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Christianity Today St. Benedict & Western Monasticism

In the midst of our frenetic, fragmented modern culture, many Christians are finding something they long for in the simple ideals of the pioneering sixth-century monk Benedict of Nursia and the movement he sparked.

The monastic movement began as a desire among lay people for a more intense, disciplined way of living the Christian life. St. Benedict (480-547) wrote a guidebook for the monks in his monasteries that eventually became the standard for monastic life in the West. In the centuries following, monasteries thrived with Benedict's Rule as their foundation and influenced European culture in ways far beyond what those first humble monks dreamed.

In this issue, you will discover the story of these counter-cultural Benedictines and have the opportunity to consider how you might apply their ideals to your own life in the rough and tumble 21st century.

Inside this issue you'll find:

  • Radical Christians - Alone or in community, early monks and nuns sought to follow Christ in a whole-hearted and vividly counter-cultural way.
  • The Blessing of Benedict - The "Father of Western Monasticism" spent his life teaching spiritual beginners about kindness, community, and prayer.
  • A Life of Listening - Benedict's Rule became the gold standard of monastic life.
  • Also: Monk-ing around
  • Converting Europe - For centuries, monks were at the center of the Western missionary enterprise.
  • Also: A monk who made history
  • Illuminating Europe - Under Charlemagne's influence, the monasteries shaped the future of Western education, trade, and even handwriting.
  • Also: The emperor's scholar
  • Unceasing Prayer in an Uncertain World - As the peace and unity of Europe collapsed, the monastery of Cluny pointed a new way forward.
  • Also: The tale of Peter Abbot - Living like a monk in the "real world"
  • Remonking the Church - Many Catholics and Protestants are looking back to Benedict for the community and spiritual intensity they can't find in modern culture.
  • Did You Know? - Interesting and little-known facts about Benedictine monasticism.
  • Timeline - The rise of Western Monasticism.
Issue 93 * Winter 2007
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