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Author Topic: Dating, Orthodoxy, and Monasticsm  (Read 3022 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 28, 2011, 07:47:35 AM »

Weird subject title I know, let me explain first a situation.

One of the things I've said in the past was a relationship of mine came to an end, sparring the details about that, and I am now back into the dating scene. Met a very lovely woman, started hanging out initially now I've asked her out on a date and she obliged. Might happen next week, both our schedules are busy so we'll see what happens there.

Here's my dilemma. Yes this woman is not Orthodox, and my preference would be dating a woman who is Orthodox but considering the numbers its probably unlikely I might have the oppurtunity in pursuing such. I know I've skirted, well perhaps embraced, mass skepticism about the Christian faith but after watching the Mt. Athos report on CBS made me long to take my faith alot more seriously to the point where I have considered being a monk. I'm not sure what came over me, but I've been thinking more deeply on a way of life, what matters the most, etc and am leaning towards the monastic life once I become baptized in the Church.

I'm conflicted because there is nothing more exhilarating than falling in love with another human being, from experience, and in a relationship I put my partner as my priority first. However I am confused on what calling God is telling me. Should I pursue dating, find a mate, get married and have a family or is He telling me that I should become a monk? I believe that things in life happen for a reason, and this new woman in my life could mean something but I'm not sure. Then there's this newfound interest to get more deeply in my relationship with God, more Orthodox praxis, studying my Bible more, reading Orthodox material etc. I'm at a crossroads it feels like.

At the same token one of my issues with monasticism for me is that I would find it hard to deny myself all the secular entertainment that I enjoy. Movies, games, music, etc. things that have had a profound impact on me, I would need to disbanded for totally union with God. I think I know the answer to this, which is what is better or greater than God; but growing up in such a society it is a struggle to remove myself from the world.

I would like some advice or input, maybe I should talk with my priest about this too?
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« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2011, 08:05:52 AM »

Let's assume you already got baptized and are single. I believe that being in such a situation you should join a monastery for some time to test you vocation. I'm sure that after half a year you will already know if God is calling you to monasticism.
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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2011, 08:25:38 AM »

I know what you mean (well, not exactly, but I understand the pull to monasticism).  seriously, you should go spend time, even just a weekend at a monastery.  I try to do this whenever I can, and have met friends that way.  at a monastery, you can feel the presencce of God so much.....the Holy Spirit is "thick as pea soup" as my grandma would say. 

monasteries are amazing places.  be careful, though, as the devil could be pulling you away from your true calling, if it is marriage.

it is at this point I will give you the warning that I recieved.

**be on your guard, spiritually!  when a Christian even thinks about monasticism, and feels that pull in his heart for a closer relationship with God, the devil will attack him even more and try to deter him from perfect union with God**

                                                                                                                                               - Mother Cassiana


good luck, and may the Lord have mercy on us all!!!!!
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2011, 09:12:49 AM »

I think all single people should at least consider a vocation, even just for the sake of due diligence. Pray about it, visit a monastery, talk to the abbot. They'll probably be able to tell if it's for you after getting to know you.

But on the other side, there's no reason to lose hope. Many of the twentysomethings at my parish who dated and got married recently have converted their fiancées--and not out of obligation, but because they also came to see the truth and embraced it.

Either way is a path to heaven. Either way gives us the very necessary opportunities for obedience and a way to crucify our self-will.
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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2011, 10:28:38 AM »

I just read this excerpt by the theologian Christos Yannaras which is very useful in this discussion:

In Praise of Marriage*

"The monk will never taste the experience (the real event) of sharing his life,
his existence. Of sharing with someone else his body, his desire and his
instinctive urges, the food that he has won by his labour, whatever sorrows he
experiences, whatever joys. The monk will never share his name with anyone, that
which ensures participation in the communion of relations. He will never taste
any kind of sharing of himself, any "loss" of the "soul" - a sharing or "loss"
which is, moreover, also self-evident, "natural", without the slightest
possibility of being experienced as a reward for virtue.

Marriage begins with a humble submission, clearly without awareness, to needs
that are natural, individualistic and egocentric: a need for pleasure, a need
for companionship, a need for independence from parental protection, a need for
individual human beings to establish their own home, their own presence in
society. And the love of God "who desires everyone to be saved" (he does not
simply fish for the over-achievers), has mapped out a route for these natural,
individual-centred needs to be satisfied unawares by means of sharing one's life
and existence.

Sharing is not the goal. The goal is the satisfaction of individual need that
comes through sharing. That is why there is nothing about sharing that is
automatically virtuous. It is simply the involuntary humility of submission to
need. And because need is egocentric, its satisfaction through sharing entails,
at almost every step, a collision with the other, a clash, a visible or
invisible conflict, an antagonism between the two egos. But need gains the upper
hand. Need forces the ego gradually and imperceptibly to submit, to pay the
costly price of backing down, the price presupposed by the satisfaction of
needs.

Marriage, as a rule, involves a tough confrontation of egos, of demands for
autonomy and for the imposition of one's will - it involves rows, bitter words,
the wounding of feelings. Thus, through these birth pangs, a sharing of
existence comes imperceptibly into being. The price paid in pain banishes any
sense of achievement, of praiseworthy backing down. The sharing of life and
existence "does not arrive in an observable manner". It comes into being without
the awareness of those who are struggling to achieve it. "Just as a man sows
seed in the ground and goes to bed and gets up night after night and day
afterday, and the seed germinates and sprouts without his knowing it - for the
earth brings forth fruit automatically."

The sharing (more correctly: the commun-ion) of life and existence "has the Holy
Trinity as its teacher". It is the true life, the immortal life, that the Church
proclaims. In the perspective of this proclamation that which is atomic, or
individual, is death and that which is self-transcendence, self-offering, and
communion constitutes life. Atomic virtue, atomic morality, the individual
pursuit of salvation, have no relation to the triadic mode of existence, the
mode that has been revealed in the kenotic, or self-emptying, mode of Christ.
They are the way of death. By contrast, the way of life and salvation (the mode
by which the human person can become "sound", or complete, can participate in
the plenitude of existence) is the imitation of triadic loving freedom, the
kenotic self-denial of Christ: a withdrawal, in the case of the created human
being, whether sought or unsought, from the autonomy of the ego, a sharing of
the ego, a voluntary or even involuntary act of humility.

