The Black Vatican's official Webmonger has just discovered an interesting little sect...

*poke* *poke* *poke*

The White Robed Monks of St. Benedict are a monastic order who have an extremely liberal interpretation of what it means to be a monk. The webpage for the order says, "They may be married or single, in any walk of life — and yes, from divergent religious traditions. Yet, each finds a commonality in the preciousness and dignity of life. They sense that an effective way to insure this preciousness and dignity is to practice compassion."

So far, not too far removed from the Unitarians, right? Well, here is where it gets interesting...
"The Monks live their life according to an adapted version of the Rule of St. Benedict, the foundation stone of Western monasticism. Their Rule provides for a meditation practice known as zazen. They follow the advice of David: "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 45:10). The specific practice is that which the Soto Zen tradition teaches in the writings of Dogen. Dogen brought the Chinese Chan practice to Japan where it became Zen. Thus the Holy Rule blends Zen and Catholicism."

Zen Catholics - how cool is that? (And you all thought that Mark was just an aberration.)

How, you may ask, does Mother Church see this? Well, offical church pronouncements on small groups like this are hard to find, but I did come across the website of "Our Lady's Warriors", a self-described "portal for those Catholic laity who are 100% loyal to and obey the Holy See (the Pope) and the teaching authority of the Church (the Magisterium), and who wish to defend our Faith against the wolves in sheep's clothing - those better known as dissenters." A fun crowd, no doubt. I hear they throw a big kegger every summer. Not.

At any rate, they had this to say about the White Robes in their list of dissenters:
"A neo-Gnostic group which incorporates Zen Buddhism concepts. They minister to "the Catholic [who] has outgrown the co-dependent need to adhere to an institutional church: its petty, bureaucratic, authoritarian, dictatorial, patriarchal, unresponsive ways. He or she is no longer co-dependent on religion to tell him or her what to do and how to do it." Also embracing Jungian psychology and feminist theology ("sophia wisdom"), they will accept any faith (indifferentism): "Membership in any church is not a prerequisite to be a White Robed Monk." Yet they still claim: "The White Robed Monks of St. Benedict are neither Roman Catholic nor Old Catholic, Liberal Catholic nor Eastern Catholic. The White Robed Monks are just Catholic."

Preaching free thought, universal acceptance, feminism, and compassion? Heretics, clearly.

Of course, they left out the rest of the White Robes comments about their brand of Catholicism: "Catholic in the sense of neither Roman nor non-Roman, but Catholic as the historical Christ originally taught. Christ opened his arms to everyone and accepted everyone without question. He turned no one away."

The knee-jerk response of hardline Catholics aside, this gives me hope. In fact, it may just be sleep deprivation, but I'm downright inspired.

Brace yourselves - I'm putting on my preachin' boots and my new robes. I've got a hell of a sermon brewing - hand me my poking stick...


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