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At the request of His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin, all parishes in the Diocese of the West will be taking a special collection this Sunday to benefit the various monastic communities of our diocese:

St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco
Manton, California

St. Barbara Monastery
Santa Paula, California

Holy Assumption Monastery
Calistoga, California

Our Lady of Kazan Skete
Santa Rosa, California

Protection of the Holy Virgin Monastery
Lake George, Colorado

Monastery of St. Macarius of Egypt (2015)

Monastery of St. John the Baptist (2017)

The following reflection on monasticism was published on and is recommended reading to prepare for our efforts to assist the monastic communities of our diocese.

MONASTICISM: The Way to Perfection
by Professor Emeritus George Mantzaridis
Theological School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

With the advent of monasticism, a special way of life appeared in the Church, which however did not  proclaim a new morality. The Church does not have one set of moral rules for the laity and another  for monks, nor does it divide the faithful into classes according to their obligations towards God. The Christian life is the same for everyone. All Christians have in common that “their being and name is from Christ”1. This means that the true Christian must ground his life and conduct in Christ, something which is hard to do in the world.

What is difficult in the world is attempted with dedication in the monastic life. In his spiritual life the monk simply tries to do what every Christian should try to do: to live according to God’s commandments. The fundamental principles of monasticism are no different from those of the lives of all the faithful. This is especially apparent in the history of the early Church, before monasticism appeared.

In the tradition of the Church there is a clear preference for celibacy as opposed to the married state. This stance is not of course hostile to marriage, which is recognised as a profound mystery,2 but simply indicates the practical obstacles marriage puts in the way of the pursuit of the spiritual life. For this reason, from the earliest days of Christianity many of the faithful chose not to marry. Thus Athenagoras the Confessor in the second century wrote: “You can find many men and women who remain unmarried all their lives in the hope of coming closer to God”3.

The Christian life has from the very beginning been associated with self denial and sacrifice: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”4 Christ calls on us to give ourselves totally: “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”5.

Lastly, fervent and unceasing prayer, obedience to the elders of the Church, love of and submission to others, as well as all the essential virtues of the monastic life were cultivated by the members of the Church from its earliest days.

To read the whole article click here.

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