The elder Paisios the Kelliote used to say, "When a person is humbled, even
against his will, the Grace of God is obliged to come upon him." With this
phrase as a measure and criterion we can understand "in part" that God saves
people who have never suspected that they are being saved - people who have been
baptized into the Church, or people of other nations and other faiths.

In contrast to marriage, the choice of a monastic life seems to spring not from
a humble submission to need but from an unconsciously arrogant pursuit of
reward. If that is the case, the choice of a monastic life seems to be bound up
with satisfying natural egocentric urges, different from those that are
primarily bound up with marriage. They are those narcissistic instincts which
the monk cannot by any effort of the will transform into a sharing of life and
existence, into an involuntary self-denying humility - "for to conquer one's own
nature is not possible". The monk struggles to reject narcissism by a strenuous
effort of withdrawal from natural individual-centred desires, withdrawal from
the will itself. But his initial motive is concern for his atomic self; all his
methods of freeing himself from his ego are governed by self-interest. This is
not a way of sharing one's life and being, of sharing the body, the visible and
tangible core of individuality, the sharing of necessity, the sharing of daily
existence.
In the course of the Church's history many distinguished works "In praise of
virginity" have been written. They perhaps give the impression to the immature
reader that they are dominated by a formally narcissistic competitiveness. And
as a rule such narcissism is accompanied (clinical psychology offers a detailed
explanation of why) by a primeval fear of sexuality, by an extreme feeling of
guilt about sex.

Today, within the context of a globalized culture of individualistic
utilitarianism, we understand even virginity primarily as celibacy, that is to
say, as the rejection of marriage for the sake of dedicating oneself to the work
of the Church without the distractions of family responsibilities. And this is
natural, because today's culture has been generated by the overturning of the
presuppositions of the ecclesial mode of existence and life - it has been
generated by the medieval West after its separation from the body of the
Catholic Church.

The priorities that are taken for granted in our culture today, the priorities
of individualism and utilitarianism, have brought about a wholesale distortion
of the language of the Church's gospel: We understand salvation as something
pursued individually and appropriated in legal terms, and faith as a parcel of
individual convictions, the Church's presbyter as the "priest" of a religion,
the bishop as a temporal "lord", the administrative head of religion's
ideological and liturgical functions. With such assumptions we also understand
celibacy as a formal prerequisite for the priestly "rank" of presbyter and
bishop in Roman Catholicism, and for the "rank" of bishop in Orthodoxy. As a
formal qualification, celibacy is distinguished silently but clearly from the
virginity of the traditional encomia - it is esteemed on criteria of utilitarian
efficacy: the service of the Church free from marital responsibilities. In
"Orthodox" practice, when accession to the priesthood comes first, the Church's
sacrament of marriage is precluded - and if a married priest becomes a widower,
he must, whether he likes it or not, join the ranks of the celibate clergy.

The "celibate clergy" belong to a third cate-gory: neither monks practising the
coenobitic or eremitical life, nor heads of families engaged in the struggle to
share the self. They are (as a rule) careerists bent on exercising religious
authority, rather like the eunuchs of the royal courts in the past. They usually
sprout and develop in the cliques that surround bishops. They learn to
sub-ordinate their sexual privation to a career with an episcopal "throne" as
the goal, an institutionalized indulgence of the ego: to exercise authority over
consciences, to exploit the sheep-like submission of the flock, to be
offeredincense like idols, and constantly to be wished "many years" in
liturgical worship. Such a career attracts the young celibates of the episcopal
courts.
Moreover, they are drawn, too, by a feminine fascination with jewels, imperial
mitres and sceptres, gold-embroidered vestments. In the hierarchy of
responsibilities, offices and privileges these young celibates naturally take
precedence over grey-haired presbyters, merely because "they have not been
polluted by association with a woman" - they have kept their narcissistic
autonomy free from subjection to marriage.

Saint Isaac the Syrian did not write any work "In praise of virginity". He
recorded his experience and his counsels concerning the ascetic struggle. In his
own record one may begin to discern a convergence of the monastic and married
ways of life, when they are viewed through the lens of the ecclesial event: the
mode of the loving perichoresis of the Trinity, the kenotic mode of Christ. The
monk, for Saint Isaac, is before anything else someone who has "left" the world
with the intention of "giving himself to God" - not to God in an abstract and
general fashion, but to the mode of God: the mode of the ascetic life that has
been institutionalized by the Church's experience.

Marriage (syzygia in Greek) is submission to the yoke (the zygos) of the will of
the other, a sharing of the self, of life, of everyday existence, of the body
and of desire, with the other. That is how it is, too, for the monk, except that
in his case the "other" is a very specific practice of ecclesial asceticism that
is embodied in a loving obedience to the person of the abbot, of the spiritual
elder - and sometimes, perhaps, directly to the person of the Lady Theotokos, to
the person of Christ. With this personalized ascetical practice the monk shares
his will, his food, his bodily toil, his hope.

The same secret belongs to marriage: the humbling of egocentric need - it is
this that ban- ishes from the struggle any suspicion of seeking reward. The
exclusion of any eventuality of re-compense, the complete (but erotic, that is,
ecclesial) surrender and offering of the self, in time bears fruit
"automatically", giving the monk the grace to be "separated from all and united
to all" - the sharing of a life and existence "that has the Holy Trinity as its
teacher'.

Usually, says Isaac from experience, this grace is given when the ascetic life
has been practised for many years without any response and the ascetic (whether
married person or monk) despite being sunk in despair does not give in. Such
persons persevere in their faith and trust.

"In praise of marriage" means that we should manifest marriage as the measure
and model of the ecclesial struggle, both the struggle of the married couple and
that of the monk.

* Originally published in: Epignosi (Tessalonika) 109 (July-September 2009),
3-8. Translated from Greek by Norman Russell.

Christos Yannaras was born in 1935 in Athens, Greece. He studied Theology at the
University of Athens and Philosophy at the Universities of Bonn, Germany and
Paris in France. He has earned Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the Faculty of
Theology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and from the
Faculte des Lettres et Sciences Humaines of the University of Sorbonne in Paris.
In addition to other honors, he was elected a member of the Hellenic Author's
Society. The main area of his work is in the study and research of the
differences between Greek and Western European philosophy and tradition. Among
his publications in English are: Person and Eros, Brookline, MA: Holy Cross
Orthodox Press, 2008; Orthodoxy and the West: Hellenic Self Identity in the
Modern Age, Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2007; Postmodern
Metaphysics, Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2005; Variations on the
Song of Songs, Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2004; Elements of Faith
: An Introduction to Orthodox Theology, London: T&T Clark, 1991; The Freedom of
Morality, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1984.



