New Monasticism – II

Contemporary media coverage of the traditional Christian religious life tends to fall into two categories: first, romantic archaeology (“essentially dead but really interesting”) or, second, obituary (“really dead and and essentially irrelevant”)…falling vocations, ageing communities, disused buildings….. While both approaches may have some elements of truth in them, they fail to recognize an exciting rediscovery of traditional religious life, generally referred as as “The New Monasticism”. The following resources may provide insight and understanding, no less than optimism!
new-monasticism-as-fx-of-church : A fresh crop of Christian communities is blossoming in blighted urban settings all over America.

An emerging interpretation of new monasticism, however, promises to broaden the movement in ways that might welcome larger numbers of young adults who find themselves drawn to the spiritual practices of multiple faith traditions. In the recently published “New Monasticism: An Interspiritual Manifesto for Contemplative Life in the 21st Century,” Adam Bucko and Rory McEntee explore their vision of what the “new monk” might look like, what it means to be a monk in the world, and the crucial role elders play in mentoring younger contemplatives.


The dwindling number of vocations to priesthood, religious orders and monastic life make it clear that traditional religious life no longer speaks to newer generations the way it has for centuries. But some young people still long for lives of service, prayer and simplicity that are the hallmarks of monasticism.

To help guide them through their emerging image of the new monk, they rely on Blessed Simplicity: The Monk as Universal Archetype, Raimundo Pannikar’s 1982 book on new forms of monasticism. “The new monk is an ideal, an aspiration that lives in the minds and hearts of our contemporary generation,” Pannikar writes.
But this modern monk “does not want to renounce, except what is plainly sinful or negative,” but rather wishes to “transform all things.” Pannikar envisioned a new monk that would reach the monastic goal of “blessed simplicity,” not by stripping away all things, but through integrating all of the aspects of her or his life.


“Even our elders, our spiritual mentors know that something new is emerging,” says Adam Bucko, co-author of the extended essay “New Monasticism: An Interspiritual Manifesto for Contemplative Life in the 21st Century.” The piece is an attempt to put into words what has been stirring in their hearts of many young adults: 20- and 30-somethings who feel called to lives of contemplation and action but who do not necessarily feel drawn to one particular religious tradition or called to the traditional forms of monasticism.


Loosely defined as New Monasticism, this group includes people of all ages who are drawn to the rhythms of monastic life and seek inspiration from Christian prayer and scriptures to live more fulfilled lives of benefit to their communities and wider society. These New Monastics don’t aspire to live in monasteries but instead lead ordinary lives and mark their days with pauses for prayer and reflection – sometimes even being called to prayer by Twitter and Facebook.,,, New Monasticism is an international movement of lay people and professional religious who seek inspiration from the Christian monastic tradition. Contemporary figures within New Monasticism are Dietrich Bonnhoffer, who wrote about new ways of being in community after the second World War, and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, who in 2003 travelled with his wife to tell Iraqis that American Christians did not support the war.

Some people have set up new communities that explore ways to reconnect with God through prayer, art, music, dance, communal dining and Lectio Divina, a form of engagement with the Bible through slow meditative reading and re-reading of passages.

Suggested Reading:

“New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today’s Church” by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (2008) –

“Ancient Faith, Future Mission: New Monasticism as Fresh Expressions of Church” by Graham Cray, Ian Mobsby, and Aaron Kennedy (eds)(2010) –

“The New Friars: The Emerging Movement Serving the World’s Poor” by Scott A. Bessenecker (2006) –

“School(s) for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism” (New Monastic Library: Resources for Radical Discipleship) by Rutba House (2005) –

“The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture” by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (2010) –

“The Universal Monk: The Way of the New Monastics” by John Michael Talbot (2011) –


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