- Your Higher Eminence, have you noticed aspiration for monastic feats among contemporary Bulgarians?
A positive trend is seen as compared to the situation in the 1990s, as more and more Orthodox Christians of both sexes are willing to take monastic vows. Of course, we are still a long way behind our Orthodox neighbours ? Serbia, Macedonia, Romania and Greece, not to mention Russia.
- What provokes the increased interest in monasticism?
It is mostly due to the freedom of faith existing in Bulgaria after 1989. And happily, the most of aspirants are relatively young people. They have received the most important – family upbringing in accordance with the Christian spiritual values and morals. Such youths are getting more and more and some of them I am sure will get ready to devote themselves fully to God and the Church.
-Aren’t some of them taking the monastic path only to escape the problems of the mundane world – unemployment, crisis, spiritual blindness?
In my humble opinion, these are not the main reason which leads, especially the young, to shouldering this cross. They are aware they head into a hard life in the monastery. It is wrong to think that all monks do is lie down and read prayers. Monasteries are self-supported and monks have to earn their own bread. “Ore et labora” (Work and Pray) as St Benedict of Nursia ruled. I can bravely say that those who take the vows are aware of this.
- What is the actual number of monks and nuns in Bulgaria?
About 200. The number of monasteries has grown to 150. It is true that many of them are not functioning and are maintained be priests or laymen. Still, the whole lot of us, the servants to the Church, who are really responsible for manning these monasteries, have not done our job.