The depth of initiation depends on how grateful you are to the Lord. Published on imbf.org
One can talk endlessly about initiation, but most people do not know what it really is. Perhaps even preachers do not always realize the meaning of this word.
There are several kinds of initiations.
You can dedicate things to someone, time or life.
Speaking in the context of the Christian faith, initiation is the answer to the call of God. Initiation is done once for life.
Subsequently, throughout his Christian life, a person repeatedly devotes himself to God as much as he deeply knows the Truth. In addition, he can devote his home, transport, finance, family and more.
One of the translations of the word "consecration" means "to separate something or someone for holy use for the Lord."
In modern Christianity, speaking of consecration, people mean more what they will possess, dedicating themselves to God, and not what God will possess - and this is not the same thing.
“For the love of Christ embraces us, reasoning as follows: if one died for all, then all died. And Christ died for all, so that those who live will no longer live for themselves, but for the deceased for them and resurrected. ”
2 Corinthians 5: 14-15
We make a covenant with God and confirm this with water baptism. Immersion in water symbolizes death for this world and for oneself.
The way out of the water symbolizes life for Christ - this is full consecration.
Understanding everything that the Lord has done for you, you dedicate yourself to the Lord as much as you appreciate His attitude towards you. The depth of initiation depends on how grateful you are to the Lord.
After all, everything that He has done for you, guarantees you a full life, inheritance and the fulfillment of all His promises.
In the end, by dedicating yourself to God, you can see how much and what He trusts in you.
Archimandrite Melchizedek (Artyukhin) on the choice of the monastic path and myths associated with it
Even among Christians there is no equal attitude to monasticism. They adore the monastic way of life and cannot understand it, some consider it the height of the Christian life, others consider it an unnecessary extreme.
In a conversation with the abbot of the Moscow farmstead of Optina Desert, archimandrite Melchizedek (Artyukhin), we touch only on the tip of this iceberg: we are talking about the most misunderstood, but the most important, monastic vow - obedience. We are also talking about whether it is possible to make a mistake when leaving the world, about the “egoism” of the monks and the parental blessing on the monastic path. And, of course, about how and why people choose the narrow path of monasticism.
To monks - out of gratitude to God
— Father Melchizedek, one of the most common prejudices about monasticism: those who failed to realize themselves in ordinary life go to the monastery. How much truth is there?
- When I am asked by secular people, especially youth: “How did you come to monasticism?”, And I tell them the following joke: “I had unhappy love, I walked along the street, a brick fell on me, and monks from Trinity arrived at the hospital - Sergius Lavra, they secretly took me out and tonsured monks in an unconscious state. When I woke up, I realized that it seems to be not bad. ”
I laugh it off, because still for the secular consciousness this is not possible. From here, from this inconsistency, myths arise about an unhappy life, that people have not found use for themselves.
You know, there is a very wise expression: the weak seeks the guilty, the strong seeks God. They become monks because of love for God or because a person is looking for a special way of repentant life. And only the one who tasted it and who leads it can understand monastic life. How to understand what the sea is when you have never seen it? Or how do you explain to an Australian native what ice cream tastes like if he never ate it? Therefore, the Scripture says: “Taste and see how good the Lord is.” To see, to understand, one must taste.
— For what reasons did you leave for the monastery?
- I took monastic tonsure at the age of 24, driven by the following thought: to devote myself to God from all thanks to Him.
Being raised in an unbelieving family, I first encountered the gospel when I was 17 years old. And it turned my life upside down. Then I thought to myself: “I was going absolutely in the wrong direction — not to God. If there had not been a meeting with the person who gave me the gospel, then my life would have flowed in the ordinary worldly logic: study, then work, family (and with my character it is not known what would remain of it). I would not recognize the most important thing. ". And then, for the first time, the thought arose of devoting himself to God: if He really saved me from a great misfortune, then my life can no longer flow in the usual course, as in all people. She must somehow be dedicated to Him to thank for salvation.
— Didn’t you think that a secular person could devote himself to God?
I sought the absolute dedication of life to God
- I was looking for absolute dedication of life to God. It would be quite possible for a believer to “find his application” in the world by marrying and following the priestly path, for example. Most people choose the middle path - the path of a good Christian life, which is not bad at all. And I had a maximalist approach: I didn’t want to disperse, but to devote myself entirely to Him. And where is the total surrender to God when your life itself is dedicated to the Creator? In monasticism.
— Often a decision is made impulsively, especially at a young age. Youth is characterized by maximalism. Can’t a mistake creep in here?
- The thought is good. But even now, at 53, I did not regret my youthful decision. Because in my case it was a conscious, deeply thought out step. My desire for a monastic life came true seven years later: at 17, just a few months after I came to faith, I made this decision. And gradually he began to take this path, during these years testing himself many times. He studied, worked, then served in the army and was already preparing there for monastic life. Then he entered a seminary, where in front of me was an example of the fathers of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra and my peers who wrote a petition and took tonsure. I could try it on myself.
When people suddenly tell me: “I’ll go to the monastery and become a monk!”, I reply: “No!”
And when people suddenly tell me: “I will go to the monastery and become a monk!”, I reply: “No!” To what a person loves, he prepares in advance. Anyone who wants to be a professional military begins to play toy soldiers as a child. If his intention is serious, then he will still go to the voluntary army-army department as a schoolboy - there used to be such paramilitary groups for training young people where they jumped with parachutes and drove on motorbikes.
— What was your preparation for monasticism?
