Monastic Practice ~ Work

As I have written before, the monastic life is like a three legged stool.  One of those legs is prayer, the other is divine reading and the third, and the subject of this essay, is work.

Monastic work is very different from the work we might perform in the secular world as it focus is not on us but on the other.  Our work is an expression of our love, not the love of work or the love of money, but the love of the community and of the other.  Self-forgetful service to the community is a movement out of me and a movement toward the other; it is a movement of giving and a movement of love.  If our work loses the intent to serve the other, then it becomes merely a means of support and less a monastic practice.

By our work we intend to accomplish something good for others or ourselves.  If this is not our mission then we are not working we are just simply playing.  We have to put ourselves wholeheartedly into our work and accomplish it fairly well then and only then can we take pride in our accomplishments, not for our won glory but for that of the other.

The early monastics in the Egyptian desert refused alms even from their own relatives.  Rather they worked and earned their bread by their own hands by their own labor.  This form of manual labor offers a distinct value in the spiritual life.  If we rely only on two legs of the monastic stool, that of prayer and reading, the monastic can get restless and start to think about other things.  Manual labor helps to keep us focused on God.  This is true if you remove one of the other legs of the stool.  A balanced life is what the monk strives for.

Josemaria Escriva, founder of the Roman Catholic Opus Dei said this about our work; “Your work too must become a personal prayer, it must become a real conversation with Our Father in heaven.”  Manual labor should not have priority over liturgical prayer or divine reading but for the work to have value there must be balance between our work, prayer, and reading.  They must flow in and from each other.  For one who truly knows how to work their work can be a prayer.

In the monastic life, work and prayer can converge in to a single point.  That point of convergence is a heart that is penetrated with love.  Work and prayer are both expressions of love if they are done for the other.  All of my work can become prayer if I do it under obedience for the good of others and for the glory of the Holy Trinity.  We work for the same reason we pray and practice divine reading; we do this a means of truly seeking God.

Monastic Practice ~ Liturgical Prayer

Another one of the legs of the stool of monastic life is Liturgical Prayer.  We encounter the word of God in Liturgical Prayer as we do in Sacred Reading.  We need to move from an encounter with the written word to a deeper relationship with the living God of the Scripture.  Liturgy Prayer will aid us in that journey.

One of the things that monasteries are known for is the liturgical services that the monastery has during the day.  The complete round of services is a major part of the life of the monastery and perhaps is the only way that one might come in contact with the monks.  Communal prayer is extremely important in the life of the monk.  Here at St. Columba we serve Matins and Vespers each day as public services but also pray Compline each night.

Liturgical prayer is a continuation of our day and part of our daily rhythm and not an interruption in the day or a distraction from the work we might be engaged in when the bells rings.  When we gather for liturgical prayer we bring all of the concerns of the day to the prayer.  We lay them at the feet of God and ask that His will be done in each of the situations we remember.

Orthodox liturgy hits all of the senses.  The sights, the sounds, the smells of liturgy draw us into a living existence.  Prayer is not a static arrangement but a living and breathing part of our day.  Liturgical prayer deepens our personal prayer and deepens our relationship with the Living God and with each other.

We use the Psalms in our liturgical prayer and through the seasons of the church year we will be able to grasp in a deeper sense the meaning of the ancient prayers.  We need to make them our own prayer and harmonize our heart with our voice so that we will be honoring God with our hearts and our lips.

In his rule for monasteries, St. Benedict assumed that the monks would know the Psalms by heart.  Most of the monks of his day could not read so they would commit all of the Psalms to memory.  Although this is not necessary we should try to at least commit some of our favorite Psalms to memory for use during the day.

Part of the cell rule in the monastery, or the personal prayer routine of the monks, portions of the Psalms are read each day so the monk reads through the entire books of Psalms each week.  The Psalms become part of us as we move through the seasons of our life.

The Liturgical life of the monastery directly reflects the community life of the monastery.  If there is conflict in the community there will be conflict in the prayer of the community.  Because liturgical prayer looks forward to the Kingdom of God the prayer of the community will strengthen each of the members and will foster the loving unity that will characterize the community of believers when God has become all in all.

