Monasteries have always been places where men and women could let their deepest desires be nourished by a shared vision of mutual love and support.
Monastic life has been an avenue of transformation, where all of the elements of life combine to give birth to a new self, made in the image of Christ. Such transformation is a life-long process characterized by faith, discipline and perseverance, in union with one’s brothers and sisters. It calls out what is best in human nature, and leads us to deep peace and inner joy, to “life more abundant” (John 10).
Beneath the many concerns that occupy our lives, beneath the anxious cares and daily demands that lay claim to our identity, it can happen that we discern a deeper pull, one devoted to searching for something more essential, the mystery the Christian
tradition calls “God”.
Should we follow the inner thread of this attraction, we might notice its source seems to come from beyond ourselves. In resting with it, we may sense our own desire swell, making us feel alive and connected to the mystery in a new way. Such an experience might lead us to wonder how God might be drawing us, inviting us to a more explicit following of our heart’s desire. This type of spiritual experience may lead to an attraction to explore a monastic, contemplative life.
Folks ask what do monastics do? We pray. We pray long and hard. And when we get done, we start all over again. We pray for our salvation and your salvation and the salvation of the world.
We also know and believe that true prayer works like this: You can pray to end hungry, but that is not enough. You also need to feed the hungry. So we do.
Not all monasteries have such ministries.
We supply things they need like diapers, laundry soap, a place to do their laundry.
We also know that perhaps the most important thing we do is first learn their names and second listen. Many have never been called by the name their mother gave them. And most have never been listened to.
And our reward? We get to meet so really great and neat folks.
And the greatest rewardis that we get to meet Christ.
Those in cities or villages who desire to depart for cloisters and tend to themselves must first enter a Monastery and be duly taught monastic conduct, and for three years submit to the Spiritul Father of the Monastery in fear of God, and to fulfill obedience as befits in everything; and thus, by confessing a predilection for such a life, as one that they have embraced with all their heart, they should be tested by the local bishop.. It is wishable, though, that they spend another year waiting patiently outside the cloister, so that their purpose may become even more evident. This kind of information they shall provide, as proof that they are not in a pursuit of glory, but as ones who are striving after this quietude for the sake of that which is actually good. After the completion of such a long time, if they have persisted in this predilection, they can be cloistered, and they shall never exit from there whenever they wish to, by departing from that isolation, except if it be for a mutual advantage and benefit, or some other necessity forcing them to the death, then let them be drawn towards this, and this, with the blessing of the local Bishop.
Unfortunately, certain Hegumens do not allow that much time; instead, they reduce it as much as possible. But by doing that, the novice who has not attained a “cured volition” is not protected from the possibility of changing his mind in the future, when he will have given his vows of dedication to God.
After the completion of three years, the Spiritul Father must send the novice BACK TO THE WORLD for another year!
This move will ensure that: the novice had not been “brainwashed” by someone of the environment, or by anyone else. His difficulty in remaining in the secular world will provide him with the opportunity to clear himself of all third party influences. Whoever they may be.the novice has not been influenced by his own, premature enthusiasm.
You have to be a member of the Orthodox Church.
Becoming an Orthodox monk or nun is not like becoming a lawyer or doctor or accountant. A lawyer or doctor or accountant can practise wherever he wants in his jurisdiction. You have to become a monk or nun in a particular monastery.
Part of the process of becoming an Orthodox monk or nun is finding a monastery suitable for you. In the history of Orthodox monasticism, this has ordinarily been seen as a matter of finding an Elder who can guide you and of joining yourself to that Elder in the monastery where he himself is located. Be that as it may, no one becomes an Orthodox monk or nun ‘at large’: a monk or nun must always be written into some monastery or other, whether or not he or she has found a particular guide in that monastery
Orthodox monasticism is difficult. It is not for everyone. As Christ himself says in the Gospel concerning the life of chastity: ‘This word is not for everyone but for those to whom it has been given.’ To become an Orthodox monk or nun, you have to be called.
You have to be in love to become a monk or nun—in love with Jesus, in love with his Father, in love with the Holy Spirit.
You have to be determined, unwilling to back down. But at the same time humble and obedient.
We do not come to the monastery expecting Grace to be showered down on us but the calling of the monk or nun is to a union in love with the Holy Trinity in this life—to the extent possible given who we are and given the human condition of life in the flesh.
You have to be right with God to become a monk or nun. Do you attend Church? Do you go to confession? Do you lead a moral life? These are fundamental questions that we must ask ourselves.
Start with a good confession to a sound priest. Discuss with him your interest in the monastic state. See what he has to say.
And may God direct your steps.