Thursday, November 29, 2012

Life or Death?

Once, a monk asked St Macarius of Egypt how one could be saved. He instructed the monk to go to the graves and curse the dead buried there. The monk went and cursed and stoned the dead's graves. St. Macarius then asked him, "Did they answer you back?" The monk answered "no." He told the monk, "Go tomorrow and praise the dead instead." Again the monk went and highly praised the dead. St. Macarius again asked the monk if they answered him back, he replied "no." Then St Macarius told him, "If you have really died with Christ and were buried with Him, be like those dead people, because curses or praises do not affect the dead. This is how you can be saved."

Sound kinda weird, huh? A few friends of mine were having a discussion about monasticism the other day, and whether the same 'rules' apply to us who are not called to that life. It was interesting to see where each person was coming from. I didn't know where I stood exactly. I'm more of a people-person, I like social gatherings, and FIFA '13 of course - so I thought "No way!" Then I started to think about it a little more, and two major things hit me that made me realize we MUST have in common with the monastic life.

First, the basic rules of monasticism are - poverty, chastity, and obedience. Are these rules that can only be followed by isolating myself in the middle of the desert? Of course not. There are many ways we can practice this in our every day lives. From not being money-obsessed and lust-driven to listening to our parents. The list goes on and on.

Secondly, going back to the story of St Macarius, there is much we can take away from 'being like those dead people'. There is a great mystery we can learn from death, particularly the death of Jesus. Wanna know what it is?... LIFE. There it is - mysteriously hidden in the tombs..LIFE. Not to say we have to die to the world just as they did and leave it, but we have to 'die' to it in a sense where we can really experience life. If we become so tied down to what is here where "moth and rust destroy" Matthew 6:19, then we can hardly see what all the hype is about.

Fr Thomas Hopko always says that, "Orthodoxy in its fullness is evident when we fully live life". Who said its boring? Who said its for when we get old? Who said its not for the young college kid tryin' to have fun? If we have no sense of our humanity, the parts we want fully alive and the parts we have to put to 'death', then we will never have a sense of God's divinity.