Radio Renașterea conducted an in-depth interview with the Very Reverend Archimandrite Dumitru Cobzaru, exarch of the monasteries of the Archdiocese of Vad, Feleac, and Cluj, regarding the present condition of monasticism in Romania.
The Archimandrite emphasized that contemporary monasticism maintains its authenticity by updating itself while adhering to the principles established by the Holy Fathers and the founders of monastic life.
Showing that the monks somewhat adapt to comfort, especially for pilgrims, the exarch concluded that “we have to adapt to everything that today’s society offers us, both good and bad, so that we remain in balance.”
Monks on social media
Father Dumitru Cobzaru was asked if the monastic life is compatible with the presence and activity on social media:
“Up to a point, I think yes, because monastic life involves communion, communication, but within certain limits, of course,” the exarch said, offering as a model the presence of Putna Monastery in the virtual space.
Archimandrite Dumitru Cobzaru elaborated that it is crucial to differentiate between individuals entrusted with this ministry by the abbot and subsequently engage in the routine operations of a monastery and those who utilize the Internet for personal interest.
“It is unnecessary for a monk to use the Internet, except when he absolutely needs to. For example, if he is studying, with the abbot’s blessing, he must definitely use the Internet. We can no longer reach all the libraries in the world, but we can reach through the Internet to read books and use them as a bibliography.”
“But in general, a simple monk, an ordinary monk, should not have straightforward access to the virtual space, but only those who have this obedience from the abbot, and then it is considered the work that the monk has to do.”
“My recommendation is to avoid it as much as possible and, if possible, not to use it.”
Archim. Dumitru Cobzaru emphasized: “The monk should draw the world to the monastery, not the world should draw the monk to it.”
Importance of the novitiate
In his interview, the monasteries’ exarch for Cluj openly addressed the crisis of recent years regarding the monastic staff: “Monasteries and hermitages in our country have multiplied, and it was felt, also at the level of the Holy Synod, that monasteries and hermitages are being established or re-established, but the monastic staff is decreasing.”
Father Cobzaru emphasized in this context that no concessions ought to be made about the exhaustive verification of whether or not young people are legitimately interested in being accepted into the monastic order. Moreover, he recalled that the statute of our Church designates the novitiate period as a duration of three years.
“In three years, it is verified, through abbots, priests, and others, because many times, the monastic life brings you into borderline situations, and you show yourself as you are. It is not easy.”
During the interview, Father Cobzaru emphasized several times the need for balance. Finally, being asked what is a monk’s most significant obstacle in the fight against temptations, he said:
“Himself. He is the greatest hindrance. For the devil can be overcome, God can be convinced, except that you must bring yourself into such balance as to reason, will, and feeling.”
Photography courtesy of the Metropolis of Cluj / Darius Echim