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Date of Award
Master of Arts in Theology
School of Theology and Seminary
Columba Stewart OSB
The position proposed in this paper is derived from the ideal of the Beguines, a 12/13c Catholic lay movement predominantly of the Low Countries, but active also in France and the Rhineland. It was, as Eileen Power quite flatly stated, "a sort of religious movement ... a lay sisterhood, standing halfway between the lay and the monastic life." This proposal is a vision for community life today that could bear new witness to the need for Christian charity and prayer in an innovative yet tradition-rooted form.
The title of this paper playfully meddles with a Cole Porter (1892-1964) melody "Begin the Beguine". This song refers to a South American dance characterized by the female dancer's flirtatious, beguiling flair as she captures the momentum of the music. It is that same type of recaptured momentum that I propose here. A new community in today's church could draw inspiration from the Beguines. Theirs was a spontaneous response to a growing need to nurture and be enlivened within the existing Catholic community.
Rape, Wendy J., "Beginning with the Beguines Lessons from the Medieval Lay Women's Movement" (1991). School of Theology and Seminary Graduate Papers/Theses. 1876.
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