“Liturgical prayer is designed to lead us ever deeper into the mystery of Christ until we live not for ourselves but for him who died for all humanity and rise again.  Learning the full meaning of liturgical prayer and being transformed by it will occupy us for a lifetime.” (Monastic Practices)

Monastic Practice ~ Divine Reading

How does one live the monastic life in this crazy world that we live in?  What are the aspects of the monastic life that even lay people can use in their everyday life to enhance their walk with the Lord?

The monastic life is like a three legged stool based on Sacred Reading, Manual Work, and Liturgical Prayer.  Each of these legs is important in the life of the monk and without one the stool will not stand.  Each of these legs needs to be worked on and worked at if they are going to keep the life of the monk balanced.

Sacred Reading is not a new practice but is as old as the Church.  For generations monks have made this a part of their daily practice.  It is also, I believe, one of the lest understood legs of the monastic stool.

It can be said that once you are schooled in a particular spirituality then you remain in that spirituality for the rest of your days.  I was schooled in the Benedictine Monastic tradition and this influences my spirituality today.  I am also school in the Celtic Spirituality and this influences my spiritual life as well.  Both spiritualities practiced some form of sacred reading.

In the monasteries of St. Benedict he allotted two to three hours a day during the summer months and up to five hours during the winter months.  So Scared Reading was important to St. Benedict and his monasteries.  St. Benedict believed that idleness was the enemy to the soul and so he prescribed reading and manual labor to his monks.

Sacred Reading is the process of assimilating the word of God by letting its very meaning spread through your blood to all parts of your body.  To become one with the Word so you can become one with the Word.

What is the process of Sacred Reading?

1.  Time ~ There needs to be a set time, not only a length of time but a time of the day.  It has been suggested that you start with no less than a half hour per sitting.  The time of the day is up to you but it should be a time that works and will have the least amount of distractions.  If that is even possible in out busy daily lives.

2.  Place ~ The place you choose is as important as the time you choose.  It needs to be a comfortable place, not too cold not too hot, and free of distractions.  No radio or other sound.  You need to feel at home in this place and relaxed.

3.  Be at Peace ~ The Word of God will speak to us if we are in a state of relaxed peacefulness and we are also willing to accept the Word that will be spoken We need a sense of quiet receptivity to the Word.

4.  Prayer ~ As with anything, this will be a grace guided activity so one needs to pray before starting.  Pray that God truly speaks to you through His Word.  Use your own words or if you like the words spoken prior to the reading of the Gospel during the Divine Liturgy:  Enkindle in our hearts the pure light of your divine knowledge, O master, lover of mankind, and open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of your evangelical proclamations.  Instill in us so that, trampling down all bodily desires, we may practice a spiritual life, thinking and doing all which pleases you.

What Scripture passage to start with?

The easiest answer to this question is to use the Scripture the Church selects for each day of the week.  These can be found in many places but one of the most comprehensive lists on the website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.  If you wish, although I do not suggest this to start with, you can just let the Bible fall open to any Scripture passage you wish.

The 12th Century Carthusian Guigo, wrote an essay called the ladder.  In this letter he lists four rungs of spiritual reading.  These are not steps that one moves up each one after completing the previous, but used more as a guide of the process of spiritual reading. The four rungs are:


Let us now look at each of these.

Reading ~  Begin with a careful attentive survey of the passage.  Grasp the central idea that the author is trying to convey.  Listen to what the text is saying, what is being said and not being said.  Ask what the meaning of the situation or the text is.  Where is it taking place and who is it addressed too?

Meditation ~ Turn the passage over in your mind.  Chew on it, ask questions about it.  Again note what is said and not said and ask why.  If you get stuck on a particular word or phrase stick with it and find out what it is saying to you.  Probe the passage for the underlying meaning and hear the words as if they were written just for you.

