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Two or Three Blessed Paths: Marriage, Monasticism, and A Third Option?

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#61 Kosta

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 03:52 AM

The Church prefers ascetism to the bachelor's life. The Bachelor life means forgoing marriage to travel and party and play videogames while smoking weed. Rarely does it mean nowadays a celibate life, why do you think the heterodox now ordain people to their priesthood who still date and have relationships? Being single has nothing to do with celibacy anylonger. This is what I think Seraphim is saying.

#62 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 08:29 AM

Surely it is the way of life which matters and may be blessed, not the status: the way of life of a married man who travels, parties, plays videogames and smokes weed will not be blessed, whereas the way of life of a single man living a spiritual life in Christ under the guidance of his spiritual father will be.



#63 Lakis Papas

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 12:18 PM

David L Watkins,

I think basically in the orthodox mindset a person, who do not want to join the monastic life, has no arguments to support a choice for unmarried life.

#64 Ryan

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 12:47 PM

My understanding is that St. Photius was a lifelong bachelor. The Church thought he was worthy to be made patriarch overnight.



#65 readerdavid@stjohnroc.com

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 07:13 PM

The Church prefers ascetism to the bachelor's life. The Bachelor life means forgoing marriage to travel and party and play videogames while smoking weed. Rarely does it mean nowadays a celibate life, why do you think the heterodox now ordain people to their priesthood who still date and have relationships? Being single has nothing to do with celibacy anylonger. This is what I think Seraphim is saying.

But is that really the only other option?  Is that the only thing people are doing who aren't married or monastic?  At the same time, does being married mean you are living a holy life, and not partying and smoking weed?  How about not seeing single men only in terms of a "bachelor pad?"  This is what I meant by disparaging and deriding.

 

Saying the Church "prefers asceticism" is a long way from a decree that one must marry or join a monastery.  And isn't it not simply to marry, but to remain holy within that marriage?  I think we all know marriage/monastery does not preclude one from immorality, slothfulness, greed, etc.



#66 readerdavid@stjohnroc.com

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 07:21 PM

Surely it is the way of life which matters and may be blessed, not the status: the way of life of a married man who travels, parties, plays videogames and smokes weed will not be blessed, whereas the way of life of a single man living a spiritual life in Christ under the guidance of his spiritual father will be.

Yes!  And "to his own master he stands or falls, and God is able to make him stand."



#67 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 07:45 PM

David L Watkins,

I think basically in the orthodox mindset a person, who do not want to join the monastic life, has no arguments to support a choice for unmarried life.

 

But this is not in accord with the teaching of St Theophan the Recluse. As already said, in Russia, no such 'either/or' is known. I know a woman who was unmarried until she was in her mid-30s and her spiritual father, an hegoumen at the Holy Trinity St Sergius Lavra, never, in the years he was guiding her, said she had to marry; on the contrary, he urged her to live as a single woman working out her salvation in the Church.



#68 Lakis Papas

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 09:50 PM

There is no rule without exceptions, especially Christianity does not fit life into molds.
 
It is a different thing to be single, and another to give promise of celibacy.
 
The monks give three promises: Obedience, Chastity, Lack of property. It is very difficult for someone to apply one of the three without the other two.
 
There are exceptions of course, but the rule is that the safest way to honor the three promises is monasticism. In Greece we use the term "kosmokalogeros" ("a monk in the world")" for a person that lives as a monk in the world - but it's the exception that proves the rule.
 
And there is a special church ritual for monks (monastic tonsure) as there is one for cristian couples who marry (wedding ceremony) but no ritual for worldly singles - there is a reason for this lack of ritual.
 
It is not a discovery of modern psychology that the absence of sexual activity creates problems: The Fathers of the Church knew this very well and worked a remarkable systeem of ascetic standards -the basis of all monastic rules - makes virginity possible and enjoyable. They know, better than the modern psychologists, that the human instinct of love and reproduction is not isolated from the rest of human existence, but it is the most central. It can not be suppressed, but only to be transformed, to be translated and channeled as love for God and neighbor, with prayer, fasting and obedience in the name of Christ.
 
Of course marriage is not an obligation. The candidate for marriage needs to have physical and spiritual maturity.

Edited by Lakis Papas, 08 March 2015 - 09:52 PM.


#69 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 10:29 PM

What is lacking here is authority from the deposit of the Church that the single life is not an blessed option.



#70 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 10:50 PM

There is no rule that the single life is not blessed. The person living the single life may not be able to give a vow of not owning property, but could, with the blessing of his or her spiritual father, give a vow of celibacy and of obedience (to the spiritual father). There are no grounds for saying that St Theophan's correspondent was an exception to the rule - particularly as there is no such rule.



