My Life As An Orthodox Monk

Uploaded by zionget on 03.07.2011

Growing up in Judaism and finding it bereft of a heaven to gain and a hell to shun, at
the age of twenty one I embraced the Lord Jesus Christ as the Jewish Messiah and the
message of the New Testament, and afterwards, the Orthodox Church. After twenty five years
making a good living as a successful straight-commissioned salesman of Industrial Chemicals, I left the
rat race in 1996 and joined an Orthodox monastery seeking quiet, interior prayer and healing
for my soul. A whole new world was opened up to me and this world, this experience,
I wish to share with all of you now. Our day began at midnight when Father Luke sounded
the Semitron calling us all, nearly fifty of us to prayer… to our midnight service
called Divine Liturgy where we partook of Holy Communion. The service ended at 3 AM
and we hurried back to our cells to start our prayer rule, a series of prayers and prostrations
assigned to us by the Abbot, the Elder of the monastery. Then a brief nap. We were all
up by 7:30 AM to begin our work, our chores, which we called our “obediences.” Some
of us were Icon Painters – the livelihood of the monastery…painting and selling Icons
– while the rest of us did the cleaning, the cooking, the general maintenance. While
others were engaged in research, preparing manuscripts for books to be published. At
noon we gathered in the Refectory, which we called, “Trapeza,” which in Greek monastic
tradition means “Table.” We ate our meals in complete silence while a specially-assigned
monks read from the Lives of the Saints. After clearing tables and doing dishes we were back
in our cells for a brief nap…then back in Church at 3:30 PM for the late afternoon service
of Vespers. A light meal would follow and then Compline, the final service of the day.
After Compline the real work of a monk would begin. First we met with the Abbot, the Elder
of the monastery, a seasoned monk who attained a high Spiritual virtue after spending years
in quiet perfecting interior prayer known as the Jesus Prayer which purifies, illumines,
and deifies the soul. We novices bared our own souls to the Elder, revealing our thoughts,
our doubts, our struggles, and receiving in return, healing..consolation..cleansing, and
experienced a deep monastic exchange received from the Elder, a transfer of grace. Back
in our cells, we too worked on perfecting the Jesus Prayer repeating over and over again
for three to four hours the words of the prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God Have Mercy
on Me.” At first the Prayer is very difficult …almost impossible. Although called, “The
Prayer of the Heart,” the words of the prayer all up in the head. The tedium and the seeming
monotony is very wearisome. But if you keep on working on it, soon, with a flood of great
warmth, the mind sinks down into the heart where the words of the Prayer, “Lord Jesus
Christ Son of God Have Mercy on Me,” pulsate effortlessly like a quiet, bubbling, murmuring
brook. Aah… Oh, it’s the Semitron! It’s midnight! Gotta go! It’s time for Church!