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Evangelization Through Monasticism

One of the main reasons I still prefer the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal is for articles like this. It is a "travel" article detailing a Jewish man's retreat experience at a Maronite monastery. The article is deeply appreciative of the tradition and monastic life.

Many have called for a "new monasticism" (see here and here) as a way of evangelizing the fast-paced and spiritually exhausting culture around us.

Often, when folks take the famous Beliefnet.com quiz, their "spiritual type" ends up being something like Mennonite, Quaker, or some other Christian peace denomination. I think what resonates with folks today is communion with others and the environoment, as well a simple lifestyle. This is precisely what the monastic tradition provides.

Perhaps the most we can hope for is that folks make "retreat" every so often and get a little perspective. However, I think we should be more ambitious and try to re-evangelize through a "new monasticism." Any suggestions?

Hat tip: Open Book


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Comments (2)

I think the rise of Eucharistic Adoration is evidence of the interest in a new monasticism.

The fact that it is getting coverage in major dailes (e.g. the Minneapolis Star Tribune) shows even the secularists are getting over stimulated.

Interestingly enough, in the history of the Church, monasticism has often been the primary organ of evangelization. I don't think most people have any idea of the great debt we owe to the Benedictines, the Dominicans, the Fransicans, and the Jesuits (simply to name but a few orders). The Benedictine Order was by far the most civilizing institution in the West throughout the early middle ages; almost all of the great missionary saints of that time were Benedictines (St. Boniface being my favorite of which); and of course the monasteries played a key role in the preservation of Classical culture, when the tides of barbarism threatened to wipe it away. And when the Church was deep in the investiture controversy in the 10th century, the reforming element in the Church came from the monks of Cluny. And when the Albigensian heresy arose in the 13th century, who else but the Dominicans arose to fight on behalf of the Church. And when Christendom lay devestated by the Reformation, who but the Jesuits arose to help heal the wound? Of course, much more could be said on monasticism's behalf. The monastic orders have played a key role in the founding of many great American and European universities; they've contributed much to the liturgical tradition of the Church; they've been at the forefront of the missionary endeavor. The list could go on and on. It seems, Jason, that monasticism has constantly been a great vehicle of evangelization in the Church ever since it arose in the 4th century of the Church, and I would not doubt if some sort of monastic movement in the Church today could provide just the sort of leaven this wasteland needs.

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