Desert Wisdom In The World

The Future Church Reinvented As A Monastery

...the monastic experience constitutes the heart of Christian life, so much so that it can be proposed as a point of reference for all the baptized.

    —Pope John Paul II *

Introduction: Technology guided by timeless wisdom

Prayerbuddy is a ubiquitously digital spiritual community in which daily contact and familiarity are the rule. By making full use of digital networking, Prayerbuddy breaks the sociological isolation created by broadcast analog media, the geographical dispersion of people across urban/suburban/exurban sprawl, and highly mobile lifestyles.

In Prayerbuddy we leverage the communicative, relational power of digital networking in order to revive wise, classical spiritual practices. The result is a new form of spiritual community that bears remarkable resemblance to pre-industrial and monastic forms.

Prayerbuddy's sophisticated use of technology is based on NextScribe's ten years of research in Computer Supported Spiritual Development (CSSD).

The technologies of CSSD allow members of Prayerbuddy to follow a way of life that is derived from the wisdom of the desert fathers and monastic tradition.

Thus members of Prayerbuddy are able to practice the principle spiritual disciples of the monastic tradition within an intimate form of daily community, but they are able to do so while leading ordinary lives in the world.

Members of Prayerbuddy are both single and married. The Prayerbuddy community is "cloistered" within a digital mesh that connects members to one another throughout each day, so that together they may engage in the daily practice of classical spiritual disciplines.

The Spirit of Prayerbuddy

Spiritual Wisdom

Members of Prayerbuddy engage in the same wise, sanctifying spiritual practices as contemplative monks and nuns, and they do so with the daily support of a spiritual community that mirrors the monastic experience.

Prayerbuddy thus makes way for contemplative habits of the heart to spill forth from the monastery and innundate the world.

The Monastery of Christ in the Desert

The spiritual component of Prayerbuddy is being developed in partnership with the Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert in New Mexico. By relying on the timeless wisdom of a proven, 1,500 year old form of spiritual community, Prayerbuddy hopes to ensure that the new practices it develops will be wise and sanctifying.

Members of Prayerbuddy communities enter into classical spiritual practices that are intended to form the inner heart into habits of love.

A Simple, Sanctifying Way Of Life

Prayerbuddy communities are small -- usually not more than eight people -- and they follow a simple rule of life in which they engage in classical practices newly supported by technology, including:

  • Daily Prayer In Community, Six Times A Day
  • Perpetual, Wireless, Semantically Rich Presence To One Another
  • Semi Monthly Spiritual Conference Centered Around A Meal
  • Lectio Divina: Meditative Spiritual Reading
  • Reflective Journaling In Community
  • Spiritual Direction

A Demanding Practice of Love

Membership in a Prayerbuddy community is spiritually demanding, more so than any pre-digital form of church outside a monastery cloister.

However, it is demanding for good reason: members of a Prayerbuddy community are able to develop contemplative habits of prayer and love in a way that was never before possible outside a monastery cloister. This is because Prayerbuddy allows the spiritual life to intrude deeply into members' daily lives.

A Larger Church, Organically

The core Prayerbuddy community of eight people does not pray alone. In a natural, organic and self-organizing way, Prayerbuddy communities are connected. They can choose to share each other's lives and pray together. They can share their wisdom together. They form a larger church together that spans nations and cultures.

The Technology of Prayerbuddy

Computer Supported Spiritual Development (CSSD)

The technologies that make Prayerbuddy possible are provided by advances in the field of Computer Supported Spiritual Development (CSSD). CSSD was first postulated in 1994 at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in New Mexico, where in 1995 CSSD had its first application in the monastery's pioneering web site. The concept was further refined in consultancy to the Vatican in 1996-1997, after which NextScribe was founded in order to conduct research in CSSD. NextScribe has since conducted pioneering research in CSSD with both Catholic and Protestant communities.

CSSD is multidisciplinary, but Prayerbuddy is primarily an application of technologies supporting spiritual community that are a branch of Computer Supported Collaboration (CSC).

Digital Age: Ancient Made New

NextScribe's research is based on the postulate that new forms of digital age community -- enabled by advances in CSSD -- will bear increasing sociological resemblance to monastic community, with respect to the perpetual, daily presence of members to one another and the resulting intimacy of relationships in community. Subsequent research has supported this theory. Therefore NextScribe has endeavored to conduct research and development that will fulfill the potential of these perpetually connected communities to give birth to a newly interior, contemplative spiritual life.

Technology Serving People In Relationship

Highly advanced social communications technologies -- technologies that bring people into daily, intimate relationship -- provide the structure -- the "cloister", if you will -- in which Prayerbuddy communities live their spiritual lives together, in service of God and neighbor.

Prayerbuddy: Research Platform in CSSD

Prayerbuddy was born from NextScribe's research in Computer Supported Spiritual Development, and it will continue to be used as a platform to study advances in CSSD.

NextScribe continues to engage in research and development in a effort to push the development of technology in a direction that will assist the highest good of the human person.


* Address of Pope John Paul II on his pilgrimage to the Holy Monastery of Rita, 25 May 2002.