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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Life of Monks and Nuns

The life of a monk or a nun can be quite sheltered and lonely, although the people that choose to partake in this type of existence have made a choice to forgo all material or social aspects of a humane society. Monks during the time of early medieval society chose this position for spiritual purposes, not aware that their new practices would establish new ideals, the act of moderation and communal life was also being practiced, and women were choosing to dedicate themselves to God thus becoming nuns.

Christian monks practiced the life of a solitary man who sections himself off from society to pursue spiritual aspects of the Christian world. Saint Anthony was one such man who had forsaken all of his possessions to join the monastery, giving all of his land to the poor. Additionally, Saint Simeon lived atop a 60 foot pillar for three years, whereby establishing or setting an example for a new Christian ideal. The new Christian ideals modeled by the monks were clearly different that what earlier Christians had practiced, allowing themselves to be dead to the world and achieving a spiritual life through the denial of common social factors.

Eastern monasticism had a large influence of strict moderation, however due to the beliefs of Saint Benedict, moderation did not preclude a hard and disciplined existence, rather a life of obedience to God. Benedict rules stated that all monks were to complete some type of physical labor every day, as well as pray up to 7 times a day. The Benedictine life stressed community, whereby the monks ate, worked, slept, and worshiped together. Under the rules of Saint Benedict, the vow of poverty was also taken to stress that fact that all must be equal, and overindulgence is unnecessary.

Women during the early medieval middle ages were also trying to find ways to withdraw from the world and dedicate themselves fully to God. During the third centuries women had communed in the deserts of Egypt and Syria, however the first rules for western women weren’t produced until the fifth century. The organization was both rigid and tightly sanctioned to protect the women from outside danger. It wasn’t until the 8th and 9th centuries that both monks and nuns were established in double monasteries allowing then to reside in close proximity and follow the same set of rules.

Monks not only became the heroes of Christian civilization because of their dedication to God, but they also played a significant role in spreading Christianity all over Europe in the way of missionaries and the construction of churches. This in itself allowed for a common worship area for local Christians, spreading the words of God to all who would listen.

1 Comment:

Chris Stonecipher said...

Fasinating my friend:) I always learn new things from your posts. It is an enjoyable read. Dugg your article too.

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