New Monasticism

“The origin of the new monastic movement is difficult to pinpoint. Some communities now identified with new monasticism have been in existence since the 1970s and 80s. Other well-known communities, such as the Simple Way in Philadelphia, formed in the mid-90s.
The notion and terminology of “new monasticism” was developed by Jonathan Wilson in his 1998 book called “Living Faithfully in a Fragmented World”.

Wilson was, in turn, building on ideas of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who said in 1935: “the restoration of the church will surely come only from a new type of monasticism which has nothing in common with the old but a complete lack of compromise in a life lived in accordance with the Sermon on the Mount in the discipleship of Christ” and philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre. Noting the decline of local community that could sustain the moral life, MacIntyre ended his book “After Virtue”, by voicing a longing for “another… St. Benedict.”By this, he meant someone in the present age to lead another renewal of morality and civility through community. Wilson identified with that longing in his own book, but outlined a vision to carry it forward within the Christian tradition.”
“Calling the vision a “new monasticism”, he proposed four characteristics that such a monasticism would entail: (1) it will be “marked by a recovery of the telos of this world” revealed in Jesus, and aimed at the healing of fragmentation, bringing the whole of life under the lordship of Christ; (2) it will be aimed at the “whole people of God” who live and work in all kinds of contexts, and not create a distinction between those with sacred and secular vocations; (3) it will be disciplined, not by a recovery of old monastic rules, but by the joyful discipline achieved by a small group of disciples practicing mutual exhortation, correction, and reconciliation; and (4) it will be “undergirded by deep theological reflection and commitment,” by which the church may recover its life and witness in the world.”



An interesting website is New Monasticism –
“This site has been created to promote networking and collaboration around the world and in the UK, for those who are seeking to build ecclesial communities out of contextual mission, utilising a new monastic model. To be clear, we are wanting to focus on those particularly involved/engaged with new monastic communities, rather than yet another social network of those involved in general church groups. Some have been doing this for a while, some have just started, whilst others are still conceiving. Some specifically have created intentional communities where people live together, whilst others have built networks of a dispersed community of intentionality. Some are very friar in their outlook, seeking to serve a particular place practicing radical hospitality, evangelism and mission in places some forms of church would not tread. Some are more monk like, seeking to build places of solace and community in but not of the world.”

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