It was a great world-historical event (as great as the battles of the knights in the Middle Ages) when in the20th century, especially in the conference of Berlin in 1945, Eastern Europe was surrendered and the Germanic population which lived there for a thousand years was thrown out.
Now if you see the situation in this perspective, then you also see a little of the importance of these medieval orders.
Related to them are the Crusades and the spirit of the crusaders. It was also an introduction of the monastic spirit into the lower aristocracy, and the effect was that they were to conquer – for a certain time at least — Palestine and the eastern Byzantine Empire. But they also finally were repelled.
3) This is monasticism. Now I come to Sectarianism. Sectarianism should not be understood so much from the dogmatic point of view, as one usually does – of course sometimes they have crazy speciality with respect to doctrine, and leave the Church for this reason; but never believe them: that is not the real reason. The reason is psychological and sociological much more than theological. Sectarianism is the criticism of the Church for the gap between its claim and its reality. And it is the desire of special groups to represent groups of consecration, of sanctification, of holiness. It is an attempt. to carry through some of the monastic radicalism – not all of it, not the ascetic elements, often – radically or moderately, as the case may be, but in terms which are anti-hierarchical.
Now this leads immediately to the fourth group, the Lay Movements. In some way the sectarian movements are lay movements. But as the word secta means, they “cut” themselves off from the body of the church. There were other way to introduce monastic ideals partly into secular life, namely the so-called tertiarii , the “third orders.” There was a “first order” of St. Francis (the men’s order); their second order was the women’s order (the nuns); and later on a third order was created (the laymen, who did not enter the cloister nor were they celibate, but they subjected themselves partly to the discipline of the monastic orders, and as such produced a kind of lay piety which towards the end of the Middle Ages became stronger and stronger and prepared the Reformation, which in some way is a lay movement.
5) The fifth movement which I must mention as a bearer of medieval piety is the Great individuals of Church history. But they are not great individuals as the Renaissance has introduced them. They are great individuals as representatives of something objective, namely of the”holy legend.” The holy legend starts with the Bible, goes through all centuries. , “Legend” does not simply mean “unhistorical” it is a mixture of history and interpretation and stories connected with it, and hanging usually on great individuals who themselves never had any connection with these stories, but they are representatives: so legendary history is a history of representatives of the spirit of the Church.