Today is the feast of St Benedict of Nursia (480-547).
Eastern Christian monasticism is chiefly indebted to St Basil the Great for its present character.
In the 6th century, the monastic traditions of Western Europe began to be shaped in a similar fashion by the Rule of St Benedict.
Sometimes, we can be given the impression that monks are called to something higher than married people are.
Not so, according to St John Chrysostom.
YOU greatly delude yourself and err, if you think that one thing is demanded from the layman and another from the monk; since the difference between them is in that whether one is married or not, while in everything else they have the same responsibilities. […]
Because all must rise to the same height; and what has turned the world upside down is that we think only the monk must live rigorously, while the rest are allowed to live a life of indolence.
Whoever is angry with his brother without cause, regardless of whether he is a layman or a monk, opposes God in the same way. And whoever looks at a woman lustfully, regardless of his status, commits the same sin. […]
A man is not defined by whether he is a layman or a monk, but by the way he thinks.
“Pros piston patera” (To the faithful father) 3, 14, PG47, 372-74. Quoted on the website of the Monastery of St Anthony, Arizona, USA.
And so, what St Benedict has to say about the calling of a monk really applies to any Orthodox Christian.
He can be a teacher and inspiration for all of us.
AND our Lord seeking His labourer among the multitude to whom He here speaketh, saith again: “Who is the man that will have life, and desireth to see good days?” (Ps 33:13)
If thou, hearing this, dost answer: “I am he”: God saith unto thee: “If thou wilt have true and everlasting life, refrain thy tongue from evil, and thy lips, that they speak no guile. Decline from evil, and do good; seek after peace and pursue it.” (Ps 33:14-15).
And when you have done this: My eyes shall be upon you, and My ears shall be open to your prayers.
And before you can call upon Me, I will say: “Behold I am present.” (Is 65:24).
What, dearest brethren, can be sweeter, than this voice of the Lord, inviting us?
Behold how in His loving Kindness He showeth unto us the way of life!
Our loins therefore being girt with faith and the observance of good works, and our feet shod with the guidance of the Gospel of peace, let us walk in His ways, that we may deserve to see in His kingdom Him Who has called us. (Eph 6:14-15).
Rule of St Benedict, Prologue. Translation from CCEL.
The video below shows the Roman Catholic Benedictine Monastery of Chevetogne (beware this link, music will play at you!) in Belgium, whose monks have adopted the Slavonic rite, and sing it most beautifully. Here, they sing the Polyeleos (Psalm 135().
Kontakion (Fourth Tone)
O SUN that shinest with the Mystic Dayspring’s radiance, who didst enlighten the monastics of the western lands, thou art worthily the namesake of benediction; do thou purge us of the filth of passions thoroughly by the sweat of thine illustrious accomplishments, for we cry to thee:
Rejoice, O thrice-blessed Benedict.