Friday, November 19, 2010

Open and Closed Systems

Rigidity and frigidity should not be misunderstood for order or some fained attempt at purity. Understanding the similarity and distinction between marriage and monastic orders is imperative as each are in fact distinct systems.
Growing side by side as the church each nurture the faithful and offer God all the broken hearts and contrite spirits. Each have committed to advance the cause of The Kingdom within the distinct boundaries of their calling and obligations.
A church community should not try to impose monastic ideals to parishioners while monastic communities shouldn't have active outreach programs designed to establish a make shift parish. Each system should be a safe haven for its members. In married life too often couples are given rules for living that are incompatible with marriage and create undo stress and conflict. The wife becomes a 'refusing wife' while the husband becomes a resentful authoritarian.
Monasteries begin to function like 'religious' communes and less like prayer centers. Priests tend to over reach in their role as confessor and attempt to be spiritual fathers dictating the lives of their parishioners wrongfully in detail. Likewise spiritual fathers of the monastic order too often attempt to over-pastor pilgrims as a parish priest ought.
An obvious difference between them would be their open and closed door policies. Parishes exist as open systems making no restriction on parishioners or any visitor. The parish can't mandate a uniform policy they are a tapestry. The parish must accommodate those who show up for services. The monasteries however do not or should not function like that. They should provide a safe haven which closed and self contained to foster prayer. A monastery prays the way science labs do research. They are under no obligation to receive other monastics, guests or pilgrims save to fulfill the command of hospitality.

1 comment:

Jeremiah said...

I'll be honest, although I am but a catechumen, I feel uncomfortable with the idea of entirely closed communities. I have heard from some priests, bishops, etc that the first physicians, caretakers and whatnot were monastics. While there is obviously great benefit to be gotten from seclusion (e.g. St Paul going to the desert for 3 years), it seems that the model of outreach is closer to the Gospel (which is very tangible). I don't know if you read Fr Alexander Men's lecture on Two Understanding of Christianity or not, but he talks about reaching a balance of those two schools.
I'm not exactly sure what that balance would look like. Maybe seclusion for periods of time, mixed with meeting the needs of people. We daily pray that God is "everywhere present and filling all things." Wouldn't that mean God is in the serving of others?
Then again, maybe I misunderstand the concept and practice completely.