Sunday, October 4, 2009

Morning in an Abbey

Today I attended mass at the Abbey of the Genesee. The life of the Cistercian, or Trappist, monks intrigues me and causes me to reflect on the nature of the church and individual callings.

I spent some time on their website, trying to understand a bit about them. They are a "a monastic institute wholly ordered to contemplation". To this end they devote themselves to silence, solitude, prayer, etc. Entry into the community is note something to be taken lightly, and the process takes years. Near the end of a description of this process, the site notes that
The primary responsibility of the newly professed monk is to love with all his heart. The vows presuppose this love and express it exteriorly by incorporating him into a state of life which has no other reason for existence than the love of Christ and all that implies.
This is in many ways an attractive way of life to those who strive daily to turn all the loves of our heart toward Christ, amidst the noisy and busy world of ordinary life.

Yet... I am still left with some questions, which I will note here before ending this brief post:
  • What is the role of these communities within the church?
  • All followers of Christ are his disciples in different ways. However, do those who choose such a specific vocation find themselves limited in the ways they can obey and imitate Christ? For example, how do they share the good news when they are so hidden from the world?
  • Are there certain times in the cultural and historical climate for which this way of following Christ is more or less appropriate?

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