"Looking back at Christian history one sees a monastic phenomenon of the Spirit at several stages. The original monastic phenomenon spread like a fire from east to west, originating with the virgins, widows, and ascetics of Syria and Palestine, and the hermit and cenobitic monks of Egypt. It spread west and dug its roots deep into our corporate consciousness with Celtic monasticism and finally with the near universal inclusion of the Rule of St. Benedict. A resurgence of the original fire was seen in the 11th century monastic semi eremitical and cenobitical reforms with the Camaldolese, Cistercians and Carthusians, just to name a few. Even today there is a monastic revival going on in the midst of the deserts of Egypt with the Coptic Church, right where so much of monasticism began. "
I encourage you read the whole reflection at http://www.johnmichaeltalbot.com/Reflections/index.asp?id=155
Talbot raises several important and necessary points.