The monastic life is a conscious life-long struggle to attain to the perfection of the Gospel, according to the Lord’s words: “if you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess… and come, follow me.” (Mt 19:21) The person who desires to taste the love, the hope, the enthusiasm and the joy that flow from union with Christ, forsakes the things of the world and, putting on the monastic robe, seeks throughout his life that “one thing needful” of which the Gospel speaks (Lk 10:42).
Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (†1991) says: “The monastic life is a great thing! Very great. It is a great and exalted life, a divine and poetic life. It is a life that transcends the common human lot, a life of resurrection. A monk’s joy is to enter into the love of God, to enter into the Church, into the Holy Trinity and into Christ. He is united with Christ and his heart leaps for joy and is filled with grace. Christ is his joy, his enthusiasm, his hope and his love” (‘On the Monastic Life’ from Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia, Wounded by Love, Denise Harvey Publications).
Love for Christ and complete devotion to Him is the driving force that leads one to the monastic life. A monk or a nun, preserving the fundamental monastic virtues of obedience, chastity and poverty, struggles to maintain the true life in Christ, maturing in His likeness and restoring the original beauty of Man, made in the image of God.
In this way, with the grace of God, a monk or a nun prays for the whole world, seeing in the heart of each man the image of God and discerning in the visible world the seal of divine creation and majesty. Monastics devote themselves to God and with a soul full of love they pray and work for the salvation of the whole universe.
“That is how important a monk’s prayer is, says Saint Porphyrios. He is on his own in his cell, but the reverberations of his prayer reach everyone, even if they are far off. With his prayer, the monk participates in all the problems which people face and works miracles.”
Gerontissa Theosemni of the Holy Monastery of Chrysopigi
Mother Theosemni († 2000) was the first Abbess and the new foundress of the Holy Monastery of Chrysopigi, which in 1976 she took over in ruins and restored through her own hard work. With her discernment, patience, self-offering and complete obedience to the will of God, she became an example of a life of profound faith and asceticism in silence and humility. The tranquillity of her face calmed the worries of all and her peaceful words had a healing effect on the souls of all who heard her. Her whole life was a harmony of theory, speech and action. The Gerontissa embodied the humility of the Holy Fathers, and this is why people experienced peace and an other-worldly joy when they were near her – the kind of joy we experience when we are in the company of Saints.
It is a terrible thing to fritter away the gifts of the soul. Salvation is only in God. When our mind is immersed in love for God and our fellow men no other thought can intervene. Gradually the soul is purified and evils depart and this becomes a wonderful habit which leads us then to love for God and makes us feel exultation when we pray wherever we find ourselves. Unless all people are led along this path, they will never be at peace; they will only have troubles. May God illuminate us and help us!