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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/529

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MONASTICISM


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MONASTICISM


tain. Nothing is more remarkable in the history of Benedictine monasticism than its power of revival by the springing up of renewed life from within. Again and again, when reform has been needed, the impetus has been found to come from within the body instead of from outside it. But. in the case of Cluny such a thing had been rendered practically impossible, and on its decline no recovery took place.

(4) Reaction against Cluny. — The reaction against Cluny and the system of centrahzation took various forms. Early in the eleventh century (1012) came the foundation of the Camaldolese by St. Romuald. This was a hark back to the ancient Egyptian ideal of a number of hermits living in a "laura" or collection of detached cells which were situated some consider- able distance apart (see Camaldolese). A few years later (1039) St. John Gualbert founded the Order of Vallombrosa which is chiefly important for the institu- tion of "lay brothers", as distinct from the choir monks, a novelty which assumes high importance in later monastic history (see Lay -brother; Val- lombrosa). In 1074 came the Order of Grammont which however did not move to the place from which its name is derived until 1124 (see Grammont; Stephen op Muret, St.). Far more important than these was the establishment in 1084 of the Car- thusians by St. Bruno, at the Grand Chartreuse near Grenoble, which boasts that it alone of the great orders has never required to be reformed (see Car- thusians; Chartreuse, Le Grand; Bruno, St.). In all these four institutes the tendency was towards a more eremitical and secluded form of life than that fol- lowed by the Benedictines, but this was not the case in the greatest of all the foundations of the period, viz. the Cistercians.

The Cistercians derived their name from Citeaux near Dijon where the Order was founded about 1098 by St. Robert of Molesme. The new development differed from that of Cluny in this that, while Cluny estab- lished one scattered family of vast size, Citeaux pre- served the idea that each monastery was an individual family but united all these families into one "Order" in the modern sense of an organized congregation. The Abbot anil House of Citeaux was to be pre-emi- nent for ever over all the monasteries of the order. The abbots of all other monasteries were to assemble at Citeaux in general chapter every year. The pur- pose of this was to secure in every monastery a com- plete uniformity in the details of observance, and this uniformity was to be made even more certain by a yearly visitation of each house. The .\bbot of Ci- teaux possessed the further right of visiting any and every monastery at will, and though he was not to in- terfere with the temporalities of any house against the wishes of the abbot and brethren, in all matters of dis- cipline his power was absolute. This elaborate sys- tem was set forth in the famous document known as the "Carta Caritatis" and in it for the first time the expression "Our Order" is used in the modern sense. Previously the word, as used in the phrase "the mo- nastic order" had denoted the mode of life common to every monastery. In the "Carta Caritatis" it is used' to exclude all monastic observance not exactly on the lines of the "new monastery", i. e., Citeaux, and subject to it. The monasteries of the Cistercians spread over Europe with surprising rapidity and from the colour of their habit the monks were called the "White Monks", the older Benedictines and Cluniacs being known a,s the "Black Monks "(see Cister- cians; CIteaux; Robert op Molesme, St.; Bernard OF Clairvaux, St.).

The impetus given by these new foundations helped to revitalize the Benedictine monasteries of the older type, but at the same time a new influence was at work upon western monasticism. Hitherto the mo- nastic ideal had been essentially contemplative. Certainly the monks had undertaken active work


of many kinds but always as a kind of accident, or to meet some immediate necessity, not as a primary object of their institute nor as an end in itself. Now however religious foundations of an active type began to be instituted, which were dedicated to some particular active work or works as a primary end of their foundation. Of this class were the Military Orders, e.g., the Tem- plars, Hospitallers, and Teutonic Knights; numerous Institutes of canons, e. g., Augustinians, Premonstra- ten.sians, and Gilbertines; the many Orders of friars, e. g. Carmelites, Trinitarians, Servites, Dominicans, and Franciscans or Friars Minor. Of these and the multitudinous modern foundations of an active char- acter, as distinct from a contemplative or monastic one, this article does not profess to treat; they will be found fully dealt with in the general article Religious Orders and also individually in separate articles under the names of the various orders and congrega- tions. It must be recognized however that these ac- tive institutions attracted a vast number of vocations and to that extent tended to check the increase and development of the monastic order strictly so called, even while their fervour and success spurred the older institutes to a renewal of zeal in their special observ- ances.

The Fourth Council of Lateran in 1215 passed cer- tain special canons to regulate monastic observance and prevent any falling away from the standard set up. These directions tended to adapt the best fea- tures of the Cistercian system, e. g. the general chap- ters, to the use of the Black monks, and they were a great step in the path which later proved so successful. At the time however they were practically ignored by the monasteries on the Continent, and only in Eng- land was any serious effort made to put them into practice. The consequence was that the English mon;isteries of Black monks soon formed themselves into one national congregation, the observance throughout the coimtry became largely uniform, and a far higher standard of life obtained than was com- mon in continental monasteries at the same period. The .system of periodical general chapters ordered by the Lateran Council was maintained. So too was the subjection of all monasteries to the diocesan bishops as a normal state of affairs; indeed only five abbeys in all England were exempt from episcopal jurisdiction. There were of course individual failures here and there, but it is clear that, from the date of the Council of Lateran up to the time of their destruction, the Eng- lish Benedictine houses maintained on the whole a good standard of discipline and preserved the affec- tionate respect of the great majority of the laity in every rank of life.

(5) Period of Monastic Decline. — On the Continent the period succeeding the Fourth Lateran Council was one of steady decline. The history of the time tellsof civil disturbance, intellectual upheaval, and a contin- ual increase of luxury among ecclesiastics as well as laymen. The wealth of the monasteries was tempt- ing and the great ones both in Church and State seized upon them. Kings, nobles, cardinals, and pre- lates obtained nominations to abbeys "in commen- dam" and more often than not absorbed the reveiuies of houses which they left to go to ruin. Vocations grew scarce and not unfrequently the communities were reduced to a mere handful of monks living on a triflmg allowance doled out to them none too willingly by the layman or ecclesiastic who claimed to be their coramcndatorj' abbot. Efforts to check these evils were not wanting especially in Italy. The Sylves- trines, founded by St. Sylvester de Gozzolini about the middle of the thirteenth century, were organized on a .system of jicrpctual superiors imdcr one head, the Prior of Monte Fano, who ruled the whole congre- gation as general assisted tjy a chapter consisting of representatives from each house (see Sylvestkines).