Anchorites, and Christian Hermits and the Monastic Life. Why?
A delve into the mysterious world of Anchorites, Christian Hermits and Monks and Nuns that live the monastic life and why they decided to take this essentially solitary life in the name of their faith to get closer to God and live a holy life dedicating their life to this cause. They give up everything including material possessions, relationships, family and careers and take a vow of celibacy. There are no designer clothes, massive mansions or fancy cars to be seen here. This you could say is the polar opposite of the many Celebrity Style Mega Preachers with their lavish lifestyles. It shows the other end of what would be considered “True Christianity” is… instead of the False one we see preached and paraded around on our TV screens these days.
No bible quotes in this article, with such religiousness on display here…none are required. This article is split into two categories, Hermits and Anchorites that live the solitary life divorced from society and Nuns and Monks that are the same, divorced from society but live in a community of similar minded people. Writing is kept to a minimum and it’s a case of let the videos do the talking (there are not many out there) as I have no experience of living as a Monk ,Hermit or Anchorite. Few people do!
Video at The Twelve Gates You Tube Christian Life. You cannot Love the World
Monks and Nuns and the Monastic life
Monks did not live in monasteries back in the day at first, rather, they began by living alone, as the word monos might suggest more like the Hermits of today. As more people took on the lives of monks, living alone in the wilderness, they started to come together and model themselves after the original monks nearby. Quickly the monks formed communities to further their ability to observe an ascetic life. Hence the rise of the Monastery and what we see now in our modern times.
Currently, the world most of us live in is fast-paced and engulfed with noise and people. Life has become so secularized, industrialized, and materially-driven, that an austere, simple and quiet life divorced from modern day society devoted to the contemplation of God seems surreal and is beyond our comprehension. Throughout world history, many individuals decided that a life of seclusion had more merit and greater possibilities for peace and freedom.
Saint Anthony or Antony was a Christian monk from Egypt, and is known for his importance among the Desert Fathers and to all later Christian monasticism, he is also known as the Father of All Monks and set the trend for what we see today. Further details on Christian Monks and Monasticism at Wikipedia
An amazing insight into the monastic life in a 2 part video called “The Last Anchorite” which is a truly remarkable story of Father Lazarus El Anthony, university lecturer, Marxist who abandoned his life in Australia and went in search of God and freedom. His pilgrimage eventually brought him to a life of a Christian Coptic monk and live in solitude on the Al-Qalzam Mountain in Egypt, in the pursuit of what the Desert Fathers called apatheia, holy stillness.
The Last Anchorite Part 1
The Last Anchorite Part 2
Nuns are obviously the female form of Monks and take similar vows and have to make the same sacrifices as in leaving their old life behind and becoming this new person solely devoted to getting closer to God. An interesting video called “Why Do Young Women Choose To Become Nuns?” takes a peak into the lives of some Nuns and you get to hear their individual stories, quite a few were rock n roller beatnik hedonistic hippy types or were rebellious and ran away from home at a young age with photos to prove it. You see the sacrifices they had to make but not all were purer than pure. All have one thing in common, they all say that it was a calling from God.
“Why do young women choose to become Nuns”
Christian Hermits What is a Hermit?
The word hermit derives from the Greek term eremite, meaning ‘of the desert’. Hermits exist in many religions and agnostics are also known to become hermits which is basically somebody that has divorced themselves from society and decided to leave an independent and solitary life. As a result such a person would live in what is called a hermitage, physically and visibly set apart from the world but still part of it and obviously in theory they are still alive. This is different from an Anchorite as we will see later.
Why does somebody become a Christian Hermit (Solitary)
The life of the Christian solitary, whatever form it takes, is essentially something to which God calls – it is not a thing that anyone can choose for her- or himself. For the genuine solitary the perception of God is not likely to come through other people, nor is it likely that the call to the solitary life will come through another person, though someone may say something that sparks off in us the search which is the response to God’s call. via solitaries.org.uk
As Peter F. Anson writes in a book called The Call of the Desert:
The solitary life led by John the Baptist in the desert of Judea [and similarly Jesus’ sojourns into the wilderness] served as the inspiration for countless Christian hermits in the after ages. But what must be stressed is that there was nothing novel about this way of life: it merely carried on the traditions of some of the Old Testament prophets who fled into the wilderness. History repeats itself!
