In modern times, a rich man told a certain monk of his philanthropy: “I have given away most of my riches, so that, without growing a beard, wearing monastic garb, and sacrificing myself, I have done everything that is needed to be saved. In essence, I have gained monasticism without your abnormal way of life.”
Remembering the words of Saint Basil regarding a great official who had abandoned his wealth, yet kept some money for his needs and had no desire to submit himself to monastic discipline, the monk answered the rich man as Saint Basil did the ancient official: “You have given up your senatorial rank, but you have not become a monk.”
To be honest, I have been thinking about this one for weeks now. It challenged me personally. I have taken vows as an Episcopal Solitary and while I was never a rich person, I don’t wear monastic garb nor do I have anyone to subject me to monastic discipline. I have to rely on the Holy Spirit for that.
Is that what prompted the monk to tell the rich man that he was not a monk? After all the rich man did call it an abnormal way of life. I take that to mean that the rich man was not living a life of prayer and service to others but holding on to something for himself instead of throwing himself entirely on the Lord.
This is a troubling Saying.