The Eight Monastic Virtues

In the spirit of living a contemplative lifestyle within a contemporary monastic context, we dedicate our lives to Christ in imitation of the Theotokos (Mother of God), Our Lady Joy of All Who Sorrow, by joyfully embracing and striving to observe the following eight monastic virtues: Simplicity; Solitude and Prophetic Witness; Theosis (θέωσις); Stability; Conversion; Obedience and Service; Non-Attachment; and, Chastity.

  1. Simplicity: Abba Zacharias said that anyone who controls oneself and makes oneself content with just what is needed and no more, is indeed a monastic. In a spirit of simplicity, we are called to embrace the present moment with its joys and sorrows, silence and loneliness, emptiness and poverty, euphoria and sweetness.
  2. Solitude and Prophetic Witness: Often without physical monasteries, contemporary Theotokos Bogoroditsa Virgin Marymonastics follow the example of the apostles.  We seek to follow God’s call to embody love and bring the gospel freely to all.  This prophetic witness lies in the anonymity and invisibility of the prophet, the privilege of solitude and silence, and the seeming irrelevance of the monastic in the modern world.  Many of us have elected to depart, and to live on the sometimes ragged edges of society and of organized religion.  It is on this frontier, often in the middle of our overcrowded cities, that we truly confront our own limits as well as those of the established religious structures that have so badly failed to serve humanity.  Like leaven, monastics quietly penetrate every stratum of society, recognizing that it may often be necessary or expedient to keep one’s monastic vocation an entirely private matter.
  3. Theosis: We are called to a joyful sorrow that praises God with tears of joy and repentance.  In the acceptance of our humanity, we are called to keep our rule of prayer, to pray constantly, and to be united with God, and to glorify God alone in all things and at all times. 
  4. Stability: Stability, as a monastic value, suggests as well that the monastic be called to flourish in the place where one finds oneself, not wandering aimlessly.  The call to stability is the call to give attention to our environment, to invest our talents here and now, to give of all that we have, so that we may bring the gospel message to the world.
  5. OB-Krest 2Conversion: To restore a sense of balance, connection, and organic unity with the world and to return to a relationship with the God of all creation who seeks to be united with us in every moment and movement of our lives is a significant prophetic role for monastics.  It is in seeking God that we find ourselves, and it is in loving one another that we begin to discern God’s love for us and for all of creation.
  6. Obedience and Service: We are called to have a rule of life and prayer, by which we may live and with which we may nourish our souls.  More immediately, we are called daily to the needs of others. Ultimately, we are called to relationship, and to love, serve, and honor others, as well as the environment, God, and ourselves.
  7. Non-Attachment: As modern Christians, the call to detachment, or non-attachment, is no less radical. The monastic ideals of simplicity, detachment, and separation find themselves manifesting psychologically rather than physically, under the general rubric of moderation rather than severity. The mandate of poverty in this century may be better understood as a call to recognize our inherent poverty of knowledge, wisdom, and insight.
  8. Chastity: The call to chastity, likewise, is not so much a matter of sexual abstinence as it is a call to find holiness and divinity in all aspects of life, without objectifying, manipulating or demeaning other people. Unlike most traditional forms of Christian monastic religious life, the contemporary monastic movement admits married persons/couples to monastic life.  The call to chastity is understood as a call to live faithfully, authentically, and charitably, to love deeply and heartily, to love one another as we love ourselves, and to see the living Christ in one another, and to strive to love others as Christ loves us.