Learning lessons from the monks
|St Benedict: "Prefer nothing to the work|
of God, ie singing his praise in church".
There are many issues here about governance, about procedures and about priorities. (Children, in a school, always come first). I think however, that in the long term this is going to be good news for the monks because it will probably force a return to old priorities. For the vocation of a monk is to pray, not essentially to run schools. The kind of person who can keep his head in a modern school is not necessarily the same kind who could devote his life completely to prayer. In combining schoolmastering (at a a time when that profession is rapidly evolving) and monasticism, the monks have perhaps been making a poor job of both.
There are communities in the Catholic Church which exist to run schools and hospitals or some other kind of active mission. And of course there is a whole army of faithful Catholic lay teachers, many with families. Praying is for them an important part of their day, but it does not completely define their vocation in the way it does for a monk. They need to have their feet firmly on professional ground, to be eminently practical, to be experts in their field.
The Second Vatican Council called explicitly for religious congregations to return to their traditional charisms. For the monk that means a life devoted to prayer. There ought to be consecrated religious men and women in education, but their life, spirituality and formation ought to be adapted to their professional as well as religious calling.
Communities such as Quarr and Pluscarden which have never had schools must think themselves especially blessed at this difficult time for monasticism in the UK.