An Introduction to this Way of Life

Return to our Way of Life

Welcome, beloved of Christ Jesus.

May reading our Way of Life become part of your story. A story of God inviting you to become an Urban Monastic. The monastic life is not a destination. Instead, it beckons us to journey, with the Holy Spirit, into our own becoming. This way of living grows out of rhythms and practices. It is as hopeful as it is rigorous. The mercy of God allows us to see the distance between all He invites us to and who we are. Every moment of monastic life exists because of God’s grace and an invitation to keep becoming.

It is here that the Master and Perfecter of our faith draws our hearts towards purity and our lives towards perfection in Christ. Within a monastic life, our lives build up from the foundation of a Way of Life. It is a way to be fully in our world with eyes and hearts fixed on the coming Kingdom of God. It is one of many ways to faithfully follow Christ. This way of life helps us be present with God and others. Everyone who becomes a monastic is grafted into our shared Christian monastic tradition. A tradition whose roots stretch deeply into the earliest days of the Church.

Monasticism is not a set of practices, but an embodied way of living. It understands that our spirit, mind and body are as interwoven and indivisible as the trinity. The monastic life points to a way of being Christian that values and elevates the importance of how we live. This way of living is not up to our own whims and desires. It is a life based on an external set of principles called a way of life, a rule, or a commitment.

This Urban Monastic Way of Life is a foundation built with the love, lives, and wisdom of the saints who came before us. It was in Egypt that our Desert Mothers and Fathers found themselves called by God. They were the first monastics. Our God continues to sustain the monastic tradition from Abba Anthony and Abba Pinufius through Cassian and Benedict. God sustained the monastic tradition by names we know and many we don’t know. With humility, our monastic siblings have devoted themselves to the monastic life.

Our rule was prayerfully and carefully adapted from the Rule of Saint Benedict for our urban ecumenical monastic order. It is a compassionate and tender bridge for a life in the city into becoming monastic. Within our rule, there are no vows of chastity, poverty, or obedience. In their place, careful prayerful attention has integrated the spirit of each vow into our urban lives. This rule was written when, for the first time in human history, the majority of people now live in cities. May you find this Way of Life to be fertile soil for your life to flourish with God. A life that He longs for you to share with Him. All are welcome to become Urban Monastics.

Ora et Labora • Prayer and Work

A monastic has two vocations: to pray and to work. Prayer is the first and most important vocation of a monastic life. Our lives, seasons, and days are structured around prayer. There are many ways to pray, and we aspire to pray in and through all things. Prayer comes first. Our second vocation is our work. Monastics have worked with their minds and bodies ever since the earliest days in the Egyptian desert. They show us that one can be so transformed by prayer; that to work is to pray. Urban Monasticism invites us to give special attention to the work we give ourselves to. Our work has a large impact on our lives, how we live and where we live.

The Origins of Urban Monasticism

Urban Monasticism began on the first Sunday of Advent in 2019. It was founded in Paris by Paul Prins and Jordan Prins, and in Berlin by Sheila Whittenberg. Earlier that year, Paul wrote our Way of Life over 3 days. During the years that followed a community of dozens from around the world regularly discussed our rule. They lived and discussed each point. During our fourth year, Paul refined our way of life into what follows. This prayerful work reflects the lived contributions of many people. I want to extend a special thank you to the brothers at Lérins Abbey and their abbot, Vladimir, whose friendship has been most meaningful to me. I am trusting that our Lord will use Urban Monasticism in the lives of others as He is in mine. In faith, I offer this Way of Life to You, and to all who will come after us.

may You find these words pleasing and glorifying to You. May this way of life honor the monastics who have come before us, and who live today with us. May the rigor of this monastic life be an easy burden that gives life to many. Lord, in Your grace and mercy, be present with each person who becomes an Urban Monastic. Let our commitment to this rule be a response to Your love and grace, that we will enjoy forever.

~ Paul Prins
Finished on Pentecost
19 May 2024 in Paris, France