Beacon Lights of History, Volume 05 eBook

John Lord
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 321 pages of information about Beacon Lights of History, Volume 05.
and hardship.  No aristocratic tears are shed for them; they are no better than dogs or cattle.  The mother is heartbroken.  Not one of her children can ordinarily rise from their abject position; they can live and breathe the common air, and that is all.  They are unmolested in their mud huts, if they will toil for the owner of their village at the foot of the baronial castle.  But one of her sons is bright and religious.  He attracts the attention of a sympathetic monk, whose venerable retreat is shaded with trees, adorned with flowers, and seated perhaps on the side of a murmuring stream, whose banks have been made fertile by industry and beautiful with herds of cattle and flocks of sheep.  He urges the afflicted mother to consecrate him to the service of the Church; and the boy enters the sanctuary and is educated according to the fashion of the age, growing up a sad, melancholy, austere, and pharisaical member of the fraternity, whose spirit is buried in a gloomy grave of ascetic severities, He passes from office to office.  In time he becomes the prior of his convent,—­possibly its abbot, the equal of that proud baron in whose service his father lost his life, the controller of innumerable acres, the minister of kings.  How, outside the Church, could he thus have arisen?  But in the monastery he is enabled, in the most aristocratic age of the world, to rise to the highest of worldly dignities.  And he is a man of peace and not of war.  He hates war; he seeks to quell dissensions and quarrels.  He believes that there is a higher than the warrior’s excellence.  Monachism recognized what feudalism did not,—­the claims of man as man.  In this respect it was human and sympathetic.  It furnished a retreat from misery and oppression.  It favored contemplative habits and the passive virtues, so much needed in turbulent times.  Whatever faults the monks had, it must be allowed that they alleviated sufferings, and presented the only consolation that their gloomy and iron age afforded.  In an imperfect manner their convents answered the purpose of our modern hotels, hospitals, and schools.  It was benevolence, charity, and piety which the monks aimed to secure, and which they often succeeded in diffusing among people more wretched and ignorant than themselves.


Saint Bernard’s Works, especially the Epistles; Mabillon; Helyot’s
Histoire des Ordres Monastiques; Dugdale’s Monasticon; Doering’s
Geschichte der Monchsorden; Montalembert’s Les Moines d’Occident;
Milman’s Latin Christianity; Morison’s Life and Times of Saint Bernard;
Lives of the English Saints; Stephen Harding; Histoire d’Abbaye de
Cluny, par M.P.  Lorain; Neander’s Church History; Butler’s Lives of the
Saints; Vaughan’s Life of Thomas Aquinas; Digby’s Ages of Faith.


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A. D. 1033-1109.


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Beacon Lights of History, Volume 05 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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