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Martha’s House

Let me introduce you to Martha’s House, a dispersed ecumenical benedictish monastic community. Mark and Catherine have recently founded this community to live monastic desert disciplines in the contexts of working, daily lives.

I have e-known Mark for a while on twitter [Catherine and I also follow each other – but I’ve had more engagement with Mark]. There is much in Mark’s life that resonates with my own – being a chaplain in an Anglican school, trying to draw on the desert insights, traditions, and disciplines. In my case, I am an Associate of a Cistercian monastery [an Associate is like a Benedictine oblate; Cistercians do have oblate tradition, but they would live at the monastery. Associates, like Benedictine oblates, live beyond the monastery]. In my view, the desert disciplines have been honed within monastic walls – like a laboratory.

I like Martha’s House’s emphasis that our attempt to live within these disciplines in our own context is not a dilution of the tradition; I also appreciate the shift from Mary of Bethany as a model to her sister Martha:

Martha’s House is the realization of a belief that the monastic practices of the desert mothers and fathers can be integrated into a modern life. The flexibility required represents not a dilution of the monastic tradition, but rather the birth of a new type of vocation for those who, like Martha (Luke 10:38-42), are called to care for the practical needs and realities of our world and also to follow our teacher Jesus.

Introduction to Martha’s House

Martha’s House follows the usual pathway of exploration, postulancy, novitiate, vowed life. It has a presence on twitter, facebook, and instagram. There is a Martha’s House version of the Daily Office with four daily offices. The community is inclusive.

Do explore Martha’s House’s attractive site [also with a blog]; follow its social media options; consider joining or supporting it in other ways – including retweeting and other social media sharing. If you wish to share your own disciplines, or similar ways of living monastic desert disciplines in our new context – you can do so in the comments below. Also, you can respond directly to Martha’s House.

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7 thoughts on “Martha’s House”

  1. Fr. John-Julian, OJN

    I think it is truly splendid that devoted folk can find much good in harvesting from the Benedictine tree. But there two initial, basic, underlying, central aspects of Benedictine life which are usually skipped over in so-called “Neo Monastics .” Those two are (1) Benedict’s single-minded commitment to living in a sealed and enclosed community—so enclosed the all aspects of life were provided for within the monastic walls: gardening, tailoring, animal care, blacksmithing, carpentry, art, music, etc., etc all done separate from them secular world, and that separation is the core of the Benedictine Way. The Franciscans were out-and-about, but the Benedictines remained enclosed, and (2) Benedictines were uncontrovertibly celibate—some other religious traditions played a bit more loosely, but Benedictines were absolutely celibate. And my fear is that in skipping these two central Benedictine principles, the neo-monastics will end up only as hollow charades of Benedictine monasticism. I wish them well, but fear they will not prevail.

    1. Thanks, Fr John-Julian.

      I wonder if your two points are inherent in Benedict’s Rule, or if they are part of the way that The Rule has been lived generally, previously? And by previously, I note that the Benedictine communities I am aware of in no way would satisfy your first point nowadays.

      I wonder if the term “Benedictish” helps – as a way of distinguishing from Benedictine? I, personally, struggle with the “playing monk/nun” approach that some have (each to their own?), complete with Religious (type) habit… In my perspective (hinted at in my post) there is a (continuing) place for the (Benedictine) monastery as a laboratory honing the desert disciplines. But I also see the significance of (living) those disciplines and insights beyond those monastery walls. Whether Benedictish communities and groups prevail, I cannot say. With the announcement, in the last week or so, of the closing of two Carthusian monasteries (closest to your two points – but even so, still not fully living your first), I certainly wonder if monasteries will prevail. One can only hope that what is offered to individuals, and to the wider world, from the desert tradition from within and without monastery walls, will be fruitful.


  2. I confess I was attracted to the Martha’s House introduction mentioning no habit which eliminated that fixation. The references to inclusion on so many levels and the benedictish approach along with the simplicity of the Offices are all appealing. Communal enclosure and celibacy are not my vocation. The rest is all quite wonderful. Time will tell. Thank you, Bosco, for announcing their (and now my) venture.

    1. Thanks, Joshua. It appears that Martha’s House is no longer active, and all the online sites are no longer functioning. Blessings.

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