Every 500 years or so we see a monumental cultural shift. The Great Schism and The Reformation brought huge changes to the church and we find ourselves in the centre of yet another cultural change. As the church seeks to pioneer new ways of doing and being church it is of no surprise to me that monasticism has seen a resurgence. Why? Because it is the monastic communities that have seen through all these culture shifts and I suspect they will do the same this time round.
As a Third Order Franciscan postulant, in the trial period in which both myself and the order determine if we are suited to each other, I have started a journey to explore spiritual practices and having a rule of life for myself. What I most enjoy about the journey is the fact it is done in community – in a local group, the Somerset area, the south west cluster, nationally and internationally. In a culture that is so caught up in individualism and consumerism, choosing to walk a monastic path such as the Third Order is one way we can be counter-cultural as followers of Christ.
One of the simplest ways to engage with monastic practice is to use some of the forms of prayer they have developed over hundreds of years. St. Ignatius in particular is a good starting place with the Examen and Lectio Divina. Walking a labyrinth is another ancient form of prayer and it was a privilege to help, along with Chaplaincy Development Adviser Revd Mike Haslam, 240 year six children experience this at the Pilgrim Days in June.
If you are interested in how monastic rhythms or practices might be used in your context for either personal discipleship or as a missional tool then do join us for the first ‘Monasticism Hub’ gathering on 9 July at the Old Deanery in Wells. You can book your place on line.
James Fox Robinson
Prayer and Spirituality Enabler, Diocese of Bath and Wells
If you would like to explore any of these ideas further then do email James. He is happy to come and speak to chapters, synods, prayer events or weekends away.