Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Anglican monasticism


I have been visiting the last of the major English Anglican men's monastic foundations - The Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield, Yorkshire.

(The other two large and famous Victorian foundations - Society for the Sacred Mission at Kelham Hall and the 'Cowley Fathers' in Oxford are now only vestigial.)

This was my second visit after three years, and my overall feeling was that the brethren was in good heart (including signs of replenishment with new vocations and tremendously improved plainchant!) and perhaps are emerging from the 'bottleneck' which threatened their survival.

Although, since their foundation by the early-'liberal' theologian Charles Gore, the CR have been (in my view) significantly weakened by their Leftist background in Christian Socialism (indeed, some of the most pernicious aspects of modernism in Christianity are beating on the door and permeating worship, relating to the adjascent and linked theological college); yet my sense is that the power of monasticism is greater than all this and will prevail.

Especially, the regular round of the (in this instance, four-fold) daily office, and observation of the great silence, seem to have a spiritual potency that hard to match - creating something mysteriously greater than the sum of its parts.

One of my conclusions is that a monastic revival (among men) would be just about the most valuable sign for the Christian church at present; and that even Protestant churches ought to be experimenting with supervised forms of celibate and disciplined Christian group living for unmarried men.



Dale James Nelson said...

I agree with your final comment, but suspect there is an even greater need for Christian spiritual help for women. I suppose they are often more damaged by characteristic enterprises and ideologies of modernity than men are.

bgc said...

@Dale - If there was a revival of monasticism for men, this would have - as *one* of its effects - benefits for the spirituality of women. I think the process must begin with men, else it will not happen.

Anonymous said...

The Mount Athos Monks appear to be doing quite well.

bgc said...

@Anon - Eastern Orthodoxy seems to be thriving in Russia and Romania as well - but I was mostly talking about the UK here.