Sunday, 26 February 2012
Father Lazarus - Holy Stillness in Egypt
"From Remigiusz Sowa best Documentary Transmitter Award winner at the Crystal Palace International Film Festival; a truly remarkable story of Father Lazarus El Anthony, university lecturer, Marxist who abandoned his life in Australia and went in search of God and freedom. His pilgrimage eventually brought him to a life of a Christian Coptic monk and live in solitude on the Al-Qalzam Mountain (Egypt) in the pursuit of what the Desert Fathers called apatheia, holy stillness." An inspiration of faith.
"Christian monasticism is a practice which began to develop early in the history of the Christian Church, modeled upon scriptural examples and ideals, including those in the Old Testament, but not mandated as an institution in the scriptures.
In modern English, they are also known by the gender-neutral term "monastics." The word monk originated from the Greek word monos, which means alone. Monks did not live in monasteries at first, rather, they began by living alone, as the word monos might suggest. As more people took on the lives of monks, living alone in the wilderness, they started to come together and model themselves after the original monks nearby. Quickly the monks formed communities to further their ability to observe an ascetic life. Monastics generally dwell in a monastery, whether they live there in community (cenobites), or in seclusion (recluses).
It is a misconception to think of the Christian monastic life as "living in a religious community". Its purpose is not always communal living with like-minded Christians. Rather, many times the purpose is perpetual training that is meant to help those who feel called to dedicate their life to God. This is in accordance with the example given by Jesus and his exhortation to "be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). This ideal, also called the state of perfection, can be seen, for example, in the Philokalia, a book of monastic writings.
For a monk, asceticism is not an end in itself. For him the purpose of life is to love God. Monastic asceticism then means the removal of obstacles to loving God. Love is the union of wills. If the creature is to love God, he can do it in one way only; by sinking his own will in God's, by doing the will of God in all things: "if you love Me you will keep my commandments". (John 14:15) Monks remember that: "The greatest way to show love for friends is to die for them" (John 15:13)CEV, for, in their case, life has come to mean renunciation. They commit themselves to this life through vowing poverty, conversion of manners and stability.
Old Testament models of the Christian monastic ideal include groups such as the Nazirites, as well as Moses, Elijah and other prophets of Israel. New Testament figures such as John the Baptist and Jesus Christ similarly withdrew from the world to develop spiritual discernment. First Century groups such as the Essenes and the Therapeutae also followed lifestyles that could be seen as precursors to Christian monasticism.
A Nazirite was a person voluntarily consecrated to YHWH, under a special vow.
"Say to the people of Israel, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to YHWH, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink, and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins. All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall come upon his head; until the time is completed for which he separates himself to YHWH, he shall be holy; he shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long. All the days that he separates himself to YHWH he shall not go near a dead body. Neither for his father nor for his mother, nor for brother or sister, if they die, shall he make himself unclean; because his separation to God is upon his head. All the days of his separation he is holy to the LORD. ..." ' (Numbers 6, RSV)
The prophets of Israel were set apart to YHWH for the sake of a message of repentance. Some of them lived under extreme conditions, voluntarily separated or forced into seclusion because of the burden of their message. Other prophets were members of communities, schools mentioned occasionally in the Scriptures but about which there is much speculation and little known. The pre-Abrahamic prophets, Enoch and Melchizedek, and especially the Jewish prophets Elijah and his disciple Elisha are important to Christian monastic tradition.
The most frequently cited "role-model" for the life of a hermit separated to the Lord, in whom the Nazarite and the prophet are believed to be combined in one person, is John the Baptist
The female role models for monasticism are Mary the mother of Jesus and the four virgin daughters of Philip the Evangelist"
Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_monasticism
The monastic way of life is not for everyone. My two great aunts were Benedictine nuns in France; their chosen path in life. Many people in different ways are trying to attain our union with God. A peaceful life without stress, noise, pressures, arguments, greed, corruption, injustice and war is certainly very appealing.
Peace is not a destination, we must seek peace wiithin.
Peace, love and best wishes
Posted by Lady Pauline Maria