Mother Christophora of the Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, celebrated her 25th anniversary as abbess in 2012. She shared her reflections on influences that drew her to the monastic life, among other thoughts, in a wide-ranging interview with Valerie Zahirsky on the monastery's website. Because I read it so close to Thanksgiving, it struck me how important it was that one of the strongest influences had to do with the giving of time, talent, and treasure in the living out of one's Christianity.
Mat. Valerie: In terms of your own childhood now: your brother is an Orthodox priest, you entered this monastic life, and your sister is a faithful laywoman. What were some of the influences in your growing-up years that led you to such a strong commitment to the Church?
Mother Christophora: I would say it is three things: first, my own parents and their faithfulness—I do not want to really say “piety,” because I think sometimes that gives the impression of a lot of the external practices, but I would say their faithfulness and their total integrity and lack of hypocrisy. I think my parents really lived the Christian life, but did not talk about it; they just lived it. They did not preach to us or really do a lot of externals, but their life was what it was. There was no hypocrisy; there were no lies. They were good-hearted, and they helped people all the time.
The rest of the interview is well worth the read, not only to learn the other two influences that kept her and her siblings in the Church, but also for her insights into the monastic life overall.
Thank you, Mother Christophora!