Oh Monastic Life! How simply though art!…Maybe?

When looking at the monastic situation from the early days, there were many good principles that monks who lived by the rule would follow. Some of the best principles are those relating to the relationship of the monks and their devotion to spiritual matters. In the rule, each day had,  “eight times of prayer were appointed.”[1] This helped to keep the monks focused on God and lend the monks to live more disciplined lives. The other area of major importance with the Benedictine Monasteries is that Benedict took seriously the role sin and temptation had in the life of the Christian. In his own life, “when confronted with a temptation, he would throw himself on the bramble bushes, sure to get his mind on something else.”[2]This is why the monks would live in the desert and become hermits to help remove them from temptation. They would take very seriously the command of Jesus that “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Mathew 5:29).

While these points are great and do lead to more pious lives, they do have the downfalls. The primary downfall with the monastic life is the separation from the standard person. This was not their intent, but has become the result of years of isolation and specifically not living in locations where they work side by side with people and witness to the lost as they go through day to day life. However, some great things have come such as the monasteries in Mexico where they take care of the orphans of a city while not necessarily being in the city on a daily basis. The main problem is the effectiveness of this way of missionary work because of the lack of daily interaction with non-Christians. However, a lot can be gleaned from their way of life even today. While the standard Christian is not going to be called to be monks, there is a certain reverence for the Lord that comes from their lifestyle. Also, because of the emphasis on discipline, a monk is able to get a lot accomplished in one day. This is exemplified by how much time monks spend studying scripture so they may better know their creator. Something every Christian should be doing. Lastly, the emphasis Benedictine Monks place on avoiding sin should be inspiration to all Christians. There is never a time in which sin is acceptable, and the fact that when Benedict was even tempted he would rather inflict pain upon himself than risk sinning should be an inspiration. While inflicting pain on oneself isn’t ideal, the principle of doing whatever it takes to avoid sin should be a principle all Christians practice. Today this can be seen by doing things such as avoiding businesses where they glorify female bodies (in America, strip clubs, Hooters as examples while not limited to them) or where one is going to be tempted to engage in immoral activities such as gambling. But even more practical, for our computers, do we as Christians have some sort of software on the computer to help prevent us from seeing things which ought not be seen?

[1] Ferguson, Everett. Church History Volume 1: From Christ to Pre-Reformation. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 2005. 318.

[2] Ferguson, Everett. Church History Volume 1: From Christ to Pre-Reformation. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 2005. 317.

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