- My monastery began in the kitchen. I asked: “What kind of way of life does a monk have? What is a monastic rule? ”The way of life is one, very concrete: it is life as much as possible according to the Gospel, which for a monk is an absolute reference point. Saint Ignatius (Brianchaninov) wrote: «Monasticism is nothing but a commitment to faithfully obey the gospel commandments. ” The monk wants to fulfill the gospel with his life. And he must be a monk not only in the church, but everywhere, in any setting - “in crowded or in the deepest desert”, as the same hierarch Ignatius said.
God wants his children not only to talk among themselves, but also to talk with Him. And the best opportunity to communicate with God is in a monastery, where there is no complete, laborious care of life.
— Didn't the care concern you?
Three months later, I was appointed economist at Optina Desert. And that’s all. My solitary life is over
- Then it covered me: two years after the adoption of monasticism. In 1987, I took tonsure, November 29, and a year later, in 1988 (just when I graduated from the seminary), Patriarch Pimen decided to send a “landing group” to Optina Desert: it included the governor Optina, archimandrite Evlogy, two hieromonks (one of these, I), two deacons and four seminarians. Three months later, I was appointed economist at Optina Desert. And that’s all. My solitary life ended, I became a "foreman and builder" for life. Scary not loving it.
— You, as a monk, could not resist this?
- The fact is that it was a vital necessity. Although I did not like this thing, but I reasoned like this: who else will do this? Of the four of us, someone must! There is a feeling of desire and a sense of duty, and they do not always coincide. Therefore, obedience - it can be done out of a love of work, or it can be done out of a sense of duty.
— Does obedience mean unquestioning and thoughtless fulfillment?
- I am categorically against this: I always say to my brothers that we should do business out of love, and I try to do it myself.
— What does “love” mean in this case?
- This means out of love for your family, for your brotherhood, and not for this cause. Not like slaves or mercenaries. The monastery is a big family. You may love or not love your work, but understand that it is necessary for the family, which means it must be done in the best way. Using for this his will and his brains.
For example, in summer, thuja was planted near the temple. Here's the task for you: plant a thuja. Planted. And you nailed a peg to her and tied her so that she would not bend her with the wind? Did you cover it from the sun in thirty-degree heat? Yes, no one gave you detailed instructions, but you had to think for yourself and do it the way you did for yourself. As the apostle Paul says: "Do everything that you do from the heart, as for God."
Is the monk selfish?
— To many monks they appear to be gloomy people, strict, unfriendly. It is clear that this is a stereotype and simplification, but does it have its roots?
The most cheerful, funniest people are monks!
- The most cheerful, funniest people are monks.
People do not see this, because they observe monks only in the line of duty. For the most part, we see the "ceremonial" monastic life. What about the parade? Everyone, like tin soldiers, serious, marching in the foot. But in life, they can be completely different. So it is here. We do not see closer human communication.
— Often, monks are accused of selfishness: the laity have duties in relation to the family, to the state, they participate in public life, they create something. And the monastery, in simple terms, is a closed system where everyone is occupied only with himself.
- One must understand that the idea of a monastery as a bunch of lazy people who relax under the guise of spiritual life and do not care about anyone is an illusion. People in worldly life do not work as much as these monks! For example, Vatopedi - a monastery on Mount Athos, from where the Belt of the Blessed Virgin Mary was brought to Russia - receives 500 pilgrims daily. For them, they need to buy food, bring, cook, feed everyone, and then wash the dishes, and also bed linen - basically, the pilgrims stay for one night. And still have time to attend all divine services. Even the monasteries do not exist without guests.
There is no monk who does nothing for the fraternity or for the pilgrims in the monastery.
The question is: is egoism here or not egoism?
— St. Gregory the Theologian says that a monk is one who lives for God, and, moreover, for Him alone.Is there a contradiction here?
Our life should be like a Napoleon cake: the dough is deeds, the cream is prayer, and the powder is humility
- I once asked a similar question to Father John (Krestyankin): how to combine diverse obedience, everyday cares and prayer? He said to this: “Our life should be like a Napoleon cake: dough, cream, dough, cream, and powder on top. If there is one dough, that is, one case, care, a delicious cake will turn out. If there is one cream (one prayer) - too sugary. Cream and dough should be mixed, then it will be good. ” I asked what is powder. Father John says: “And powder is humility.” Without it, nothing will do.
A rare calling?
— We can say that monasticism is a rare calling, and you yourself do not need to look for it?
And the desire for monasticism, and the fulfillment of this desire - from God
- And the desire for monasticism, and the fulfillment of this desire - it is from God. The very thought of this is from God. The question is, what about man? Consent. Willful desire is your desire to fulfill.
For example, you wanted ice cream, you have money, and you know where to buy it. And there is Great Lent. There is a desire, there is an opportunity, but you do not do this - you do not give your consent.
Therefore, I am sure that we are not choosing this path. At least by myself, I can judge that. When I agreed with the idea of monasticism, with the desire to become a monk, it was as if a "green light" turned on in everything. And I see the call of God in this.
— Can this confusion be confused with something? With your own dreams, with emotions, with neophyte delight?
- Not. When a person doubts, it means that he does not love God so much to devote himself to Him. And the monastic life for him will be, as we call it, "half-bent."
And when the desire for monasticism is irresistible, you will strive for it, despite the fact that all circumstances will be against it.
Why does the Gospel say: “Enemies of a man are his household” (see Matt. 10: 34-38)? This is said among those who want monastic life. Not a single mother, not a single father easily bless their children on this path. Why go far? The parents of St. Sergius of Radonezh said to him: "First, reach us and only then become a monk." And he fulfilled this filial duty. Even they did not agree to part with their son during their lifetime.
Not only that, the future Rev. Theodosius of Kiev-Pechersk was beaten and forcibly returned by her mother from the monastery. So he did not obey his mother and devoted his life to God.
