Inside Sinaia Monastery….
These folks have put a lot of thought, experience and wisdom into their concept of monasticism, and it makes me want to run back into the “contemplative cave” immediately:
The 12 Marks of a New Monasticism
Moved by God’s Spirit in this time called America to assemble at St. Johns Baptist Church in Durham, NC, we wish to acknowledge a movement of radical rebirth, grounded in God’s love and drawing on the rich tradition of Christian practices that have long formed disciples in the simple Way of Christ. This contemporary school for conversion which we have called a “new monasticism,” is producing a grassroots ecumenism and a prophetic witness within the North American church which is diverse in form, but characterized by the following marks:
1. Relocation to the abandoned places of Empire.
2. Sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among us.
3. Hospitality to the stranger
4. Lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities
combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation.
5. Humble submission to Christ’s body, the church.
6. Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the
community along the lines of the old novitiate.
7. Nurturing common life among members of intentional community.
8. Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children.
9. Geographical proximity to community members who share a common rule of life.
10. Care for the plot of God’s earth given to us along with support of our local economies.
11. Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18.
12. Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life.
May God give us grace by the power of the Holy Spirit to discern rules for living that will help us embody these marks in our local contexts as signs of Christ’s kingdom for the sake of God’s world.
Lots of good stuff in there — and these are Baptists! I’m pinching myself….
My major beef growing up a preacher’s son was the fact that my church life did not include a systematic practice for the direct realization of “God.” For me, it was all about memorizing scripture, enduring Sunday services, pretending I was someone who I really wasn’t, and a continuing alienation from those who would banish me to the fires of hell for not conforming enough to their fear-based, sexually-stultified, mindless attempt to keep God in their little box. No meditation, not even so-called “contemplative prayer” — just the occasional “Rocky Mountain High” at church camp, soon to be deflated when “real life” commenced back home.
Now, after many years studying and practicing Eastern forms of spirituality, I find that I’m not the only one hungry for access to the original “mustard seed” of Christ’s teachings — much of which must be understood in its esoteric or “inner,” symbolic meaning, if it’s to be understood at all. This inner teaching is, in fact, very “Eastern” in terms of its contemplative component — and now we see all sorts of efforts, such as The 12 Marks of a New Monasticism, offering a path for contemplatives who’ve broken out of their religious straitjackets and found themselves in need of the direct experience of… THAT….