The civil powers arose – not the “state?: this is a nonsensical term for the Middle Ages, but the different secular hierarchies, up to the emperor at the top of all of them, and this meant they had to come to a fight with the emperor, who aspired to do the same thing from the secular point of view which the Church tried to do from the religious, namely to establish one body of Christian secular life, a life which is always at the same time secular and religious, instead of establishing two realms and separating them, as we do.
This is the hierarchy, and is the first and basic and continuous religious force. But of course by these functions the hierarchy was always in danger of becoming secularized itself. So we must look at other religious forces, resisting this tendency.
Here we have, first, monasticism, the second religious force. It represents the uncompromising negation of the world, but this negation was not a quietistic negation: it was a negation connected with activity towards transforming the world, in labor, in science, in all other forms of culture, e. g., esthetic culture, church- building and forming, poetry, music, etc. It was a very interesting creation and has very little to do with the deteriorized monasticism against which the Reformers and the Humanists were fighting. It was the radicalism, on the one hand, of resignation from the world, leaving the control of the world to the clergy, to the secular hierarchy, as it is sometimes called. But they themselves restricted themselves from all this, but then at the same time they didn’t fall into a mystical form of asceticism alone,(or a ritual alone as the Eastern church was in danger of becoming), but they applied their status to the transformation of reality.
The monks produced the great medieval esthetic culture, and even today some of the monastic orders represent the highest form of culture in the Catholic church, especially the Benedictines, who have preserved this tradition until today. Then there were the real bearers of theological science, and somehow of all science. The Franciscans and Dominicans, especially the latter, produced the greatest theologians. Then there were others who did agricultural work, work of irrigation, drying swamps, and all the things necessary in the newly conquered countries where conversions had been made, in central and northern Europe So as monastics they had the intensity of resignation and at the same time the power of controlling and transforming. They were, as we would say today, the active, ascetic vanguard of the Church.
They were free to perform cultural activities and at the same time were bound to the fundamentals of the Church. Later on, similar things developed, namely attempts to bring this monastic spirit more into groups other than the monks themselves. I can mention two groups – the knights and the knight orders who were fighting against the pagans and conquering eastern Germany; and if you want a sweeping historical statement, these knight orders who fought a thousand years ago for a Christianization and at the same time Germanization of the East of Europe, as far as possible, have now been conquered, in this 20th century, with the help of the Christian nations of the West, namely the Slavic groups have retaken what was taken away from them by the knight orders of the Middle Ages, and Christianity was suppressed for the sake of the Communist form of a non-Christian secularism.