— Like everything is different. So, it is not a matter of renouncing the parents, it seems, and, moreover, not of dislike for them.
- That's not the point. The matter of priorities. When a person decided to devote his life to God, then God came first. This does not mean that parents are at the last. They became the second, and the second is also a very large place!
— Does a person need the blessing of their parents to go to the monastery?
- It is desirable. But not necessarily.
Optina's elders, for example, have this instruction: you must receive the blessing of your parents for marriage, marriage, and monasticism. In addition, as the holy fathers said, "he who sows with blessing, with blessing will also reap."
For seven years I went to monasticism. And the last obstacle in my path was the lack of blessing from my unbelieving mother to enter the monastery. The confessor said: without this it is impossible. I say: “But mother is not a believer. She, in principle, cannot give such a blessing! ” And she really told me: “Anything, just not that! You can go to seminary, but don’t become a monk. ”
But one day she arrives at the Lavra, where I was already studying at the seminary, it’s kind of sad, and the conversation doesn’t stick with us. I'm asking:
“You're not like that.”
What she tells me:
“You will probably be a monk.”
“Mom, why did you get this?” Look what regents go. And also to study for three years. Put it out of your head - so much more time must pass.
“No, you will be a monk.”
- Why did you decide so?
- I had a dream. Such sadness took me in the evening, and I fell asleep with this sadness.
But the fact is that she was left alone. Father left us when I was in first grade. My older brother got married, left the family, and I served in the army, and my mother did not see me. He returned from the army and managed to live at home a couple of months: in July he was demobilized, and in August he entered the seminary and left for Lavra. And again, for two years, she really did not see me.
Mom and tells:
- I fall asleep with these sad thoughts. And in a dream I hear a powerful, powerful voice: “Galina! Do not be afraid of anything. Your son will be a monk. " I wake up in tears, and one thought: “I do not want this, I do not need this!” Reason says one thing, and feelings - another. But this voice, which I can’t forget, placed such a calm in my soul. As if some inner core appeared.
This is the voice of God. That is yours. In a month you will come to the monastery
I passed all this to the confessor. He replied: “This is the voice of God. That is yours. You’ll come to the monastery in a month. ”
And that’s all. The last obstacle has disappeared.
Is it possible without monasticism?
— Why do you think, despite all the negative stereotypes and myths, monasticism remains attractive and inspires respect?
- More F.M. Dostoevsky wrote that it is important for a person who lives in wrong, injustice to know that the truth lives somewhere. Let us be unrighteous, let us not be saints, but there are such people somewhere!
And today, people want to touch the ideal of a godly life. Saint John Chrysostom wrote that monasteries are like lights that shine from afar, attracting everyone to their silence. It is important to have a monastic life itself, a life in dedication to God, a believer, in front of you as a model!
I know of cases when people in power, people with a position of wealth, wealthy people who have reached the heights of success truly fell in love with Athos. They said: “I didn’t even imagine that this happens. I'm just shocked. ” Man plunged into another life, the world, when everything is tied to God. In our country, on the contrary, all life is tied to anything, but not to God.
In general, monastic life is a secret behind seven seals. Ее не объяснишь. И преподобный Иоанн Лествичник говорит: если бы люди знали, какая радость монашеской жизни, весь мир бы ушел в монастырь. Если бы знали, какие сложности бывают в монашеской жизни, никто бы вообще в монастырь не пошел. Это тайна за семью печатями, особая жизнь. Можно чуть-чуть теоретически об этом говорить, а чтобы понять всю полноту, радость жизни с Богом, надо самому ее вкусить.Therefore, monasticism will remain both attractive and unsaid, worldly consciousness not understood. There is no getting away from this.
October 23, 2015
Archimandrite Melchizedek (Artyukhin) was born in 1962 in Moscow.
He studied at a medical school, in 1988 he graduated from the Moscow Theological Seminary.29th of November1986 was tonsured a monk with the name Melchizedek.
On December 19, 1987, he was ordained a hieromonk. From 1988 to 1992 he studied in absentia at the Moscow Theological Academy, after which he was transferred to Optina Pustyn Monastery, where he carried the obedience of the housekeeper. He was dean of several years.
Today - rector of the courtyard of Optina Desert and the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Yasenevo. Also rector of the house church of the Resurrection of Christ at the boarding house No. 6 of labor veterans. Since 2005 - rector of the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin under construction in Yasenevo.In 2013 he was elevated to the rank of archimandrite.
Yuri Ilchenko, founder and senior pastor of The Church of Jesus Christ (Khabarovsk, Russia)
Who is God looking for? He is looking for those whose heart is completely devoted to Him. People who are not consecrated to God when they ask Him for something and do not receive an answer become disappointed. The reason is not true dedication to God. God supports those whose hearts are devoted to Him, who are fully consecrated. Initiation is when you gave your heart, your life to God, it is not yours. You do not belong to yourself, do not build your plans, but say: “Lord, Your plans are my plans.” You gave Him your will and say: “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”
Therefore, it is strange to hear not only from believers, but also from ministers who think not about God's will for them, but about where and how they live better. It seems as if they are not with God, not in God, but live somewhere themselves and the Lord is with them. It can not be. Initiation - it is necessary to give oneself completely to God. For people who have given themselves completely to God, God supports them. Why? But because they gave Him the right, and now God is their Master, their God is Lord.
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Nikita Struve, literary translator, director of the Parisian publishing house YMCA-Press
Whoever says that he dedicates or wants to devote his whole life to God and man is most often self-deceived. In part this can be said by the monks or, contrary to their nature, the vow of celibacy, because they refuse a significant part of their personal lives, also commanded by God, but they also have self-seduction and cruel temptations, for example, power and self-service. Examples of some saints show that complete surrender, dedication to God and man is possible in exceptional cases. To give oneself to God is to live in love for one’s neighbor, as for oneself, in love for the world created by God, in the spirit of truth and truth, until one is prepared to suffer for the truth.