St. Paul is considered the first hermit. Some Christian hermits live in incredibly remote areas and some have lived there for generations, some as a result of escaping religious persecution or reformation. Such a Hermit is Agafia who lives in a remote area of Siberia as if Siberia isn’t remote enough and she is an “Old Believer” practicing the old religious way of the Russian Orthodox Church before it was reformed. She still lives there today at the time of this filming and this video shows the incredible ordeal to reach this location by river.
Agafias Full Story The Life of a Siberian Hermit
The anchoritic life is one of the earliest forms of Christian monastic living. and is similar to a Hermit but with one major difference. The strict definition of an Anchorite is “someone who lives alone and away from other people for religious reasons” . The Wikipedia definition is ” someone who, for religious reasons, withdraws from secular society so as to be able to lead an intensely prayer-oriented, ascetic, and—circumstances permitting—Eucharist-focused life”
Maxime is not strictly an Anchorite but more a solitary hermetic monk who lives a life of virtual solitude on top of a 131ft pillar of rock. He’s so isolated this video had a mere 142 views at the time of writing and I just stumbled across this by accident on You Tube
The anchorite life doesn’t end there. Anchorites are similar to Hermits in their religious convictions but unlike hermits back in the day they were required to take a vow of stability of place, opting instead for a permanent enclosure in cells often attached to churches, underground caves would be another example. Unlike hermits, anchorites endured a religious rite of consecration that closely resembled the funeral rite, following which in theory they were declared dead to the world but became a type of living saint but not visible to the world. They were very much prevalent in medieval times especially in England where Anchoritic chambers attached to churches still exist. They would be given basic food and water, enough to survive and would be looked after by the church clergy who removed any waste via a chamber pot but they never left that chamber.
Footage of these sort of individuals as you can gather is hard to come by for obvious reasons, but this trailer gives a taste of what their life was like and why they lived this way. The sacrifice of a medieval anchoress. A story clip from the novel “Lost Book of Noah”
Do they still exist today. In certain remote areas they do still exist especially in Eastern Europe in remote areas living in underground caves totally dedicating their lives to God. They have none of the pleasures and sights of modern day living………..they just pray and live this bizarre life that is beyond comprehension. A sort of “tragic” life to outsiders but to those who live it they feel they have been “chosen”.
The following video appeared at the bottom of a previous article on False Preachers and Mega Churches just as a contrast to demonstrate the difference between the artificial prosperity Christianity we see today and the real Christianity that dates back to more ancient times. The video is called “It’s not easy to be Orthodox Christian” and has various people stating that anchorites still exist (with subtitles)
These few videos and brief information show what I consider to be the real side of Christianity. These people are walking as Jesus walked and living pretty much as Jesus lived. Not an easy thing to do in this day and age with so many distractions and pressures, but this article proves that Christianity, the real deal is not about fast cars, fancy clothes, huge mansions and a huge social media following and certainly not about wealth and materialism and a vast bank account, as in what these modern day Mega Church Preachers aspire to.
The more you embrace “the world” the less Christian you become. The further you move away from “worldly” desires the closer you are to the Christian faith!
A true Christian doesn’t crave those things and the key is….you become as a “child”. If anything it is about living a simple life, having just enough to survive and not needing anymore than that and moving away from those “worldly” things and taking yourself to a higher plane beyond “worldly” desires and moving away from “the self”. The focus is more on helping others and spiritual enlightenment. It’s not for everybody, being just a normal Christian in these modern times is tough enough, but you now realise the sacrifices that have to be made by these people… with the anchoritic life being the most extreme.
If you compare this article to say the previous article on the Mega Preacher Paula White and ask yourself the question “Which Christianity looks more enticing and seductive?”…you know what the answer is going to be. If you rephrase the question and ask yourself “Which Christianity is closer to the truth” as before your answer will be just as clear cut…. but it will point in the reverse direction!