—Monastic life is a vocation, and probably not everyone deserves it. However, your talk shows that a person must make efforts to attain it. That is, someone may want it, but be unworthy to follow this path.
—Of course, monasticism is not for everyone, and we should not all follow the same external path. The point is that we should reject sin, our passions, and love Christ most of all. Whether we decide to become monastics or get married is a matter of our free preference. It is we who choose. But regardless of whether we become monks or nuns, get married, remain celibate or serve as missionaries in Africa, we must love Christ above all. This is what the Gospel says, this is what Christ wants to say—that we must love Him above all else, and everything else is up to us.
God won’t tell us what we should do: God never told me to become a monk. And why should He tell me and everyone else individually? We are free: we make our own decisions to do this or that. Just as when someone is going to get married, God will not tell him, “Go and get married!” and will not tell him whom to marry. Right? You will open your eyes to see better whom you will choose as your wife or husband, you will search and find that special one who gives you a sense of fullness, attracts and comforts you. But not like this: “My Christ, I beg Thee: tell me which girl I should marry!” And if you dream of one, then you go and marry her the next day or start looking for her. That’s not how it works. We must understand that this is a matter of our freedom. And no matter what we do, love for Christ and freedom from sin and passions are above all else.
—You have distinguished between the words of Christ, He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me (Mt. 10:37) and Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life (Mt. 19:29). Do you mean to say that the former refers to monasticism, and the latter…
—No. He who loves God the most abandons everything else. If I love God more than anything else, I can outwardly not leave my parents, taking care of them and supporting them, and indeed I must do it, but my heart belongs to Christ.
—Without moving to another place?
—Without moving anywhere. Alas, not everyone can become monastics, and that is unrealistic. Theoretically, this is possible, but in practice—no, not all people want to live as monks and nuns.
—When someone wants to live a monastic life, how can he understand that it is really his calling?
—Come up to me later, and I’ll tell you, because... your question is dangerous. Can you see? They’re recording us over there! (Laughs.)
You know, if someone wants to get married, he will go and get married regardless of what others may tell him. His heart dictates it to him. Even if his mother tells him, “Don’t do it!”; and even if everyone says, “Don’t do it!”; but if he loves a girl, he will marry her. And if his mother tells him, “Don’t marry her!” and he obeys her and doesn’t marry the girl in question, then he didn’t deserve to marry her.
Those of you who are about to get married and see that your loved one listens only to his/her parents and because of this hesitates to tie the knot, then flee this person—he/she is not for you. In marriage shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, so God says (Mt. 19:5). He who obeys only his mother in marriage has planted a bomb. It’s a matter of time as to when it goes off. We have a different state in marriage.
No one can stop someone who wants to get married because he loves. The same applies to monasticism: he who wants to become a monk and loves this way of life does not wait and does not ask anyone. Tentatively speaking, even if God were to come down and tell him, “Don’t become a monk”, he would go ahead and become one. No one can stop him. Therefore, it is a matter of a personal choice, and not something else. I choose this way of life because it suits me. Free choice.
No one can force marriage on you. If someone imposes it on you by force, marrying you to a woman you don’t love, you will quarrel and break up in the very first week. The same thing happens in monastic life: If someone forces you to become a monk or tricks you into becoming one, you will not run away in the first week, but on the very first or second day. Because it’s a matter of what the heart tells us.
But I repeat: In the Gospel Christ does not point us to an external way of life—marriage or monasticism. He points us to the real way of life in Christ: to love Christ above all and abandon everything else for the love of Him, regardless of whether we are married or monastics. This is the meaning of the Gospel.