My wife and I lived in Christian communes for seven years and had our first two children there. It was both encouraging and humbling. Encouraging because we learned to grow in faith by the examples and teaching of older Christians. Humbling because we saw more of our own sins, as we lived with and ate with and relaxed with other believers 24/7.
I am glad we did it. We grew immeasurably. But we don’t want to do it again. It was too much—too close—to live under one roof with others. We felt the need for more privacy for our young nuclear family. It might work for singles and single-parent families and for some retired folks. It is essential for children to have role models of each sex. And life can be lonely for single and retired Christians.But with all of those qualifications, I think the Benedict Option is something Christians need to consider. If the communal lifestyle is not for all believers, it is surely imperative for us to strengthen the Christian family and church community life. My wife and I have found it immeasurably rewarding to participate in daily liturgy (morning and evening prayer using the Daily Office) and the sacraments, weekly at a minimum and daily if possible.
I think starting a book group across denominational lines, and studying a Christian classic, is ideal. Get back to the Fathers. Read Augustine or Athanasius or Gregory together. This is a sure remedy to the shallowness and heresy of too much of today’s Church.
This is my contribution to a symposium on The Benedict Option sponsored by BreakPoint.