This is the first post following a general overview of the concepts surrounding a New Monasticism– the intentional living out and development of faith as disciples in Christ as members of community with a focus on hospitality, spiritual development, and neighborhood involvement. These communities have been around for years and come in many different forms, but there are a few general guidelines that most follow. These are known as “marks.”
In the prior post I listed 12 Marks put forward by The Rutba House in the book School(s) for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism. This post unpacks the first mark put forward, Relocation to Abandoned Places of the Empire.
Relocation to Abandoned Places of the Empire is really just a fancy way of saying that you choose to live in an area society has rejected, be it remote and rural, or inner city. New Monastic communities form in areas that are in need of healing and renewal, along with the message of love in Jesus Christ. It chooses depressed areas where they can serve and develop a life along the lines of the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel always, and when necessary, use words.”
Choosing a neighbourhood that is generally rejected by society in the situations I’ve found myself in has meant living in the inner city, surrounding myself with other like minded people who want to be a part of positive change as an outworking of our thankfulness for our salvation through Christ. After all, what better way to acknowledge the gift we have than by sharing it with others both in word and deed?
This means embracing the unlovables of society– the addicts, the homeless, the drunks, the struggling– those society would prefer to sweet under the proverbial carpet.
Granted, locations don’t have to be poverty stricken or inner city. For some it may be remote rural communities, learning to find beauty in the vast expanses, and living out one’s faith outside of the business of our culture and the values our society tries to impart to us. It is a rejection of living life for self– a rejection of the American dream, of self autonomy and materialistic success– in favour of another dream. It it learning to live and develop oneself spiritually, by departing from areas under strong government control. As one who has never experienced this type of community, I can’t really speak to it, but do know that it exists. Think hermits.
Relocation means an intentional move towards something different. If one feels called to a community such as this, it may mean relocating from a cushy home in the suburbs or some other such thing. Discomfort is expected, along with the blessing that can come from living in a community such as this.
Many of these communities live communally, and that in and of itself is quite the adjustment. It’s also a blog post for another time.
Short but sweet today. Another Mark covered next time.