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monasticism

Posted By: Rev. Fr. Peter-Michael Preble

monasticism - 05/28/02 05:37 PM

Greetings All,

I would like to begin a discussion about monasticism in the Byzantine church. Specifically, where do you think monasticism is going? Do we see a revitilization of Monasticism in the BC? Is there a future for monasticism in the BC? Lastly, does anyone have a reading list on the subject that they would be willing to share with the group.

Peter
Posted By: Moose

Re: monasticism - 05/28/02 06:04 PM

The existing monastic groups in the Byzantine Catholic Churches are rapidly dying. Some argue that this is because of excessive latinization but I think the real reason is that for the last forty years they were not really monastic. These communities were broken up to supply priest-monks to serve in parishes. These groups should be allowed to make a graceful exit as they have given their existence to serve the Church.

There is currently a huge interest in authentic Byzantine monasticism. I have no doubt that within a few years new communities will be formed that will be centered on prayer and a proper celebration of the Divine Services. My hope is that the new Metropolitan will allow one or more monastic communities to form. Holy Resurrection Monastery in California is wonderful but we don't really need monks in the desert of California. We need monks close to downtown Pittsburgh, in Cleveland, in Scranton, in Phoenix and in central New Jersey.
Posted By: DavidB, the Byzantine Catholic

Re: monasticism - 05/28/02 06:42 PM

Quote
Originally posted by Moose:
There is currently a huge interest in authentic Byzantine monasticism. I have no doubt that within a few years new communities will be formed that will be centered on prayer and a proper celebration of the Divine Services. My hope is that the new Metropolitan will allow one or more monastic communities to form. Holy Resurrection Monastery in California is wonderful but we don't really need monks in the desert of California. We need monks close to downtown Pittsburgh, in Cleveland, in Scranton, in Phoenix and in central New Jersey.


Moose,
While I agree with you 100%, here is something that I see that could happen to those monks that serve close to the downtown areas.

Won't the temptation of the Bishops be great to "raid" the monasteries that are close to the downtown areas where priests are needed? Just as has been done with the so called "latinized" communities of today?

Maybe the only place for authentic Byzantine monasticism is in the desert where it is not as convenient to use the monks in this way.

I hope I am wrong otherwise my vocation is at risk.


Your brother in Christ,
David
Posted By: amonasticbeginner

Re: monasticism - 05/28/02 06:54 PM

Re: books
Please excuse this duplication, but I started a new thread on books. We must have been writing at the SAME time.

I believe that traditional monastic life (Eastern Christian/Orthodox) is being re-established in our
Church just as our Holy Father asked us to do.

Restore, reclaim, re-establish, resurrect (all these wonderful R words) for monastic life in our country in 2002.
MONASTICS are under the local Bishop. The year 2002 is seeing new Bishops and a Metropolitan. IT IS SO WONDERFUL.

Yes, read lots of books. Ooops, that should be second. The number one priority is PRAYER -- liturgical prayer and private prayer. Then, read and contact other monastics. PRAY, read, and PRAY some more.


[ 05-28-2002: Message edited by: amonasticbeginner ]

[ 05-28-2002: Message edited by: amonasticbeginner ]
Posted By: Moose

Re: monasticism - 05/28/02 06:58 PM

David,

I appreciate your concerns.

There is nothing to prevent a bishop from raiding any monastery anywhere of its priest-monks to supply parishes. Also, monasticism and the priesthood - like marriage and priesthood - are two different vocations. One can be called to monasticism without being called to service as a priest just as one can be called to both marriage and the priesthood. Vigilance from hieromonk-robbing bishops is always and will always be necessary. Maybe one of the positive aspects of having three monastics as bishops will be more support for monasticism in our Church?

I did not mean to suggest that desert monasticism has no place in America - it does. I believe, however, that the Christian community needs the everyday witness of monasticism to help restore balance to the Christian life.

Moose
Posted By: Sharon Mech

Re: monasticism - 05/28/02 08:38 PM

Moose,

Agreed on everything except..

We absolutely need monks in the high Mojave. Prayer knows no distance.

Sharon

Sharon emch, SFO
Cantor & sinner
sharon@cmhc.com
Posted By: Hieromonk Elias

Re: monasticism - 05/29/02 01:15 AM

The Church needs monks and monasticism's witness everywhere!

