Monastic moments revolve around a way of life that is often called a rule. Urban Monasticism is no different. Our rule is adapted from the Rule of Saint Benedict. It is a foundation to help us live an intentional life.
During the first several years of Urban Monasticism our community discussed each point of our rule. We invite you to read, study, and prayerfully interact with our rule. May it be fertile soil for the flourishing life God longs for you to have.
- Love God with all our heart, spirit, strength, and mind.
- Accept Gods sufficient Grace, and respond by choosing to grow.
- Pursue closeness with God through a life centered around prayer.
- Begin and Conclude every day in prayer.
- Love Fasting.
- Live into daily, weekly, monthly, and annual rhythms.
- Live a simple life.
- Restrain and restrict our consumption.
- Reflect in your whole life (hidden and seen) the fruit of the Spirit, and lacking the deadly sins.
- Dress appropriately for your work and situation.
- Vocation is spiritual work and to provide for your needs.
- Do not kill.
- Take care of yourself spiritually, physically, and mentally.
- Love your neighbors as yourself.
- Live life with an urban rhythm.
- Live among the people God has placed you with.
- Engage with society to help build a better future for your city.
- Be gracious with everyone, be generous, and forgive quickly.
- Remember the Lords day and keep it holy.
- Commit to a life of Spiritual Practices.
- Dedicate a portion of your living space to nature.
- Seek retreat with God once a year.
- Be skeptical of money and power and those who have them.
- Open to all people, celibate, single, or married. If married your spouse does not need to participate.
- Our Vocation Needs to Align with our Monastic Way of Life
- Abuse is not allowed by leaders. A person responsible, convicted, or reasonably accused of abuse or assault is forbidden from ever holding any position of leadership.
The Commitment Expanded
Love God with all our heart, spirit, strength, and mind.
We begin with the greatest commandment, to love God. This is a journey which will take longer than our lives, but is a journey we choose every day with the strength and breath we have. We desire a deep and growing love of God. Building and defending that desire in our hearts. Saying that is our desire is easy. Yet, hard work is required for us to maintain a deep and growing love of God. This is the cornerstone of our commitment.
Accept Gods sufficient Grace, and respond by choosing to grow.
Each of us was born and grew up outside of the Kingdom of God. Jesus found each of us outside these walls. His friends found us, and invited us to dine with Jesus at his banquet table. We can know Jesus because the grace of God is enough. As years pass we also grow in understanding of ourselves. We should not measure ourselves against anyone but Jesus. With God fixed in our sight we find that as we grow we actually find ourselves as less and less in comparison to him. This should not keep us from growing. Gifts, grace, and gratitude shall be the doors opened for us that allow us to take the next steps, to grow, and to know hope. It is from dust that we came, and too dust we will return.
Pursue closeness with God through a life centered around prayer.
An intentional and cultivated prayer life is essential to the transformation of ourselves, our neighbors, our cities, and the cosmos. All that we see, feel, smell, breathe, hear, and know will fade and crumble to nothing. God himself alone is eternal. To know God is to spend time in prayer. A life of deep and growing love of God must therefore be a life of regular prayer. There are many approaches to prayer, but we will never master prayer or outgrow our need for it in our lives.
Begin and Conclude every day in prayer.
Everyday is a gift set in motion before the foundations of the cosmos. As we rise and fall let us speak together. That as you – Father – rejoiced in our birth let us start today with the hope of what may come to pass. Might we close the night face to face again speaking as friends, in prayer, as we will be after our final breath. These prayers become bookends for our days, and form the link of our day to day rhythms.
There are many blessings and graces available to us exclusively through fasting – and fasting helps us be present with God. Jesus told the Pharisees that his disciples did not fast because he was with them. This helps us see that fasting leads to a way of being with Jesus. At the center of all of fasting is a closeness, intimacy, and companionship with God. We should not fast to force the hand of God in our prayers. In fasting we confront our most fundamental biological desire – to eat. We cannot expect to master our desires if we cannot master hunger. To love fasting means to love the wholeness of the experience of fasting. We talk of Prayer and Fasting together because they bring us into the presence of God.
Live into daily, weekly, monthly, and annual rhythms.
At the center of our commitment are spiritual practices. These journey along our days and lives with us. That over the season and years they would wrap themselves up with our hearts and sustain us. The longer the rhythms the more of the life experience they should cover. These rhythms will include prayer, work, reading spiritual texts, rest, fasting, mourning, and celebration.
Live a simple life.
We have each already been given more than we deserve. Living a simple life invites us to do with less than we may be able to afford. To be grateful that God has allowed us to have more than we need. We should not disregard pleasures and blessings, but should do so in moderation. In place of a commitment of poverty we are called to live a simplified life.
This is not simply a call to have, expect, and do less (which it is). It is the need to cultivate a spirit of contentment and gratitude in us for what we have. To resist the pressures and desires for more in life. We need to live for the kingdom not yet here. The kingdom we long for until that kingdom comes.