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« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2011, 10:45:23 AM »

Quote
there is nothing more exhilarating than falling in love with another human being

Well, and of course you know that there is a biochemical reason for that feeling of exhilaration... Wink

That said, after 30+ years of marriage, I feel qualified to state that Mr. Yannaras is spot on. Marriage (mostly, anyway) is not particularly exhilarating. It is, as the Orthodox wedding service acknowledges, martyrdom.
This was brought home to me by an Orthodox priest who told my husband and I to turn and look at each other: "this is the person that God Himself has given to you to help you toward salvation."
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2011, 10:54:17 AM »

My only advice is trying not to look for 'signs' to guide you. God's plan is usually the one that creeps up after months of seemingly dry life not the emotionally charged, one time expeirence (and pardon me I'm not suggesting that you are looking for the latter). It's easy to get caught up and make the whole world center around yourself wondering if whatever happens is supposed to speak to you or not. Ask for eyes to see and ears to hear.
And go visit a monastery. It is easy for us to dream about that kind of life and build it up in our heads. We never really know what to expect until we visit though. Go and stay a couple days. Talk with the Abbott. Little by little start letting go of some of your media in your life while you pray and wait for God.
Lord have mercy on us all as we try to know His will.
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« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2011, 10:58:41 AM »

Aposphet,

You are not yet Orthodox. You have had long term disordering effects from a former romantic relationship. You have gone from atheist, agnostic, to whatever since posting here. You just met another woman who you have not really gotten to know. You watched a documentary about Mt. Athos.

I would table the decision about marriage, dating, and especially monasticism. This all sounds of all or nothing thinking and perhaps deeper issues.

Take it slowly. Maybe find some outside help to slow down the tilt-a-whirl.
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« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2011, 11:30:57 AM »

Quote
Take it slowly. Maybe find some outside help to slow down the tilt-a-whirl.
I would agree. If you really need to, visit a monastery for 6 months to a year. And go from there. Perhaps work on being Baptised and Chrismated first. However, I spent some time in a monastery as a catechumen, so, you have a few options.
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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2011, 11:33:49 AM »

Quote
Marriage (mostly, anyway) is not particularly exhilarating. It is, as the Orthodox wedding service acknowledges, martyrdom.
Very, VERY true. Exhilarating at first, but then dying to self, which is anti-exhilarating...
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« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2011, 05:55:07 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I think all single people should at least consider a vocation, even just for the sake of due diligence.

No disrespect, but this is a bit careless a comment.  Ordination and Monasticism are very serious, personal, religious matters of the heart and soul.  Ones should be quite careful then not to trivialize it and demean such a lifestyle into the more common piety of Christianity.  There is plenty of opportunities for rigorous, ascetic discipline in the Church for laity, through fasting, honoring the Saints, giving alms, attending the Liturgy often, realistically there is not much that separates our lives from those of monks and priests on the day to day level aside from the varying degree of intensity.  I have met laity who were quite more pious than some of the priests I've met, and of course priests who were so sincere that it made your heart sing in joy that God commissions such into our Harvest.

But remember, it is just that, an Ordination, a Commission of the Spirit.  For the laity, we have our own Sacramental Vocation, that of the married life and running an everyday household, which is just as monumentally important and inspiring as any priesthood.  So we should really be careful not to promote monasticism in particular in a casual way, is it denigrates both the Church life for the laity and the clergy alike.

I agree that folks should pray ardently, over a period of years even, before committing to such decisions.  There are indeed "novice" programs for potential initiates and these are good and practical.  It is our own outlook, perspective, and manner of speaking and thinking that is equally important however.  We must not think that monasticism is the only way to escape the world, because in truth, even monks are called to be in the world, just as Christ commanded us.
From a psychology standpoint, we may be setting the wrong tone for others, maybe dissuading them from other opportunities when we idealize Ordination or Monasticism.  We have to understand our words and thoughts carry a powerful influence over others.  We do not want them to suddenly lose heart in their own day to day walks with God believing they must forsake it all for monasticism simply at every bump in the road, and I myself have even thought such things.  Maximum respect to all the monks and Fathers out there, praying for our sins, but it is a heavy responsibility, one which no man can carry on his own, rather it must be a true calling from God who alone can carry any and everyone of us through.



It is a noble thing to be the laity, and we should cherish it as much as any other opportunities within the Church.

stay blessed,
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« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2011, 06:01:44 PM »

Somewhere St. Gregory the Theologian says that well-reasoned hesitation is better than inconsiderate haste. I think the point holds even if we aren't being hasty: it's good to wait and see and be patient. Zeal is a great thing, but it has to be controlled by us, rather than controlling us. Do what you think best, explore your options, continue seeking, but keep in mind a healthy time frame for working things out. I apologize if this sounds like a lecture, to be honest I could say the same things to myself  angel
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« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2011, 01:48:36 AM »

Do all monks have to live in a monestary?
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« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2011, 04:01:33 AM »

Do all monks have to live in a monestary?

I believe so.  but, hermits are considered monks, and they live all alone totally away from everyone else (not in a monastery).
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« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2011, 12:23:23 PM »

Thank you all for the input and advice, I truly took them to heart. I am going to refrain from quoting each person individually but would like to sum up my thoughts on your responses.

This idea that the exhilarating feeling one gets into love is a biochemical thing, I find to be wrong, now if you were just joking with the Wink face well disregard this. For me love, and especially the feeling of attraction towards someone else is deeper in me. It gets into my heart. It sits and manifests then goes to my head, where I visualize our lives together. I stayed up for 3 hours last night tossing and turning imagining what kind of life I would live if I was to be with her as a wife. I know this is all too soon and sudden, but I am a firm believer in love at first sight. At this very moment my heart is trembling that she may reciprocate the feelings that I have for her, I feel that she is suppressing them from me, afraid to love again. I don't want to say it's clingy on my part because I don't need a relationship, it's just a matter of following where my heart leads me too.