Prayer ~ Shift from the text you are reading to God.  Move from the word, the Divine Speaker of the Word, to the Word, God.  Dialogue with God about what you have just read and ask questions of how this may or may not apply to your life.

 ~ Rest in the presence of God.  Let the words wash over you and be at peace with them and with God.  Just bask in the Divine Light of the Lord and the Word.  Remain with God and listen with the ear of your heart not the ear of your mind.  Meet the Lord in the mystery of the silence you now sit in, the silence created without and the silence created within.

This is not an easy process or procedure to follow and it will seem difficult at first.  It will be dry and it will take some time to get used too.  You will feel like your wasting your time, but what a better way to waste time then wasting time with God and His Word?  Monks have been practicing Sacred Reading for years and it takes that long to get into it. 

Just start and let God work in your life.  Once you get into it you will notice a difference in your life.  The Word of God is living and it needs to live in each one of us.  It will be fruitful and multiply if you let it.

Monastic Practice

Our Core Monastic Commitment is embodied in six monastic practices:

Prayer – The heart of our monastic life is regular and frequent conversation with God. This takes two main forms: a) public, liturgical prayer in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and the Liturgy of the Hours, and b) private resting in God in Christian contemplation.

Lectio Divina and Study – In conformity with ancient monastic practice, we practice the prayerful and meditative reading of Sacred Scripture. In addition, we also nourish our hearts and minds by ongoing study in sacred and secular areas of learning.

Silence – The attentive listening to God in our hearts and in the daily events of our life requires an internal attitude of silence and an external environment of stillness. In the monastery there are periods of the day in which we observe that silence which facilitates reflection and prayer.

Chaste and Sincere Love of Each Other – As a cenobitic monastic community, that is, as monks who live in community, we aspire to grow in mutual love as brothers. This love is embodied in mutual support, attentiveness, respect, and care for each other as fellow travelers in the spiritual path.

Service – Our life of prayer naturally flows into a desire to serve all those who may visit our monastery for any reason, and we serve them as Christ’s presence in our midst. In particular, our community has chosen the special mission of monastic hospitality and the ministry of spiritual direction. In addition, we have outreach programs to the materially poor.

Simplicity of Life – In a world of over consumption and multiplication of false needs, we try to live, communally and personally, lives that are marked by material simplicity as a sign of dependence on God’s love and care.

Evangelical Counsels ~ Obedience

St. Columba Monastery Fr. Peter Monks“Will you preserve, even unto death, obedience to the Igumen, and to all the Brethren in Christ?”

With these words, asked by the bishop during the tonsure service, the new monk pledges that he or she will obey the Igumen and live with all the other brothers and be obedient to the community.  In other words you no longer live just for you and you alone but for all the members of the monastic community.

Obedience is not an easy thing for us Americans.  We do not like anyone to tell us what to do after all we are free.  Monastic life, like Christianity itself, is a giving up of our will and handing it over to another.  We still make decisions for ourselves and in the end if we cannot “preserve unto death” we are free to leave the monastery.  The hope is that we will persevere in monastic life.

Obedience is not easy.  As a priest I am obedient to my bishop and to my parish community.  I do have the freedom to organize my ministry in the way that I think it should be accomplished but I will ask the bishop for certain things.  Sometimes it is just advice on an issue and sometimes, it is seeking permission.

The monastic life is the same.  When we enter community, no matter what that community may be, we need to be obedient to each other.  Decisions are made by the superior of that community, who we believe serves as the father of the community, but he does so with humility and also makes decisions based on what is best for the community as a whole and not just for one person.

When I entered monastic life years ago, one of the hardest parts was obedience to the bell.  Five times a day the bell would ring to signal prayer.  You drop whatever it is that you are doing and head to the chapel for prayer.  This was not always easy.  Sometimes I was meeting with someone, or just breaking through writing, and the bell would ring.  But we are obedient to the life we have chosen and it is not supposed to be easy.

We do not sacrifice our own freedom in fact I would argue that by being obedient to the Igumen we actually have more freedom.  This is the spiritual gift that we all need to work towards.

