Monks: The original men in black
The monastic vocation is a special calling from God that is all about relationships. It is a relationship that involves community (the monastic brotherhood), but primarily revolves around the monk’s relationship with God.
Monks are not holy men who are living lives set apart from the world, but men who are seeking holiness by entering into a relationship with the God Who, through that relationship, promises holiness. The monk attempts, with God’s help, to live a life that is in imitation of the angels, thus the monastic life is often referred to as the angelic life. Through his continued communion with God the monk attempts to give himself over to the transformation of his own life that comes with the action of the Holy Spirit.
Holiness is not something that is just about the saints, whose icons we venerate and whose lives we read about. Holiness is better understood as wholeness, made whole, or healed. We seek healing from the darkness and estrangement that we’ve inherited as a result of the fall. We seek out the God of righteousness Who alone can heal us of our infirmity. As Christ increases in us, our fallen nature decreases. In monastic obedience, the self is replaced by the will of God and the ego is trampled down.
The goal of the monk is to acquire the Holy Spirit from whom comes true repentance and a humble and contrite heart. This relationship that brings healing for the monk also brings healing for the world. Saint Seraphim of Sarov said that if you acquire inner peace, a thousand around you will be saved. The monk is thus not someone who leaves the world because he cares little for those in the world but because he cares for everyone and everything. Because he loves his neighbor and the whole of the cosmos, he gives himself over to be transformed by the Holy Spirit, becoming a living martyr to self.
The monk stands before God as an intercessor for the whole of mankind, not because he intentionally flees from others, but because he becomes closer to others by entering into an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, Whom he serves.
Love in Christ,
Saturday May 26, 2018 / May 13, 2018
Commemoration of the Dead. Tone six.
Virgin-martyr Glyceria at Heraclea (141) and with her Martyr Laodicius, jailer of St. Glyceria.
New Hieromartyrs Basil, Alexander and Christopher, Hieromartyr Macarius and Martyr Sergius (1922).
103 New Hieromartyrs of Cherkassk (20th c.).
Righteous Virgin Glyceria of Novgorod (1522).
Translation of the relics of St. Macarius, archimandrite of Obruch or Kanev (1678).
Martyr Alexander of Rome (298).
St. Pausicacius, bishop of Synnada (606).
St. George the Confessor of Constantinople, with his wife and children (ca. 842).
Venerable Euthymius of Athos the translator (1028) (Georgia).
Venerables Amphilochius (1452), Macarius (1462), and Tarasius(1440), abbots, and Theodosius (15 c.), monk, of Glushitsa Monastery (Vologda).
St. Servatius, first bishop of Maastricht (384).
Martyrs killed by the Latins at the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos (Georgia).
Monkmartyr John of the Iveron Monastery on Mt Athos (Greek).
St. Sergius the Confessor of Constantinople (9th c.) (Greek).
Venerable Nicephorus, priest of the monastery of Ephapsios (Greek).
Hieromartyr Alexander of Tiverias. (Greek).
St. Leander of Seville (600).
The Scripture Readings
Paul’s Ministry on Malta
28 Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta. 2 And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold. 3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 4 So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.” 5 But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.
7 In that region there was an estate of the leading citizen of the island, whose name was Publius, who received us and entertained us courteously for three days. 8 And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed. 10 They also honored us in many ways; and when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary.
Arrival at Rome
11 After three months we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose figurehead was the Twin Brothers, which had wintered at the island. 12 And landing at Syracuse, we stayed three days. 13 From there we circled round and reached Rhegium. And after one day the south wind blew; and the next day we came to Puteoli, 14 where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome. 15 And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.
16 Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him.
Paul’s Ministry at Rome
17 And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: “Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans, 18 who, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death. 19 But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation. 20 For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”
21 Then they said to him, “We neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren who came reported or spoken any evil of you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere.”
23 So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved. 25 So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, 26 saying,
‘Go to this people and say:
“Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand;
And seeing you will see, and not perceive;
27 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.” ’
28 “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” 29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves.
30 Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.
Jesus Restores Peter
15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”
And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. 18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”
The Beloved Disciple and His Book
20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”
22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”
23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”
24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.