A Few Words About Monasticism


People are tied to the earth. They depend on the inevitable changes that occur there. It is difficult for a person who lives in this world in accordance with temporary laws to become free from sin. Sin kills the soul, breaks up its connection with God and makes people dead. This is why people are seeking for God. 

Faced with earthly cares, vanity, competition (that comes both from the outside and from the inside), people ache and suffer, and they cannot find the permanent place designated for God. The Lord says that He does not have a place to lay His head. God, the Creator of the Earth, does not have a place in this world. The world sends God to the Cross because it does not accept His love.

There are souls that made up their minds to follow God to the end, without compromises, without falsehood, and without illusions. These people decided to exchange all the riches of the world, everything that the world can give for the inner freedom of being with God and not depending on this world.

Of course, this is not a formal decision but an earnest drive to reach the Heavenly Kingdom, a desire to preserve the grace and not to lose love towards God in one's heart. Earthly cares are devastating for one's soul. When people rely only on themselves, on their egos, on their fallen reason and wicked desires in building their lives as they deem fit, they cannot see God and their neighbor. Monasticism is a way of life where everything is subjected to the will of God and renunciation of sin. It is a passage from the earthly kingdom into the Heavenly Kingdom; it is the resurrection of one's soul. But it does not come easily and quickly.

An individual who is totally subdued by sin, has to humble himself down, see his wretchedness and the beauty of his neighbor, and get to know God's love. This should happen not only when one feels calm and content but also when life is tough and he has to suffer. Monasticism means a permanent struggle and renunciation of one's ego. There was a Father who, when asked about monasticism, took a skufia off his head, threw it on the ground and trampled it underfoot — that’s what a monk must be like, he said. A monastic is a person who has forgotten himself; he lives not on the earth but in the Heaven already. 

Things that are high in this world are an abomination before God: this is why the world does not see the value of monastic life; it sheds tears for those who have put on the black robes and turned down all its advantages and comfort; the world mourns those who live not for their own sake, but instead crucify their egos, their passions and lust. The aim of monasticism is love towards God and one’s neighbour; a monastic strives for acquiring love in his heart. When a person rejects his own ego and becomes a novice, when he begins to obey without trusting himself, it is then that he steps onto the road that leads to the Jerusalem on high: the painful and harsh road it is indeed, for one who has to struggle with oneself. But it is also full of joy, for the Lord is near and He always comforts those who follow Him.

The world has no time to pray and to think about the eternity. A monastic has to fill in what is missing by praying for the entire world, by looking for God’s glory in everything, and by finding the beauty of the love of Christ in each person. The Lord says, Learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart (Matthew 11:29). People who come to God and devote their entire lives to serving God, they unite into one family called a monastery to build their relationships that go beyond the earthly laws while being here on this earth. They are looking for the love of Christ, who is in our midst. 



Jesus Christ is the center to which these souls are drawn through repentance, self-restraint, and humility before each other. A person who does not seek her own, who puts herself into God’s hands, who does her best to thank God for everything, never gets depressed and does not spare himself. Everything he has belongs to God, so he does not show off his own merits; he is ashamed to do so. A monastic prays for the world and asks the Lord to allow all people more time to get to know God’s love and to enter the Heavenly Kingdom. A monastic is not a mummy in black clothes but a living human being who lives a beautiful life. With God, everything bears the trace of the heavenly beauty. Struggle with himself, with the world, and with the devil takes up all the time of a monastic, so he has no time to be depressed or to judge his neighbor. 

A monastic concentrates on the inner person, he is not quick with words and reluctant to pass judgments; he is looking for God’s Word that, when it comes, becomes alive for everybody. It is God’s mercy that monasteries are being restored and built nowadays. People who have got tired of the hustle and bustle of this world and its disappointments are looking for a quiet harbor where they can learn to love God and their neighbors. Therefore, the Lord builds monasteries and gathers His earthly warriors in order to make them His heavenly army. The Church is the people united into one single whole around Christ. Monastics are the vanguard of this army.
The vows that a monastic takes during the rite of monastic profession are not fulfilled by him as they must be, which is why his soul constantly has to humble down, admonish itself, and ask God to forgive it. God grants His grace to the humble. 

The Lord tells the pious young man, If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast: and come follow me (Matthew, 19:21). The young man in this Gospel account did not follow Christ because he was reluctant to abandon the earthly things he had; monastics, on the contrary, are the people who follow God, and the Lord comforts those who choose this narrow path. Joy and tenderness that dawn on one’s soul after the hard times of temptations give her strength to go ahead and to be the light for those who cannot see this path yet.


One’s soul wants to be alone with God, and it finds joy everywhere there is God. Such a soul runs away from sin.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew, 5:3). A monastic does not boast about his gains or earthly beauty; all he can boast about is God, and he keeps saying, I can do all these things in him who strengtheneth me (Phil., 4:13).

Father Andrew

 

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