As Christians we are supposed to be obedient to Jesus Christ and His Gospel.  We are supposed to be obedient to the Priest and the Bishop in spiritual matters.  We are supposed to be obedient to the teaching of the church.  So in a way we all must practice this discipline, and it is a discipline. 

Evangelical Counsels ~ Chastity

St. Columba of Iona Monastery Fr. PeterThis is the second in a series of articles on the Evangelical Counsels or vows that a monastic takes upon entering the monastery.  I last wrote on poverty and a reader left me a question about why we call these the Evangelical Counsels.  The simple answer is because we get these ideas from the Gospels themselves hence the term evangelical.  I think we sometimes confuse this term with the Evangelical Church and we need to recall the original meaning of the terms as one that made reference to the Gospels.  I hope that answered the question.

Chastity is another one of these things that often gets confused.  Christians of all walks of life are called to the position of chastity.  If you are single you are called to a chaste life meaning no sex outside of marriage.  If you are married you are called to the chaste state in your married life, in other words the sexual relationship belongs in the marriage bed and only the marriage bed.

This applies to the monastic as well.  Called to live in the state of chastity.  We also have live in the state of celibacy.  And there lies the difference.  Again all Christians are called to live in the state of chastity but the monk is called to celibacy as well.  Celibacy is not having a family.  Actually the more accurate statement would be to not have a biological family as the monastery becomes the monk’s family.

Chastity, like the other counsels, helps us to reach that state of perfection that we are desire to obtain.  Whatever our state in life this should be our goal to better follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The monk leaves behind family and the hope of a family to be better able to serve the Lord “fulltime” if you will.  The monk will be free from a divided loyalty to the family and to the Church.  The monastic will be able to devote the hours necessary for prayer and work, not that family life is not work, but free from the obligations of the family.  Free to dedicate their life to God.

Evangelical Counsels ~ Poverty

St. Columba of Iona Fr. Peter Preble MonasticismWhen a man or a woman answers the call to live the monastic life that is the first step is a life long process of living out that call.  Part of the journey is the taking of vows.  The monk makes four vows those of poverty, chastity, obedience, and stability.  Theses are commonly known as the Evangelical Councils.  In this series of articles I will look at each of the vows and the meaning behind each of them.

The vows that a monks takes either eastern or western are not as old as monasticism itself.  In the early years, a person would find an elder and then dress in monastic garb.  This garb would have been different depending not only on the elder but also the geographic location.  Vows came along about the 6th century and have been used since then both in the Eastern Church and the Western Church.

These vows are public and in them they confirm the profession of the vows I have outlined above.  In the Western Church, Benedictines are the only ones who make the fourth vows of stability but in the Eastern Church all Monastics take this vow.

Just a word on Religious Orders.  Orders grew from the elder monk relationship into much larger world wide organizations of Monastics. One thinks of Benedictines, Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, etc.  In the Eastern Church Orders do not exist per se rather monasteries exist under an Igumen and follow a rule or Typicon that is common to that particular monastery.  Most typicons would be basically the same with some regional variation.

Poverty is one of the lest understood vows that a monastic takes.  Poverty in a monastic sense is that of individual poverty.  Everything is owned in common by the community and no one has more than one needs.  The monastic community will own the land and buildings and such as well as all of the other possessions of the monastery.  This will differ from monastery to monastery.  Cistercians of the Strict Observance, commonly known as Trappist do not even own the clothes on their backs, all is owned in common.

“Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods and divided them among all, as anyone had need.”  Acts 2:44

This is a very difficult concept in out 21st Century materialist world that we would literally sell all we have and give to one another but that is exactly what the monastic vows.

“Will you remain unto death in non-acquisitiveness and in the voluntary poverty for Christ’s sake which belong to the common life; not acquiring or keeping anything for yourself except in accordance with common necessity, and then, only in obedience and for your own discretion?”  (Monastic Tonsure Service)

The monastic has to figure out for themselves the difference between a need and a want.  The Monastics will also practice recycling to find other uses for items that are no longer in use.  Sometimes a broken item and be put to use as something else thus saving the need to acquire another item.

