Then and Now...
I ran across this article from Commonweal from 2009. I missed the original publication, but I would like to respond now.
While I was studying theology and canon law, I had the opportunity to live in Belgium for a few years, It was a great opportunity on many levels and I really appreciate my time there.
One of the great privileges of that time was the opportunity to become more familiar with the Beguine movement in its native region in the Low Countries. In the area where I lived each town had its town square, church, city hall and beguinage (begijnhof). The images here are from the Grote Begijnhof in Leuven where I lived. They are the brick and mortar remnants of a movement that lasted nearly 1000 years, spread through much of northern Europe and influenced life and spirituality at the time. Writings of Beguines continue to influence spirituality today.
The essence of the life of the beguines was women who devote their lives to good works, quiet contemplation and living out their spiritual values. They found that a loose community structure enabled them to support each other in an era where single women were quite vulnerable.
With this post, I begin a series on the beguines, their historical reality, the current resurgence of the movement and what this all may have to contribute to the conversation on the future of religious life.
Anyone who would like to contribute to this series, let me know and I can put your post into the conversation.