A Letter St. Nikolai of Serbia Wrote to a Young Woman Deciding between Marriage and Monasticism

By St. Nikolai of Serbia

Dear child, if you are dithering, then know: you are more likely for marriage than for monasticism. The monastic life is or those who do not hesitate. St. Sabbas had no hesitation. Neither did St. Theodora, Xenia and Euphemia hesitate, nor many others who became the true ascetics of the monastic life. Not every person can handle this life, but only those who are gifted by God (Ref. to Matthew 19:11).

You say you are often sitting with your mother by a fire considering pros and cons. But I tell you: no matter how much you think about it, it is not these pros and cons that matter, but love. Love is above any arguments. If love towards Christ do not bring you to the monastic silence, then your love towards the world will hold you in this world and will bring you to marriage. However, in this case you will still be blessed with the blessing of Sarah (Genesis 17, 18, 21, 23) and Rachel (Genesis 29, 30, 31, 33, 35, 48) and your own mother.

The great love towards God can’t stand living in the world, it leads a solitary life and seeks for loneliness. Such love made thousands of souls deviate from the wide road of the world and go to monasteries so that they can be alone with their beloved Lord; so that they can meet with their Creator in secret, Who is Love itself both by His name and His nature. But first of all to be honored to have this meeting, monks and nuns accept tonsure, labor, humility, vigilance, poverty, obedience and other vows only to be granted this spiritual meeting with the Lord. And when the soul becomes free, purified and adorned, it is honored to meet the Lord on this narrow way. What should the soul of a monk be freed from? From all the earthly bonds and passions. What should it be purified from? From the so-called corporal love, from love towards flesh, relatives and friends, your native village or city, any estate, clothing, food and jewelries. With what should it be adorned? Only with the love towards Christ, which embodies all the jewelries, all the pearls of faith, all the emeralds of hope and all the gems of virtues. The fasting body of a monk is only a cover for all this priceless heavenly treasure.

I write this to you not to bring you to monasticism; rather, I do this to avert you attraction to the world will become stronger in you and I am afraid it will defeat you. You will be in a monastery corporally, but you will be spiritually in the world. The world reflected in the mirror of the soul torments even more than in reality.

Thank the Lord that excerpt from the narrow monastic path, He showed you a wider path to salvation and eternal life. Follow this path, child, which complies more with your inclinations. Follow this path, but follow it with the fear of God and trust in the Lord. Remember: one cannot endure this path without God, too.

May God’s blessing be with you!

Translated by The Catalog of Good Deeds