The man who resolves to devote his life to God as a monk needs to test and affirm his willingness to do so. In order to avoid human frailty and unsteadiness, monks commit themselves by means of vows to a life consecrated to God.

By these vows a monk renounces things that would most hamper him in his service to God, including property, caring for such property, family life and, last but not least, self-will and the making of decisions about himself. This is why he takes the vows of the monastic lifestyle (which also include those of poverty, chastity, stability in the community and obedience). In all religious communities the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience are the foundation for a life consecrated to God, and can be complemented with special additional requirements to achieve a particular purpose according to the nature of the religious institute or particular monastery.

To enter a monastic community the candidate has to go through a probationary period called “novitiate”, lasting at least one year. After this he can take temporary religious vows, i.e. the promise to live according to the way of life of the monastery. After a period of three years he can repeat his temporary vows, doing so for up to two more three-yearly periods before having to make a final decision: either to take his solemn vows or to quit the monastery and thus also the Cistercian order. Through his solemn vows, placing him under obligation for the rest of his life, the monk becomes a full member of the particular monastic community.