The beginning of this new monasticism will be the reality of the presence of communal bonfire...a gathering, a fellowship...in the midst of the passionate fire, the Spirit of God. It may be hearing what St. Francis heard, " the Lord said, he wished me to be a fool, the like of which the world has never seen before."
It may be 2-3 families, a group of friends who are willing to be a subversive community, being an alternative to the established order be rearranging thier lives around the mind of Christ. To have thier communal lifestyle shaped by the gospel of Jesus. The priorities of the community are not determined by the popular religion of the day, by the swinging pendulum of politics or by the consumer culture...but by the Sermon on the Mount and paschal ( easter-passover ) mystery.
This community of new world monks will transcend all class distinctions and barriers. Male versus female, priest versus lay person, liberal versus conservative, charismatic versus traditional, modern versus post-modern, academic versus the drop-out, the old and the young...all will melt away in the unifying love of the Spirit.
The sole requirement for membership are an awareness to the reality of Jesus as Lord, and God as Abba Father...an unconditional surrender to the transforming wind and fire of the Spirit of God...and a commitment to this new monastic community and its mission. In gathering around the communal bonfire, in the presence of Jesus...in the passionate flame of the Spirit...where Love conquers all...fellowship is formed.
It will mean renewing our minds around the act of fellowship. A dictionary might define it as...the condition of sharing similar interests, ideals or experiences, as by reason of profession, religion or nationality; the companionship of individuals in a congenial atmosphere and on equal terms; a close association of friends of equals sharing simailar interests or friendship and comradeship. I like the term Kiononia, from the greek term koinos, meaning common ( such as in Acts 2:43-45...and all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common ). It is sometimes translated communion...closely related to communicate.
I wonder if what we call fellowhip today is something else entirely. alot of time we sit around some what uncomfortably talking about this or that, but never really saying what we'd like to say or need to say. We reserve that out of fear. I realize that silence and solitude are an element of monasticism, but in this neo-monasticism authentic conversation, fellowship and community will also be a vow held just as high.
If we are to have this life that is " in common ", what is it we have in common? It's as much as we are willing to give I suppose. Nothing is had in common unless it is given to have. There are many times when what we have to give as parts of the whole are not what is desired. What then? We fear for different reasons. One is the fear of something we need to say being dismissed by the others. We fear not being liked because of what we might say, because someone might get offended even if our motives are good. We also fear being thought of as a fool for what we might say or do. We fear not being loved
We have all heard, perfect love casts out all fear...there is no fear in love. Fear of being rejected by God and perhaps by others. Thats a core fear, not a peripheral one. So in this new monasticism, where commnunity, fellowship, koinonia and conversation are highly valued for growth...woe to us if we foster an atmosphere that promotes a fear of rejection. We need to open ourselves up to be loved, by God and others...and set our will and our life into all that is Jesus...toward loving God and others...the great command. And love gives. Love is honest and says what it means. Love does not make people wak on eggshells.
So maybe in this new monasticism for the beginnings it won't entirely new...but the re-kindling of the emmbers of an ancient faith. So, fellowship, or life in common, community, monasticism is simply the life of love between brothers and sisters. It is Love, living and moving in us and among us.
The musings continue...