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monasticism - Being a friar


It is easy to see why pagans detested the monks or friars above everything else: in fact they represented the total negation of the community life, the only (according to the ancient Greeks and Romans) which was worth living for. To a pagan, the Monk embodied the figure of a fanatic, foolish, barbarian who refused what humanity had built over many centuries of progress: the Christian monks were considered by their detractors as "viri lucifugi" or "men who flee the light, "solitary and animated by a hatred for all that is exalted nice and civil.

The monks cultivated silence in a totally original way of life: an inner search, a total desire to escape from matte and worldly things. St. Augustine wrote, "he is the man who lives in the truth." Sometimes the monks were made protagonists of clamorous public demonstrations of self-sufficiency: for example Simeon erected a tall column near a Syrian city and spent the rest of his life on a platform placed on top of it, being exposed to all weathers. Following his example, very "stylites" (monks on a column) practiced following the same kind of detachment from the world and devoted themselves entirely to contemplation.

Monasticism took different forms however, as they went spreading around the world. The retreat in total solitude and the choice to spend their lives in deserts and wild places, which means from the greek "step aside, characterized especially monasticism in Egypt and the eastern areas of the Empire.

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