Sep 15, 2006

A New Monasticism

photo via creative commons by Neil Tackaberry

"The renewal of the church will come from a new type of monasticism which only has in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the Sermon on the Mount. It is high time men and women banded together to do this"
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in a letter to his brother

I haven't verfied this quote, and I've seen it slightly different in another place on the Internet, but the idea of a new kind of monasticism is an intriguing. The Northumbria Community is a group of Christians in England (with a branch in the US) who seek God in the Celtic monk tradition. To quote them: "the Community is geographically dispersed and strongly ecumenical but with an identity rooted in the history and spiritual heritage of Celtic Northumbria."
The idea of a new monasticism is explained this way: "Monastic spirituality implies a single-hearted (solitary) seeking of God. This may or may not be carried out in the company of others, (the monastic tradition has embraced both alone and together), but the focus is clearly on returning to God, and making use of a daily rhythm of prayer (Office) and a Way for living (Rule), that enable us to ‘marry’ the inner journey, the landscape of the heart - a call to repentance, to self denial, and a call to recognise and to resist evil – with the outer journey, the landscape of the land, which has given us a platform to 'find a different way' of being Church. Then to offer the fruit of our life with all who come our way and cross our path in the everydayness of our roles, responsibilities and relationships, asking with them ‘Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’"
What I love about this are the questions directed to others. "Who is it you seek?" Everyone is seeking something. Like Rick Warren explains so well in the Purpose Drive Life, everyone wants to know for what purpose they were put on this earth. Everyone is seeking answers. Perhaps the new monasticism is about asking seekers questions and sharing what we've learned by asking ourselves those same questions. Then, after we know who it is we seek, the other questions follow logically: "How then shall we live?" and "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?"
What do you think?

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