Read my article ‘Role and Quality of Monastic Community Life Challenged by Societal Transitions. An Ethnographic Case-Study of the Trappist Community of the Abbey of Sint-Sixtus‘ in Journal Teologic (Vol 15, Nr. 1 (2016): 59-89)
Abstract: The religious landscape of present-day Western-European society is characterized on the one hand by a high level of secularization and on the other by an increased religious plurality (Berger 2000). The values intrinsic to a religiously oriented life in community are often diametrically opposed to the dominant Western-European thinking patterns such as individualism, utilitarianism and scientism. It is in this context not self-evident to consciously choose monastic life and it is moreover difficult to remain committed as a monk or a nun to a life characterized by a quasi-linear continuity and by exceptional obligations and limitations (Merkle 1992).
This article starts out by focusing briefly on an ethnographic study describing the physical and social environment of a specific contemplative Trappist community, the Abbey of Sint-Sixtus in Westvleteren (Belgium), thus contributing to the creation of a more objective image of contemplative orders in today’s society. It concludes with an analysis of the societal transition that challenges the role and the quality of present-day monastic community life.