By Loopstation (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
It seems like there’s always some glaring example of poverty and its trickle-down effects each time you turn on the news. There is no single solution to ending poverty. However, we can learn some lessons from early monastic movements and how they shaped the Church.
A common reason people don’t see the important role these groups play is because they are often portrayed as medieval innovations. Some see the members of such groups as solely participating in prayer, without involvement in outside communities.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Consider the following:
- The seeds of what would later evolve into monastic communities were planted during the early days after Pentecost (Acts 4:32-35)
- Early Celtic monastic communities, particularly in Ireland, often consisted of larger settlements that included both religious and members of the larger community
- The Franciscans have a long history of devotion to the poor that exists today
- The first Anglican and Episcopalian religious communities were founded to help the poor
- Clerical religious order members today serve in some of the neediest parts of the world
- Anglican and interdenominational orders often admit both married and single members, and most don’t live in a monastic community
- Monastic-style groups are also becoming popular in some evangelical Protestant groups