Restrain and restrict our consumption.
We have more than we deserve. Making a deliberate choice to live with less is a natural response to this understanding. Let us also respond with gratitude for having our needs, and more, met. There will always be more to have, acquire, or take. We should instead focus on cultivating gratitude, contentment, and satisfaction with less than we may be able to afford. This is not to gain wealth, but restricting the heart from the desire for more. We should own less, buy less, and eat less.
Reflect in your whole life (hidden and seen) the fruit of the Spirit, and lacking the deadly sins.
A part of the start of Urban Monasticism was a response to the appalling behavior of many ministers. In order to distance ourselves from their behavior we must both be, and present ourselves clearly in line with the core character attributes described in scripture. This is broken into 2 parts: what we should desire, and what we should avoid. These should not be faces or masks we wear, but natural expressions that grow out of our inner life and become manifest in our appearance and interactions in the world.
For example we should be gentle in our souls, and people should feel our gentleness upon meeting us. We should avoid gluttony, and people who meet us should not think we are gluttons.
Dress appropriately for your work and situation.
There is no uniform or religious habit to wear that identifies us. This is a practical decision as we are all required to work outside of the order. Within the area of dress there are a few guidelines we encourage you to follow.
- Dress appropriately for the vocation you have, and the situations you are in. Choose to dress to honor those you are with. With this in mind select clothing items which are not too cheap, nor too expensive.
- Try to dress in a way that does not draw attention based on your choices. We are to be present in our cities.
- The clothing you choose to wear, or not wear, can not make you responsible for other peoples behavior.
- Try to avoid clothing that promotes brands or companies. Ideally we want to be known for promoting the Kingdom of Heaven, and not companies and brands that will fade away (that includes ministries, churches, and urban monasticism).
- Do your best to avoid buying single/minimal use clothing. Choose instead to go without, to borrow, or rent these items.
Vocation is spiritual work and to provide for your needs.
We are each called to work jobs where we are paid. You can work for someone else, or for yourself. There are no restrictions on vocations, but you should not work in a job where you are expected to harm others (even for the sake of protection). In the same way Jesus used his learned skills to make a living before his ministry started, we should learn skills to make a living for ourselves, our families, and to allow us to be generous to others. This is spiritual work. It is a lesser work than our work of prayer and fasting, but not to be disregarded, or lack our attention.
Do not kill.
It is a sad testimony of our world today that we need to state this. You cannot kill others. You cannot kill them in defense, as Jesus did not, and rebuked Peter for trying. We are to take a posture against all killing of people. Taking a pacifist posture based in a belief that what I have is yours. An active choice to give away what we have. That our safety we also give to others. This is not a posture of weakness, but one that accepts the dangers of a situation and chooses to not respond with violence.
Take care of yourself spiritually, physically, and mentally.
Jesus modeled caring for ourselves. He took care of his body, mind, and spirit. We should likewise give attention to our bodies, our mind, and our spirit.
Spiritually we should be in the habit of prayer and fasting. A large part of urban monasticism is here to help us give attention to our spiritual selves.
Physically we should be in the habit of eating correctly, getting exercise, and being approachable. Being healthy and being sick are both blessings from God. Being healthy is not a sign of Gods favor. We need to take care of our hygiene and appearance in ways that are aligned with our city.
Mentally we should be aware of the state of our mind. Just as our spiritual and physical selves require attention to be healthy, we need to give our mental health attention. Work with professionals when needed.
Love your neighbors as yourself.
The second greatest commandment. Our love should be a real, and tangible love. We must seek and bring the hope, beauty, and compassion of God to those He has placed us in the midst of. Our love should defend those lacking power. Neighbors is an inclusive term and it is not for us to choose who we love. We need to love those who do not believe like we do, and those who do. Those who do not look like us, and those who do. Those who have fallen, and those who are upright. Those who are numb, and those who feel life fully. Those who are cherished by God, for there are none who are not. We should be cautious to not run to any specific type of person who is not near us. Jesus help us be your presence to those you love and long for from one edge of the cosmos to the other.
Live life with an urban rhythm.
At our core Urban Monasticism is a pattern and way of life we live together. Our ways of life adapt to the density and style of living in our context. We seek to live a way of life in the midst of the chaos of the city. The boundaries of the city serve as the walls of our monastery. These rhythms include living in a city dense with people, walking and public transit as primary ways of movement, and living in dense housing (both our dwelling, and around us). Not living in an urban context would change the context of your life enough to be beyond some core aspects of what we are. You can participate, but cannot be an urban monastic.
Live among the people God has placed you with.
We need to find contentment and pleasure in being still in our city. We should seek to make choices which keep us present in our city. If work would take us away we should look for other work. While we are not cloistered in the historic sense, the walls of our city are the boundaries of our cloister. The regular pattern of our life should stay within our city.
Engage with society to help build a better future for your city.
