Christ is Risen!
Speaking on the monastic life, Elder Porphyrios said: “For a monk to live [the monastic] life properly… he needs to have a monastic consciousness. He gains the consciousness by turning with all his being towards God and towards the aim he has set himself. He lives in silence, with prayer of the heart, with asceticism and in obedience. He must die to everything in order to live in Christ. He wakes up full of zeal, completes his rule of prayer and runs eagerly to the church services ad to his various duties. He has one object alone in mind – how to be pleasing to God, how to serve God and how to become an occasion for God’s name to be glorified” (pg. 158).
Now, despite the fact that the Elder is speaking about monastics we should not think this description excludes us in the world. We should struggle to be just as zealous, just as prayerful, just as silent (to the extent that we are able) as the monk or nun does. God doesn’t judge the quantity of our struggle, but the quality. And He certainly is not a “respecter of persons”. God wants the layperson to live for Him just as much, and just as purposefully as He wants the monk and nun to.
Only two pages after the above passage the Elder says: “In the eyes of God, the married and the unmarried person are the same, provided they live in accordance with the commandments of God and provided they live the life of God. Chastity, lack of possessions and poverty, which at the virtues of the monk, are to be found in a person’s heart… Someone may own a dozen houses and yet in his soul be liberated from material things and live like someone who owns nothing. On the other hand, someone may be poor in an external sense, but not be free of possessions internally. It is not the quantity of possessions that makes someone propertied or unpropertied, but the attachment of the heart” (pg. 160).
I firmly believe the Elder when he says there is no difference between monk and layman (except perhaps in the intensity level of one’s struggle). And so, I wrote a collection of stories from my experiences among those who strive to “become an occasion for God’s name to be glorified” that in reflecting on all they have taught me, I might imitate them.