Monastic Life & Worship
Everyone knows that there were lots of monasteries centuries ago in England and
that, for various reasons, they were all shut down in the
sixteenth century by Henry VIII. Yet during the past hundred
years monks have reappeared. Why? What purpose do they have? In
one sense a monastery is an extension of the local church.
Everyone who is called by Jesus to follow him in discipleship
come together regularly in worship as an expression of that
commitment But there is a difference.
The Christian living and working in society goes to church every Sunday. But the monk lives in a Christian community and marks each day with regular times of worship and prayer. He is called specifically to live out his commitment to Jesus in a way that witnesses to the Christian hope that all humankind shall be reconciled and live together in peace under God. A monk remains in the place where he is called and to that extent is entirely separate from the local church. Of course he remembers in prayer all Christians and the needs of the world - of which he is aware as much as anyone else. Yet he is not a professional pray-er, praying for those who, as far as we know, do not pray, or simply wish others to do it for them!
His significant contribution to society lies in a much larger understanding of the Christian Good News. The monasteries in the Middle Ages were all part of the church and of society and often played an important role in education and care for the poor. Today those needs are met by the state. Monasteries have once again become places of solitude and quiet where Christians witness in a common, shared life of friendship and commitment to the goals of life - to the truth of the gospel of Jesus and to the love that God has for all humankind.
Christian worship and prayer is then a direct response to Christ's call to each one of us. It is an uncomplicated 'work of God' as the old monks called it. Day after day the monk gives all that he has to be absorbed in it and with it to integrate his whole life. It is a joy and a privilege to be called to do this with Christ.