Early Monastic Life

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  • Topic: Monastery, Monasticism, Abbot
  • Pages : 3 (1154 words )
  • Download(s) : 157
  • Published : July 16, 2008
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The monastic life was a meager and humble existence. Monks were men who originally lived alone as hermits and eventually banded together to form tiny spiritual communities. They were twelve or more pious men who abandoned all of life’s luxuries which were said to bring “evil or impurity” to the hearts of men. Simple, somewhat redundant lives were lived this way because it was believed to be the way to ensure a pure and holy life that would lead to heaven. Communal rules for speech and demeanor governed their daily lives. The monks lived and worked under the care of an Abbot, a person who took the place of the Lord or father in the monastery and handled the concerns and best interests of those under his care. The monastic life emerged in isolation with solitary men. It was an especially grueling way of life, physically and mentally draining on an individual. These early monks lived like hermits, in complete solitude in the desert; the monasteries had yet to be developed. “There I sat in solitary…my dirty skin was taking on the hue of the Ethiopians flesh: everyday tears, everyday sighing…my battered body ached on the naked earth.” They cast out and abandoned all things in life that were considered to be wanton luxury, including cooked food. (Perry 169) They did this because, alone in exposure to hunger, thirst, and the ravages of weather, they sought a mystical connection to God with a deeper knowledge of the universe and the nature of human beings. For even Moses, Elijah, Jesus and Muhammad retreated to the desert to seek their life’s mission. Slowly monasticism developed into something much more than individual sacrifice. Saint Benedict of Nursia (480-547) was the first to really develop the monasteries as small spiritual communities in which men lived by strict and stringent rule. They abided in very meager environments with none of life’s luxuries awarded to them. Very modest clothing was permitted and sparse, yet congenial, meals were eaten with one...
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