I'm sorry but my only dream has always been finding a wife and having children. I am so passionate about my dream, and in fact gave up most of my own life to my ex-fiancee to try to achieve this. I've changed quite a bit since then, but one thing I will never let go is that feeling of falling in love (if this is even that) and all the crazy emotions that go with it. I truly would be heartbroken if nothing materializes between us. This is sounding so bizarre I know, plenty of love songs written about this kind of love, but I can't help it.

I know what the response is going to be, not my will but by God's Will. That's why I don't know about these signs, I am confused. I asked God 9 months ago to reveal Himself to me, found Orthodoxy and became so skeptical of it that I wish I hadn't of been. I wanted a deeper relationship with God, and now someone else has come into my life. I am just confused.

In regards to marriage, yes I know about the trials and tribulations. It's all worth it in my opinion, why curb someone's affections towards such a union?

I know it seems irrational to get all into monasticism from seeing a video from CBS, but it truly moved me. I can recall a few films that forever changed my life on a single viewing, or TV programs, documentaries, etc so I don't see why this would be any different.

Please pray for me.
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« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2011, 04:35:22 AM »

Fwiw, I understand the appeal of monasticism. I also have thought it might be nice to pursue that path when I was younger (before I married and had kids, not that it would have worked out for me). And, had I not married my wife, she probably would have become a monastic, so she also could have identified with the attraction to it. Sometimes we get to choose what we want, and then sometimes life takes us down different paths... take heart, though... I think you will/can/should be able to find fulfillment and happiness in whatever situation you inevitably end up. Paul tells even slaves to be content in their situation--so how much better off do most of us have it, wherever we end up? Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2011, 10:05:09 AM »

This idea that the exhilarating feeling one gets into love is a biochemical thing, I find to be wrong, now if you were just joking with the Wink face well disregard this.
http://www.brookscole.com/chemistry_d/templates/student_resources/0030244269_campbell/HotTopics/Love.html



"The initial feelings of attraction are heavily associated with the -phenylethylamine (PEA) norepinephrine. Norepinephrine triggers the breakdown of glycogen and triacylglycerols, which provides the body a boost of energy...The exact nature of these proteins, once altered, is uncertain and currently under investigation. What is not uncertain is their end result on the human psyche. Clinical studies have found doses of PEA, which induces the entire cycle, to relieve depression in 60% of patients. Patients noticed improvements in energy, attention and mood as well. Anyone smitten could attest to all of these symptoms."

Quote
I'm sorry but my only dream has always been finding a wife and having children. I am so passionate about my dream, and in fact gave up most of my own life to my ex-fiancee to try to achieve this.
Then you probably shouldn't be considering monasticism.

Quote
I've changed quite a bit since then, but one thing I will never let go is that feeling of falling in love (if this is even that) and all the crazy emotions that go with it. I truly would be heartbroken if nothing materializes between us. This is sounding so bizarre I know, plenty of love songs written about this kind of love, but I can't help it.
There's nothing wrong with falling in love, and feeling that way - my point is, feeling that way is not marriage.

Quote
In regards to marriage, yes I know about the trials and tribulations. It's all worth it in my opinion, why curb someone's affections towards such a union?
To give you a more complete idea of what marriage is. There have been times in my marriage, and I suspect that this is true for many others as well, that it has not been particularly worth it!

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« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2011, 03:42:28 PM »

Do all monks have to live in a monestary?

There are at least a few prisoners serving life who have been tonsured a monk within the Orthodox Church. There is a moving anecdote on how one man found his way to that vocation while serving life. Someone here is surely familiar with it. If no one chimes in, I'll email someone who certainly can provide the details.
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« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2011, 03:44:59 PM »

To give you a more complete idea of what marriage is. There have been times in my marriage, and I suspect that this is true for many others as well, that it has not been particularly worth it!



Your honesty and candor are well appreciated. The same would go for parenthood. If folks were more open about these "darker" aspects of marriage and parenting, I think it would have a healthful effect on marriage and parenting in general.

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« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2011, 05:13:03 PM »

To give you a more complete idea of what marriage is. There have been times in my marriage, and I suspect that this is true for many others as well, that it has not been particularly worth it!



Your honesty and candor are well appreciated. The same would go for parenthood. If folks were more open about these "darker" aspects of marriage and parenting, I think it would have a healthful effect on marriage and parenting in general.



Just to clarify, I've been married 30+ years, mostly very happily, and I fell in love with my husband "at first sight." (As a matter of fact, I didn't even know his name, when I pointed him out to my girlfriends and told them that was the man I was going to marry!)
But it doesn't do anyone any good, IMHO, to pretend that marriage is just all sunshine and roses, and that "love will find a way." Sometimes you just have to hang on for dear life, like a junkyard dog.

Love is a verb, I sometimes think, and not a "feeling."
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« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2011, 05:25:53 PM »

So I take it the "hardships of marriage" stuff isn't common in preparations for marriage? We certainly got that in our marriage counseling... there was quite a bit actually about marriage being a cross and whatnot.
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« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2011, 05:26:38 PM »

To give you a more complete idea of what marriage is. There have been times in my marriage, and I suspect that this is true for many others as well, that it has not been particularly worth it!



Your honesty and candor are well appreciated. The same would go for parenthood. If folks were more open about these "darker" aspects of marriage and parenting, I think it would have a healthful effect on marriage and parenting in general.



Just to clarify, I've been married 30+ years, mostly very happily, and I fell in love with my husband "at first sight." (As a matter of fact, I didn't even know his name, when I pointed him out to my girlfriends and told them that was the man I was going to marry!)
But it doesn't do anyone any good, IMHO, to pretend that marriage is just all sunshine and roses, and that "love will find a way." Sometimes you just have to hang on for dear life, like a junkyard dog.

Love is a verb, I sometimes think, and not a "feeling."

Your point was not lost on me. I am happy you have had wonderful marriage.

"Love" just covers a lot of ground in English. But I do agree in spirit with the point you are making.
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« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2011, 07:43:36 PM »

I think all single people should at least consider a vocation, even just for the sake of due diligence. Pray about it, visit a monastery, talk to the abbot. They'll probably be able to tell if it's for you after getting to know you.

But on the other side, there's no reason to lose hope. Many of the twentysomethings at my parish who dated and got married recently have converted their fiancées--and not out of obligation, but because they also came to see the truth and embraced it.

