Thursday, August 05, 2004

Monasticism and Otter Pops

I was inspired to comment on a great post by James and I've too much to say so I'm writing it all here.

"We converts worship the ground that monks and nuns walk on ..." - James F.

LOL - I know what you mean. Particularly at some parishes monasticism is a highly esteemed lifestyle. Monks and Nuns are glorified because of an idealized concept we have of them from reading the lives of so many great saints who were monks and nuns. But do we respect and think highly of them for what their lives are actually like? I personally think not.

"Maybe the monks should consider a pilgrimage to my house?" - James F.

There's the other side of the coin: I've also encountered many Orthodox who look down upon the monastics disdainfully because all they do is "sit around and pray." The idea being that somehow this makes them lazy.

Actually, in my opinion BOTH of these points of view are wrong. And both ideas suffer from an over-idealized concept of what a monk's life is like.

James, you think maybe the monks should make a pilgrimage to your house, because it is so chaotic there. But that's because you have the idea in your head that a monk (or nun) is sitting around in a spiritual garden all day long singing hymns. On the contrary, most monks and nuns have to work a full day (8 hours, 10 hours?) making crafts, selling things, doing yard work, household chores, tending the farm animals, and so on. Then add to this about 4 or 5 hours of services every day.

Monk's don't get to sit around reading their bible or the Philokalia all day long. If they want to read it at all they have to be up late at night reading it (instead of playing video games, James.) They don't get to sit around the camp fire and chat with friends (no less smoking a cigar and sipping a nice smooth scotch.)

Mind you, I'm not trying to criticize. I could never be a monk. I don't think you could either.

You've got an over-idealized concept of what a monk gets to live his life like. Monk's work so hard all day long that they have far less time for prayer than even you do with your four children running around. There lives are filled with as many interruptions as your life is, and yet somehow they preserver. Maybe they don't have to spend 20 minutes a day changing diapers, but they do have to spend several hours a day shoveling manure, or cleaning up after several dozen other monks: taking out their trash, doing their dirty laundry. Try to say the Jesus prayer while doing that.


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