NOVICE:

A monk is a man who devotes himself to God. Monasticism emerged in the very first centuries of Christianity and developed in two different directions: solitary or “eremitic” monasticism, and community or “cenobitic” monasticism. Hermits, for whom the name “anchorites” is also used, characteristically seek the way to God as individuals. This form of monasticism is older and is particularly maintained as a tradition in the Orthodox Church. The most distinctive example of this was St. Anthony the Hermit. Since many Christians looked for counsellors to help them with their spiritual life, monasticism developed in another direction, characterised by communal living. The name Cenobites is derived from the Greek expression “koinos bios”, i.e. collective life. Cenobites established rules for monks living together, defined common goals, and made themselves subject to a collective superior. Since living in the cenobitic community is similar to family life, the superior mostly uses the name “father” (abbot). Among the original Cenobites was the very important St. Pachomius, then St. Basil of Caesarea, and finally, most important of all, St. Benedict of Nursia, who composed the important Rule (Regula Benedicti) governing the monastic way of life. The Rule of Saint Benedict still forms the fundamental basis of several religious orders, while many other orders took elements from it for their own regulations. St. Benedict is considered the father of western monasticism and the patron of Europe. Some types of monks (e.g. Carthusians) strive to live both the eremitic and the cenobitic forms of monastic life.

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