Is monasticism cowardly?
#31
There should always be a positive aspect in the desire to pursue the monastic life. Monasticism of itself is of course not a cowardly pursuit and in fact it is a noble, manly and courageous pursuit. However, as happens far too often, our intentions can be tainted with a misguided idea of what such a life entails. A monastery is not a refuge for the malcontent and those who cannot cope with life in the world. It is a place where one confronts self in all its imperfections and sinfulness and decides to reform in a very profound sense. It is a veritable school of sanctity where one is able to practice liberty to its fullest extent with the help of Our Lord. Enclosed in the walls of a monastery one is perhaps freer than any one else.

What a beautiful life.



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#32
I've often thought monasticism is "cowardly" in some ways, simply because it gets you away from a lot of influences of the "three enemies", and leaves you stuck just with yourself and the people in your community. In that sense, it's interesting that the Church always encouraged small communities rather than solitary hermits etc, even way back in earliest times, when hermitic monks would have to meet together regularly for example. A lot of the romanticism that attracted many to convents was the idea that you could simply be with God, you and a kind of disembodied, unseen but revered Church, made up of saints that you loved and people/ temptations you didn't have to deal with! A lot of people who enter monasteries find that this is far from true, and the saints who lived monastic lives showed part of their heroic virtues by their interaction with the many odd characters that shared their "retreat" from the world!  :)

Monastic life is about the bravest life there is, once the romanticism wears off. A bit like marriage, only moreso.
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#33
Here's another very similar example that might put things in perspective: it's easier to get to Heaven by being poor, rather than rich. Does that mean it's cowardly for the rich man to sell all he has? I would say it would take a ton of faith and guts to do that.

One path may be easiest to reach the goal, but that doesn't mean it's not incredibly hard to leave what you're used to, to give up the comforts you enjoy,  to say good-bye to the people you're closest to, to potentially be looked down upon by loved ones, etc., etc., and get on and stay on that path. I guess on the one hand I can say those who remain in the world are choosing to be brave and live in the midst of worldly temptations, or I can say they are too weak and cowardly to give up those pleasures, relationships, comforts, and consolations that can be found in the world (of course, there are courageous and cowardly people in all states of life).
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