Relevancy of Monasticism – Part 10

Theologian Walter Capps, says that “Monasticism [is the West’s] most powerful and enduring instance of counter-culture”[1]. It certainly seems that this expression of the Christian faith has endured, almost intact, throughout two thousand years of tempestuous history. Though there have been periods of deviation, and a number of reforms have had to take place, the original concept and principles are being re-interpreted to be as appropriate in the 21st century as they were in the 4th.

Monks have often been called radical: extremists going beyond the norm. But the word comes from the Latin radix, meaning root. Essentially, that is who monks are, whether conventional or “new”, they are men and women who have returned to the roots of their faith. A faith which originated in the teachings of a homeless carpenter and was spread by hermits. A faith which contravenes all normality, with a God who “blesses those who are poor . . . humble . . . merciful . . . persecuted”[2], a messiah who taught “love your enemy”[3] and “sell all your possessions”[4]. Monasticism gets to the root of Christianity and remains relevant as it lives out those commands.

[1] Capps, Walter, The Monastic Impulse, Crossroad 1983 p.7

[2] Matthew 5:3-10

[3] Matthew 5:44

[4] Matthew 19:21


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