Graduate Papers/Theses

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Date of Award


Document Type

Graduate Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theology


School of Theology and Seminary

First Advisor

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.


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