Monasteries are one of the few types of communities that have been able to exist without the family. In this intimate, first-hand study of the daily life in a Trappist monastery, Hillery concludes that what binds this unusual and highly successful community together is its emphases on freedom and agape love. The Monastery reintegrates sociology with its allied disciplines in an attempt to understand the monastery on its own terms, and at the same time link that with sociology. Hillery delves into the history, the importance of the Rule of Benedict, the strictness of the Trappist interpretation, and the significance of the Second Vatican Council. Throughout, he uses a holistic anthropological approach. The work begins with a detailed sociological analysis of freedom, love, and community. Other topics include ways in which candidates enter the monastery, their relation to their families, economic activities, politics, prayer, asceticism, recreation, illness, death, and deviance. Comparisons are made with nine of the other eleven Trappist monasteries in the United States. Anthropologists and sociologists, especially those interested in community, comparative analysis, and religion are challenged by The Monastery to move beyond the arbitrary limits they have placed on themselves, which maintain that all knowledge must be capable of being physically perceived and statistically measured.