Why is a Protestant pastor writing about monastic life and spirituality? Well, I was not always a Protestant pastor and much of my spirituality was learned in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Monasteries. I believe there is a place in the Protestant world for this type spirituality. Not in the classic monastic sense of living in community but in a well, spiritual sense.
Historically the monasteries were great places of learning and evangelism. Columba of Iona, off the coast of Scotland, brought Christianity to the Pics and others living in that area. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland from his monastery. There are many other stories of men and women evangelizing and living in community all for the sake of the Gospel.
Much of the monastic life centers on a simple lifestyle with a daily round of prayer and Scripture reading all of which can be accomplished in our 21st century lives.
There is much that can be learned from the spirituality of people like Columba of Iona, Bridget of Kildare, Aidan and Patrick as well as contemporary writers like George MacDonald, George MacLeod, and J Philip Newall who all write about the spirituality of the people known as Celts. Their spirituality is deep and rich with a focus on seeking God in place all around us. Theirs is a voice that is still relevant in our 21st century world.
It is my hope and prayer that this treasury of monastic and spiritual writing can be rediscovered and applied in our lives today. Let us take this journey together and know that God is still speaking.