Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Lighthouse Evangelization



Unique to the monastic life is our vow of stability. This particular vow binds us to a specific monastic community, for life. As monastics, we believe that this is one of the primary instigators of our continuing conversion, or conversatio morum, as it is called. As has been said before, it is only in committing ourselves to someone, or something, that we really change, that we really become more loving and Christ-like.

This puts us in an interesting conundrum when it comes to evangelization. Do we, as monastics, go out and roam from city to city preaching the Good News as the apostles did? The short answer is "no"; our vow of stability keeps us stationary.

We are called, however, to preach the good news of the Kingdom from a distance. I like to think of this as "lighthouse evangelization." Like a lighthouse, we stay stationary on the fringe of society, projecting out a beacon of light to guide others.

Instead of warning ships away from the impending doom of the rocky shore, however, the light we project should always welcome and draw others in. It should draw others into the peace that is the Kingdom of Heaven, which we strive to live out in the monastery this side of death. Crucial to this effort is maintaining a safe distance from "the world." As monastics, we must remain distinct enough from the rest of the world, yet at the same time, familiar enough that we remain approachable.

I've spent quite a bit of effort lately investing time and energy in social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, with the hope that I might be able to create a window into our lives as monks while still maintaining some sort of healthy distance. To some, the use of social media may seem contrary to monastic life, but in fact, with it I believe we are effectively engaging in this "lighthouse evangelization." It allows us to keep a proper distance in order to maintain our quiet life of prayer, yet still share a piece of ourselves with the world at large.

The ongoing question in religious communities is "how do we attract new vocations?" I think a good answer to this question is to simply use your particular method of evangelization. Franciscans, as is their charism, will engage the world quite actively, and this is the way new Franciscans will be born.

As monastics, if we truly believe in our method of evangelization, what I am calling "lighthouse evangelization," then that same method will undoubtedly prove effective in bringing new life into the monastery. One of the best things we can do to attract new vocations is to simply live the life, and to live it well. 

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.