Some difficulties facing those who wish toBecome Monks
Some Diffficulties facing those who wish to become Monks
While a person may feel that they have a desire to monasticism and that this lifestyle is the most suitable for them, they are faced with some obstacles and difficulties which will now be discussed.
1 – Fearing the Unknown Future
In spite of visiting the monastery frequently and spending a great deal of
time there, the monastic life remains a great mystery to many. This problem may be solved by spending more time at the monastery, meeting with the spiritual fathers who are able to explain everything in a monk's daily life, monasticism and its philosophy, etc.
2 – Fearing the Loss of one's initial Love for Monasticism
Such thoughts reflect a lack of faith in God's power and grace. A person
Who feels the invitation to monasticism should submit their life into God's hands, as only He is capable of remaining with them till the end;" With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."(Matthew 19:26). The Apostle also says;" For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to him until that day,"(2 Timothy 1:12). Moreover, the Lord comforts the soul that leaves everything and is seeking His love and community.
3 - Fearing Boredom
Some youth do not know exactly what monastic life is and are under the impression that a monk does nothing, and lives in total emptiness! On the contrary, a true monk is the busiest of persons. He is busy with the Lord Jesus who fills his heart and soul so that there is no room for emptiness or boredom. In addition to all the holy and spiritual daily activities, the monks occupy their time with:
*** The Agpia prayer which consist of the Morning. 3rd hour,6th hour,9th hour, Sunset, Before sleeping, Veil ( with its many psalms ) and the Midnight prayer with its three services, The Agpia prayer are a very special canon for every monk and are to be prayed inside his cell on a daily bases.
*** The Midnight Praise with its beautiful tunes and hymns, prayed daily with other monks in the church following the Midnight prayer, or alone in his cell.
*** The Holy Liturgy which is prayed in the monastery daily or some days of the week. The monk attends as regularly as he can and partakes of the holy Community in order to strengthen his spiritual life.
*** The metania canon, according to his agreement with his spiritual father and is to be done each morning, asking for God's mercy.
*** Reading in the Holy Bible daily for nourishment.
*** "Jesus Prayer" or any short prayer of the monk's choice, to be repeated continuously or as much as possible.
*** Reading the lives of the Saints who preceded him. And their sayings, in order to attain comfort from them and follow in their steps." Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. "(Hebrew 13:7).
*** The hand work appointed to him by the monastery, either in the kitchen, the bakery, the church or the library. Each monk is given a job as his helps in the development of his spirituality, in addition to giving him a variety of things to do, including his own personal chores such as washing etc
*** Serving the other monks, the sick or those who need help. He can also teach hymns and praises.
*** Re-writing the old scripts, writing books on deep spiritual meditation, translation, studying the Coptic language in depth.
*** Making leather crosses while reciting psalms and prayers.
4 –Fear of the Lack of Spiritual Guides in the Monastery
Truly, at a certain stage, monasticism went through a dry period, where there were rarely any spiritual guides. However we thank God that is flourishing again and there are now many experienced fathers, whose spiritual fruits have begun to appear
5 – Family Ties
The major problem for a person who wants to become a monk is how to inform their desire to their family and how they will tolerate living apart from them. While it is beautiful to love your family and to be loved by them in return, if you have a desire for monasticism, God should be obeyed more than people. Christ's love should come before any other love." He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me." (Matthew 10:37). Parents prevent their children from going to monastery by using the excuse that they are unable to tolerate being separated from them, while they let them migrate to America, Australia, Europe etc. Where it is difficult to see them frequently. In this respect, they can bear the separation if the motive is to be rich, but they are unable to bear if it has to do with entering the monastery, to spend one's life in God's service. Another common attitude is that some youth go to foreign countries for study or work and get married there and return with their foreign wives. In these cases, I wonder that this wife, for the love of her husband, has left her country, her family and friends and all that she had to come with her husband and live in a completely different and at times strange atmosphere. She is able to tolerate everything because she loves her husband, while we are unable to sacrifice for the sake of the Groom, the beloved Lord Jesus and for our eternal salvation. Truly, the Lord says;" So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are shrewder in their generation than sons of light. "(Luke 16:8). The parental love, which forbids a person from God's love and consecration, fulfils the verse;" and a man's enemies will be those of his own household. "(Matthew 10:36).
6-The Love of Positions
If the person in a respectable job and a high position, it can at times become a reason for hindering the call of monasticism. In this case, a person needs to meditate in the joy and happiness of eternity, with our Lord Christ in heaven and consider St. Paul's words;" But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith."(Philippians 3:7-9)
7- The Responsibilities of the Service
If the person is a Sunday School servant, they at times can become so involved in the service, that others might convince him that they are essential to the service and they are a source of blessing to many etc, .This person should know that if they go to the monastery, they will also be fruitful and blessing to the whole church, not just a class or to one branch of the service. While the servants are busy with their service, they do not have enough time to pray for the salvation of themselves and those whom they serve. In monasticism they will be consecrated for the service of praying for them. Martha was serving Jesus but Mary was setting under His feet hearing His words. While Joshua was fighting Amalek, Moses was praying on the mountain, raising up his hands. In the same way that the church needs people for service, it also needs people for prayers. When your colleagues in the service and the children whom you used to serve know that you have gone to monastery, they will benefit from your love and ascetic life more than your words. They might follow your example while in the world by their love of God and spirituality. The Lord Jesus saiys;"Most assuredly, I say unto you, unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. "(John 12:24). The disciples did not believe in the Lord's words until He died and resurrected;" The other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed." (John 20:8).
8 – The Responsibility of Your Children's Salvation
In some cases, a servant may use the following excuse "I cannot leave my children, their salvation is my entire responsibility." It is wonderful that they feel that way, but remember my beloved; you are not the only one responsible for their salvation. The priest head of service and family also share this responsibility. If you feel the call for monasticism, you can delegate your class to another servant or to the head of service to appoint the appropriate servant for the class and you should go and heed the call. You can still serve your children from the depth of the wilderness, by praying for each of them. You are merely change the means of service.
9- The Responsibility towards the Family
At times, the person may be the only one who is caring for the family after the departure of the father, or they have not completed their military recruitment obligation or other commitments of this nature. In such case, it is preferable to wait until every thing has settled down. The monastery does not accept a person who has failed in his studies, professional life, family care etc.
10 – The Confession Father's Objection
I think that the confession fathers would never prevent a person who is really longing for monasticism. However, they may clarify things for them, explaining the hard ships of the life that they will face; their responsibility towards the family etc. at times the father confessor may observe or test the persons true will. The mature youth has to convince their confession father that they are sincere in their intention. If the father confessor is certain of his /her decision for monasticism, he would not object, knowing that if he objected or prevented him without an adequate reason and was acting in this manner out of his spiritual authority, he will be responsible for this before God, particularly if the youth's spiritual life weakened as a result of living in the world. Feeling that they have not achieved their aim of monasticism.