There’s an item today at the Daily Episcopalian from one of the Community of Solitude folks.
I’ve heard bits and pieces about the whole “New Monasticism” movement and this group seems to be a version of it that appears particularly in Episcopal circles.
I, of course, have drunk from the streams of the “Old Monasticism” movement and am still not sure what to make of these groups. As I’ve mentioned in some private correspondence, my minds not made up partly because of one line that I’ve seen in the Community of Solitude’s material:
If an aspirant is married, we require a letter from the spouse
demonstrating their enthusiastic endorsement of the call and their understanding of the demands this will place on the family, especially in terms of time management and responsibilities. Only one spouse can be a Solitary.
I’ve added the emphasis.
What I like in this community’s documents (and I’ve fussed around the degree to which a dispersed group with a common bond can be considered a community here…) is that they share with classic monasticism the sense that the monastic way is not something above and beyond basic Christianity, rather, it is basic Christianity. However, according to their rule, only one member of a household can be an “authentic” Christian. I find that very problematic.
With the Mass-and-Office harmony of the BCP, I believe that our Anglican forebearers gave us a way to embrace the heart of the monastic vision in a way that made it possible for every memeber of the Church of England and her daughter institutions to be “authentic Christians” even according to the old monastic liturgical model.
I also think that it is interesting and instructive to see this in the same week that the All Saints Sisters of the Poor announced that they will leave the Episcopal Church to go to Rome. Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but I feel the loss of “Old Monasticism” communities more keenly than I feel joy at the springing up of “New Monasticism.”
I’m not sure where I’m going with this except to say there’s something about these new movements that both attracts me, and makes me wonder if they’re missing something important. As I type this, I hear the voice of my mentor in my head commenting on stability:
Stability is one thing in the abstract. But when you become a Benedictine, stability is the sudden realization that the guy in the stall next to you who sings everything just a half step flat will be there and doing that for the next fifty years…
I wonder if my hesitation has to do with a lack of that kind of in-the-bones stability with these movements.