Idols are something finite, elevated to the absolute. And the main thing that is accessible to all of us, although it is given with difficulty, is humility, it is already in itself a service to God and man, and, as such, is not subject to idolatry.
This small brochure, conceived as a continuation of the series “The Experience of the Church in the Modern World,” was born as a result of the author’s interaction with believers who seek life his the way, asking themselves upon coming to the Church, a very important question: “How to live further?”, a completely natural question. Christianity for those who converted to it from unbelief - in the full sense of the word new life, perceiving which, a man longs for a change in himself, a change corresponding to this novelty. Meanwhile, the answer is not always obvious: the path to it lies through the heart, in which the human will and the Divine will meet. And at the same time, it is impossible to look into one’s heart without God's help. And the correct answer is very important: much, if not all, of a Christian depends on it. To find his a place in this life, that which God has prepared for us — how much it means!
It is not possible to offer a “one answer for all” or a “choice answer for everyone”. Here, in this edition, there is only an attempt to help a person who seeks his path to follow Christ to understand himself, to consider his life, his heart, and yet - to find this path.
How to live on?
Then Jesus said to his disciples:
if anyone wants to follow me, deny himself
and take up your cross, and follow me.
Matt. 16, 24
Today, sincerely, let’s even say “ardently”, who turned to God and began to church a person, the question often arises: how to live on? It is easy to give a general, such a seemingly clear and simple answer: live in a Christian way, according to the gospel commandments. But how to do it? - The fact is that with time a person has a restless feeling that his whole life, his system, social circle, work, finally, are not at all something that would allow him to draw close to God. The conditions of this life, the requirements of the environment, professional requirements, the views of those with whom we constantly have to communicate — all this and in fact quite often contradicts the evangelical law, does not allow it to be implemented in its entirety, and makes us make endless compromises. What is to be done to someone who already understands, at least in part, how to live truly Christian, but does not find the strength to live like this in his usual environment? Is the only way - a complete removal from the world, going to the monastery, leaving, more like fleeing the battlefield, fleeing, which, if it is saving, is nevertheless fraught with a feeling of some very bitter, difficultly experienced defeat?
The adoption of monasticism is a conscious choice, a response to the mysterious call of God to life in the full sense of the word "other", monastic. They come from the “hopelessness”, from the inability to “find themselves” in the monastery. They come and, by the grace of God, sometimes find here an understanding of the true essence of monasticism. But this is the exception rather than the rule. Monasticism is the path of a person who has one goal - to be a true Christian and does not find in monasticism the only, but best for yourself the opportunity to become one.
No, each of us has his own way, and everyone can serve and please God in the place where he was placed, where Divine grace led or secretly leads.
Why is the Christian soul tormented and "not finding itself" that it so worries and oppresses the gradually sharpening Christian conscience? The Lord in the Gospel speaks to all who accept Him as their Savior and God and submit to the word of His gospel: if anyone wants to follow me, deny himself, and take your cross, and follow me . And adds more: and he who does not bear his cross and comes after me cannot be my disciple .
Man feels that his life in it is still much stronger than the life of Christ, life for Christ and in Christ, which must necessarily open up as the only real way to the Kingdom of Heaven. Feels that determination reject no what cross, as soon as it touches his shoulders, already inspires him with fear and a desire to turn back. And in this his conscience exposes, itself testifying, according to the gospel word, that no one, He who laid his hand on the plow and looks back, is not trustworthy for the Kingdom of God .
Or, on the contrary, jealousy is such that a person feels within himself only one desire: to run on and on, not knowing and not understanding the path, making mistake after mistake. But here the mind itself revolts, not accepting this senseless aspiration, seeing that the reckless "run to the goal" can become a rapid distance from it.
What is needed here for a Christian who really wants follow Christ? Probably, first of all, the reasoning is that, according to the holy fathers, it is both the crown of all virtues and their foundation.
Between the world and the monastery
Question: "how to live further?" - truly unaddressed and not inoffensive - in fact, certainly stands before everyone who turns to faith from unbelief. Much of life, but essentially all of life, needs to be revised. And their own behavior, and ingrained habits and addictions, and social circle, and work - all this must be reviewed in the light of the gospel. And, of course, that which is recognized as directly sinful is left without regret.
But there are things that are not actually sinful, but lead to sin. This is what is an irresistible or difficult to overcome temptation for a person, cases, reasons for sin. It is difficult to be in the midst of the fire and not to get burned, and it is also difficult to live in the midst of temptations and avoid the fall. Therefore, as far as possible, the Christian needs to arrange his life in such a way that there are fewer reasons for sin and stumbling blocks in it. One of the ancient reverend fathers, Pimen the Great, said that it is very easy for a person standing on the edge of an abyss to fall into this abyss. But if it moves a considerable distance from its edge, then the danger of falling into it will be much less. Likewise, a person living in the midst of temptations easily falls into sins, and a person moving away from them falls less easily.
The thought of monastic life, of a monastery is visited by many Christians, in whom jealousy of God-pleasing is strong when converted, such a way seems to be a logical, logical way out, liberation from those paths that somehow connect the person with the world. In this thought of monasticism, it is a manifestation of the maximalism that is natural for a Christian: in itself, of course, it does not carry anything negative in itself. But here is the essential: for what go to the monastery? In order to was easier, or - to feat? Much depends on how a person understands this. Although, as life itself shows, a person’s intention at first may not be completely true, later on the Lord often corrects him.
