Where are the monastics?

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by Tellyontellyon, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. Tellyontellyon

    Tellyontellyon New Member

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    Hi I'm a Buddhist. Buddhism has quite a strong monastic tradition.
    That has been true in the past for Christianity, but there seem to be very few monks these days.
    Most Christian monks seem to be Roman Catholic, but I believe there are also Anglican Monks and Nuns?

    Do you think it would be good to have a strong monastic tradition in Christianity?

    My own opinion is that it would be a good thing. A life of contemplation, discipline, prayer and having the time to connect deeply to the core of your spirituality.

    What do others think?
     
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes there are in the 'High Church Anglican' circles. Apart from not accepting papal authority, the distinction between High Church Anglican and Roman Catholic is very, very little ...

    Yes.

    I on't think Christianity, at least Catholicism, conceives spirituality as personally as perhaps the phrase 'your spirituality' suggests to the modern mind, but that's probably a nuanced discussion about not-much-at-all (or absolutely fundamental, depends where you're coming from).

    Simple pointer being when we think of 'spirit' we think of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity; 'we' or 'the individual' has a human spirit, but monastic spirituality is directed towards a higher order of spiritual engagement.

    Having said that, there are distinct 'spiritualities' of the monastic orders — Benedictine, Franciscan, Dominican, Ignatian (Jesuit) ...
     
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  3. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Welcome, by the way ...
     
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  4. Tellyontellyon

    Tellyontellyon New Member

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    Hi Thomas,
    I watched a YouTube video of a born again Christian lady who, at the time she had made the video, was fairly new to Christianity, just a few months.
    She had been an atheist, but she had had a powerful experience of the Holy Spirit, that left her with an enduring sense of the presence and guidance of God, as well as a sort of spiritual discernment that guided her in her decisions.
    In my post above I used phrase 'your spirituality' in the sense of a Christians understanding of spirituality (I'm not a Christian), but I wouldn't want you to think that I meant that in a dismissive way. I have great respect for Christianity.
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Never took any issue ... I do sometimes answer questions and add a 'general note', wasn't in any way aimed as a criticism of you.

    Welcome aboard.

    I would also suggest, IO being a kind of 'down-to-earth' kinda place, that we have to acknowledge that life within the cloister was not particularly more difficult in the monastic 'golden age' than life in the world as it were, when abject poverty, starvation, etc., were very real possibilities.

    Monastic living has become a significantly tougher exercise in the modern western world, and made even tougher by a general mood of atheism.

    Don't know it if still happens in the East, but one could take sabbatical years, or spend a year in a monastery between education and looking for a job (?). Not so available in the West, nor would a year spent in a monastery be seen as a 'useful' discipline!?
     
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  6. Tellyontellyon

    Tellyontellyon New Member

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    I think in Thailand it is quite common for young men or boys to spend at least a few months in a monastery.
    In Christianity, I could imaging spending some time in a monastery could be very beneficial, or maybe a non monastic Christian community that practices some sort of 'Rule'.
    I've stayed at a Buddhist centre a number of times, sometimes in silence, but never for more than a week or so. I found it really helpful to me to have the time to really practice and meditate and put the rest of life down for a while, I'm sure Christians benefit in the same way.
    I remember as a teen-ager, I was in the army cadets and we stayed on Caldey Island, in Wales. We were there to clean up brambles from the old priory and climb about the cliffs doing army cadet stuff.
    I remember the peace and tranquility of the island, that is inhabited by Cistercian?? Monks. I still remember the sense of peace that pervaded the whole place.
     
  7. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    It is a perfect idea.

    Nonetheless it would be for a rarefied candidate.

    Nonetheless it would be for the benefit of the whole society.

    It is an ancient aspect of Nobel society.
     
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  8. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    As an alternative to 'Love Island'! But if you took a poll of who would rather one or the other ... oh dear ...

    I was taught meditation on a Buddhist retreat. Yes.

    Army cadet? That ages you. And Wales! Now there's a test of the spirit :D

    Cistercians, yes. And I do like Wales (ignore comment above) ... I like raw and rugged ...
     
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  9. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Agree on all four points.
     
  10. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    https://www.benedictines.org.uk/our-houses
    These are the Benedictine monasteries in the UK. If you click on the icon and open view details it will give you a link to their website. I think they are all Catholic. But all the information is there.

