skepticskitchen wrote:Oh, and Green Raven, my defining characteristic for a monk is simply someone who has dedicated their entire life to the Divine and have no other occupation or vocation. The idea of Celibacy didn't come about until the 10th Century and that was to keep the churches as property of the Church.
I accept that I was not born into christianity or brought up in the Roman Catholic faith so I have to rely on other sources. Shall we agree on the below?
A monk (from Greek: μοναχός, monachos, “single, solitary” and Latin monachus) is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of other monks. A monk may be a person who decided to dedicate his life to serving all other living beings, or to be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live his life in prayer and contemplation. The concept is ancient and can be seen in many religions and in philosophy.
In Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Eastern Catholicism, monasticism holds a very special and important place: "Angels are a light for monks, monks are a light for laymen" (St. John Klimakos). The Orthodox Church measures its health by the quality of its monks and nuns. Orthodox monastics separate themselves from the world in order to pray unceasingly for the world. They do not, in general, have as their primary purpose the running of social services, as is common in Western Christianity, but instead are concerned with attaining theosis, or union with God. However, care for the poor and needy has always been an obligation of monasticism, so Orthodox monasteries are not normally "cloistered" like some contemplative Western houses are, though the level of contact will vary from community to community. Orthodox hermits, on the other hand, have little or no contact with the outside world.
Order of Saint Benedict
Within Roman Catholicism, a monk is a member of a religious order who lives a communal life in a monastery, abbey, or priory under a monastic rule of life (such as the Rule of St. Benedict). St. Benedict of Nursia is considered to be the founder of western monasticism. He authored the Rule of St. Benedict, which is the foundation for the Order of St. Benedict and all of its reform groups such as the Cistercians and the Trappists.
The religious vows taken in the West were first developed by St. Benedict. These vows were three in number: obedience, conversion of life and stability. Obedience calls for the monk to obey Christ, as represented by the superior person of the monastery, which is an abbot or prior. Conversion of life means, generally, that the monk convert himself to the way of a monk, which is death to self and to the world and life to God and to his work. A Christian monk is to be an instrument of God’s work. Stability entails that the monk commit himself to the monastery for the remainder of his life, and so, upon death, will be buried at its cemetery.
My preconception of the “monk” was that of, “to be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live his life in prayer and contemplation.” I accept that there are other definitions.
However, to dedicate one’s life to a set of beliefs and to actions reflecting those beliefs describes the adherent of any faith or philosophy, religious, political or other secular.
You are suggesting an order of OBOD monasticism loosely based on Benedict’s precepts. The above states that fundamental to that is the founding of a community – with all the property and assets required – with a leader that requires obedience to that office, to consider ties to the previous life, family and attachments severed, to selflessly consider themselves as an instrument of divine will – as represented by the holder of the leader’s office, and to commit themselves for the remainder of this life to the community and to be buried within that community.
I still see no resemblance to the pre-Roman druids, who lived in villages and towns, with their families, bringing up children, and dispensing spiritual guidance, medical aid (as existed at the time), divining the will of the gods and the future, military and political strategy, and keeping the peace through mediation and presiding over trials of fact by precedent and decree. Parish priest, doctor, historian, think-tank, magistrate, I can accept those resemblances but not to ‘monk’.
Suetonius Paulinus' slaughter at Mona, genocide of the Ordovicians, suppression of the Boudiccan Revolt and the Claudian extermination would have driven the faith underground and subsequently we see reports of itinerant druid seers but again more as a Catholic priest moving from refuge to refuge in Britain during the Protestant suppression 1558 and following. British polytheism melded with Roman and priests were appointed, still no monks though. The survivals in unconquered Ireland show life much as before but gradually organising into schools as the nobility lost patience with the vast retinues that followed the great druids, demanding food, drink and housing from them. The christian tsunami that followed Patrick ousted the druid tradition and drafted the sages into the new religion – three of Patrick’s advisors were former druids. The bardic schools were seized and turned into seminaries – and thus reorganised as Catholic institutions. The new faith absorbed whatever was found useful (deities turned into ‘saints’, traditions given new Christianised interpretations etc.) and discarded the rest. Important oral lore was bowdlerised into quaint tales.
I have studied the archaeology of the British Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages following the evolution of the various cosmos views (this is not my profession) and scoured the classics for descriptions of the religious beliefs and practices of the ‘Celtic’ cultures and yet, I don’t see any resemblance to monastic traditions that originate in the original druidic practice, bar the absorbed traditions that I detailed above (confession etc.). The elements of the monastic life seem to originate in the Near East although communities based on shared beliefs have, and do, exist everywhere and in every time.
Good luck with your community.