Mark Clavier’s recent post produced a rich and lively conversation about Christian formation and the specific work and mission of seminaries and theological colleges. Near the end of his reflection, he made specific reference to monastic communal ideals. For me, this mention rang a bell of recognition. I also believe that monasticism is deeply important for Christian formation in the broader church. Moreover, I believe that not only monastic ideals need reviving but also concrete communities of dedicated Christians. I don’t mean to hijack the discussion that’s come out of Mark’s post, but I do want to register a connection to that discussion, which I think is necessary.
I’m passing along a recent piece of reflection about monasticism because I believe it underlines this importance by rightly orienting it toward the universal calling of all Christians. It’s “Monasticism, Clericalism, and the Priesthood of All Believers” from the Catholic World Report. Here’s a good quote:
Many Western Christians see monasticism as remote and inaccessible, very different from ordinary Christian life. Often they associate monasticism with the ordained priesthood — as though ordination were the goal of monastic life, at least for men. Women’s monasticism, meanwhile, is almost off the radar.
All of these impressions are incorrect. Monasticism is a way of life for both men and women. Its goal is not ordination, but the fulfillment of one’s baptismal consecration to God. This is why monasticism can, and should, be a model for the “priesthood of all believers.”
The featured image is a statue of St Benedict within the precincts of the Abbey of Monte Cassino. It was taken in 2014 by Zachary Guiliano.