And yet, a monastery is not a place where they simply leave or run; the words of the Savior relate to monasticism: able to accommodate yes to accommodate . To the monastery - come. Real monastic life is impossible without calling to it, otherwise a person will be burdened by it, as a kind of unbearable yoke.
Monastic life needs to be loved, understood. This is really a better life, since it is precisely this that gives a person the opportunity to eliminate from himself as much as possible what could serve as an obstacle to him on the way to God. But this must be seen in order to make a completely conscious choice, that leaving the monastery was not some kind of dramatic, forced step, but a conscious, thoughtful choice, when a person, not content with less, strives for more, not satisfied with relatively good ones, strives for possibly for the best. And most importantly, there must be the will of God that man decisively leave the world and go to the monastery.
Indeed, in fact, as one of his letters writes the famous spiritual writer of the past century, Archimandrite Sofroniy (Sakharov, 1896-1993), the grace "we receive ... not for feats - silence, fasting, prayer, etc., but mainly for execution the will of God. "
- Cm.: St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov), Bishop of the Caucasus and Black Sea. Creations. Fatherland. Selected sayings of the holy monks and stories from their life. M., 2001.P. 502. ^
- Cf .: Matt. 19, 12. ^
- Archimandrite Sofroniy (Sakharov). Feat of knowledge of God. M., 2003.S. 146. ^
How to know the will of God about his monasticism?
A man needs to feel in himself what could be called a Divine call to monasticism, his heart should first become warmer, and then love for this worldly life will be kindled. But this should not be a fleeting feeling, but a feeling that has strengthened in the soul, meaningful, suffered, already confirmed by the way of life that a person leads in the world, preparing for monasticism. Elder Paisius of Athos said that you can go to the monastery when you feel in yourself a desire to be a hundred percent monk. And if in your heart it’s ninety-nine percent for monasticism, and one percent is against, then when you come to the monastery, this ratio can change dramatically over time, so that you’ll only want to remain one monk for one percent, and you will again desire worldly for ninety-nine of life.
And, besides, we must also understand very well that monastic life today, remaining, according to the teachings of the Holy Fathers, the establishment of the Divine and the life of an angel, has become more complicated than ever. Monasticism in its own form in Russia during the years of the atheistic regime was practically destroyed. Now it is only being reborn, and in conditions for it it is very unfavorable. There are almost no experienced mentors who know the monastic life, and there are almost no or very rare already established, established monastic brotherhoods, where life itself would serve as a building without words for a newly arrived person in the monastery.
Many monasteries are nowadays actually in the middle of the world, so that a stream of secular people flows continuously through them, and this also does not contribute to the creation of a monastic dispensation and the strengthening of the monastic spirit. And the very nature of life in modern monasteries is often determined by how much they were destroyed and how much they need to be restored, in obtaining or earning funds for their maintenance.
All these administrative and economic concerns require constant and strong ties with the world. Therefore, a huge spiritual fortress is needed for a person who decides to leave the world and part with what attracted and held him in this world (and in fact, something keeps anything in the world), who decided to leave the world and again find himself in its thicket entering into a difficult relationship with him again.
But does this mean that monasticism today does not give man strength for internal change, but only requires great labor and effort from himself? No, that is by no means the case. Monasticism requires strength, but it also, by the grace of God, gives these powers to man. Consciously accepted monasticism gives a person enormous inner certainty. A Christian who accepts monasticism, realizing his deep essence, his idea, is experiencing a profound inner change. The essence of monasticism is to fully devote, to give oneself to God, that is, to deprive this world of people of any rights whatsoever to themselves and to refuse such rights themselves, only to confess God as their only Lord and Sovereign. When a person has such arbitrariness and his truth is confirmed by life itself, then the Lord accepts this arbitrariness.
And a certain truly incomprehensible sacrament takes place. A monk remains in the middle of the world and at the same time realistically feels that he is not belonging to this world, he feels that the Lord seemed to withdraw it from the midst of this world and draw it so close to it that the world can no longer take it from the Lord. This state, sensation is a gift of Divine grace, Divine mercy, but it is given only to those who seek it with difficulty and pain. And it is easily lost with neglect and neglect.
Devoting oneself to God is the essence of not only monasticism, but also of Christianity itself.
The question of whether it is imperative to go to the monastery in order to live in its entirety according to the Gospel law, can immediately be answered in the negative. Christianity is a religion for all: for those who have chosen monastic residence, and for those who have married, and for those who are called by the Providence of God to lead a celibate life.
Of course, how to live, how to escape in a monastery is a separate, very complex, very deep, though very necessary conversation. And those remarks about modern monastic life, which are stated above, are just a "remark" in this conversation that has not yet taken place. However, now we would like to talk about something else: how to live in peace, to live truly Christian, finding your way to God, your opportunity to please and serve Him. This applies to the majority of believers (since the majority have always been and will naturally be lay people) and today causes the most perplexing questions.
And here is what it is worth saying first of all in order to determine the nature of our attitude to a chosen topic. In the words sounded in the previous chapter about what to give, to devote oneself to God - this is the essence of monasticism, there is some inaccuracy. To give, to devote oneself to God, to confess and acknowledge Him alone as one of their true Lord and Sovereign is the essence of Christianity, which in monasticism finds only the most favorable opportunity for full realization. After all, there was a time when monasticism in our current understanding - with its inherent system, the charter of life - did not exist. And at the same time it was, because in antiquity the whole primitive Christian Church was, as it were, a single monastery - by that world renunciation, by that mutual unity, by that whole aspiration to God that reigned among the first Christians.
