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Is there monasticism in the Orthodox Church? - J.A.
Last week we considered that monasticism is a lifestyle, which makes it easier to focus entirely on Christ, with less concern or distraction.
Nevertheless, whether in the monastery or in marriage, there is the same struggle — to focus on “the one thing needful.”
Again, we see clearly in scripture two ways of life to which we are called — the life that was like Paul’s (1 Cor. 7) and the married life.
We must be absolutely clear that one is not better than the other, though members in both states would argue for the other.
Both ways equally lead to sharing or partaking of “the divine nature.” 2 Pet. 1:4 (can be translated “sharers”). St. John Chrysostom points out: “You greatly delude yourself and err, if you think that one thing is demanded from the layman and another from the monk; since the difference between them is in that whether one is married or not, while in everything else they have the same responsibilities ...
Because all must rise to the same height; and what has turned the world upside down is that we think only the monk must live rigorously, while the rest are allowed to live a life of indolence,” (Pros piston patera (To the faithful father) 3, 14, PG47, 372- 74).
Any differences are seen in the actual practical living out day to day: a monk struggles in vigil prayer throughout the night and the married couple struggles and serves an infant child in the midst of the night.
Regardless of how one is called, the goal is the same as for all Christians, to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength,” Mk 12:30.
As Orthodox, we take this literally and find the means to do it however we can.