Essay, Research Paper: Monasticism


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Monasticism, literally being a hermit, has come to describe the way of life
pertaining to people living in seclusion from the rest of the world. These
people are under religious promise and subject to a fixed rule, as monks. The
basic idea of monasticism is total isolation from the rest of society. The
method they have adopted, no matter what the precise details may be, is usually
organized asceticism. If the ways of monasticism were taken in a broad enough
sense it may be found in every religious system that has attained a high degree
of ethical development, such as Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim
religions, and even in the system of the communistic societies at our present
time. Throughout my learning in class, I have come to understand that the
monastic way of life is an ascetic one, but I do not believe saying the earliest
Christian asceticism was monastic is correct. Considering the circumstances in
which the early Christians were placed, for the first century or so of the
Church's existence the idea of living apart from the congregation of the
faithful was out of the question, it was seen as nearly impossible. However, I
find myself certain that monasticism, when it came, was little more than a group
of ideas previously in solution among Christians. For asceticism is the struggle
against worldly principles, even with such as are merely worldly without being
sinful. The world desires and honors wealth, so the ascetic loves and honors
poverty. If he must have something in the nature of property then he and his
fellows shall hold it in common, just because the world respects and safeguards
private ownership. In like manner he practices fasting and virginity that
thereby he may repudiate the license of the world.
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