The Ascension (2015)

“Imagine a monk faced with the possibility of choosing: monastery or world. Let us suppose that his character and his notion of monasticism are such that he wants the monastery. Isn’t that too much to want? It would be normal for the whole world to want to be in a monastery, but the whole world does not have access to an external monastery! A gravely ill person wants a sanatorium, mountain air, fortifying nourishment, medical help – but not every sick person has access to it. Many must of necessity content themselves with a dark little basement, poor food, bad air. The same thing happens in the spiritual world. A monastery is like a spiritual sanatorium: we do not all have an incontestable right to it.

There is more love, more humility, more need in remaining in the world’s backyard, in breathing its bad air, in hungering after spiritual food – sharing all these burdens and all the world’s anguish with others, lightening them for others. Christ, in ascending to heaven, did not take the Church with Him; He did not halt the path of human history. Christ left the Church in the world. It was left as a small bit of leavening, but this leavening is to leaven the whole lump (Gal. 5:9). In other words, within the limits of history, Christ gave the whole world to the Church, and she has no right to renounce its spiritual edification and transfiguration. And for that she need a strong army. That army is monasticism.” (Mother Maria Skobtsova, Essential Writings, p 95)