“And know, my dear son . . . that from now on this is not the place for you. Remember that, young man. As soon as God grants me to depart, leave the monastery. Leave it for good.”
“What’s wrong? For the time being your place is not here. I give you my blessing for a great obedience in the world. You still have much journeying before you. And you will have to marry — yes, you will. You will have to endure everything before you come back again. And there will be much work to do. But I have no doubt of you, that is why I am sending you. Christ is with you. Keep him, and he will keep you. You will behold great sorrow, and in this sorrow you will be happy. Here is a commandment for you: seek happiness in sorrow. Work, work tirelessly. Remember my words from now on, for although I shall still talk with you, not only my days but even my hours are numbered.”
– The Brothers Karamazov
We often think that the best way to serve God is to join the ministry as twenty-year-old Alyosha does. Yet the elder of his monastery tells him that God has a different purpose for him in life; Alyosha’s very piety will allow him to help his corrupted family. At the same time that task will not be easy, but Alyosha is to find joy even in that suffering.
The elder does not worry that this entrance into the world and its temptations will dissuade Alyosha from his faith. Instead, in this way Alyosha may be able to turn others towards Christ. This is the Christian life.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” Romans 12:2