And this understanding of Christianity as a complete tradition, dedication to God, as adoption of one law for all laws, interests and aspirations - the gospel law - should be the basis of the life of a Christian. Тогда она приобретает ту необходимую определенность, которая позволяет человеку стоять в ней твердо во все времена, при любых условиях и обстоятельствах.
- Ср.: вы - род избранный, царственное священство, народ святой, люди, взятые в удел, дабы возвещать совершенства Призвавшего вас из тьмы в чудный Свой свет, некогда не народ, а ныне народ Божий (1 Пет. 2, 9-10). ^
Среда… определяющая сознание?
However, such an inner dispensation is not acquired at a time, it requires a lot of work, it takes shape, it strengthens very gradually. And therefore, one cannot disagree with the words of the great Optina elder, Rev. Ambrose, that, of course, “you can live in peace, but not in jural,” that is, you need to arrange your life, its external conditions so that they do not interfere, but on the contrary, helped our Christian growth. In these words there is a very big truth, to neglect which would be unreasonable.
There is a man himself as an independent, free person who makes his choice in relation to time and eternity and bears responsibility for this choice. This is an "internal" reality, so to speak. But there is a reality and "external" that cannot be ignored, which cannot be ignored, since it is still present in our life and determines a lot in it. This reality is the environment in which a person works and lives, his home, his profession. A profession, in particular, means quite a lot. A man is “attached” to his professional occupation, it not only gives him a livelihood, no, it very often becomes for him the main way of self-expression, “realization” of himself, turns into what he associates himself with, “what” of himself counts.
Meanwhile, professions are very different, and the nature of the profession, the person’s place of work, cannot but exert their influence on the formation of his personality and on his Christian life. If a person before his conversion to God taught, was a teacher in a kindergarten, a doctor, a factory worker, then most likely his work will not become an obstacle for him on the path to Christian perfection. On the contrary, these types of professional activities will themselves give him a great opportunity to bring his Christianity to life, to make his daily work a real service to God.
But if the new Christian was before, say, a professional boxer, a journalist from a tabloid newspaper, a photographer in a model house or a rock musician, then the environment in which he lived and worked until his arrival in the Church is unlikely to be a burden, whether it will cause some stumbling block or fall. And indeed, staying in such an environment, pleasing human passions, multiplying the already overwhelming lie in our world is already sinful for a man enlightened by the knowledge of God.
It can be assumed that the examples given here seem unrealistic to some people, invented, so it will not be clear why to talk about such "fictional" situations. The soil referred to here does not at all seem suitable for the growth of Christianity on it. (Naturally, this is not about the teaching environment, not about doctors and workers, but about people working in show business, professional athletes and rock musicians.)
But to agree with such a distrust is actually impossible. These examples may be infrequent, but they are completely real. The Lord acts everywhere, and only He alone knows the human heart, knows that under the sheath of sin the living is still warm, able to know Him, to believe in Him soul. And the Lord seeks, finds this soul and draws it to Him. At least this soul was the last harlot in her life, but she, in the true word of Tertullian, always by nature remains a Christian. The main thing is that the possibility of its revitalization, perception by it of enlightenment by the Divine light, is not yet completely lost. The main thing is that there was still something to instill in it God's grace. And the Lord literally works on every human soul, while only a person is still alive, leaves no one, does not depart from anyone at all.
Can cases of such treatment be cited as a graphic illustration in this publication? Yes, the whole history of the Church is full of such examples, and it would be surprising if the priest did not know them, if he did not have to deal with such cases. But there are among them, perhaps, especially striking. Some are already widely known because they are associated with the names of popular and revered people. This, for example, Konstantin Kinchev, Yuri Shevchuk ... True, there is one “but” in this case: these people, although we must pay tribute to their soul, who managed to see the light of true being and find the true God through the chaos of the “musical party”, still broke with his life and work to the end. Why is hard to say. Perhaps they did not find in themselves the strength for this, or perhaps they simply did not consider it necessary. It is possible that they did not even consider such an option. But I want to talk about examples that are fundamentally different. Such as those listed below.
So, once the author had to meet a man who was once a musician in a fairly well-known rock group, and then left his profession and entered as a novice in one of the little-known Russian monasteries remote from big cities. There he took monastic tonsure and after some time was ordained to the priesthood. Our acquaintance with him took place at the time when he served as a hieromonk in this monastery, and we can say that hardly anyone could have somehow guessed about his past (a person close to him told the author about him). One of the moments that influenced, in one way or another, the path and decision of this former rock musician was the martyrdom of Hieromonk Vasily (Roslyakov), with whom he once studied together and whom he came to Optina in the desert when Father Vasily was still alive.
Another person, whom I would also like to say, was a wonderful athlete, a wrestler, and his sports career was just beginning, and all the main things were still ahead of her. Arriving at the Church, he very soon saw that all kinds of competitions and tournaments in which he had to participate were mainly held on Saturdays and Sundays, which deprives him of the joy of being present at the service. For some time, he regularly missed service in such cases. And then he began to miss the competition. And the matter ended with the fact that the sport was abandoned: the soul suggested that it was difficult to combine one with the other (faith and struggle). Now, upon the adoption of a monastic tonsure, he serves God in a holy dignity.
Of course, both of these examples are very vivid: here the environment is far from church piety at the beginning, and the sharp turn and the decisive choice in favor of monasticism then. There are many examples, much less striking, but also illustrative. But the essence of both of them is that a new life begins for a person in the Church. And this life often "crowds out" him from that old life to which he is accustomed, or the old life - from him, or fills it with new content. All this depends on many circumstances: on personal qualities, the character of the person himself, on the nature of his profession, on the external conditions in which he is. However, the main thing remains essentially unchanged: having come to Christ, man cannot live as he had before, without Christ. And the difference should not be limited only to the fact that now on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays he will go to church, confess and receive communion. Apostolic word - people taken for inheritance - Must necessarily appear in reality on himself. And for this, you still need a choice (external or internal, but a choice) between the "old" and the "new".
