Anglican Rediscovery and Revival
In a major revival in the nineteenth century (and earlier), some Anglican orders were founded in continuity with these older traditions, while others emerged within specifically newer Anglican and social contexts.
Many Anglican orders, societies and communities have common threads, as well as their own distinctive emphases. These are found in varying traditions and expressions of the vowed life, as well as in approaches to common life and solitude, active ministries (eg educational, community, specialist mission) and contemplative enclosure.
In addition to the Anglican Benedictines and Franciscans mentioned above, a brief sample of other communities includes the Society of St John the Evangelist, Community of the Resurrection, Society of the Sacred Mission, Community of the Holy Name, Society of the Sacred Advent, Little Brothers of Francis, Sisters of the Love of God.
Identity of Orders
The particular emphasis through which any given religious order lives the Christian life, is sometimes called its charism. This is the particular gift which the order brings to its understanding and living of the Gospel.
The journey of prayer for Franciscans is the discovery of God at the center of our lives. We do not pray to acquire a relationship with God as if acquiring something that did not previously exist. Rather, we pray to disclose the image of God in which we are created, the God within us, that is, the one in whom we are created and in whom lies the seed of our identity.
Ilia Delio, Franciscan Prayer
I am still amazed at the way in which I first discovered the Rule [of St Benedict]. I was living in Canterbury, in a house that had been, in the Middle Ages, the prior’s lodging of the great medieval Benedictine community. All around me were the remains of the buildings that had served their monastic life. I came to know and to love the great monastic Church. This encounter with such a powerful place led me to discover something of the life and the vision of the men who had built it. I had thought that I would pick up the Rule in order to increase my historical understanding. Instead it changed my life.
That monastic Church of Canterbury is the mother Church of the Anglican Communion, and I now came to realize just how great the extent to which its Benedictine roots have shaped Anglican life and worship. I found that the prior and monks became the dean and chapter (which was why, as the wife of the dean, I found myself living a family life in the home of my husband’s monastic predecessor). I found (what I already half knew) that the daily saying of the Offices of morning and evening prayer in the cathedral represented the work of Thomas Cranmer, who, during the Reformation, shortened the seven monastic Offices into Matins and Evensong, so that, like the monks, the Anglicans sing the psalms and hear the Word of God daily. I found that the Anglican via media was nothing more than the Benedictine ideal of moderation and balance.
Esther de Waal, A Life-Giving Way: A Commentary on the Rule of St Benedict
To be continued ....
Thanks to Fr Martin Davies of Stroud Parish for permission to reprint this extract from a recent pew sheet.