The term ‘monastic’ derives from the Greek monachos, which means “single one” or “solitary one”. There are three basic modes of monastic life: (1) the solitary; (2) the skete where two or three monastics live together under the direction of a spiritual guide; and, (3) the cenobium where a larger group of monastics live in common obedience to an abbot. Of these three types, the Orthodox Catholic Monastery of Our Lady Joy of All Who Sorrow is best defined as a skete.
As a counter to our society’s materialistic spirit, there is a renewed interest in monasticism. Contemplative spirituality offers a sense of meaning, fulfillment, faithfulness and stability in an often unstable and unpredictable world. Monasticism provides the Church with an anchor in prayer. We pray for ourselves, for each other, for those who have requested our prayers, for the Church, and for the world. Through prayer we bind ourselves together and lift each other to God. The monastic life is a direct and intense way of working out one’s salvation.
In an attempt to develop “new” models of religious life, we find ourselves returning to the very oldest models of religious life. Thus, our “new” way of configuring monasticism in contemporary Western society is reflective of the earliest form of proto-cenobitic monasticism developed by the holy Fathers and Mothers of the Egyptian desert in the fourth century. We strive to uphold this same model of semi-dispersed monastic community, living out the Christian religious life in a way that is both traditional and dynamic, contemplative and Apostolic, deeply authentic and contemporarily relevant.
It has been demonstrated that the primitive church was motivated by joy, enthusiasm, a common vision, and enormous variety of expression. So too, the contemporary monastic manifests remarkable variety and individuality, unified by a spirit of joy, a fervor for liturgy and prayer, and a passion for knowledge.
In our times many people, especially young people, desire to see their ideals and the content of their faith embodied. To encounter people who are striving to authentically live their faith with all of its consequences is a great contribution to society. The monastic is not separated from communion with one’s sisters and brothers, nor is a monastic indifferent to the world and its problems. Their vocation and charisma are to be prophet and preacher of the coming Heavenly Realm, a living icon and proof of the future life.
Monasticism represents a response to the invitation to follow Christ; and as such its asceticism involves a detachment from the world and its distractions. Contemporary monastics seek to recover, re-vision, and liberate the Christian message, discovering ways to find new wine skins for the new wine that Christ gives us in His body and blood, in his words, and in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Monastics are called to listen with the ears of our hearts to the God of love who enlivens and motivates us, who pursues and loves us with an everlasting love.
We are called to find new ways to interpret this radical Christian way to new generations in such a way that they can taste and see that the Lord is good, so that they can perceive the beauty that is ever new, ever captivating, ever ravishing.