#71 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 10:53 PM

There is a danger, I fear, in this idea of blest paths,the calling of all Christians is to chastity* either in marriage or in virginity. Those who marry struggle together for their common salvation, and in this there is a sacrifice of each for the other, and also support of each other. Those who, like the chief amongst the Apostles St Paul, do not marry often lack this mutual sacrifice and support, this does not mean that neither exists, those without a spouse have more time to dedicate to the Church and to the helping of the poor, and indeed still have the support of the Church through the parish. Yet many recognising the hardness of attainment of virtue in this way of life and being unhindered sought to enter into the desert in order to make a better fight; yet these also sought the teachings of an elder, one more experienced and further along this journey, and the common support of brethren, and hence formed the cenobitical ascetic life. The Church sees the mutual support and sacrifice in these two ways of life for the faithful. This does not mean that those who do not marry, either through lack of potential spouse or reasons that they themselves have, must for their salvation enter into a monastery, not all can marry, not all are suited to the monastic life. What is important is that each person live in chastity with faith in God struggling with Divine aid to restore the likeness of God in himself, to attain Theosis, whether in marriage or in virginity, whether in the monastery or in the world. 

 

In Christ.

Daniel,

 

 

*I use this in the sense of: a lack of, or separation from, the pleasures of this world, i.e. life of purity, not as in the sense of complete absence sexual or otherwise.


Edited by Daniel R., 08 March 2015 - 10:55 PM.


#72 Lakis Papas

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 05:57 PM

Church has established two avenues opened by the Spirit of God - namely the marriage and the monasticism .
 
There are also some solitarily trails also engraved by the spirit of God.
 
I hope not to scandalize someone by saying the above.


#73 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 06:37 PM

Please provide authority.



#74 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 03:36 PM

First off, I was not "saying" anything so much as asking a question to clarify the hypothetical single working dentists and such who are up at arms about fair wage laws and who do not think it necessary to follow the chain of command in their Orthodox life.

 

Kosta has pointed out how living as a lifelong bachelor does not fit the model that Theophan the Recluse described.  To say that living as a single, chaste, obedient Orthodox Christian is not blessed by the Church is incorrect, i.e. not Orthodox.

 

To say that living a single life is blessed by the Church is incorrect because it includes a lot of lifestyles that are contrary to Orthodoxy.  As Kosta rightly points out, Theophan describes an ascetic life.  Lifelong bachelors or spinsters are rarely ascetic in this day and age.

 

If I am saying anything, it is that the single dentist who is concerned with complaining about fair wages is not fitting within even this third blessed path, regardless of sex.  

 

To keep banging on what Theophan the Recluse wrote is a fallacy.  I am even losing count of all the straw men here.



#75 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 07:26 PM

Seraphim, what evidence do you have that single Orthodox dentists around the world (and there cannot be that many) are complaining about fair wages? Dentists, even in the socialist hell-hole that some Americans believe Europe to be, are very well paid: £55,500 ($83,600) is the average in England.

 

I have mentioned St Theophan the Recluse more than once because he is a relatively modern saint who speaks to our times though I have mentioned others. You have said you accept what he said, but now seem to backtrack on that. I do not see other posters supporting their assertions with patristic sayings despite requests to do so.

 

To say that living a single life is blessed by the Church is incorrect because it includes a lot of lifestyles that are contrary to Orthodoxy. 

 

This is wrong. A single life IS blessed by the Church (and if being blessed by a highly regarded saint is not being blessed by the Church, I don't know what is). Lifestyles 'that are contrary to Orthodoxy' (whatever that means - which of us lives his life in total harmony with Orthodox teaching?) are not blessed.



#76 Phoebe K.

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Posted 12 March 2015 - 08:46 PM

The point of life is Theoses and becoming in the full image and likeness of Christ, for some this can only be achieved in marriage, for some this is achieved in monasticism (which by some is spoken of as a marriage to Christ in a mystical scene), for some however although they are not called to a marriage they are also not called to follow formal monasticism, but rather to live faithfully in the world.  A clear example of this living faithfully in the world under much more difficult conditions than we face was St John the Russian, who lived the single life faithfully without the option of monasticism or marriage.

 

If you wish the Orthodox life faithfully it is possible in any marital state, some occupations are clearly incompatible and some lifestyles are incompatible, the life of marriage and that of celibacy fit within the tradition of the Church.  I would be more concerned about the worldly redefinition of Marriage (though to discuss this would go beyond the area of this discussion) than arguing over whether the celibate life needs to by lived within a monastery or not.  

 

St Siluan the Athonite said in his writings that in the last days there will be many with the monastic spirit living in the world as a witness to the faith, not married but single yet not a formal monastic.






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