Sunday, May 8, 2016

Gregorian reform at the root of Cistercian monasticism

Pope Gregory VII source
This blog quotes freely from the thesis by Lori Firth, Hull University (2012):  "A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders, And the Personal Influence of Bernard of Clairvaux", to be found here. References in this source.


"The Gregorian Reforms, (initiated by Pope Gregory VII and the circle he formed in the papal curia, c. 1050–80, dealt with the moral integrity and independence of the clergy, TN). This reform inspired others to seek a monastic life far from the secular world and all its excesses and greed, to a life based around control of desire, and the strict discipline of the rules of the desert fathers.

Many new orders were formed, namely Benedictine and Augustinian. Of these new orders, it was the Cluniacs that dominated in the monastic aspect of the Church (which in the medieval period was much more significant). The Cluniacs sought to follow the Rule of St Benedict, taking vows of obedience and poverty. The importance of the Cluniacs in this innovative period cannot be understated; ‘At the end of the eleventh century, at the height of its magnificence, Cluny was the head of a huge monastic empire containing many hundreds of dependencies and associated houses spread throughout western Europe....

The Cistercian Order finds its origins in the Cluniac monastery. It was from the abbey of Molesme, that Robert of Molesme with other monks, including Stephen Harding, left in search of a monastic life of stricter poverty than had been seen hitherto by the Cluniacs....The Cistercian, though he lived a communal life, had his salvation very much in his own hands than his Cluniac cousin: he was expected to do more to eradicate his own sins than to pray for the forgiveness of others. This illustrates some other differences between the two reformist orders.

The early Cistercians sought an isolated place, rejecting the world, to pursue this vocation.... The history of the Cistercian Order is integral to the history of western monasticism....Indeed, the history of the Cistercian Order is so intertwined with the history of medieval Europe as a whole, that it is hard to identify which
influenced the other more."

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