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MONASTICISM



 

 

 

THE BENEDICTINE SYSTEM

It is a fact of history that St. Benedict and his monks were the saviors of Western civilization.  What they did was this: in the midst of a crumbling civilization, the monks kept the best from Roman and Greek civilization, then Christianized both classical heritages.  The combination of the best from Rome, Greece and Christianity was the foundation of the golden age of Europe. The feat is unparalleled even today. 

The arrangement of Benedict's monks went this way:  he organized small groups of monks living intensely the fullness of the Gospel, dispersed all over Europe, but all were one mind and one heart in the permanent worship of the name of God.  They had no central government.  Perfect obedience to the Holy Rule was what made them one heart and one mind, in spite of the distance. 

The Abbot had absolute power in each monastery and the total responsibility for the well-being of the monastery. The monasteries were powerful, independent islands of spirituality and compassion and learning in a world wracked by savagery. 

St. Benedict, himself, describes his monasticism as a rule of life for beginners and suggests that anyone who would want to climb higher in the ladder of perfection should read the Long Rules of St. Basil and the Institutes of John Cassian.

Because the monks observed "fuga mundo", that is, fleeing from the world, they become unaffected by the evils of the world.  Unfortunately, many Benedictine monks and nuns do not observe this anymore.  Their exposure to the world has made them part of the world.  It is impossible to attain the goals of monasticism if one is constantly exposed to the world.  However, separation from the world does not automatically make them saints.  It is separation from the world that makes it easier for them to become saints. 



 

 

(10-08-05)

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                                                                                        - Teresa of Avila

 


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