- Quint Septimius Florence Tertullian (II-III centuries.) - One of the most prominent theologians and teachers of the ancient Church, who left a significant literary heritage. Subsequently fell into Montanism. ^
Problem of choice
Most often, man himself, although, of course, and not without the help of God, must go to his choice. (True, this is if he even realizes the need to make such a choice.) Some terrible consumer spirit, a spirit of comfort, penetrated us very deeply, not only on the carnal, but also on the spiritual level. Therefore, sometimes a person, having come to God, is satisfied at first with the fact that he already came, he was completely unaware that he had just embarked on the path and that he would have to go on it for a very long time and painfully. Yes, the Christian life is an unceasing work, a continuous search, a person at first is like a blind man who does not understand the path. So in the Gospel it is said about one of the blind, healed by the Lord, that at first he saw it is unclear - he saw people like trees, and only then he saw completely.
Similarly, in spiritual life, insight occurs gradually. Only with time does a person begin to “see” God in his life, he begins to grope for a way in which one can approach God, not some abstract path, not someone’s, but his own. One woman, like other people seeking spiritual life, in the full sense of beating over herself and over her soul, somehow dropped such words in a conversation.
“I feel,” she said, “like a dog about to take a footprint.”
To some, such a comparison may seem unexpected and rude. But in reality it, with all its unusualness, is surprisingly accurate. Among the thousands of smells mixed with each other, the dog finds one that it needs, that is, it takes a trace and follows it. In the same way, among many intertwined paths, a man finds one that actually belongs to him and goes to them.
If the dog is distracted, then he will lose track and, having gone astray, will again look for him. And a person, if he loses attention to himself, falls into neglect, he will lose the path he has already gained and will also be forced to look for him again.
Man, if I may say so, takes a trace with the feeling of his heart, with his heart he finds his way to God. The heart testifies to him of the fidelity of this path - both external, and even more so internal - with a state of extraordinary peace, peace and joy, a state that he had never experienced to such an extent before.
As we have already noted and as experience shows, it often happens that for a person who has come to God, it becomes impossible to live in the same environment where his life had been going on until that moment. This happens in cases where this environment tempts, seduces, harms the inner life. But sometimes a person can no longer even afford to simply live among unbelievers who are alien to him in spirit, he literally suffocates among them. To say that this is a kind of "norm" that a believer cannot live among unbelievers, of course, is impossible.
However, one cannot disagree with the fact that it’s hard to live among people who do not understand you, for whom what you consider the most important, only important, is nothing more than an empty phrase. It is natural for Christians to strive for unity, not only spiritual, but also earthly. Therefore, it often turns out that believers, if they do not go to the monastery, change at least the place of work, come to work in the Church.
But such a path, like monasticism, is far from possible for all, and not even for many. Firstly, this is associated with some kind of material loss. Secondly, one who thinks to find in the church structures and organizations a completely perfect, unearthly life, often experiences serious disappointment: after all, in the Church there are also people who believe, but nevertheless with their weaknesses and shortcomings. Although, without a doubt, a person who decides to come to work for the Church acquires a lot for himself. First of all, he gets the opportunity to really serve God, even if this service seemed far from brilliant, the most modest. Then he still finds people closer to him spiritually, at least as well as he, seeking salvation. And this is a lot. Well, and most importantly, such a parish in the Church is an opportunity to give oneself more fully to God, and thus approach Him.
More general way
However, we repeat once again: coming to work in the Church is also not a way for everyone. To this as well as to monasticism, there must be not only the will of man, but also the will of God. Indeed, a believing person, a Christian, very often can bring (and really does) benefit people who have not yet known God with the mere fact of their presence in their midst. If he really lives in a Christian way, if his faith is not limited to just some declarative statements, then those around him cannot help but fall in love with him, cannot reach out to him, he becomes a quiet and soft, but still living sermon about Christ. And first one, then another, third person, someone else and still thanks to him turn to God. Thus the Church grows and is built. Is this an unimportant thing?
Or, say, a believer holds a responsible post, a high position, can influence the adoption of various government decisions and measures of general significance. If his work is Christian in nature, then it can also bring great benefits to people and the Church.
In a word, every Christian and in the middle of the world has his own field of service to God. Although the main thing, of course, what the Lord expects of us, is our feat of building up our own inner man, renewed by grace in the image of God.
So, the will of God is necessary, a person must feel the call of God to leave his work, his profession and devote himself to the service of the Church. What is this calling expressed in? - In the inner need to give oneself more fully to God, in the belief that what he does is not enough, his soul longs for much more and more that the Lord expects from him.
And if there is no such calling, then we must remain in our place and conscientiously, as the Gospel teaches, to work without being ashamed of our faith, but revealing it as our own deeds, this is the most general, rational, “middle” way.
How to understand: which way is mine?
The priest often has to deal with people asking him: "How do you know exactly which way exactly my? ". How to answer that?
Not a single person was born spontaneously or accidentally. And then nothing accidental happens in his life. Even before the existence of this world, the Lord knew each of us, each of us - His creative purpose, and unique. Blessed Augustine in his Confession says that the Lord loves every person as if he were the only one. And at the same time, she decisively loves everyone as much as everyone. We humans are not some kind of homogeneous mass before God, not some faceless crowd in which one is more, one is less - it does not matter.
There are already several billion of us on earth, but there is not a single person who would be indifferent to God. We are all children of God, faithful and unfaithful, loving and unloving, flaming in heart and indifferent to everything. We are so different, different primarily in relation to God, but still loved by the Lord and dear to Him.
