on the monks' journey of obedience, humility and silence which will hopefully bring them closer to God.

Already, after just one episode – that's 17 days in monastery time – there is definitely something going on.  For the men, their thoughts or even non-thoughts about God are being challenged as they are encouraged to live their lives with a purpose.  For the monks, they see the benefits in trying to reach men at their individual levels and help them in their spiritual growth. 

In future airings, I hope to learn more about the backgrounds of each participant.  While the introductory confessionals were adequate, I still want to know more and see what life was truly like for these five men before they came to the monastery.  Besides a big yellow taxi, what really drove them to drop everything and go live in a monastery?  And how were they selected?

In the end, who will it be:  the men or the monks?  Who will change the most?  That seems to be the money question with an answer we probably won't be able to fully count out until the very last episode. 

AUDIENCE:  Age 13 and up

CAUTIONS: 

  • Language/Profanity:  Several expletives spoken by the men are bleeped out.  One monk says "pissed off," as do a couple of the men.  One man says "hell."

  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  One man discusses saying "I love you" during a past sexual encounter, because he "didn't know what the hell he was doing."

  • Alcohol/Drug Content:  Two men steal beer from the monks and are shown drinking. 

  • Spirituality:  Monks are shown chanting and singing – five hours a day, 150 Psalms in order.  The Abbot talks about focusing sexual energy into seeking God in order to become truly chaste and celibate.


"The Monastery" premieres Sunday night, October 22, 2006, at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT) on TLC.  Click here for more information.