Either way is a path to heaven. Either way gives us the very necessary opportunities for obedience and a way to crucify our self-will.

I totally disagree with the bolded portion above. Totally disagree. I'm never-married at 42. I've got older folks, one elderly woman in particular, who are telling me I should become a nun - for the simple fact that I'm unmarried at my age and I'm really active in church. Uh, I don't have a vocation for monasticism. Period. I'm reasonably content right now, but would really love to get married - but only to the right person for me. I'm not so desperate that I'll settle. I've accepted (due to medical reasons) that I won't be able to have children, and not having the biological clock ticking means the pressure to marry NOW is greatly reduced.

Someone whom I know well - and who knows me well - spent six months in a monastery 40 years ago as a young adult. That person told me that in their opinion, a person should only begin to consider a monastic vocation when a full prayer life at home isn't enough.

My own parish priest (who is also my spiritual father), when I mentioned the constant comments people were making to me, laughed and told me this is one thing he wouldn't even bother me about. See, my own priest/confessor thinks I'm not monastic material! Wink Grin

What the Church needs to do, and Metropolitan Kallistos Ware writes about in The Inner Kingdom, is make a place for single folks, giving us support in living a Christian life that is not easy as a single person "in the world."

Some parishes are so family-focused that single folks, particularly those who are still of child-bearing age are kind of pushed to the side. I've experienced it myself. I'm very blessed to be in a parish where there is a wide range of ages and stages of life, and that my priest knows my gifts, sometimes better than I do, and has encouraged me to do things I'd not have even considered doing without his support and encouragement.
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« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2011, 09:35:25 PM »

Forgive me, but I cannot remember who, but someone here has a quote from St. John Chrysostom that says something to the effect of "You greatly err if you think one thing is expected from the monastic and not from the lay person." This is my paraphrase, but I see great truth and wisdom in that statement. I'm far off from being married (or being a monastic), but we seem to have this idea that the only way to really pursue holiness is by entering a monastery. There are so many great lay witnesses (and non-monastic clergy) that we have that shows us that is not entirely the case.

This doesn't mean we have to wake at 3 am and pray the Hours, typica, do 32394823 prostrations, etc., but we should strive with the Lord's grace in devotion and love to live out our precious Orthodox faith that has been delivered to us throughout the ages. Prayers with the family is a great start. Smiley I've been inspired by reading the big green book about Blessed Seraphim of Platina (Fr. Seraphim: His Life and Works by Hieromonk Damascene) and the struggles that lay people went through to live their faith and share it with others and they were out in the world, too.  Wink

Anyway, I'm just a simple Orthodox layman struggling in the world and I thought I'd share that with you, Aposphet. Smiley

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« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2011, 10:21:10 PM »

To give you a more complete idea of what marriage is. There have been times in my marriage, and I suspect that this is true for many others as well, that it has not been particularly worth it!



Your honesty and candor are well appreciated. The same would go for parenthood. If folks were more open about these "darker" aspects of marriage and parenting, I think it would have a healthful effect on marriage and parenting in general.


This was one of the very many good points of the sermon at the recent royal wedding, that the secularized West has turned to thinkng that relationships will make us whole by placing that burden on another when we are all broken persons.  And when the hard times, as they do, come, people panic because they haven't been prepared, and bail.
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« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2011, 11:10:45 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I think all single people should at least consider a vocation, even just for the sake of due diligence.

No disrespect, but this is a bit careless a comment.  Ordination and Monasticism are very serious, personal, religious matters of the heart and soul.  Ones should be quite careful then not to trivialize it and demean such a lifestyle into the more common piety of Christianity.  There is plenty of opportunities for rigorous, ascetic discipline in the Church for laity, through fasting, honoring the Saints, giving alms, attending the Liturgy often, realistically there is not much that separates our lives from those of monks and priests on the day to day level aside from the varying degree of intensity.  I have met laity who were quite more pious than some of the priests I've met, and of course priests who were so sincere that it made your heart sing in joy that God commissions such into our Harvest.

But remember, it is just that, an Ordination, a Commission of the Spirit.  For the laity, we have our own Sacramental Vocation, that of the married life and running an everyday household, which is just as monumentally important and inspiring as any priesthood.  So we should really be careful not to promote monasticism in particular in a casual way, is it denigrates both the Church life for the laity and the clergy alike.

I agree that folks should pray ardently, over a period of years even, before committing to such decisions.  There are indeed "novice" programs for potential initiates and these are good and practical.  It is our own outlook, perspective, and manner of speaking and thinking that is equally important however.  We must not think that monasticism is the only way to escape the world, because in truth, even monks are called to be in the world, just as Christ commanded us.
From a psychology standpoint, we may be setting the wrong tone for others, maybe dissuading them from other opportunities when we idealize Ordination or Monasticism.  We have to understand our words and thoughts carry a powerful influence over others.  We do not want them to suddenly lose heart in their own day to day walks with God believing they must forsake it all for monasticism simply at every bump in the road, and I myself have even thought such things.  Maximum respect to all the monks and Fathers out there, praying for our sins, but it is a heavy responsibility, one which no man can carry on his own, rather it must be a true calling from God who alone can carry any and everyone of us through.



It is a noble thing to be the laity, and we should cherish it as much as any other opportunities within the Church.

stay blessed,


I don't really disagree with your post in general, but I agree with my own priest who often points out that parents don't even talk to their children about vocations. My own parish, which is of average size (~200 members consistently) is over 100 years old, and has never produced a single priest or monk. And according to my priest, the parents never talk to their children about it. So why would they go into such a life?

Of course it's a calling, but we could say that every life's work is a calling. A person should prayerfully discern whether to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a spouse, or a bricklayer, or a mechanic too. And so few people actually consider religious vocations to be possibilities that it is due diligence to pray about it and seek whether you are called to it. Not everyone automatically has a "gut feeling" about what life they're called to, after all.
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« Reply #26 on: May 02, 2011, 11:16:31 PM »

Aposphet,

You are not yet Orthodox. You have had long term disordering effects from a former romantic relationship. You have gone from atheist, agnostic, to whatever since posting here. You just met another woman who you have not really gotten to know. You watched a documentary about Mt. Athos.

I would table the decision about marriage, dating, and especially monasticism. This all sounds of all or nothing thinking and perhaps deeper issues.

