Friday, May 3, 2013

Crusade Era Monasticism

This is really the era where monks and nuns pretty much became what they are now.  They mostly took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the pope and to their abbot.  The Cluniacs had run a successful monastery system since 1000.  Now they had gained some wealth and other groups rose up in their stead.

A Benedictine monk named Robert founded the Cistercian order in 1098 because of his concern over the lack of discipline.  Just shows that worship wars between traditional and contemporary are not a new thing.  And people being lax in their Christian discipline is not new either and is still alive today.  We need more Roberts to arise and try to make Christians more disciplined, although not in deed, but in devotion to the Lord.  If they learn to love Jesus as their Lord, then discipline will be a natural result.

Bernard of Clairvaux is one of my heroes of church history along with Augustine.  He was more of a mystic who taught his Cistercian monks to labor for their food.  He wrote wonderful hymns such as "Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee" and "O Sacred Head Now Wounded."  When Abelard, another heretic, became popular, Bernard rebutted him and championed true biblical theology.  He did support the Second Crusade, but he also wanted to save Palestine. 

Along with the Crusades, groups formed to care for wounded soldiers and to defend pilgrims.  The Knights of Saint John, aka the Knights Hospitallers, were basically the Red Cross of that era.  The Knights Templars formed around this time because they lived near the Jerusalem Temple.  They mostly were a military group that later got too involved in French politics.

The Franciscan Friars were founded by Francis of Assisi.  He started out as a roue, but then he met the Lord during an illness, and he afterward devoted his life to walking around Europe, poor, chaste, and obedient to the Pope, and he was a missionary to many of the people at the time.  Unlike monks, friars did not live in a central location.  They were chaste like the monks, but they wandered the globe to spread the Gospel.

The Dominicans formed as a witness to the Albigensians and the Muslims.  They had the sophisticated preaching and theology.  Thomas Aquinas is from this group and many other philosophers such as William of Ockham. 

They eventually grew wealthy with time and also faded in spiritual zeal, but they did do their best to serve the needs of the medieval world.

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