Make yourself a stranger to the world’s activities.

St. Benedict, from The Rule of Benedict

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Christian monastic communities have existed since the 3rd Century, A.D.  Their history ebbs and flows.  Often they flourish in difficult times – times in which deep thought and search from meaning arise because of conflict and significant errors, or during periods of fundamental change, uncertainty and serious risk.

It seems that such times beckon quiet, introspection, self-examination, contemplation, spiritual growth and a greater depth of faith.  We seem to be precisely in such a period … a time when the world is a stranger to us, and we to it.

In a real sense we might be wise to do as the ancient and present day monks have done – and that is to separate from the world – take leave of the things it does to capture us, define us …

When all is overpowering and moving at a great pace – it is time to slow down and recess.  It is time for quiet, reflection, silence, peace, rest, thought, and distance-taking from the clamor and ruckus that is daily life.

Such a turn is counter-cultural – but that is precisely what monastic life has always been – a quest for understanding, higher purpose, your self, your soul, The Divine – what is eternal, not temporal.

I speak of a separation that defines you against the present culture and its errors and disorders.  I speak of a life of virtue which proclaims what is agelessly good, and stable, moral and true.

In moments such as we live now, our culture (in its disorders) is teaching us, telling us we are missing things of lasting value in our compliance with the sick tempo and content of exclusionary secularism.

You can engage the healthy call of monasticism by separating from the habits and demands of mass culture, by seeking quiet, reflection, prayer, solitude.  These are your wall, your cloister – the peace you need.  In this setting you listen better, attend to God and His voice, hear your breathing, and your heart, and silence. Free of gossip, the daily news, endless tasks – you gain in strength and certainty. In this time out of time, your room – your home becomes a pleasure, a sanctuary. Nature settles you. You see and feel the breeze.  Watch the clouds drift and the shadows set.  Memories emerge and old friends come calling.

Overcome by the tone, content and destruction you see?  The foolishness and incompetence?  The violence and insincerity? The lies?  The noise?  The brokenness?  Become a stranger to the world’s activities.