In search of the Whence?
Monastic life finds its motivation in the search for God, in the religious service and in the service to the community. For this purpose, an ever so richly structured landscape of monasteries and orders has evolved in the West over the centuries, leading to different spiritual forms. The old orders with their contemplative orientation, their emphasis on prayer, meditation, silence and worship have been complemented by the active orders, which practise all kinds of human care and selflessly use their communal strength for the benefit of a more humane society. Also men and women respectively have developed their different kinds of spirituality, provided that we regard them as expressions of turning to the divine, of speaking of it and of searching for meaning in life. Therefore, one core principle of monastic spirituality is searching. One can observe this search throughout history, along general lines like in the evolution of orders and in individual manifestations when looking at single places or members of an order.
Originating in this search that requires a reconnection to the spiritual and consequently has a goal that is not immanent in the world, a bridge can also be built to the present. Seekers may find a path in a monastery that they can follow, be it in an explicitly religious way, in a practice that has been tried and developed by many monastics, or be it in a way that is not explicitly religious but still existentialist. That is because monastic spirituality ideally leads to a way of life that asks about its whence? and whither? and leads to conscious decisions. Many people in their longing for an authentic, succeeding life can find a foothold in a monastery.