The monk (or nun) is a person with a distinct purpose, of living the eternal life from now and here. Once a man came to Jesus. Teacher," he asked, "What good things must I do to receive eternal life?" Mat 19:16 Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me." Mat 19:21

To follow Jesus means to be his disciple, to live a holy and pure life. Many people aspire to live this life and become monks (or nuns).

A monk carries upon himself 3 main vows: Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience.

Poverty: We usually hear in the monastery the advice: Try to get rid of whatever is not essential for you. For instance, I can enjoy my cell when it is very simple and not distracting me. The famous Christian teacher of Alexandria from the 3rd century, Origenes, used to get money only to buy the necessary oil for his lamp. Poverty means concentration on the clear goal. Mat 10:9 Do not carry any gold, silver, or copper money in your pockets;
Mat 10:10 Do not carry a beggar's bag for the trip or an extra shirt or shoes or a walking stick. Workers should be given what they need.

Chastity: In terms of sanctification of all the senses and chastity of the stomach by fasting, chastity of the tongue and chastity of sexual desire not only by self-control but also by sublimation. It is a discipline to long for to reach greater goals.

Obedience: Like any soldier who does not know all the secrets of the war and has to obey for his own safety and victory, the monk also obeys the leaders and the experienced elders.

The contribution of the Coptic monasticism to the Christian world: Many European travelers visited the holy locations in Egypt where the Holy Family lived with the Egyptian monks to learn this life and return to Europe. They founded the first European monasteries and the biography of St. Anthony also helped in the same way. The monasteries were (and still are) learning and educational institutions, and have contributed extensively in the defense of faith in the early centuries and later on.

Father Cedrack
Amba Bishoy
St. Bishoy Monastery
Wadi el-Natrun, Egypt

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