Take it slowly. Maybe find some outside help to slow down the tilt-a-whirl.

I'd agree with Orthonorm.  First, be received into Orthodoxy, and I wouldn't make ANY decisions re: marriage or monasticism any of those for about a year afterwards (but don't trust my judgment - talk to your parish priest.  He will give the best advice). 

This is liberating, in some ways - you can date this young woman.  At the same time. if you're interested in monasticism visit a monastery for a weekend to a week (I'd recommend no longer for your first visit).  I'd pick one based on canonical status (i.e. go to a monastery that you bishop is in communion with, and which is in good standing with its own bishop), recommendation of your parish priest, and proximity, in that order.  One day at the monastery will teach you more about monasticism than you could get on TV.     

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« Reply #27 on: May 02, 2011, 11:19:29 PM »

Someone whom I know well - and who knows me well - spent six months in a monastery 40 years ago as a young adult. That person told me that in their opinion, a person should only begin to consider a monastic vocation when a full prayer life at home isn't enough.

I completely disagree, respectfully. I am familiar with a particular abbot who specifically turns away many such people. First, because such people are already well on their way to salvation; and second, because monks need challenges, and if everyone is super-serene and there are no "bad monks" in the mix, there will be no difficulties to encourage growth. Monasteries are supposed to be hospitals, not country clubs. Christ came for the sinners, not the righteous.

I am not saying that everyone is equally able to be a monk or a priest. Most people aren't. But how do you know if you dismiss it out of hand? Some people are dragged kicking and screaming to their life's calling, and only later do they realize it was exactly what they needed. There's no harm in considering a vocation.

And really, there are a lot of people who shouldn't get married either. The street goes both ways. Whatever path we embark upon should be discerned and considered first.
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« Reply #28 on: May 03, 2011, 01:23:51 AM »

"The initial feelings of attraction are heavily associated with the b-phenylethylamine (PEA) norepinephrine. Norepinephrine triggers the breakdown of glycogen and triacylglycerols, which provides the body a boost of energy...The exact nature of these proteins, once altered, is uncertain and currently under investigation. What is not uncertain is their end result on the human psyche. Clinical studies have found doses of PEA, which induces the entire cycle, to relieve depression in 60% of patients. Patients noticed improvements in energy, attention and mood as well. Anyone smitten could attest to all of these symptoms."
I don't like the sophism, and personally I think it is wrong to explain away those feelings because of chemical reactions. It's like the bird laying an egg, we should marvel that such an event can occur. Same thing when two people are falling in love.

Quote
Then you probably shouldn't be considering monasticism.
But as I said I am torn by my will and God's Will and what He wants in my life. There's this great quote I think it's from Macdonald or Chesterton whom said that man doesn't want the best, where God gives us the best. Terrible paraphrase, but this I feel must occur through deep prayer.

Quote
There's nothing wrong with falling in love, and feeling that way - my point is, feeling that way is not marriage.
I understand the burden of marriage and things that go along with it. Yes feeling that way is not a marriage, absolutley. However: "Love in marriage should be the accomplishment of a beautiful dream, and not, as it too often is, the end." - Alphonse Karr

I don't care if I am scoffed for my idealism, I am quite proud of that fact.

Quote
To give you a more complete idea of what marriage is. There have been times in my marriage, and I suspect that this is true for many others as well, that it has not been particularly worth it!
Okay and I know this. I experienced that turbulence in my engagment, we practially were a married couple. But you'll argue against this of course.
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« Reply #29 on: May 03, 2011, 09:37:32 AM »

"The initial feelings of attraction are heavily associated with the b-phenylethylamine (PEA) norepinephrine. Norepinephrine triggers the breakdown of glycogen and triacylglycerols, which provides the body a boost of energy...The exact nature of these proteins, once altered, is uncertain and currently under investigation. What is not uncertain is their end result on the human psyche. Clinical studies have found doses of PEA, which induces the entire cycle, to relieve depression in 60% of patients. Patients noticed improvements in energy, attention and mood as well. Anyone smitten could attest to all of these symptoms."
I don't like the sophism, and personally I think it is wrong to explain away those feelings because of chemical reactions. It's like the bird laying an egg, we should marvel that such an event can occur. Same thing when two people are falling in love.
Whether or not you like the idea doesn't negate the fact that the wonderful feelings you rhapsodize about have a biochemical component. Be aware of it and take it into consideration. There is a tendency to like the first feeling of being in love, more than the actual loving of a particular person. When those feelings fade, as they inevitably do, what happens then?

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« Reply #30 on: May 03, 2011, 10:24:07 AM »

For me love, and especially the feeling of attraction towards someone else is deeper in me. It gets into my heart. It sits and manifests then goes to my head, where I visualize our lives together. I stayed up for 3 hours last night tossing and turning imagining what kind of life I would live if I was to be with her as a wife. I know this is all too soon and sudden, but I am a firm believer in love at first sight. At this very moment my heart is trembling that she may reciprocate the feelings that I have for her, I feel that she is suppressing them from me, afraid to love again. I don't want to say it's clingy on my part because I don't need a relationship, it's just a matter of following where my heart leads me too.

I'm sorry but my only dream has always been finding a wife and having children. I am so passionate about my dream, and in fact gave up most of my own life to my ex-fiancee to try to achieve this. I've changed quite a bit since then, but one thing I will never let go is that feeling of falling in love (if this is even that) and all the crazy emotions that go with it. I truly would be heartbroken if nothing materializes between us. This is sounding so bizarre I know, plenty of love songs written about this kind of love, but I can't help it.


Aposphet, I know I'm just a kid and don't know a whole lot about this, but it wounds like you'd do well to get married.  you seem like a nice passionate man who has a kind heart.  I'm not saying monastics don't have this, but it may just be, judging from your post that I've quoted, God's will for you  to marry.  he created us to love one nother, you know.  in "A collection of letters to nuns" by St, Anatoly of Optina, it says that if you doubt about going to a monastery, chances are it's not for you.  I would quote the passage directly, but I'm at school.  I can quote it on this thread when I get home later.

good luck, may the Lord have mercy on us all!
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« Reply #31 on: May 03, 2011, 10:26:36 AM »

Do all monks have to live in a monestary?

