Primary Source Paper
Monks: St. Benedict's Holy Rule
In the 4th and 5th century religious men and women looked for escape from the new Christian-Imperial, which they viewed as the corrupt and decaying society of Egypt, Syria-Palestine, and Anatolia. These fugitives were referred to as the "Desert Elders." They all had a desire to live the spirit of the Gospels alone with their God. This so called flight into the desert was considered by many the foundation of Christian monasticism. The first Desert Elders, usually made of hermits also referred to as anchorites, lived solitary lives. Overtime these hermits banned together into communities. The members of these communities were referred to no longer as hermits, but now as cenobites. The end of the 6th century showed the cenobitic community to be the Christian monastic norm in the East and West, though the hermits were never totally disbanded. Whether cenobite or anchorite, these monks were dedicated to worshipping and seeking God away from the distractions of the world.
The world was not as eager to let go of the monks. They were viewed as living Christian heroes. Monks in accordance with the Christian call to save and transform the world have been known to offer their lives as agents of divine grace. Monks have never been a significant percentage of the population, but they became folk heroes of such magnitude, that they were responsible for turning Christianity into a mass religion. The document that I read researched the two major forms of monasticism that took shape in the West during the 5th and 6th centuries. These groups played an extremely important role in the eventual transformation of Western civilization.
During the 4th and 5th centuries Christian monasticism spread into western Europe from the eastern Mediterranean. The monastic organization of these monasteries in the west varied. Usually following their own rules of adapting rule's from neighboring houses that they...