by Don Palmer
In turbulent reformation
But there is a need for the disciplined, principled monastic life by many earnest Christians. Actually the vocation was begun in the Egyptian desert. There under the spiritual direction of St. Anthony, St. Padnomius started the first Christian monastic communities in a family structure, with the head being the abbot, from the Aramaic word ‘abba”, father; and the monks assuming the designation of brothers. Both communal and solitary monastics became popular, filling a need many Christians had.
In 500 AD Benedict chose to be an ascetic monk and promulgated the Benedictine Rule, upon which many communities of “the religious” (monks and nuns) are based.
The Sisters of St. Mary heroically nursed the victims of yellow fever in
Episcopal men began to form monastic communities. In 1856 the Rev. Richard Benson founded the Society of St John the Evangelist, SSJE. Subsequently came the Order of the Holy Cross. It is not widely known that there are many Episcopal monks and nuns, belonging to several orders and communities. Most follow the Benedictine rule, “ora et labora”, worship and work. Membership can be as a monk or nun, but priests and lay can be affiliated in several ways. Bishop Duncan is a member of the Society of St. John the Evangelist. Our good friend, Fr. Mark Dunnam, was a Benedictne monk for several years. (Some monastic “contemplative” orders scorn idle talk and basically practice silence and solitary, withdrawn living. Mark was not, could not be, of such a persuasion. We like him better this way.)
The monastic life, monks and nuns, is alive and well in the Church today.