    I live close to Buckfast Abbey in Devon. I've done several retreats there, for a week, living, eating and praying with the monks. I actually moved to be close to the Abbey and now it is my parish church. I don't go to the services as much as I used to. I sometimes go over for the early prayer matins and lauds or for vespers in the evening. I hear the bells from where I live.

    They are mostly very old men now and although they get a few people interested in becoming monks they don't stay when they understand what the life really entails. Applicants are accommodated around the monastery for a few months, while they get a look at monastic life and attend the seven daily prayer services, etc. They don't really want anyone over 50, although they will treat each applicant personally. It's all on the websites. Living the life of a monk is a lot different from spending a few days there on retreat.

    I am talking about Buckfast, which is down to about 10 monks now. I don't know the others. But Ampleforth Abbey seems to have 55 monks, which is a lot.

    As @Thomas says, it's not an easy life at all.

    I don't know if you are in the UK or the US? Monasteries usually invite guests to stay for a while. At Buckfast it's limited to a week. You get a nice little room, with a bed and a desk, and attend services in the Abbey church and silent mealtimes with the monks. Up and down steep and narrow winding stone stairways all day. The food is good, but the monks eat fast. They bolt it down as if they can't wait to get out of there, lol. It takes getting used to.

    They invite a donation, but if you can't afford it, they really don't mind.

    https://www.skandavale.org/
    There is also Scanda Vale which advertises as interfaith but which actually practices the Hindu pujas, etc.

    There may be others.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  11. Tellyontellyon

    Tellyontellyon New Member

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    Hi, yes, I live in Wales, in the Swansea Valley.
    I have a friend who works for Skanda Vale.. They've got elephants!

    It seems a shame that so many of the monks these days are old... I know it's not for everybody, bit for the right person a monastic life could be wonderful. It is good that these people exist.
    I've watched some clips about Fr. Lazarus, in Egypt. It seems that the prayers he makes benefit the whole of humanity. I think this sort of selflessness is common to both Christianity and Buddhism.
     
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  12. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Then your closest Benedictine monastery is Belmont Abbey:
    https://www.belmontabbey.org.uk/
    You don't have to be Catholic to spend a few days retreat there.
     
  13. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    It seems Cistercian monasteries aren't included in the English Benedictine Congregation. I didn't know that.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Cistercian_abbeys_in_Britain#Currently_active_abbeys

    Caldey makes a nice range of perfumes and after shaves:
    https://caldeyislandwales.com/
    Monastic Guesthouse
    There are a small number of rooms available in the Monastic Guesthouse for men interested in making a retreat for a few days up to one week, worshipping with the monks, eating with them in their Refectory and assisting with various daily tasks, such as cleaning and gardening. Payment for the accommodation is by donation. For further information regarding staying at the Monastic Guesthouse only, please write, enclosing a stamped addressed envelope, to: The Guestmaster, Caldey Abbey, Caldey Island, Pembrokeshire SA70 7UJ.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  14. Tellyontellyon

    Tellyontellyon New Member

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    I think for myself I will stick with the Buddhist retreat centre, but I think for Christians there is great value in going on retreat, staying in community, and perhaps for a few, taking up a monastic life.
     
  15. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Where is that? Do you have to pay?
     
  16. Tellyontellyon

    Tellyontellyon New Member

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    I go to Palpung Changchub Darge Ling, in Brynmawr... It's not far from Ebbw Vale.

    If you are doing a structured personal retreat, then a fee of £10 per night is expected. If you are staying there in a less structured way then £25 per night?

    I don't think I can post links yet as In very new, but you can Google it.

    It's on the website somewhere...
    Lama Rabsang is an excellent meditation teacher and very friendly and approachable. They also have incredible visiting teachers visiting every so often.
     
  17. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    That's not too bad. What's the difference between the two types of retreats?
    http://palpung.org.uk/
     
  18. Tellyontellyon

    Tellyontellyon New Member

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    Well with the structured retreat there will be a time to get up, go to bed, and time is all taken up with practice.
    With the unstructured, you are really free to do what you like... Meditate, go for a walk, hang around talking.. whatever... within reason, anybody staying at the centre will be following the precepts.
     
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  19. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Cool. Religious organisations are not allowed to charge payment or they lose their tax free status, so it's always a 'suggested donation' lol. Some are quite rich, others can use the extra money.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  20. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019

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