Definition: The renunciation of worldly pursuits in order to more readily devote oneself to Catholic spiritual practices such as prayer and silent contemplation. Men called “monks” take vows such as chastity and poverty, and submit to the rules and authority of their order. Women called “nuns” enter into similar vows and institutions. The communal living accommodations are known as monasteries or convents. Historically, monasticism has been seen as a surer way to heaven.
Discussion: The separation of special classes of men or women who withdraw from the world is unbiblical (Heb. 10:24-25). The taking of vows is discouraged by Jesus (Mt. 5:37). James warns of the danger of vows (James 5:12). The dignity of marriage and work was reclaimed at the time of the Reformation, where all vocations can and should be performed to the glory of God.
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