Sunday, August 20, 2017

August 20 - Geert Groote, Founder of the Brethren of the Common Life, Rekindled Minister

Geert was a prodigious talent of considerable note among his peers and teachers. He received a highly regarded and expensive education that made him a person of status and envy. His primary areas of study were medicine, theology, and canon law. As a student of these disciplines, he received a well-rounded and enviable education that prepared him for an enjoyable life. Further, Geert was gifted in these disciplines and received numerous honors for his work. He had found that success in the world could be gained with consistent and concerted effort and a little bit of talent. Geert was appointed as a professor of theology and philosophy. Further, he received a portion of the cathedral's revenues and was very wealthy. So much of Geert's life was enviable for those who might look upon it--he had wealth, honors, respect, and influence. But, Geert was called to something greater and better.

Some of his dear friends contacted him and warned him about the seductions of wealth, power, and influence and insisted that he should pursue the higher calling that God had placed on his life. The love and devotion of his devoted friends had an impact on him and he,eventually, turned aside from his honors and wealth and sought out a monastery where he might rekindle what had been smothered in him--his calling as a minister of the Kingdom of the Slaughtered Lamb. He spent three years at the monastery in seclusion and prayer. His devotion only increased until the day he left and shocked people with the change that had been kindled in him in the monastery. Geert--who had become intoxicated with the pleasures and values of the world--had retreated from its temptations and found rest for his soul and invigoration for his devotion. Upon leaving, he became a traveling preacher of renown because of his incredible zeal and his uniform rejection of the things of the world.

A man of such zeal and skill drew disciples and followers who desired to follow after their leader. Eventually, one of his followers asked him, "Teacher, why don't we work together and coordinate our efforts? Why not work and pray together under the guidance of our Common Father?" Geert saw the wisdom in the leading of his disciple and guided his followers in joining together as the "Brethren of the Common Life." This group was a type of brotherhood that hoped to kindle in others the fire that had been kindled in them and in Geert. In many ways, Geert is one of the fathers of the devotional life and the idea of daily prayer and pious reflection. It was Geert's time in the monastery that formed the aspirations of this new group as they shared their devotion, kindled the fire within them, and led countless others to the fire that was consuming them--the fire of the Spirit filled life of conversion.

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