*** DEBUG END ***

Distinctive ministry of religious communities

17 April 2014


From the Revd Sister Teresa Joan White CSA
Sir, - Contemplative prayer is only one crucial aspect of the ministry of religious communities (Letters, 11 April). They also are called to liturgical prayer, hospitality, work, and even leisure. The Benedictine Rule (for beginners) prescribed work and leisure (hours for sleep) as well as the Divine Office.

Morning and evening prayer in the cathedrals (less so in parishes) means that the Anglican version of the Divine Office is alive and well. Compared with the early 19th century, the liturgical prayer of the eucharist is flourishing. The retreat movement, although now also challenged, brought not only contemplative prayer, but also hospitality into the lives of many of the laity.

Community life, which was continued in colleges of many forms, however, is now being challenged by the extra high price of residential education. The monastic work was both manual and intellectual, namely, "reading". Medieval monks' farming work fed and clothed not only themselves, but many others.

In the Middle Ages, their work of copying manuscripts preserved much of Western civilisation's literature. The term "contemplative prayer" was unknown to St Benedict. The nearest to it in his Rule probably is "reading". As silent reading was a new discovery for St Augustine, it may be that silent prayer was unknown to Benedict.

Although the laity and society as a whole have assumed many of the works of the Religious, there still is need for communities that aspireto a holistic Christian life. As the freedom to practise Christianityin the public sphere is gradually eroded, will more people be calledto form intentional holistic incarnational Christian communities?

St Andrew's House
16 Tavistock Crescent
London W11 1AP

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear alongside your letter.

Forthcoming Events

6-7 September 2022
Preaching as Pilgrimage conference
From the College of Preachers.

27-28 September 2022
humbler church Bigger God conference
The HeartEdge Conference in Manchester includes the Theology Slam Live Final.

More events

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four* articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)

*Until the end of June: we’re doubling the number of free articles to eight, to celebrate the publication of our Platinum Jubilee double issue.