Are Monks Layman?
The question had been raised: “Is the monk a laymen?”
While understand that a monk is not a cleric, neither is he just a layman.
To begin with, Monks are celibate, under a vow of obedience, they are humble, pray often, meditate, fast, do penance, receive the sacraments on a regular basis, and most importantly, Monks are Consecrated to God – which by definition, separates them from the average layman.
Here are some quotes separating the monk from the laymen;
- “A monk was (past tense) a layman who sought to live a Christian life by entering a monastery and leaving the ordinary world behind. Monks make a vow of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability; they were set apart from the rest of the world…”
- St. John Chrysostom say,“One thing is demanded from the layman and another from the monk…”
- And he also say’, “Whoever is angry with his brother without cause, regardless of whether he is a layman or a monk…”
- “A man is not defined by whether he is a layman or a monk, but by the way he thinks”
- “Elsewhere he we read that it is possible for all, not only monks but laymen too…”
- “Both laymen and monks, are called to become perfect following the divine example:”
- “The conventional morality of the layman on the one hand and the radical morality of the monk on the other create a dialectical differentiation that takes the form of a dialectical antithesis.”
- One of the key points that St John Chrysostom makes is that“the angel is the light (model or beacon) for the monk, and the monk is the light (model or beacon) for the layman.”
- “St John Chrysostom points out is that the layman who is unmarried is able with relative ease to leave the world and become a monk…“
- Most importantly, “It is written that a monk is a monk, and a layman, a layman.”
- Saint Seraphim of Sarov said, “The fact that I am a monk and you are a layman is of no importance. The Lord listens equally to the monk and to the man of the world provided both are true believers. He looks for the heart full of true faith into which to send His spirit. For the heart of a man is capable of containing the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit and the kingdom of God are one”.
NOTE: As we see in the above quotes, while not ordained the monk is obviously separated from the layman in a distinct and special way. ” Therefore to answer the question, “is a monk a layman, the answer is, while not ordained, no the monk is not an ordinary layman. “A monk is a monk and a layman a layman”. St. John felt that the monastic vocation is so high that most monks cannot accomplish it, much less a laymen.
The monk is Consecrated to God in a special way to “Be in the world but not of the world” (1 John 2:15-17, Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 9: 19-23).