There are at least a few prisoners serving life who have been tonsured a monk within the Orthodox Church. There is a moving anecdote on how one man found his way to that vocation while serving life. Someone here is surely familiar with it. If no one chimes in, I'll email someone who certainly can provide the details.

is that so?!  I've often thought that Orthodox Christians in prison are like monastics, although much of the work is spared them  how interesting!!!
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« Reply #32 on: May 03, 2011, 10:27:43 AM »

"The initial feelings of attraction are heavily associated with the b-phenylethylamine (PEA) norepinephrine. Norepinephrine triggers the breakdown of glycogen and triacylglycerols, which provides the body a boost of energy...The exact nature of these proteins, once altered, is uncertain and currently under investigation. What is not uncertain is their end result on the human psyche. Clinical studies have found doses of PEA, which induces the entire cycle, to relieve depression in 60% of patients. Patients noticed improvements in energy, attention and mood as well. Anyone smitten could attest to all of these symptoms."
I don't like the sophism, and personally I think it is wrong to explain away those feelings because of chemical reactions. It's like the bird laying an egg, we should marvel that such an event can occur. Same thing when two people are falling in love.
Whether or not you like the idea doesn't negate the fact that the wonderful feelings you rhapsodize about have a biochemical component. Be aware of it and take it into consideration. There is a tendency to like the first feeling of being in love, more than the actual loving of a particular person. When those feelings fade, as they inevitably do, what happens then?



What Katherine said.  Knowledge is useful, knowledge is power.  God gives us knowledge to use, if we refuse to use it are we not rejecting his talent, burying it in the sand?  Love, loss-of-love, depressions can all be very disruptive to us.  It can make us turn to God in need or make us turn away in anger.  Go ahead and marvel at the bird laying it's egg but also know that it does this for a very specific set of biological and anatomical reason, and know that it does this because God wills it.  There is a deep spiritual connection between people in love, but there are also a huge biological phenomenon occurring at the same time.  And when you break up there will also be a spiritual jolt as well as a chemical imbalance.  Your body will have many of the same effects as if you had just decided to quit injecting heroin one day.  Use this knowledge to help you.  Knowing a large reason as to why you hurt will help you cope with it and eventually move on.
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« Reply #33 on: May 03, 2011, 11:22:25 AM »

Do all monks have to live in a monestary?

There are at least a few prisoners serving life who have been tonsured a monk within the Orthodox Church. There is a moving anecdote on how one man found his way to that vocation while serving life. Someone here is surely familiar with it. If no one chimes in, I'll email someone who certainly can provide the details.

is that so?!  I've often thought that Orthodox Christians in prison are like monastics, although much of the work is spared them  how interesting!!!

I recently heard Fr. Stephen Powley, of the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry, speak, and he told several stories about inmates being tonsured monks. One is an iconographer.
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« Reply #34 on: May 03, 2011, 01:01:43 PM »

Someone whom I know well - and who knows me well - spent six months in a monastery 40 years ago as a young adult. That person told me that in their opinion, a person should only begin to consider a monastic vocation when a full prayer life at home isn't enough.

I completely disagree, respectfully. I am familiar with a particular abbot who specifically turns away many such people. First, because such people are already well on their way to salvation; and second, because monks need challenges, and if everyone is super-serene and there are no "bad monks" in the mix, there will be no difficulties to encourage growth. Monasteries are supposed to be hospitals, not country clubs. Christ came for the sinners, not the righteous.

I am not saying that everyone is equally able to be a monk or a priest. Most people aren't. But how do you know if you dismiss it out of hand? Some people are dragged kicking and screaming to their life's calling, and only later do they realize it was exactly what they needed. There's no harm in considering a vocation.
ISTM your language limits the definition of "vocation" to monasticism or ordination. Do you think that maybe marriage, even without eventual ordination, may in itself be a vocation?
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« Reply #35 on: May 03, 2011, 02:50:56 PM »

Do all monks have to live in a monestary?

There are at least a few prisoners serving life who have been tonsured a monk within the Orthodox Church. There is a moving anecdote on how one man found his way to that vocation while serving life. Someone here is surely familiar with it. If no one chimes in, I'll email someone who certainly can provide the details.

is that so?!  I've often thought that Orthodox Christians in prison are like monastics, although much of the work is spared them  how interesting!!!

I recently heard Fr. Stephen Powley, of the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry, speak, and he told several stories about inmates being tonsured monks. One is an iconographer.
I will ask him about that next time I see him.  he is the priest of a Greek Orthodox Church just down the street from my own Church.
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« Reply #36 on: May 03, 2011, 03:18:43 PM »

Do all monks have to live in a monestary?

There are at least a few prisoners serving life who have been tonsured a monk within the Orthodox Church. There is a moving anecdote on how one man found his way to that vocation while serving life. Someone here is surely familiar with it. If no one chimes in, I'll email someone who certainly can provide the details.

is that so?!  I've often thought that Orthodox Christians in prison are like monastics, although much of the work is spared them  how interesting!!!

I recently heard Fr. Stephen Powley, of the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry, speak, and he told several stories about inmates being tonsured monks. One is an iconographer.
I will ask him about that next time I see him.  he is the priest of a Greek Orthodox Church just down the street from my own Church.

Please share the details of your discussion, if you feel comfortable doing so. The anecdote I heard about the one prisoner was simply astounding.
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« Reply #37 on: May 03, 2011, 03:32:50 PM »

"The initial feelings of attraction are heavily associated with the b-phenylethylamine (PEA) norepinephrine. Norepinephrine triggers the breakdown of glycogen and triacylglycerols, which provides the body a boost of energy...The exact nature of these proteins, once altered, is uncertain and currently under investigation. What is not uncertain is their end result on the human psyche. Clinical studies have found doses of PEA, which induces the entire cycle, to relieve depression in 60% of patients. Patients noticed improvements in energy, attention and mood as well. Anyone smitten could attest to all of these symptoms."
I don't like the sophism, and personally I think it is wrong to explain away those feelings because of chemical reactions. It's like the bird laying an egg, we should marvel that such an event can occur. Same thing when two people are falling in love.
Whether or not you like the idea doesn't negate the fact that the wonderful feelings you rhapsodize about have a biochemical component. Be aware of it and take it into consideration. There is a tendency to like the first feeling of being in love, more than the actual loving of a particular person. When those feelings fade, as they inevitably do, what happens then?

