What Is New Monasticism?


Companions on the Way identifies ourselves as a New Monastic Community.  The notion and terminology of “new monasticism” was developed by Jonathan Wilson in his 1998 book called Living Faithfully in a Fragmented World. Wilson was, in turn, building on ideas of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who said in 1935: “the restoration of the church will surely come only from a new type of monasticism which has nothing in common with the old but a complete lack of compromise in a life lived in accordance with the Sermon on the Mount in the discipleship of Christ” and philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre. Noting the decline of local community that could sustain the moral life, MacIntyre ended his book After Virtue, by voicing a longing for “another… St. Benedict.” By this, he meant someone in the present age to lead another renewal of morality and civility through community.  There are a number of communities around the world that work to embody this through “New Monastic” living.  Companions on the Way is one of these communities.

While a there isn’t a single, concrete definition of what it means to be a New Monastic Community, most such communities, including ours, emphasize a few common principles, namely:

  • Thoughtful, prayerful, and contemplative lives
  • Communal life (expressed in a variety of ways depending on the community)
  • A focus on hospitality
  • Practical engagement with the poor

At Companions on the Way, we express these principles through the intentional living of our Rule of Life (click here); by keeping daily spiritual connection God, our community, and our world through our Offices of Daily Prayer (click here); and by learning about relational skills and contemplative practices in our weekly in-person gatherings.  Through these New Monastic practices, we seek to grow in our ability to integrate more loving, Christ-like relating into our every-day living.