Why Every Home is a Monastery Part 1: A Pope, an Abbot & Orientale Lumen

Why every home a monastery? The inspiration for this project comes from a life changing homily we heard many years ago from Abbot Nicholas Zachariadis. Fr. Nicholas is the founding Abbot of Holy Resurrection Monastery, a Romanian Greek Catholic monastery which has been our spiritual home for most of the last sixteen years. Our family life has been shaped by the teachings and examples of Fr. Nicholas, the other monks and the extended community members.

Abbot Nicholas Chrismating our Goddaughter.

Abbot Nicholas Chrismating our Goddaughter.

In the homily that first caught our attention, Abbot Nicholas said “every man is called to be a monk and every woman a nun.” The abbot referred also to St. John Paul’s encyclical Orientale Lumen where the newly canonized pope states:

“Moreover, in the East, monasticism was not seen merely as a separate condition, proper to a precise category of Christians, but rather as a reference point for all the baptized, according to the gifts offered to each by the Lord; it was presented as a symbolic synthesis of Christianity.”

Considering monasticism as a “reference point for all the baptized,” Fr. Nicholas has always stressed that Christians must not look at the individual lives of each monk, seeing their faults and shortcomings, but to focus on what all monastics strive for–communion with God.

Monasticism is the reference point because it is a summary of the Gospel. A monk is a person who’s existence is about attaining Theosis (communion with God), striving to live the life of the saints; a life of holiness. Monasticism is the reference point for all Christians because communion with God is what all Christians are called to. St. John Chrysostom put it this way:

“You greatly delude yourself and err, if you think that one thing is demanded from the layman and another from the monk; since the difference between them is in that whether one is married or not, while in everything else they have the same responsibilities… Because all must rise to the same height; and what has turned the world upside down is that we think only the monk must live rigorously, while the rest are allowed to live a life of indolence.”

Now granted, Christians will live their Christianity in different ways according to their own vocation. But there is not a great divide between the monastics and everyone else. Monasticism and Marriage are two sides of the same coin. And it is what the monastic is trying to attain that we are most concerned with. Monks and nuns are awesome examples because not only is theosis the goal of their lives but their lives are also easy to examine and learn from.

Since every Christian is called to be a monastic, every home should be a monastery. St. John Paul in Orientale Lumen described a monastery like this:

“The monastery is the prophetic place where creation becomes praise of God and the precept of concretely lived charity becomes the ideal of human coexistence; it is where the human being seeks God without limitation or impediment, becoming a reference point for all people, bearing them in his heart and helping them to seek God.”

A Monastery is where creation praises God, love reigns, and God can be sought freely; the place to work out salvation. The ancient term ‘domestic church’ has come into use again. And yet, we hear the term often not understood properly. Some use it as if to say, yes a Christian’s home is a little church but not the same as the real church. We must believe a Christian’s home is a real church, not pretend, not just playing at being church, but a real one – a monastery if you will.

Christ told us “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Mt.18-20).  A Christian family should first and foremost be two and then three (or more!) gathered in Christ’s name. In the same way a monastery is a group of men or women gathered in our Lord’s name in order to work out their salvation together.

Wedding at Cana Icon

From St. John Paul: 

“The Christian family is called upon like the large-scale Church, to be a sign of unity for the world and in this way exercise its prophetic role by bearing witness to the Kingdom and peace of Christ, towards which the whole world is journeying”

The Monastery, the Christian home and the Church as a whole are called, in their own ways, to be prophetic places that witness the kingdom to come.

 

Continue to Why Every Home is a Monastery Part 2: Patriarch Bartholomew on Marriage and Monasticism

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