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Monasticism: Life in the Monastery

Monasticism: A way of life followed by devoted religious persons living in the Middle Ages.  Certain individuals found the calling of Christianity very appealing.  They would approach a monastery and beg to be admitted. There was a two step procedure to become a monk.  The description of these phases follows.

Novice:  If the monks there were convinced that the person was serious, they would be admitted as a novice.  This was a temporary position of servitude in which the monk was taught the rules and regulations.  They would take thier first vows.

Brother:  If the novice took all the vows and held them for a period of time designated by the rules, then he would become a monk.  The monk would then be a peer to all at the monastery and follow all routines.  He was never to leave the monastery without permission.

Mind of the Monk:  These people viewed their life as an imitation of the life of Jesus Christ.  They believed there were two ways to imitate the life of Christ.  The second is the focus of this page.  These were the people who called the actual building, the monastery, home.  The Monastery was a self-contained world run by head monks called Abbots.   The Nunery, or female version, was run by an Abbess.
Two Ways to Imitate Christ
 1. To go into the world and help end sin
              This was a choice of some monastic orders.  They gave all their possessions to the poor
               and devoted their lives to helping the less fortunate find spiritual happiness and attain
               salvation.  These were the people who would convert much of Europe to Christianity.
               These became the first Christian missionaries.

2. To withdraw from the world and escape temptation
                This was a practice borrowed from Eastern Christians after the Crusades.  Eastern
                Christians locked themselves inside large, communal, and remote buildings.  They then
                concentrated all their thoughts and energies upon God and heaven.
              The Vows and Duties of Monks and Nuns:
                They followed strict routines and took many vows. Among these vows were poverty,
                chastity, obedience,  and silence.  These were people who copied documents,
                wrote church hymns, studied the Bible, and saved much of the ancient learning
                for generations to come. See St. Benedicts Rule below.

Although there were many orders, or types of monasteries, most had similar beliefs and purposes.
There were certain and specific differences between each different order, but most followed the Rule of St. Benedict or a version of it.

Manuscript  This literally means handwriting. This was how books were made in the monastery. Monks spent hours copying these for discipline and to keep thier minds occupied.  Click on the word for more information and a picture of a Medieval manuscript.

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