Flirting with monasticism

Catherine Clair, Prison Fellowship’s Breakpoint, decided to investigate the current attraction of the ancient ways of monastic life for modern evangelicals and pentecostals.

It seems the frenzied and the frenetic are finding stillness and order; the alienated are discovering the richness of belonging; and the non-committal are jumping headlong into the freedom of vows.

About eight years ago, I found myself in a convent in Bogotá, Colombia. I had not planned to get me to a nunnery. But it just so happened that I had signed up for a women’s retreat with the Baptist church where I was serving with youth that summer, and since the local convent had a bit of extra space, they hosted us for the weekend. My room—quiet, clean, white—lacked only one thing: distractions. It was perfect. It felt like I had entered rehab for the chronically over-stimulated. That weekend, I got a taste of something that hordes of evangelical Christians are flirting with today: monasticism.

A couple of months ago, I bumped into filmmaker Lauralee Farrar at the Washington Arts Council. She had shared earlier that day about her new film, Praying the Hours, a story about eight people connected by community, at a time in their lives when one of them has their life tragically cut short. The film’s themes grew out of Farrar’s own exploration of the way in which the Benedictine monks view time. After a shattering moment in her life that changed everything, she says she “stumbled upon the Benedictine hours of prayer and began to make them the structure for living through a day”—sort of a Benedictine AA: “one hour at a time.”

At the time, Farrar had no idea that she was a part of a growing trend of people keeping the hours. For the uninitiated, the practice of praying the hours grew out of the eight times each day during which the Benedictine monks stopped to pray the Psalter: Lauds (Morning Prayer) offered at sunrise; Prime (1st hour of the day); Terce (3rd hour, or Mid-morning); Sext (6th hour or Midday); None (9th hour or Mid-Afternoon); Vespers (Evening Prayer) offered at sunset; Compline (Night Prayer) before going to bed; and during the Night (Matins).

Read is all here

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