Throughout the last twenty centuries Orthodox monastics (i.e., nuns and monks) have provided countless examples of how we can live our lives in service to Jesus Christ and His Church. Some of the most noted examples are St. John the Baptist, St. Thekla, St. Melania, St. Mary of Egypt, St. Pelagia, St. Irene Chrysovalantou, Sts. Anthony and Theodosius of the Kievan Caves, St. Sergius of Radonezh, St. Kasiane, St. Seraphim of Sarov, and Sts. Elizabeth and Barbara the New Martyrs. Often the monastics upheld the Orthodox Faith (faith, not rules or cultural traditions) even when it met with opposition and persecution both from within and outside the Orthodox Church.
Monasticism provides the Church with an anchor in prayer. We are to pray for ourselves, for each other, for those who have requested our prayers, for the Church, and for the world. Through prayer we bind ourselves together and lift each other up to God. The monastic life is a direct and intense way of working out our salvation. In love and prayer we offer hospitality and spiritual refreshment to those whom God leads to us, and are, in turn, taught by those whom we are led to by God's guidance. As with all Christians, we start by learning to love Jesus as He loves us and learning to love others as He taught us through His example. By surrendering our will and life to Christ, we find love, joy, peace and many other fruits of the Holy Spirit that help to unite us to Him. The monastic life is to show that life lived virtuously and righteously in Christ has worth, meaning and fullness and is a constant reminder to the world that there is a future life beyond this one, that we all die in the flesh, and that Judgment awaits us when we will meet God face to face. Life is sacred and, true life is found in Jesus Christ alone.
The need for monasticism in America is great. The Orthodox Church, as well as this country, needs the monastic strength of prayer and love. We lack examples that life is sacred and should be lived as a gift from God and that there is stability in life anchored in Jesus Christ. Spirituality has meaning and fullness, but is looked upon as a hollow shell to be mocked and cast aside by a religious-in-name, but irreligious-in-action mentality. Monastics teach faithfulness and stability in a grievously faithless and unstable society. We are constantly confronted with immorality, debauchery, defilement of everything, and great emptiness amidst excessive materialism in this country. The monastic life lived well reminds us that virginity/chastity and being counted among the righteous (like St. Joseph the Betrothed) are of great worth and must be guarded as precious gifts from God. To have a monastery means having a place where we and future generations can learn more about God and His will for our lives.