In the months before I decided to become a postulant in the Benedictine charism, I was talking to a college employee about the kitsch associated with monastic life. Let’s face it: the word monasticism has become vogue in some Christian circles (and in contrast, in other circles, the word is foreign). There are now lots of books about loving your neighbor the way St. Benedict would have loved his neighbors like Christ and there are all sorts of blogs claiming to “love the monastic tradition.” Not to be too harsh, but the monastic way has become a source of fascination and plaything for the modern Church, especially for those denomination where monasticism is not a deeply-rooted tradition. In the last 20 years, it’s almost as if Jesus just got around to saying “love your neighbor.”
So, why would a young woman raised in the Church of Christ tradition, a tradition that resists all things that looks remotely suspicious (like prayer books, mentions of saints, and nuns’ habits), choose monasticism? Simple: the pattern of everyday life.
Similar to cloistered monastic life, third-order monasticism requires a pattern of life that needs to be followed. I say my prayers at a certain time of the day, I use a prayer book, and yes, I do use my own words during my prayers (any prayer book worth its salt allows for the user to say her own words). This allows me to center my life on the Lord. Sure, I can be centered on the Lord without the monastic life. Millions of Christians have done it before me. To put it plainly: I need a life obedience that requires accountability. I’ve been a Christian since I was six years old, but I often falter at Christian practices such as prayer, Scripture reading, and helping my neighbor. Monasticism offers a framework, a framework that I need to help in my Christian life. There is a certain holiness associated with the everyday life in the body of Christ, and I want part of it.
As I continue my journey to eventually becoming a professed third-order sister in the Order, I ask for your prayers. Pray that I’ll avoid the kitschy-ness associated with monasticism, pray that I’ll see the neighbor who needs help, pray that I’ll share the Gospel with others, pray that I’ll look beyond myself, and pray that I’ll be set into a holier pattern that glorifies Christ.