Guest Author - Rebecca Graf
Looking closely at the Cluniac reform and the ideas that St. Augustine promoted, it seems that the reform by the Cluny order was neither a reflection nor a contradiction of St. Augustine. The saint was a man who believed in not complete withdrawal from society, but to be involved. In fact, Augustine was “involved with the lives and problems of his flock.” (1) He believed that the church was to be involved in the world in order to influence it. The role of the church was to include all and “to educate and reform the world” around it. (2)
The Cluniac movement also looked to help the world around them. The original charter that the monastery was founded with states that “with the greatest zeal be performed there works of mercy towards the poor, the needy, strangers, and pilgrims.” (3) They drifted away from the original Benedict order that called for physical labor to be self-sufficient and looked to working as intercessors with the secular world.
Where the Cluniac movement drifted from St. Augustine was the political involvement in which many of the Cluny order found themselves. They did not hesitate to work for “royal chanceries and not loath to receive …appointments to bishoprics” as payment for their services. (4)
The Cluniac movement was more of modern (at that time) form of St. Augustine’s ideas. They developed according the world around them and the political world that influenced them. They took St. Augustine’s words and used them in a way that the late tenth century would allow them to succeed without becoming completely secular.
(1) Norman F. Cantor, The Civilization of the Middle Ages, (New York: Harper Perennial, 1994), 75.
(2) Ibid, 78.
(3) ”Foundation Charter of Cluny, 910 C.E.”, translated by Ernest F. Henderson, Internet Medieval Source Book, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chart-cluny.html, accessed February 20, 2011.
(4) Cantor, 219-220
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