Personal website of Markos Boussios
It has generally been the tendency of noble spirits to seclude themselves in order to practise piety and holiness away from the temptations of the world. But Christianity, as found in its source, the New Testament,, although leaving no doubt as to the need and importance of prayer and meditation in the Christian's life, equally emphasizes the need and importance of his practically living according to its tenets and doctrines within the framework of his every day human relations.
Τρίτη, 21 Μαρτίου 2023
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About monasticism

The great German philosopher Immanuel Kant said: "Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should become a universal law."  That is to say, when we do something we should ask ourselves: "Would it be good if everyone did the same?" Of course there is no rule without exception, and what we have in these wise words of Kant's, is the fact that our actions and  behavior in general, should be such that, if all men were to follow our example, that would be good for mankind.

Asceticism is a universal religious, in the main, phenomenon. Many noble spirits felt the need to find themselves away from the world and all its evils, and somewhere, in seclusion, give themselves over to meditation, prayer, fasting and recollection. Who would blame the feeling of such a need! However, taking as a rule Kant's wise utterance, if all men did just that what would happen? Simply, there would be a transfer of the world there, and so on. The end result would not be the one thus pursued.

It is well known that one of the reasons that Constantinople fell to the Turks was the fact that young men preferred to seclude themselves as monks in the monasteries rather than take up guns and defend their country. It is also known that the armed men defending the city under the heroic king Constantine Palaeologus were no more than eight thousand, which, if Mohammed II had known would had conquered the city much earlier.

Monasticism as a universal religious phenomenon, especially in the area of Christendom, had a negative impact on society. Ηowever, no one would deny the fact that it has also had its positive effects. For instance, in many monasteries letters, art, science etc., were cultivated and developed, and many of modern European universities have their roots in them. What is of vital importance though is not comparing the evils with the goods of the system and seeing on which side the scale leans, but rather examining if the whole idea is compatible with the spirit of Christianity as delivered to us by Christ and His Apostles.

In the first place we believe that the fact that the Lord chose His apostles from among fishermen and other occupations that were closely related with the people at large, is indicative of the fact that Christ's followers should bear witness for Him and the gospel as they rub shoulders in the crowds in every day life. And this was true especially of the fishermen as they would be selling their fish in the noisy market places! Here we can also remark that none of His apostles had been a shepherd before. Shepherds abounded in Palestine at the time and shepherds were the first witnesses of His birth in Bethlehem. Now, the fact that Jesus did not choose any shepherd to be a witness of His life, death and resurrection, does not indicate anything but that, because the shepherds lived most of their time away from the crowds, out in the country tending their flocks, were not possibly meeting the conditions for that mission. This in no way can be interpreted as an exclusion of that segment of society from the fold of Christianity; not at all, for Christianity embraced all repenting and believing on Christ sinners regardless of nationality, religion, gender, occupation etc., and no doubt among the early believers there were shepherds, too, as there have been throughout all the Christian era up to our time.

Jesus said to His disciples: «Ye are the light of the world And as such His followers should live in the world, among their fellowmen, and shine for Christ. How else could those that live in the darkness of ignorance and sin be enlightened and learn of God's love and come to Christ in order to be saved, unless those that have already done so tell them?

But someone may object: asceticism is not for all Christians. Not every follower of Christ feels that need. Agreed, but that is not the point. The point is if Christianity, as we have it delivered us in the New Testament, advocates asceticism or in any way allows for it. There is no doubt that the New Testament not only does not allow for any form of asceticism but, quite the contrary, opposes it as foreign to the spirit of the religion of Christ.

In His high priestly prayer, in John 17, the Lord said to the Father about His disciples: «I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil» (v.15). And a little earlier, in His famous Sermon on the Mount, He said: «Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Mat.5: 16). Also, «Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves» (Mat.10: 16). The apostle Paul also, in writing to the Christians at Philippi said: «That ye nay be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world (Phil.2: 15). And we could quote quite a few other scripture passages which, directly or indirectly, shed light on our subject. But it is beyond dispute that no well-meaning student of the New Testament would try to find support for monasticism in it. The letter and spirit of the New Testament is that the Christian's place is in the world, but not οf the world or one with the world! In the world yes, but «Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world(I John 2:15). And: «be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom. 12:2).  Markos Boussios.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Personal website of Markos Boussios
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