To love our neighbors leads us to love our city. While not a primary focus, we should support and help build a better future for our cities. Love without action is not following the love of Jesus who followed his love for creation to death for us all. As we work for the good of many we must resist the temptation to do so from a place of power. Yet Jesus being in his nature God chose to engage without using his position of power. Let us work in humility with hope alongside others.
Be gracious with everyone, be generous, and forgive quickly.
We should be generous with our possessions and money, and our most difficult and generous action will be to forgive quickly. The grace and forgiveness of God is without limit. We should emulate this ourselves as best as we can. Forgiveness should be given every time it is requested. To forgive others even if they do not know what they are doing, and before they ask in the same way Jesus modeled for us from the cross. We are to live and model a forgiveness that is complete.
Remember the Lords day and keep it holy.
An important aspect of our weekly rhythm is the Lords day. This is a day of the week where we break from our lesser vocation and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. For those of us who work in the ministry of the Church our Lords day will include our ministry work. Our higher work is prayer and fasting, and ministry work is still the lesser work.
Commit to a life of Spiritual Practices
Together we are committed to prayer and fasting, to living a restricted life, and to our duel spiritual vocations. Beyond this we want to commit to spiritual practices that tend and enrich us. There will be times when we need different things. The phases of our lives will toss us around like a ship in the waves. We are not alone in this. God is ever our companion along with our siblings who have been tossed by those same waves. Let us find refuge in the same places they have.
Dedicate a portion of your living space to nature.
Living in an urban environment normally means there is little easy access to nature. We cannot see nature from our homes, and can become disconnected from the earth which God created and called good. Cities can be seen as monuments to the accomplishments of humanity. We need to meditate upon Gods creative work over the billions of years before people. To touch, smell, and care for these plants. Caring for this space is a part of our practice. Any structure built should use reclaimed materials found by you in your city when possible. In this way we follow Gods example in taking that which was cast aside, and restoring it to a treasured place in our homes.
Seek retreat with God once a year.
During his years of ministry Jesus would take time away from his work, and find rest. Sometimes this rest was alone, and other times it was in community. We should seek to get away at least once a year. Ideally this time should be in setting full of nature to help us reconnect with the earth in ways difficult in the city. While on retreat keep up with your prayer and fasting. During this retreat you should be disconnected from your lesser vocation.
Be skeptical of money and power and those who have them.
Our Lord is above all creation and time. God is all powerful and yet Jesus died a disgraceful death at the hands of the powerful. There is an allure to money and power. We should take a posture of skepticism towards anyone with money or power. Jesus told us that the kingdom was for the poor, meek, and mourning. When asked by powerful people for advice we should instead invite them to pray with us. Be weary of these people, do not give them your trust, do not lend them your name, and do not owe them anything.
Open to all people, celibate, single, or married. If married your spouse does not need to participate.
We are all here by choice, and we are open to everyone who feels a kinship with us. We are excited to have you join us, to love Jesus with us, and to be a part of our community. This rule is not meant to keep us in line, but as a hopeful guide for living life well. In this same spirit there is no restrictions on any role or position other than their ability, availability, spiritual maturity, and willingness.
Our Vocation Needs to Align with our Monastic Way of Life
It is with humility and respect that we navigate monasticism. We are only a few of the monastics siblings who have lived monastically over the past millennia. We must honor their work and this rich tradition by how we live. Our vocational work is a large portion of where our time, energy, and focus goes each year. Let us ensure that our vocation does not work against the deep inner work of our monastic way of life.
For this reason we must be explicit. Not every vocation aligns with a monastic way of life and values. We should choose our vocation as carefully as we labor in it. For this reason your vocation must not expect you to kill or to plan the death of others, or else we allow ourselves to believe others are worthy of death. We must not profit by focusing on excess consumption, or else we profit by abusing those we are serving. We must not profit by exploiting the labor of others, or else we treat image bearers of God as disposable and of finite worth. We must not derive monetary gain from monetary assets, or else we have given ourselves over to greed and the games of the world rather than to the way of Jesus.
It is out of the work of our flesh, mind, and spirit that we should make the money to afford our expenses. Let us choose work that brings harmony to our lives. Let us accept simple lives with less than the world may offer us. Let us elevate the rich inner work of God in our lives, and our sanctifying presence in the world.
Abuse is not allowed by leaders. A person responsible, convicted, or reasonably accused of abuse or assault is forbidden from ever holding any position of leadership.
This is not a statement about the grace, forgiveness, or acceptance of God. It is a statement that affirms that we will provide a place which is safe for those who have been victims of abuse, along with the rest of us, from known abusers. In this context leadership means any position of planning, preparing, leading others, or decision making. Those with a history of abuse – or worse – may participate with this exception. We also expect that such individuals would make themselves known to us early on in their relationship with us. To unreasonably delay their disclosure would be grounds for exclusion from active involvement with us.
Anyone who abuses while involved with Urban Monasticism will be bared from further active involvement. When these acts happen within our community, or to other members we must actively involve local law enforcement. We should do what we can to realize justice for the victims of these abusers.