Mount Athos Mount Athos
Monasticism

What is monasticism?

Everyone of us is called upon to serve God in various different ways.
Monasticism is a particular calling, a very special way for a man to serve God and Humanity.
Every man has a particular gift, as Saint Paul says. The "calling" for someone to become a monk is in itself such a "gift".
God himself talks directly with the monk-to-be (using signs, indications, or manís inner voice), or (talks to the monk) through his Spiritual Guide (Spiritual Father).
Monasticism is one of the ways by which a man can reach God. This is accomplished by solitude, prayer, exercise, obedience to the Spiritual Father service and fasting.

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Solitude

For a man to come face to face with God, in the special way that a monk is called upon to do so, he needs solitude and quiet, with no external distractions. Monks that need this special solitude do not live in communes, but in solitary isolation (hermits, ascetics).

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Prayer

Prayer is the right, the obligation and the support for every believer. For the monk, prayer is his reason for existence in this life and world. There are different ways of prayer for different situations and needs. The "Jesus Prayer" or "wish" that the monks of Mount Athos say, (with the of the Prayer Rope) consists of the words: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner". Many a book have been written about this Prayer and many more things have been experienced through it. It is also called "The Prayer of the Heart".

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Obedience

Obedience is one of the capital virtues of the monk. It is a prerequisite for humility, which is, by general admission, the crown of all Christian virtues. The Holly Fathers place obedience above fasting and prayer. The reason is that exercise without obedience gives birth to vanity and arrogance, but if one acts under instructions, one has no reason to be arrogant. Obedience means unreserved surrender to Godís will. The Spiritual Father helps the monk in this matter, and his contribution is of great importance to the progress of the monk. As a sign of his obedience to God the monk is called to obey his Spiritual Father in all matters.

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Service - Deaconship

Service is related to both prayer and obedience. It can be both "inward" and "outward". Outward (external) refers to the tasks and duties which a monk has to perform while living in the community of his fellow brefuren, and to hospitality. It also refers to the giving of counsel (when asked) and consolation.
The "inward", invisible service refers to the prayer for humanity.

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Fasting

Fasting is the abstention from particular food or food in general. It is the monkís exercise on a physical level. Fasting aims to purify and cleans both body and spirit, and to strengthen his will.
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