Monasticism and Religious Orders

The Greek word monos, from which monasticism and all its cognates derive, means "one, alone." According to this etymology, therefore, the basic monastic person may be a hermit, a wandering ascetic, or simply someone who is not married or a member of a household. However, the term monastic normally refers to people living in community and thus embraces the cenobitic as well as the eremitic and peripatetic lifestyles. In Western societies, the definition of monasticism has often been restricted to its classic manifestations, especially the Benedictine tradition.

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