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The orthodox monastic life

Christian monasticism inaugurated by hermit St. Anthony of Egypt in 305, when he organized ascetic hermits in primitive monastic communities, was continued by Anthony's disciple, Pachomius, who introduced communal monastic life. Between 358-364, St. Basil drew up the rule that still governs Christian religious communities, including the Orthodox Church. Both monks and nuns are required to take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and to devote their lives to prayer and work. The goal of this way of life is the achievement of personal salvation or union with God through a continual spiritual battle with temptation.

Monasticism spread quickly throughout the Byzantine Empire in the 4th-7th centuries, flourished in the 16th century in all Europe, and recorded a revival of interest in the 19th century.

Most monastics are imitators of Christ. Like Christ, they fast. Like Christ, they live the life of poverty, both in what they wear and what they possess. They do, therefore, spend time thinking about food and clothing, but this in the strange sense of thinking how best not to think of these.

A Hieromonk in prayer

They are careful not to eat that which invites gluttony or attachment to food, but to partake of the "daily bread" that provides for sustenance. They are worried about clothing that might move them away from the hem of the Savior's garment, which we all touch, entreating Christ to clothe them in His righteousness. And all of this monastics do for the very purpose of salvation. It is precisely the search for salvation which prompts them to be concerned about such things.

As Christ was obedient, so, too, the monastic is obedient. While some converts enter into the Orthodox monastic life wishing to reform the services and to discard this or that "typikon", most Orthodox monastics follow the typikon of their monastic superiors, linking themselves to an on-going succession of spiritual power that affects, indeed, the roots of salvation itself.

Orthodox monastic life involves a system which contemporary psychologists call a "feed-back loop." By attention to externals, we affect internals; and by the restored internal state, external attributes are affected. Endlessly linked to one another, internals and externals interact with one another to the point that they are no longer separate. The humble spirit manifests itself in the humble face; the sweet countenance in the sweetness of spirit; and the contrite heart within a contrite act. Grace brings what is inside out and what is outside in. Grace molds, blends, and transforms.

Last parts from "Orthodox Tradition", Vol. 6, No. 4, 1989.

A monk on duty, Sopocani Monastery, Serbia A woodcarver, Visoki Decani Monastery, Serbia Abbot Nikolai with his novice, Crna Reka Monastery, Serbia Cleaning corn, Visoki Decani Monastery monks, Serbia Cleaning snow - Italian guards in the background, Visoki Dec ...
Cleaning the censers, Visoki Decani Monastery monk, Serbia Communal meal in the everyday 'small' refectory, Visoki Deca ... Conservation of cucambers, Visoki Decani Monastery monks, Se ... Feeding chicken, Visoki Decani Monastery monk, Serbia Fr. Arsenios - the Master Painter, Visoki Decani Monastery, ...
Fr. Avakum is a woodcarver specialized for fine decorations, ... Fr. Daniel processing the milk cream, Visoki Decani Monaster ... Fr. Daniel taking the cows to the field, Visoki Decani Monas ... Fr. Daniel with a new calf, Visoki Decani Monastery, Serbia Fr. Ilarion Cooking, Visoki Decani Monastery, Serbia
Fr. Ilarion Painting, Visoki Decani Monastery, Serbia Fr. Justin and his communication center, Visoki Decani Monas ... Fr. Teodor in the rafting workshop, Visoki Decani Monastery, ... General view of the icon studio, Visoki Decani Monastery, Se ... Harvesting
In the bakery, Visoki Decani Monastery monks, Serbia In the bell tower, Visoki Decani Monastery monk, Serbia In the kitchen, Visoki Decani Monastery monk, Serbia In the woodcarving workshop, Visoki Decani Monastery, Serbia ... Making monastic clothes, Holy Archangels Monastery, Serbia
Making monastic clothes, Visoki Decani Monastery monks, Serb ... Modern technology in 13th century setting, at Sopocani Monas ... Monk Nikodim the carpenter, Visoki Decani Monastery, Serbia Monks have always been known as keen farmers, Visoki Decani ... Novice Predrag in the woodcarving workshop, Visoki Decani Mo ...
Preparing food for cows, Visoki Decani Monastery, Serbia Serb monk cleaning the carpets Serb monk making tomato juice - getting ready for the winter ... Serving the guests of the monastery, Visoki Decani Monastery ... The Painters in the Icon Studio, Visoki Decani Monastery, Se ...
The painters in the Monastery Icon Studio, Visoki Decani Mon ... Updating the Web Site, Visoki Decani Monastery, Serbia Woodcarvers at work, Visoki Decani Monastery, Serbia Woodcarving workshop 2, Holy Archangels Monastery, Serbia Woodcarving workshop, Holy Archangels Monastery, Serbia
Woodcarving, Visoki Decani Monastery, Serbia Working with the heating system, Visoki Decani Monastery, Se ...

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