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MONASTICISM



 

 

THE NARROW WAY

"Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to." 

The life in the world looks more like the wide road that leads to damnation; for it seems to be filled with worldly pleasures, comforts, conveniences and indulging of the flesh. It really looks like a way of life that is easy and wide. Even the life of those living in destitution has some elements of easiness in it in that they can still do a lot of what they want to do

The narrow way is called such because it is a way of life of total self-denial in obedience to the command of Christ who said: "Deny yourself." It is a way of life wherein you must never choose the things you want but rather continuously look for what God wants. It is doing God's will rather than my will. That is so against fallen human nature, that the way of life is described as the narrow way. Evidently, both the rich and the poor do much of what they want in the world, unmindful of what God wants.

St. John Chrysostom described this narrow way as the monastic life, defined as a way of life for lay people who are seriously seeking God. Monastic life is described as the easiest, fastest and shortest way to live the fullness of the Gospel . . . which, by the way, is the obligation of every Christian if he is to attain eternal life. But in spite of being the easiest, fastest and shortest way, it is still the narrow way in that no one who enters the monastery is allowed to do his own will. 

So when Christ said ". . .many will try to enter the narrow way but will not succeed. . ." He was not using the word "many" to refer to people in the world who are not seeking or those in the world who are seeking to enter. He was referring to people who live in the monastery-- many who enter the monastery to enter the narrow door that leads to heaven will not succeed in entering, only a few will do so. If, even inside monasteries, only a few will be saved, how many will be saved, do you think, outside in the world?

"Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" Christ's answer is tantamount to this: Even in monasteries where everybody is already trying to enter the narrow way, only a few will be saved. Many will not be saved.  

And so Christ, when inviting us to enter by the narrow way, tells us, when we do so, to make sure we are not among the many who try to enter the narrow way but do not succeed. We must try hard to be among the few who try to enter and make it. And who are these few? The wise virgins with lighted lamps and ample supply of oil, which is the symbol of Christians who have repented for all their sins, who have a complete knowledge of the commands of Christ and how to observe them and who have used all their personal resources in the performance of good works. 



 

(09-04-02)

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