The community should not acquire things that are not necessary as well.  Sometimes one goes to a monastery and the monks are living like kings.  This is not a good idea.  Live a simple life is the watch word in the monastery.

The main thing to remember about monastic life is that for the most part it is lived out in community and not solitary.  The community is one that decides what is good for the community not the individual.  However, account is taken that some may be weak and will require more than others.

 Next time Chastity

The Monk

The monk is one who is separated from all, yet is united to all.
Evagrius Ponticos ~ 4th Century Monk

I believe that it is the witness of the monk to the eternal, to preach the tenderness of God, and to live it.
Mother Maria, Her Life in Letters

The word monk comes from the Greek monachos, “alone.” The term is applied to one who makes the choice to lead a life that is solitary, unified, integrated, pacified, and undivided in the quest for the Absolute. For the sake of God, the monk leaves the world, its allures, pleasures, and all those ties which have been part of his life until now. This is painful and hard; after all, monks and nuns have much the same feelings and sensibilities as their fellow human beings.

The difference is that they have heard a call in their hearts, an inviting call that tells them, “Come, I am the way, the truth, and the life. Follow me.” The person who decides to become a monk of nun and enter the solitude of a monastery or hermitage does it because he or she heard this call, a call stronger than any other, a call to communion and fullness of life with God, a call that fulfills the deepest desires of the human heart.

He is toil. The monk toils at all he does. That is what monk is.
Abba John the Dwarf, The sayings of the Desert Fathers.

Adapted from: A Monastic Year: reflections from a Monastery, Br. Victor-Antoine D’Avilia-Latourrette

Orthodox Monasticism: The Degrees of Monks

St. Columba of Iona Fr. Peter PrebleNovice lit. “one under obedience”—Those wishing to join a monastery begin their lives as novices. After coming to the monastery and living as a guest for not less than three days, the abbot or abbess may bless the candidate to become a novice. There is no formal ceremony for the clothing of a novice, he or she simply receives permission to wear the clothing of a novice. In the Eastern monastic tradition, novices may or may not dress in the black inner cassock (Greek: Anterion, Eisorasson; Slavonic: Podriasnik) and wear the soft monastic hat (Greek: Skoufos, Slavonic: Skufia), depending on the tradition of the local community, and in accordance to the abbot’s directives. The inner-cassock and the skoufos are the first part of the Orthodox monastic habit. In some communities, the novice also wears the leather belt. He is also given a prayer rope and instructed in the use of the Jesus Prayer.

If a novice chooses to leave during the period of the novitiate, no penalty is incurred. He may also be asked to leave at any time if his behaviour does not conform to the monastic life, or if the superior discerns that he is not called to monasticism. When the abbot or abbess deems the novice ready, he is asked if he wishes to join the monastery. Some, out of humility, will choose to remain novices all their lives. Every stage of the monastic life must be entered into voluntarily.

Rassophore lit. “Robe-bearer”—If the novice continues on to become a monk, he is clothed in the first degree of monasticism at a service at which he receives the tonsure. Although there are no formal vows made at this point, the candidate is normally required to affirm his commitment to persevere in the monastic life. The abbot will then perform the tonsure, cutting a small amount of hair from four spots on the head, forming a cross. He is then given the outer cassock (Greek: ??????, Rasson, Exorasson, or Mandorrason; Slavonic: ?????, Riassa), an outer robe with wide sleeves, from which the name of Rassophore is derived. He is also given a kamilavkion, a cylindrical brimless hat, which is covered with a veil called an epanokamelavkion. (These are separate items in the Greek tradition, but in the Russian tradition the two are stitched together and the combination is called a klobuk.) If he has not previously received it, a leather belt is fastened around his waist. His habit is usually black, signifying that he is now dead to the world, and he receives a new name.

