The breadth and depth of monastic influence in the church can be sketched quickly by observing the lineage of attitudes and actions that have been approved by almost all Christians everywhere. If we read the Scripture in our native languages, we benefit from a tradition of biblical translation inspired by the monk Jerome (ca. 342-420). If we sing together the praises of Father, Son, and  Holy Spirit, we follow where the hymn-writing monks Gregory (ca. 540-604) and Bernard of Clairvaux led the way. If we pursue theology, we inevitably find ourselves indebted to the monks Augustine and Thomas Aquinas (ca. 1225-74). If we pray for the success of Christian missions, we ask for blessing upone enterprises pioneered by the monks Patrick (ca. 390 – ca. 460), Boniface (680-754), Cyril (826-69) and his brother Methodius (ca. 815-85), and Raymond Lull (ca. 1233-ca. 1315). If we are interested in the past record of Christianity in English speaking areas of the world, we cultivate a historical concern begun by a monk, the Venerable Bede (ca. 673-735). If we glory in the goodness that God imparted to the created world, we follow where the friar Francis of Assisi (1181/2-1226) blazed the trail. Monasticism was never a perfect answer to the questions of how to life the Christian life. Its impact, nonetheless, cannot be underestimated. And that impact has largely been for the good.

Another fascinating insight from Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity (p. 85)

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