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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 and his dog A monk reading A priestmonk in prayer A short break after the work in the field, Visoki Decani Mon ... A view from the terrace, Visoki Decani Monastery monk, Serbi ...
At the door of the old refectory, Visoki Decani Monastery mo ... Blessed is the life in desert Fr. Arseny is an iconographer, Visoki Decani Monastery, Serb ... In front of the Spiritual center of St. Bishop Nikolai of Zi ... In the graveyard, Visoki Decani Monastery, Serbia
Knocking with a hammer on a wooden semantron - a traditional ... Lighting a candle, Visoki Decani Monastery monk, Serbia Lighting the chandelier, Visoki Decani Monastery monk, Serbi ... Novice Nenad with a new calf, Visoki Decani Monastery, Serbi ... Pilgrimage of serb monks from Raska and Prizren Monasteries ...
Prayer in the sun Reading corner in the studio, Visoki Decani Monastery monk, ... Serb Bishop Artemije and the monks in front of St. Sava Cath ... Serb Bishop Artemije gives to Serb Patriarch Pavle a woodcar ... Serb monk meditating in an old monastery tower, Djurdjevi St ...
Serb monks around the tomb of St. Justin of Celije, Serbia Serb monks from Kosovo-Metohija and Raska receive a blessing ... Serb monks in front of St. Sava Cathedral in Belgrade, Serbi ... Serb nun praying at Gracanica Monastery, Serbia Sinod of Bishops of the SOC at work, May 2002
Studyng and reading spiritual books is an important part of ... The first morning rays during the Holy Service, Visoki Decan ... The Sinod of Serbian Orthodox Bishops with HRH Crown Prince ... Visit to the Cathedral of St. Sava in Belgrade, Serbia, the ... A monk in prayer
A russian schema-monk The Sihla Monastery monks (Romania) A romanian schema-monk A russian schema-monk A few russian schema-monks

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