Although the Rassophore does not make formal vows, he is still morally obligated to continue in the monastic estate for the rest of his life. Some will remain Rassophores permanently without going on to the higher degrees.

Stavrophore lit. “Cross-bearer”—The next level for Eastern monastics takes place some years after the first tonsure when the abbot feels the monk has reached an appropriate level of discipline, dedication, and humility. This degree is also known as the Little Schema, and is thought of as a “betrothal” to the Great Schema. At this stage, the monk makes formal vows of stability of place, chastity, obedience and poverty. Then he is tonsured and clothed in the habit, which in addition to that worn by the Rassophore, includes the paramandyas (Greek: ???????????; Slavonic: ????????, paraman), a piece of square cloth worn on the back, embroidered with the instruments of the Passion, and connected by ties to a wooden cross worn over the heart. The paramandyas represents the yoke of Christ. Because of this addition he is now called Stavrophore, or Cross-bearer. He is also given a wooden hand cross (or “profession cross”), which he should keep in his icon corner, and a beeswax candle, symbolic of monastic vigilance the sacrificing of himself for God. He will be buried holding the cross, and the candle will be burned at his funeral. In the Slavic practice, the Stavrophore also wears the monastic mantle, which symbolizes 40 days of the Lord’s fasting on the Mountain of Temptation. The rasson worn by the Stavrophore is more ample than that worn by the Rassophore.

After the ceremony, the newly-tonsured Stavrophore will remain in vigil in the church for five days, refraining from all work, except spiritual reading. Currently, this vigil is often reduced to three days. The abbot increases the Stavrophore monk’s prayer rule, allows a more strict personal ascetic practice, and gives the monk more responsibility.

Great Schema Monks whose abbot feels they have reached a high level of spiritual excellence reach the final stage, called the Great Schema. The tonsure of a Schemamonk or Schemanun follows the same format as the Stavrophore, and he makes the same vows and is tonsured in the same manner. But in addition to all the garments worn by the Stavrophore, he is given the analavos (Slavonic: analav) which is the article of monastic vesture emblematic of the Great Schema. For this reason, the analavos itself is sometimes itself called the “Great Schema”. It drapes over the shoulders and hangs down in front and in back, with the front portion somewhat longer, and is embroidered with the instruments of the Passion and the Trisagion. The Greek form does not have a hood, the Slavic form has a hood and lappets on the shoulders, so that the garment forms a large cross covering the monk’s shoulders, chest, and back. Another piece added is the Polystavrion or “Many Crosses”, which consists of a cord with a number of small crosses plaited into it. The polystavrion forms a yoke around the monk and serves to hold the analavos in place, and reminds the monastic that he is bound to Christ and that his arms are no longer fit for worldly activities, but that he must labor only for the Kingdom of Heaven. Among the Greeks, the mantle is added at this stage. The paramandyas of the Megaloschemos is larger than that of the Stavrophore, and if he wears the klobuk, it is of a distinctive thimble shape, called a koukoulion, the veil of which is usually embroidered with crosses.

The Schemamonk also shall remain some days in vigil in the church. On the eighth day after Tonsure, there is a special service for the “Removal of the Koukoulion.”

In some monastic traditions the Great Schema is never given or is only given to monks and nuns on their death bed, while in others, e.g., the cenobitic monasteries on Mount Athos, it is common to tonsure a monastic into the Great Schema only 3 years after commencing the monastic life.

Orthodox Monasticism: The Symbols

St. Columba Fr. Peter Preble Fr. John A. PeckDuring the Tonsure service when the Monk makes the profession of his vows, several symbols are presented to him by the Abbot. These symbols remind him of the life that he is now beginning.

The service begins with the candidate wearing a white robe symbolic of that which he wore for his baptism. Tonsure into the monastic life is another baptism or sorts as the new monk dies to his old life and is born again into a new life. It is the tradition that the monk receives a new name at this point.

