You differ from the anchorite, That solitudinarian: With vollied prayers you wound Old Nick; With dropping shots he makes him sick.
Monasticism or monachism, literally the act of "dwelling alone" Greek monos, monazein, monachoshas come to denote the mode of life pertaining to persons living in seclusion from the world, under religious vows and subject to a fixed rule, as monksfriarsnunsor in general as religious.
The basic idea of monasticism in all its varieties is seclusion or withdrawal from the world or society. The object of this is to achieve a life whose ideal is different from and largely at variance with that pursued by the majority of mankind ; and the method adopted, no matter what its precise details may be, is always self-abnegation or organized asceticism.
Taken in this broad sense monachism may be found in every religious system which has attained to a high degree of ethical development, such as Brahmin, BuddhistJewish, Christianand Moslem religionsand even in the system of those modern communistic societiesoften anti-theological in theory, which are a special feature of recent social development especially in America.
Hence it is claimed that a form of life which flourishes in environments so diverse must be the expression of a principle inherent in human nature and rooted therein no less deeply than the principle of domesticity, though obviously limited to a far smaller portion of mankind.
Its growth and method Origin Any discussion of pre-Christian asceticism is outside the scope of this article. It has already been pointed out that the monastic ideal is an ascetic one, but it would be wrong to say that the earliest Christian asceticism was monastic.
Any such thing was rendered impossible by the circumstances in which the early Christians were placed, for in the first century or so of the Church's existence the idea of living apart from the congregation of the faithfulor of forming within it associations to practise special renunciations in common was out of the question.
While admitting this, however, it is equally certain that monasticism, when it came, was little more than a precipitation 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 honours wealth, so the ascetic loves and honours 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 practises fasting and virginity that thereby he may repudiate the licence of the world. Hereafter the various items of this renunciation will be dealt with in detail, they are mentioned at this time merely to show how the monastic ideal was foreshadowed in the asceticism of the Gospel and its first followers.
Such passages as I John, ii, If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the father but is of the world. And the world passeth away and the concupiscence thereof.
And this is precisely what the early ascetics did.
We read of some who, driven by the spirit of Goddedicated their energies to the spread of the Gospel and, giving up all their possessions passed from city to city in voluntary poverty as apostles and evangelists.
Of others we hear that they renounced property and marriage so as to devote their lives to the poor and needy of their particular church. If these were not strictly speaking monks and nunsat least the monks and nuns were such as these; and, when the monastic life took definite shape in the fourth century, these forerunners were naturally looked up to as the first exponents of monachism.
Besides a desire of observing the evangelical counsels, and a horror of the vice and disorder that prevailed in a pagan age, two contributory causes in particular are often indicated as leading to a renunciation of the world among the early Christians.
The first of these was the expectation of an immediate Second Advent of Christ cf. That this belief was widespread is admitted on all hands, and obviously it would afford a strong motive for renunciation since a man who expects this present order of things to end at any moment, will lose keen interest in many matters commonly held to be important.
This belief however had ceased to be of any great influence by the fourth century, so that it cannot be regarded as a determining factor in the origin of monasticism which then took visible shape.
A second cause more operative in leading men to renounce the world was the vividness of their belief in evil spirits. The first Christians saw the kingdom of Satan actually realized in the political and social life of heathendom around them.
In their eyes the gods whose temples shone in every city were simply devils, and to participate in their rites was to join in devil worship. When Christianity first came in touch with the Gentiles the Council of Jerusalem by its decree about meat offered to idols Acts Consequently certain professions were practically closed to believers since a soldier, schoolmaster, or state official of any kind might be called upon at a moment's notice to participate in some act of state religion.
But the difficulty existed for private individuals also. There were gods who presided over every moment of a man's life, gods of house and garden, of food and drink, of health and sickness.
To honour these was idolatryto ignore them would attract inquiry, and possibly persecution. And so when, to men placed in this dilemma, St.
John wrote, "Keep yourselves from idols" 1 John 5: By certain writers the communitarian element seen in the Church of Jerusalem during the years of its existence Acts 4:The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England [Carol F.
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