Saturday, October 30, 2004

St. Benedict's Youth Group

I'm reading the rule of Saint Benedict for my morning devotion time. Within the context of youth ministry I really like the metaphor of "The Abbey"- with the Youth Pastor as the Abbot or spiritual guide/nurturer and leader for the monks of the Abbey.

In Chapter 1 Benedict outlines 3 basic types of monks:

1. Cenobites: these are the core who make up the community- who follow the rule and serve under an Abbot. I see the cenobites as the core kids of the youth group who help shape the basic character of the group. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HELP SHAPE THESE KIDS THROUGH PRACTICES SO THAT THE YOUTH COMMUNITY MODELS THE KINGDOM?

2. Anchorites: these are the monks who have progressed in faith and spiritual character that they are ready for a life of solitude in the desert. For our postmodern time this monk could represent where we hope students might be after 6 years in the Abbey of the Youth Group- equiped to face the sometime harsh desert life of the world- strong enough to it alone knowing that there is a community of faith lifting them up.

3. Sarabaites: these monks are not rooted in practice, Benedict sees them as basically still influenced by the world but wanting to be a part of the community. Obviously within youth ministry we probably have quite a few students who are here- whom God has entrusted us with and we hope to help nurture and move towards becoming a cenobite- rooted in practices of faith.

4. Syrovagues: Benedict is quite harsh on this group, but basically these monks travel from one monestary to the next never commiting at all to a community- only taking advantage of the hospitality of each abbey. In my opinion Benedict is harsh simply because he was concerned with creating a community of cenobites and the syrovagues represented the exact opposite.

Again in our post modern day where hospitality is a real rarity, especially among young people, we could stand to offer a safe welcoming environment for the wandering pilgrim who is casual, as long as we don't water down the practices that make us as a Christian community unique.

In fact, hospitality might just be one of those unique practices....

Rock on St. Benedict!!!! Inspire my youth ministry to be more Christ Like!!!!


gavin richardson said...

reading some of st. benedicts rule, i can agree that there are some draws to the way that we do youth ministry and the classifications of monks. i agree that he's a bit harsh on some classes of the monks. i like the thoughts of impressing on the critical imporatance of community. as you gather, all are dependent on each other. it's hard to be effective when you don't know who is coming and going.

should it be that part of what we teach youth is that the habit of picking and choosing from here and there, a mark of postmonderns, is detrimental to the body of Christ. it might be that we need to teach stability within our teaching of hospitality.

St.Phransus said...

Yes I agree, you are "relatively" absolutely right. In a culture where everything is appears to be out there for consumption and is disposable- I do think it's important for youth to know that the church is called to be a community- and they are called to be a part of this community. They choose it, but God has chosen them to be part of this. Thanks.