Next the monk is clothed in the Paraman and Cross. On the Paraman are representations of the Cross of Christ with the lance, reed and sponge, and the inscription, I bear on my body the wounds of the Lord. This is fastened about the shoulders and waist by means of strings sewn to the corners, and serves as a reminder that the new monk has taken upon himself the yoke of Christ and must control his passions and desires. These are presented with the following words from the Abbot:

Our Brother receives the Paraman, the Betrothal of the Angelic Schema, as a perpetual reminder of taking upon himself of Christ’s easy yoke and of bearing His light burden, and for the curbing and restraining of all his fleshly desires. And he also takes the Sign of the Lord’s Cross upon his breast, for a perpetual reminder of suffering and humiliation, spitting, revilement, woulds, buffeting, Crucifixion and death of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, which He voluntarily endured for our sakes; and to signify that, as far as possible, he will endeavor to imitate this.

The Riasa is presented next with the following words:

Our Brother is clothed in the garment of spiritual joy and gladness, for the putting away and trampling of all sorrows and troubles proceeding from the flesh and from the world; and for his perpetual joy and gladness in Christ.

The leather belt is presented next. The belt is leather and made from the skin of a dead animal signifying the deadness to the world. The buckle of the belt has the symbols of the Crucifixion on it to remind the new monk of his daily Crucifixion. The follow words are spoken by the Abbot:

Our brother is gird about his loins with the power of truth, for mortification of body and renewal of spirit, and for courage and caution.

The new monk is next given the Mantiya, a long sleeveless robe, also called the robe of incorruption and purity, the absence of sleeves signifying the restraining of worldly pursuits. The Mantiya is presented with the following words:

Our brother is clothed in the robe of salvation and in the armor of righteousness, that he may withdraw himself from all unrighteousness, and with carefulness put away the vain imaginations of his mind and the subtleties of his will; that he may have the remembrance of his own death always in his mind and consider himself to be crucified to the world and to be dead to every evil deed, but always alive for the showing forth, without laziness, of every Christian virtue.

Next the new monk receives the Kamilavka with veil or the helmet of salvation. The veil signifies that the monk must veil his face from temptation and guard his eyes and ears against all vanity. The wings of the veil date from the time of St. Methodius (846) who was wounded in the face during the reign of Emperor Theophilus. In order to conceal his wounds, the saint wore wings with his veil and fastened them about his lower face.

Our brother takes the helmet of salvation in the hope that he may not be put to shame and that he will be able to stand against the snares of the devil; and he covers his head with the veil of humility and perpetual obedience, as a sign of spiritual love of wisdom; and that he may turn away his eyes, that they not behold vanities.

Sandals for his feet are now presented:

Our brother is shod with sandals in readiness for the proclamation of the Good News of peace; that he may be swift and diligent in every obedience and every good deed.

The Prayer Rope or Chotki is given. The rope has many knots to count the prayers of the new monk.

Take brother the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, for continual prayer to Jesus; for you must always have the Name of the Lord Jesus in mind, in heart, and on your lips, every saying, “O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

The hand cross is next given. The hand cross is the shield of faith, with which to put out the flaming darts of the Evil One. The monk will keep the hand cross in his icon corner to remind his of this saying.

Take, brother, the shield of faith, the Cross of Christ with which you will be able to put out the flaming darts of the Evil One; and remember always how the Lord said, “He who would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”

Finally a lighted candle is give signifying that he must strive, by purity of life, by good deeds, and good demeanor to be a Light to the World. The candle will be placed in the Icon Corner and the monk will be buried with this candle.

Take, brother, this candle, and know that from henceforth you must, through a pure and virtuous life, and through a good character, be a light unto the world. For the Lord said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, who art in heaven.

Then the final blessing is pronounced:

Our brother has received the Betrothal of the Angelic Schema and has been clothed in the whole armor of God, that he may be able to vanquish all the power and warfare of principalities and powers, and rulers of the darkness of this age, of evil spirits under the heavens, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Let us all say for him, Lord, have mercy.

It is the tradition that the new monk remain in the monastic church for some days praying for himself and for the entire monastic brotherhood. The new monk is to remain clothed in the whole of the habit for those days.