Fuga Mundi Series: In the World But Not of the World

Fuga Mundi

Christians have always been faced with the challenge of how to be “in the world, but not of the world.”  This is a foundational question for discipleship  The Latin phrase for this is fuga mundi, which literally translates as “flight from the world.” Being “in the world” is a non-optional given, this side of heaven.  Not being “of the world” is a huge challenge in our culture of death today.

This is the first post in a series that will examine the way in which five different monastic persons or groups lived the fuga mundi.  The key takeaway throughout is that we find–paradoxically–that by withdrawing from the world, each of the following were able to be more Christ-like toward the world.  Subsequent posts will focus on the following:

  • St. Antony of Egypt, who is the earliest and most prominent example of the anchoritic (solitary) monastic life.
  • St. Pachomius, who represents someone who started out as an anchorite (solitary) and transitioned to a cenobitic (communal) form of monastic life.  He is also known as the father of cenobitic monasticism.
  • St. Benedict, who is famous for his Rule for Monasteries, which provided the foundation for all of Western monasticism into the medieval and modern periods.
  • The Cistercians and Maurists, each lived the fuga mundi in the midst of more developed ecclesial structures: the Cistercians in 1098 AD founded a reformed version of Benedictine monasticism and the Maurists in 1621 initiated a brand of Benedictine monasticism in France that focused on scholarship.
  • Thomas Mertonwhose fuga mundi is well-known from his autobiography The Seven Story Mountain.  Pope Francis recently mentioned Merton in his address to Congress.

While there are separations of time and space between each of the above monastic endeavors, however:

a paradoxical dynamic emerges where the fuga mundi in each of the monastic persons or groups enables them to have great charity toward the world.

I intend this series to be helpful for the folks out in the interwebs that are contemplating various aspects of what Rod Dreher has called the Benedict Option.  My hope is that in better understanding the incarnations of monasticism from the past that we can more deeply and sustainably live our various Benedict Options in the future.

I’ll be posting one a week for the next five weeks and I’ll also provide links to the new posts, so book mark the page here and stay tuned.

Please also share with me your stories or practices of fuga mundi.  I’d love to hear about them.

Please click below to access each of the five parts in the series as they become available.

Part One: St. Antony the Great.

Part Two: St. Pachomius the Great

Part Three: St. Benedict

Part Four: Monastic Reformers: The Cistercians and Maurists


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