Monastic Misssions

For most of the history of Christianity the Gospel was carried by nuns and monks who went out to start monasteries, abbeys, and convents among the pagans. Today we see more of a focus on sending out families, which has certainly had its advantages. But we should never forget that such an approach is a relative novelty. Nor should we forget to be gracious for those countless nuns and monks who spread the Gospel far and wide:

"(The monastic institution) reminded men that there is another world, the world of God. The sacred penetrated human institutions. It shaped the piety of Christians, because our West, however sick it is, however decadent because unfaithful to its vocation, has nevertheless received a seal, an impression that has marked it forever: it was the first monks sent out by the Benedictine Pope St. Gregory the Great who completed the evangelisation of Europe. He sent them to England, to the Friesians in Germany, to Spain and as far as Scandinavia. St. Maurus, the first disciple of our Father St. Benedict, had already planted the Benedictine monastic life among the Gauls. These missionary monks were sent not at first to preach, because at the beginning that was impossible, but to live their monastic life among the pagans. They founded monasteries, they lived the Rule of St. Benedict, they taught men how to work. It is good when a man works well, when he does a beautiful piece of work. They taught men to read in a beautiful book which the pagans did not know, the book of Holy Scripture. And, above all they taught them how to pray, thanks to the liturgical river which flows throughout the year and which is the best school of prayer.

"In this way, Western Christianity was moulded by the first Benedictine monks. And something of it remains, something not always found on other continents where Anglo-Saxon Protestantism has placed its mark, where temporal success is considered a blessing from God, where luck evidently has its place. With us, it is not the same pattern. In our West, sick as it is (it is perhaps stricken to death), despite our degradation, our surrenders, there is a sense of God, a spiritual quest. Why? Because it is in our blood. It was instilled into us in our cradle. Our civilisation was signed by the Benedictines in the early centuries. They laid stress on the gratuitousness of divine service on disinterested love. And I believe it is this which will save the world..."

From Here
Hat tip to The Continuum


Anonymous said…
Thanks for the reminder of the way of the gospel that is eternal even as our culture is instant.
I once heard the illustrious Ray Bakke speak of a conversation he had with one of his friends in Cairo, a Coptic bishop. When speaking of evangelism, Ray's bishop friend shook his head at one point and said, "You American Christians think of evangelism as primarily horizontal - saving the whole world right now. We think of evangelism as primarily vertical - salvation brought from generation to generation to generation."
I have always remember that quote/idea. For me, I think the Church should always be considerate of both.

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