Here is yet another article talking about whether or not monasticism is withdrawal or engagement.
Is there a movement happening? A reconsideration in Christendom of monasticism? On the one hand, a lot of “disconnected” thinkers are thinking about this. On the other, those tightly bound to one particular tradition – unwilling to go beyond their short traditions – are typically not thinking about monasticism at all.
Here are some worthwhile quotes from the article:
“No doubt, the efficiencies of the preaching orders lent themselves to the challenges of forging a new world with its industrialization and rapid mobilization, but one wonders if this happened at the expense of the view of contemplation central to Benedictine spirituality. Quietism has never fit well with the pragmatic American ethos and from one angle the Benedictines smack too much of quietist withdrawal.”
“Sometimes out of the resources of the local and the regional, Benedictine spirituality will blossom outward to impact the broader cultural ethos as it did with the creation of All Souls’ Day or in the wisdom of spokespersons from Bernard of Clairvaux to Thomas Merton. This is certainly active cultural engagement, but such engagement largely privileges the rural and local over the urban and the national. It speaks the simple language of the farmer or the shopkeeper and revels in the work of the folk artist. It is why historically Benedictines engaged in primary education.”
“The beauty of Christianity has been that cultural engagement emerges from the variety of charisms that the Spirit bestows. Those charisms come about as believers launch out from the bosom of the Church to forge new forms of Christian life. There will always be a Benedictine option and a Dominican option.”