Catholic Monastic Orders
The term monasticism comes from the Greek word monos, referring to the act of being alone. It has come to encompass the lifestyle of persons living in seclusion from the world, under religious vows, subject to a fixed rule. There are number of monastic orders within the Catholic Church. Each order has a unique history, purpose, and set of governing rules which differentiate it from other orders.
Organized asceticism practiced by individuals or groups, became prominent during the fourth century. The earliest form of monasticism, known as eremitical monasticism, was defined by a complete withdrawal from society. The word eremitic is derived from the ancient Greek word eremos, which means desert. Anthony the Great of Egypt (252-356) lived as a hermit in the desert and steadily gained followers who also lived as hermits in the near vicinity, but not actually in community with him.
In the fourth century more institutional forms of communal asceticism emerged. This form of monastic living is referred to as cenobitic or “community-based”. Whereas the eremitical monks would live alone in a monastery which was often no more than a cave or hut, cenobitics would live in monasteries comprising one or a series of several buildings. The rise of communal monasticism is largely associated with the work of St. Pachomius the Great of Egypt (292-348). He was a southern Egyptian monk who began as
a hermit. He developed a model for common life inspired by the early Christian community of Jerusalem as described in the Acts of the Apostles.
The Benedictine monastic order of the Catholic Church, Order of Saint Benedict (OSB), is a confederation of congregations of monks and nuns who live according to the rule of St. Benedict. They regard Saint Benedict as their founder and guide even though he did not formally establish a Benedictine Order as such. He wrote a rule for his monastery at Monte Cassino in Italy which he thought could be replicated at other monasteries.
Benedictine monasteries operate with a great deal of autonomy. In the Middle Ages the monasteries had little contact with one another. Eventually some of Benedictine monasteries began to relate to each other on issues of mutual importance. The most famous association was that of Cluny. This abbey was founded in the Burgundy region of France around 910AD and grew to include numerous dependencies. Cluny reformed congregations of monks in practically all parts of Europe. The abbot of Cluny was in effect the superior of all the dependent monasteries though he administered the multitude of abbeys through appointed priors.
Many Benedictine monasteries were closed at the time of the Protestant Reformation both because the reformers considered monastic vows to be unevangelical and because secular rulers coveted and seized the abundance of properties owned by the monasteries. Congregations of Benedictines continued in the centuries after the Reformation, but most monasteries were closed and expropriated during the Napoleonic era. As a result, their numbers were very few at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
During the 1800s, the Benedictines experienced a revival. Today Benedictines, both men and women, are still characterized as people who take root in a particular place and who are related to the culture and needs of a specific location. Most are associated together in congregations for purposes of mutual assistance and common discipline. At the same time they vary widely in the type of monastic life they lead
In 1098, Robert the abbot of the Benedictine Abbey of Molesme, led twenty-one of his monks to Citeaux to establish a new monastery where they hoped to follow the Rule of St. Benedict . The new struggling community continued until 1109 under the leadership of Alberic, who introduced the idea of lay brothers being accepted as full members of the monastic family, making it possible for the monks to be free to follow all the demands of the Benedictine Rule. Stephen Harding, who succeeded Alberic at the helm of the community, welcomed Bernard of Fontaines, who came in 1112 with thirty relatives.
By the time of Bernard’s death in 1153, he had not only founded the great Abbey of Clairvaux but he personally sent forth men to start 65 other houses while his brother abbots started another 235. Stephen and the other founders were determined to keep alive the pristine observance of the Rule which they had come to Citeaux to establish. Therefore, they created a constitution which bound all Cistercian abbots to come to Citeaux annually for a general chapter. It also bound all the houses to a common observance and set up a system of visitation which respected the autonomy of each house but assured its fidelity.
謬（St. Pachomius the Great）創立了「團體式修道生活」，現在修道院一班遵守的架構基本都是由他所建立。他堅持這些修道士們每天都要準時吃飯及禱告，他並且也鼓勵這些修道士們自己種植蔬果、做手工藝品出售等，為的是要讓他們可以過自給自足的生活。這也是現在會有所謂「修道院啤酒」的由來，而不只是修道院啤酒，還有像是釀造品或是蜂蜜果醬甚至甜點，都是修道院自給自足而後再助人的來源。
由努西亞的聖本篤（Saint Benedict of Nursia，480年－547年）創立，聖本篤所訂的會規共七十三章。在西元第五、六世紀之後，成為歐洲隱修生活運動中相當具有代表性的修道團體。9世紀本篤會漸漸興起，9世紀後，許多修院會規鬆弛。10世紀時，法國克呂尼隱修院首先發起改革運動，稱「重修本篤會」。11世紀初在法國第戎附近的熙篤曠野又有熙篤會產生，在法國夏特勒山聖徒. 。 勃羅諾創辦有加都西會。15世紀－16世紀時，因會士到殖民地傳教，該會的隱修性質逐漸消失。
今天本篤會繼續自己組的寺廟教會。聖本篤的追隨者變化太大，他們開展了規則的方式，但一般來說，他們保留其來源基本特徵 – 僧侶的努力在祈禱，閱讀，體力勞動和服務共同生活尋求神的地方聚會。
1098年，出生於法國香檳省貴族家庭的本篤會修士，茂來斯木修院 (Molesmes) 的院長聖樂伯（Saint
幾年後教廷強迫聖樂伯回到茂來斯木，他的助手聖雅伯里（Saint Alberic）接任熙篤修道院的院長，直到1109年去世，再由英國人聖德范‧哈定（Saint Stephen Harding）接任，直到1134年。
1112年的春天，聖伯爾納鐸帶 著他的親友三十人來叩熙篤的門。不久，熙篤會奇迅速擴展到整個歐洲。1113年創立了拉費爾代(La Ferte)修院，1114年創立了崩狄尼(Pontigny) 修院，1115年，建立了明谷(Clairvaux) 修院，以聖納德為院長。一個月以後，在德國建立了毛立蒙(Morimond) 修院。在聖納德逝世的1153年，全會已有339座修院。1200年達到500座。
根據德范．哈定院長指定的『愛德憲章』，母院的院長有責任每年視察子院一次，所有修院的院長每年在總母院熙篤集會。這項會議稱為全體大會 (General Chapter)。