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.”

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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. 

About The Author

Caleb Congrove is a high school teacher in Ohio and a father of three. A layman, he belongs to a Greek Catholic parish.

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Caleb, I like the quote! When I made the reference to the idea of a ‘School of Charity’, I tried to read that in the context of the communal or corporate life of the Church. One of the points I probably should have made in my conversation with Woody and Ephraim is that I see formation as primarily about the community and only secondarily about individuals. In other words, what are the practices, habits, ends and beliefs that the worshipping community as a whole seek to exemplify even if its individual members fail to. I think that when formation shifts… Read more »

The article provides an important and balancing distinction. Baptism grafts us as individuals into the corporate Body, the Church, the task and function of which as the Body of Christ is that of priestly mediation for the world to God and for God to the world. All churchy activity is summed up in worship and enabled by worship.To be the church is not to enter into an order of ministry but to be the distinct called-out community from which particular vocations are drawn. “From the apostles time”, there have been three distinct Orders of Ministry, each drawn from the other.… Read more »

I entirely agree. I suspect that the culprit here is the notion that in liturgy the clergy and assistants act and the laity receive.