Without a doubt, the one who fights against the flow of the world finds violent opposition from the world and from Satan its prince. He finds many trying to make him fail and to deter his resolve. This is what happened with Dr Youssef (Fr Matta El Maskeen). He encountered violent opposition from the world, his family, friends, and even from those who were supposedly spiritual. Yet his love for the Lord was higher than the love of people.
About the opposition to monasticism he says, “Abraham did not find it difficult to walk many days through the wilderness not knowing his destination, because previously he had with all his heart left his land his nation and his tribe. Yes he had removed all of them from his heart, never looking back but always looking forward seeking a better homeland. How great was that true exodus! Only the one who has tasted it to its fullness can reach the depth of its meaning. The night I snuck away and departed was not easy for me. It meant losing everything, considering everything rubbish, hating everything even myself, and turning my back on the world. The vices inside me that I loved; my pride, wealth, vanity, fame, good reputation, love of pleasure, and the delights of this age I had to give up. I strengthened my resolve, gathered together the desire of my heart and shook off every last concern of this age. Strengthened by faith I threw myself into the current of grace and walked away not knowing the destination. All I knew for certain was that the love of this world is enmity toward God. My confidence was in the One who had previously promised to give life to those who leave the things of this age.”
“On the day I left the world I remember I was full happiness without any worries, to the extent that I spent the entire trip out in the air, standing on the steps of the train. I was filled with extreme joy and peace, as if I was a bird in the heavens, and had no awareness of the others on the train. As for the perspective of others, my father was a spiritual person but he was very upset. He wept and described to me the difficulties of monasticism. One of the older monks also presented monasticism to me as an extremely difficult path. They all warned me of its pains and trials! As for the one who enters this path, he does not feel its difficulty because the Holy Spirit takes charge and accepts the responsibility of the mission. The Holy Spirit eases the hardships of monasticism and represses its difficulties.”
Fr Matta always told about the obstacles he faced in order to become a monk saying, “I wanted Christ, and I loved Him, so people got attached to me. I always wanted to be alone and live in solitude away from people but the more I tried the more people got attached. People got more attached to me because I wanted Christ, was faithful, and chose to live in poverty. People gathered around me and their numbers increased. When I wanted to be free I found a hundred chains binding me. I sat down and wept saying to the Lord, ‘It’s no use, I must depart quickly to the monastery, so I declared that is what I will do and I departed.’ ”
About his victory over these human obstacles he says, “Dear brothers, on the day I departed to the monastery I went through emotions like any other human would. I was a social person. I loved and was loved by a great number of people. The whole town was intensely attached to me because I had been a friend to many. We exchanged gifts and expressions of warmth and love. I also loved nature, recreation, nice clothes, the sea, music and photography. I especially enjoyed doing oil paintings and there were volumes of paintings that I produced. I left all of this. I truly considered it, in the words of St Paul the Apostle, ‘rubbish’ and threw it out.