Monday, 25 June 2012

Book Review: The Sublime life of Monasticism – HG Bishop Mettaous.

The Sublime life of Monasticism – HG Bishop Mettaous.

‘The Sublime Life of Monasticism’ is, put simply, a glimpse into modern Monasticism. The book opens up by looking into one of the biggest misunderstandings about Monasticism, asking “s Monasticism a Vocation or a duty?” discussing how someone knows whether they are called, and why some fail to fulfil this calling. The book then goes into great depth on everything from why someone would become a monk, to the importance of monasticism and even gives a detailed description of the daily life of a monk.

The book is split into section detailing what the chapter will cover. The first half of the book is dedicated to the more practical side of monasticism, covering a vast number of issues which someone may encounter on their path to the monastic life. It looks at how one becomes a monk, the difficulties they may face, how one must prepare for the monastic life and a number of other topics related to this. Every question one could have on the practical side of preparation for a monastic life is covered and everything is backed by both Scriptural detail and quotes from the desert fathers explaining the importance of it.

Once he has given us an image of the preparation and build up to a life us monastic, Bishop Mettaous moves on to look at life inside a monastery. HG Bishop Mettaous began writing this book in memorial of his 25th year as a monk in El-Souriani Monastery, so he has plenty of days to choose from. He looks at life as a notice in this section, explaining that the novice monks generally receive the hardest tasks to prepare them for the tough years of spiritual warfare ahead of them. He also uses this section to emphasise the importance of obedience to your abbot and father of confession, since obedience and humility are key virtues of the monastic life. He again provides us with a wealth of wisdom from the desert Fathers and examples of the importance of monasticism in Scripture to allow us to connect with the point of a deeper level.

In the Third section of the book we are introduced to a immensely vibrant collection of areas defining what monasticism is, all beginning with “Monasticism is a life of...” and connecting it to such concepts as prayer, contemplation and pilgrimage. As someone with only a basic academic knowledge and no experience of monasticism on a personal level, this enlightened me to no end. The pure depth of the monastic life is shown through this part of the book. We are introduced to what seems to be the single most fulfilling spiritual life that one can imagine but reminded that with this life of solitude and spiritual hunger comes a life of spiritual warfare and constant vigilance against the evil one and his tricks.

All in all ‘The sublime life of monasticism’ is a book for anyone who wants to know the depth of the monastic life and wants to read about it through the medium of one Bishop’s personal and spiritual journey rather than a flat out, objective academic text. In this book you will not learn the history of monasticism but you will learn of the life of it from those who give their lives as living Martyrs in order to continue their Spiritual warfare. You will see how Monks trace their practises to those of the Israelites in the desert and be reminded as to why the monks are seen as the Angels and guides to all men under God.

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