I have always had a thing about contemplative religious life, I find it incredibly attractive and yet monastic life in the UK, for both men and women, with some notable exceptions, seems to be on the wane. Of the ten or so male Benedictine monasteries how many will still be functioning in 5 or 10 years, several have numbers in single figures? Without help from abroad how many of the mendicant houses will still be open? Of the active religious communities, old age and increased infirmity of the members have curtailed their work drastically.
One can make many suggestions as to why religious life is unattractive to the young; a contemporary apathy to chastity, obedience and lifelong committment are obvious suggestions. Someone suggested to me recently that one of the problems could actually be the liturgy. Liturgy is the outward sign of the Church.
I think it is fair to see religious life as a bit like the canary in the coal mine.
At the heart of contemplative life is silence, and an appreciation of the action of God in the hidden and secret place. Is it possible to say in this context, the older form of liturgy was more conducive to creating an environment in which vocations grew and were sustained?