And the Lord has His Providence for each of us, one might say, an ideal plan, the best that each of us could become. More often than not, we don’t even know about this plan-plan. And the Lord wants him to be fulfilled, for he wants salvation and eternal bliss for us. And He necessarily reveals this His plan to a man who seeks to recognize him.
God has many ways to answer man's main question - if only this is really important for his eternal fate. But how to get the answer? Everything is, essentially, in the gospel words: Seek and find, knock, and they will open for you, ask, and it will be given to you , that is, a person himself must pray that the Lord opens his path to him, pray with the words of the Psalmist: Tell me, Lord, the way, I’ll go away stingily, for I take my soul unto Thee .
In the biography of the famous Athos elder Ephraim of Katunak there is such a typical example. Some young man came to this outstanding ascetic to ask if he really should choose the monastic path for himself. He expected that the visionary and endowed with many blessed gifts, the old man would immediately give him an answer. But Father Ephraim instead asked the young man which saint he worships most. The young man replied that he venerates most of all St. Nectarios, the Aegina miracle worker.
“So pray to him,” the elder advised, ““ Saint Nectarius, I don’t know which of the two paths suits me better, but you are a saint and know better than me about this - enlighten me so that I choose the right path. ”
- What's next? How do I understand what the saint answers and what God wants?
- From within you will feel: what the heart is inclined to in peace and quiet, follow it there.
“And if, despite this, I make a mistake?”
“The saint to whom you pray will be a little push to where you need to.”
Naturally, of course, the question is whether this, that is, prayer, is enough to know the will of God, so that the Lord will respond to a person addressing Him. However, the whole point is that you can turn to God and pray in different ways. And the Lord always hears the sincere, heartfelt prayer, backed by the very life of man.
Such a prayer cannot be artificial, invented. She is born in the soul of a prayer who must truly to thirst answer to your question. He needs to stop being interested in what the world wants from him, what people want from him, to give up what he wants. He must desire with all his heart to know anything to god, knowledge of the will of God should become a decisive necessity for him, and then the Lord will open it. But it will open then ... when a man in his heart dare to fulfill this will.
Человеку нужно обращаться к Богу с молитвой, исходящей из сердца. У каждого эта молитва будет звучать по-своему, однако общий смысл ее таков:
"Я искренне верю,
Алексей Коломийцев, учитель и пастор церкви «Слово благодати» (США)
Посвящение Богу является еще одним важнейшим принципом жизни и развития как каждого христианина индивидуально, так и всей церкви. Оно определяет степень отдачи себя Богу и Его делу. Самым большим препятствием на пути к признанию Бога и служению Ему является человеческое «Я». Even when a person becomes a Christian, the devil tries to deprive him of his real life in Christ, convincing him that Christianity does not mean a complete rejection of himself, that you can be partially dedicated to God, while continuing to live mainly for yourself. As a result, most people who call themselves believers do not know the true life of full dedication and surrender to God.
Pavel Adelheim, Archpriest and Church Publicist (Russia)
To the question “how to devote life to the service of God?” The biblical expression “walk before God” remarkably answers. This is the commandment given in Genesis, “I am God Almighty, walk before me and be blameless” (Genesis 17: 1). The same book of Genesis testifies that this commandment is fulfilled and calls the people who fulfilled it: “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, because God took it” (Genesis 5:24). “Noah was a righteous and blameless man in his own way. Noah walked before God ”(Genesis 6: 9). “You have made thy servant David, my father, great mercy for walking before you in truth and truth” (3 Kings 3: 6). To devote your life to God is always to be aware of yourself in His presence.
We achieve this by always remembering and chanting His name. “Pray without ceasing,” the apostle calls.
It is even more difficult not to lose what you have gained, and is achieved by the ongoing feat of sobriety. Christ gives this commandment and repeats it many times in the gospel. He expressed the commandment in one word: "Watch!" In another place: "sober up"! The genuine should be distinguished from any substitution, and this is just for those who protect the accepted revelation. The substitution occurs where you are looking for it, even if you do not want to admit it to yourself.
Margarita Shilkina, Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies of the St. Philaret Orthodox Christian Institute
God can be given only his whole life, for it is all His original. If we leave something “for ourselves”, then we lose it forever, because there is simply no life outside of God. Serving whole life means all that the Lord has given us, returning Him back with gratitude and profit, as an increment of talents: love, life, friends, fraternity and community, education, family and children, work, our health, abilities and spiritual gifts - so that none of this suddenly becomes more expensive than God Himself and Christ, does not overshadow the love for Him, does not separate from Him and is not appropriated by us as "ours."
Jerry Bridges, Christian writer and thinker of our time (USA)
Who does not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? for you are one holy. All nations will come and worship before Thee, for Your judgments have been revealed - Revelation 15: 4.
Enoch walked before God, and Enoch pleased God. His walk before God speaks of a relationship with God, or of his dedication to God, his life, pleasing to God, speaks of his actions as the result of this relationship. It is impossible to develop a Christian behavior if you do not do this on the basis of dedication to God. Piety is, first of all, the development of a close relationship with God, and only then, on this basis, a life pleasing to God is developed and developed. Our concept of God and our relationship with Him determine our behavior.
Dedication to God consists of three essential elements: the fear of God, the love of God and the thirst for God. This can be represented in the form of a triangle, the corners of which are represented by these three elements.
The fear of God and love of God are at the base of the triangle, and the thirst of God is at its peak. Examining these elements individually, we will see that the fear of God and love of God are the foundation of true consecration, and the thirst of God is the highest manifestation of this consecration.