Week 2 – beginning to look at the community of faith…

This week, the Rule moves into looking at the community of the faithful.

First, on Sunday there was that LONG reflection on the different kinds of people who appear in a monastic community – with all those unfamiliar terms! There are cenobites (seekers who truly join a community, including choosing to be under the authority of the rules of that community), anchorites or hermits (wise and experienced people who have lived in a community  but now choose to live on their own, in soliltude), sarabaites (people who present as wise and experienced, but only follow their own advice and authority) and gyrovagues (people who move from community to community, always receiving and not participating in the life of the community for the long-haul). What do you think of those categories? If you were to think about when you have been part of communities, does this ‘fit’ your experience? Can you divide people into those categories? Are there other types of people who show up, especially in faith communities, that are not listed by Benedict?

As someone who has moved around a lot, I am cautious about Benedict’s last category – the gyrovagues. I understand his distinction between really participating and simply passing through, or just looking at what “I can get from belonging here”. Yet, sometimes we are called by G-d to move onto somewhere else – and to the community we are leaving or joining, it may appear that we are not really committed.

Are there categories that make you uncomfortable?

I have to say also that as an Anglican we don’t tend to stress the rules of community. So I wonder – what is the ‘rule’ for St. Bede’s community? Do we have one? What does it mean to belong to our faith community? Is it simply a question of turning up on Sunday? (Though that’s a fairly significant thing on campus!) Is it about participating in the coffee ‘hour’ conversations? Showing up for pot-lucks? What switches someone from simply showing up at chapel to being a member of the community?

I will add more later in the week about the leaders of the community and Benedict’s throughts on leadership – but wanted to start with this…and curious to hear people’s thoughts!



3 comments on “Week 2 – beginning to look at the community of faith…

  1. Sylvia says:

    I don’t think that showing up regularly on Sunday mornings is even a requirement for being part of the St. Bede’s community — I think there are other ways people participate (e.g. this blog), even when they aren’t able / inclined (for whatever reason) to come on a regular basis. Also, while I find the question of what does make someone a part of the community an interesting one, I wonder if it isn’t the most helpful question to ask. By saying “This is what makes you a part of the community”, will we unintentionally exclude people who are part of the community, or want to be? By defining the boundaries of the community, do we make it harder for people to join? Thus, I would argue that there is no “rule” for this community, nor should there be. Or perhaps we simply say that those who consider themselves a part of the community, are.

    • Pamela says:

      But we do have some criteria for being part of the community, even though it’s never really explicitly stated. What I have found to be criteria for being part of St. Bede’s is an open mind, a desire to learn more and ask hard questions, a desire to support each other, a questioning of who is God and what that means to different people, a willingness to engage in both deep or ridiculous conversation, and a desire to be part of a community.
      I do not want to ever make someone feel as if they are excluded, but by saying we don’t really have any criteria that makes you part of the community or not, how can we even tell that we’re a community? Some people do not stay in the community, there must be a reason why. Conversely, some people are still part of the community even though they have been not physically here in a long time, there must be something to that.

  2. Mostly I completely agree with this – and generally see no need for other criteria. BUT there are times – like when we do a field trip with the chapel community, and there are limited numbers of seats, and so I do prioritize based on those who are most active in the community.

    And perhaps it is also worth each of us asking ourselves – in what ways are we part of this community of faith? What is it that ties us to the community? What might break that connection? What would strengthen it? And interesting also to share some of those reflections…


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