Here we have a very profound and important message from St John Climacus, conveyed to us by Archimandrite Irenei (Steenberg), Abbot of the Monastery of St Silouan in Sonora, California. In it he reminds us that “the Christian calling involves finding a suitable place, and suitable exercises, for living out the transformative life in the Lord.”
For some, that can be best accomplished in a monastery, but for many it will involve a life in the world, married, serving Christ at the parish level. This is a very helpful message for those considering the monastic life, and indeed, testing that life may be essential for a Christian to come to know himself or herself well enough to be able, with the counsel of their priest or a monastic elder or eldress, to discern where they may best live and serve the Lord.
For those already beginning to test the monastic calling, this message offers a wise and helpful introduction to aid in discerning if one is best suited for community life (cenobitic), or skete life (as in the Rule of St. Nilus of Sora). In extremely rare cases, after being formed in the cenobitic or skete life, a monastic may be blessed by their abbot or abbess to live a more solitary life in a cell or hermitage called a hesychasterion.
St John of the Ladder on Seeking a Suitable Way of Life
Archimandrite Irenei (Steenberg), A Word From The Holy Fathers, October 4, 2013; Length: 12:21:
St. John of the Ladder, whom we normally read during Great Lent, is a Father who offers practical guidance to Christian life of every moment. In this week’s broadcast, Archimandrite Irenei explores a series of passages from Step 1 of St John’s Ladder to Paradise, on the specific issue of the universal calling of the Christian life, coupled with the need for each person to seek out a suitable way of life for the spiritual struggle to be exercised.