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.