The problem here is you are reducing it, that is my entire problem. You can tell me the how but you equivocating the how with the why, which is fallacious. Peter Kreeft says it nicely that love is a great mystery. It's like the ocean: we can only see about ten feet down into it on a clear day. Love is certaintly more than a feeling. I can love you when I have different feelings toward you or have none at all. Feelings are lik...e waves on the sea of love. The sea is still there when there are big waves, little waves, or no waves. The sea is much heavier than its waves. Love is more than emotion. But not less. It's not cold philanthropy. "I wish you well" is much less than "I love you." "I love you" means "I tie myself to you." Love is loyal. Love is "no matter what." Love "never, never, never give up." And that is also what God is like.

The best advice I can offer in our discussion is to be amazed. Be amazed at the grandeur and the beauty of life. We should be in awe at its sophistication, and its almost mystical surprises. Debates of this kind usually go best when the people arguing have a deep-seeded love for nature. And to paraphrase Chesterton again, we should always be astounded by the fact that chickens lay eggs, for it is far stranger than any tale told in a nursery rhyme.

I'm sorry but your assumptions about who I am could not be further from the truth. You don't think the honeymoon period will end? Of course, but that's not to say you can't recapitulate that throughout a relationship or marriage. Biggest mistake I made in my engagement was a lack of connection, but that issue is alot more deeper than I honestly have time to write for. I'll just say that knowing my previous breakups, mistakes I made, I am quite more vigilant now to follow my heart and be true to myself. The only advice my mother ever gave me was just be yourself, she couldn't be any more right.
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« Reply #38 on: May 03, 2011, 04:00:31 PM »

Stability and self-knowledge are essential before embarking on conversion, marriage, or monasticism. They are not acquired without time and effort. A man might think he knows himself, but often it is the observations of those on the outside of his mind that really get to the truth of things. The best way to test something like a big decision is to give it time, I think. Over time, you will hopefully be able to see your own ups and downs--and that they are more like waves in an ocean. Waves are always moving, with greater or lesser magnitude, but the ocean itself stays still. Now you are on the waves, going here and there, up and down, to land and back, but you have yet to explore the depths and know that you are not defined by waves.
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« Reply #39 on: May 03, 2011, 04:15:54 PM »

Stability and self-knowledge are essential before embarking on conversion, marriage, or monasticism. They are not acquired without time and effort. A man might think he knows himself, but often it is the observations of those on the outside of his mind that really get to the truth of things. The best way to test something like a big decision is to give it time, I think. Over time, you will hopefully be able to see your own ups and downs--and that they are more like waves in an ocean. Waves are always moving, with greater or lesser magnitude, but the ocean itself stays still. Now you are on the waves, going here and there, up and down, to land and back, but you have yet to explore the depths and know that you are not defined by waves.

Good points.

Having people around you who don't mind hurting your feelings in order to help (friends, therapists, Priests, family) along the way can help as well.

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« Reply #40 on: May 03, 2011, 04:44:49 PM »

Someone whom I know well - and who knows me well - spent six months in a monastery 40 years ago as a young adult. That person told me that in their opinion, a person should only begin to consider a monastic vocation when a full prayer life at home isn't enough.

I completely disagree, respectfully. I am familiar with a particular abbot who specifically turns away many such people. First, because such people are already well on their way to salvation; and second, because monks need challenges, and if everyone is super-serene and there are no "bad monks" in the mix, there will be no difficulties to encourage growth. Monasteries are supposed to be hospitals, not country clubs. Christ came for the sinners, not the righteous.

I am not saying that everyone is equally able to be a monk or a priest. Most people aren't. But how do you know if you dismiss it out of hand? Some people are dragged kicking and screaming to their life's calling, and only later do they realize it was exactly what they needed. There's no harm in considering a vocation.

And really, there are a lot of people who shouldn't get married either. The street goes both ways. Whatever path we embark upon should be discerned and considered first.

I wouldn't call it dismissing it out of hand. A priest who knew me pretty well and had spent a few years in a monastery told me I definitely was not monastic material, and he brought it up. So when three people, including two priests, two of the three people having some monastic experience, tell me I'm not monastic material, one should listen, eh?

The issue is that good many people I've run into that if you're of a certain age, unmarried, and actice in church, you need to take yourself off to a monastery. Period. The fact that you might actually not have a calling for it or that the monastery might not want you doesn't enter into their minds.

My priest even told our new bishop when he was visiting before his consecration that that they were trying to find me a husband! Cheesy
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« Reply #41 on: May 03, 2011, 05:00:41 PM »

The problem here is you are reducing it, that is my entire problem. You can tell me the how but you equivocating the how with the why, which is fallacious.
Not doing either, so your objections are groundless. Merely pointing out some facts to someone who has said that they love the feeling of falling in love.

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Love is more than emotion.
Which is exactly what I said, when I said that love was a verb.

Quote
The best advice I can offer in our discussion is to be amazed. Be amazed at the grandeur and the beauty of life. We should be in awe at its sophistication, and its almost mystical surprises. Debates of this kind usually go best when the people arguing have a deep-seeded love for nature.
Now who's making assumptions?

Quote
I'm sorry but your assumptions about who I am could not be further from the truth.
Don't have any assumptions about you - how could I? I only know what you have posted, which may or may not be true.

Quote
You don't think the honeymoon period will end? Of course, but that's not to say you can't recapitulate that throughout a relationship or marriage.
You can't. Or at least, I haven't seen it - which is of course not the same thing. The really cool thing is that something better than the honeymoon period is replaced by something better, if we're lucky.
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« Reply #42 on: May 03, 2011, 05:46:07 PM »

Do all monks have to live in a monestary?

There are at least a few prisoners serving life who have been tonsured a monk within the Orthodox Church. There is a moving anecdote on how one man found his way to that vocation while serving life. Someone here is surely familiar with it. If no one chimes in, I'll email someone who certainly can provide the details.

is that so?!  I've often thought that Orthodox Christians in prison are like monastics, although much of the work is spared them  how interesting!!!

I recently heard Fr. Stephen Powley, of the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry, speak, and he told several stories about inmates being tonsured monks. One is an iconographer.
I will ask him about that next time I see him.  he is the priest of a Greek Orthodox Church just down the street from my own Church.

Please share the details of your discussion, if you feel comfortable doing so. The anecdote I heard about the one prisoner was simply astounding.
I will, certainly.   Smiley
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