Posted March 27, 2007
Monasticism and Benedict are
the Rage of the Day! But Why?
The Monastic Movement, and especially the Benedictine Movement is being revisited today with a new vigor, even among the Protestants. Jennifer Trafton, the editor of Christian History and Biography traces the reasons for this in telling us:
“Not long ago a church history professor at a prominent Protestant seminary remarked to us, “No topic touches young students more than monasticism.” Surprised? We were. Why monasticism? Why now?
In 1996 Kathleen Norris’s Cloister Walk [cited on our website] the quiet memoir of a Protestant woman’s experience in a Benedictine monastery, became an unexpected New York Times bestseller. In recent years, monastic spiritual disciplines such as lectio divina, a way of meditating on Scripture, have enjoyed newfound popularity among laypeople — seen, for example, in Eugene Peterson’s Eat This Book, published by Eerdman’s in 2006. In the midst of a frenetic, fragmented culture that glorifies independence, busyness, and material gain, many are seeking out a counter culture lifestyle that values prayer, silence, simplicity, liturgy, hospitality, community, and care for the poor.
Just do a quick search on Amazon.com and you’ll see what I mean. Titles like Seeking God: The Way of Benedict, St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living, or How to Be a Monastic an Not Leave Your Day Job all testify to the fact that people are finding something they long for in the simple ideals of the pioneering sixth-century monk Benedict of Nursia and the movement he sparked. And they are struggling to know how to apply those ideals in the rough and tumble 21st century.