Monks

Monks

The basic purpose of monasticism is devotion to spiritual work and abdication from earthly temptations. Monasticism is known in many religions including Christianity. The word “monk” itself derives from Greek ‘monos’ – alone, so originally monasticism supposed it’s adepts to live alone[1]. Such lonely style of living has been known from the early years of Christianity, but it’s symbol is the figure of Antony the Great – a charismatic leader of the desert monks, who is said to be a founder of Christian monasticism.

Antony and his followers completely left the world and devoted their lives to prays and manual work, attempting to reach cleanse their soul and know God[2]. Those “escapists” became known as anchorites (the word derives from a Greek word meaning “to withdraw”). Anchorites strived to stay alone with God and their way was a way of individual salvation.

Such approach was good for early Christianity, however, with the development of Church as organization and spread of the new religion in Europe it could not satisfy both the Church and it’s numerous believers. So another way called cenobitic monasticism became popular. Saint Pachomius, the father of cenobitism has founded a community where numerous monks (both male and female) lived separately in huts or caves, however they met for prays and to perform common duties.

Such from of monasticism allowed to make it more arranged and uniformed as well as to guide and control the monks. Pachomius himself wrote the first statute to govern the life in a monastery[3]. Cenobitism has not rejected the idea of personal mystical insight, it rather allowed to unite the associate-monks around a figure of a prior. So a monastery in cenobitism is a sort of school where knowledge of God is taught.

Both cenobitism and anchoritism are united by several universal principles of monasticism such as surrender of all earthly vanity, labor as a part of salvation, individual way of spiritual rebirth, prayers as basic mystical practice, etc.

Works Cited:

1.Lawrence, C. H. 2001. Medieval Monasticism: Forms of Religious Life in Western Europe in the Middle Ages (3rd Edition). New York: Longmans

2. Burns, Paul, ed. Butler’s Lives of the Saints: New Full Edition January vol. Collegeville, MN:The Liturgical Press

3.Johnston, William M. (ed.). 2000. Encyclopedia of Monasticism. vol. 2., Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers

[1] Lawrence, C. H. 2001. Medieval Monasticism: Forms of Religious Life in Western Europe in the Middle Ages (3rd Edition). New York: Longmans, p.- 9

[2] Burns, Paul, ed. Butler’s Lives of the Saints: New Full Edition January vol. Collegeville, MN:The Liturgical Press, p- 107

[3] Johnston, William M. (ed.). 2000. Encyclopedia of Monasticism. vol. 2., Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, p. – 215
[4] Lawrence, C. H.  (supra note) p.- 45