God grant many young men and women the courage to embrace this wonderful vocation.

Elias
Posted By: Hieromonk Elias

Re: monasticism - 05/29/02 01:17 AM

It was said on another thread not too long ago, that there was insufficient encouragement and guidance offered to those who were willing to study for the priesthood.

I hope that is not true of monasticism! Monks are only too willing to help and support those who wish to continue this awesome tradition, and this wonderful way of life in our Church.

Elias
Posted By: Diak

Re: monasticism - 05/29/02 04:05 AM

I have a nice spot on the back of my farm for any hermits out there - the more the merrier.

I think Moose is on the right track - there is a growing interest in authentic monasticism, not the "paramonasticism" of the past, especially as manifested with the Basilians. Let's pray that more monasteries like HTM and HRM in California, the Skete in Michigan, Mother of God in Ontario, and Holy Cross in D.C. can attract vocations but also that new foundations can begin. St. Anthony went to the Pecherska Lavra in Kyiv by himself and soon there were many more. May our God who loves mankind through the prayers of the monk-confessors Leonid Fedorov and Klement Sheptysky grant our churches many holy monks.
Posted By: Steve Petach

Re: monasticism - 05/29/02 05:46 AM

Quote
Originally posted by Sharon Mech:
Moose,

Agreed on everything except..

We absolutely need monks in the high Mojave. Prayer knows no distance.

Sharon

Sharon Mech, SFO
Cantor & sinner
sharon@cmhc.com


And to add that in the high desert more than 'just a monastery' biggrin has flourished. There is also a very active community of families supporting the monks, many (most) of whom are not cradle byzantines. As another thread puts it in tems of beautiful liturgies- one of my fondest memories of a wonderful liturgical service was of compline during a pilgrimage a few years ago at the monastery. more about that on the appropriate topic.

Steve Petach
Posted By: Michael Brooks

Re: monasticism - 05/29/02 07:24 AM

Quote
Originally posted by Moose:
Holy Resurrection Monastery in California is wonderful but we don't really need monks in the desert of California. We need monks close to downtown Pittsburgh, in Cleveland, in Scranton, in Phoenix and in central New Jersey.


You write of our monks from a utilitarian perspective, referring to what "we" need, or to what use they can be put. I can't fault you for this, as one purpose of this forum is to discuss the needs of the Church. Besides, this tends to be the way I think.

It reminds me, however, of a conversation with Hegumen Nicholas of HRM a couple of years ago. I, being very American and having a protestant formation, was obsessing about this or that activist concern, blathering on about tactics and strategy or something like that. Fr. Nicholas emphasized to me that the most important thing is my own soul's state, my own partaking of the divine nature, my own union with the Trinity and so on.

This was not the way I thought or felt. It is still not second nature to me. But I have become convinced it is true.

St. Antony walked out into the desert because he wanted to give up everything to possess and be possessed by Jesus Christ. He had no illusions about saving the Church. Yet that was what he and those who followed in monasticism did. I do not refer merely to the copying of scriptures or fighting the iconoclasts. I mean that, as Seraphim of Sarov said, "Sanctify yourself and you sanctify the world." When men and women are fllled with light, the darkness cannot do its work so much. And, as St. James tells us of St. Elias, the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. I can easily believe God heeds the prayers of monks before my own.

In short, by following St. Antony, they help us, probably more than if they made themselves "useful" to us.
Posted By: Moose

Re: monasticism - 05/29/02 03:09 PM

Quote
Michael wrote:
You write of our monks from a utilitarian perspective, referring to what "we" need, or to what use they can be put. I can't fault you for this, as one purpose of this forum is to discuss the needs of the Church. Besides, this tends to be the way I think.


The usefulness of the monks I speak of is simply their witness within the Christian community as those who are partaking of the divine nature. I admit that it is partly utilitarian to want the monks where the greatest number of people can benefit from the witness of their lives. biggrin
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: monasticism - 05/29/02 03:40 PM

Dear Friends,

There is a special role for Monasticism strictly speaking.

I was in a monastery and it was a deeply meaningful experience for me. It brought me into touch with God in a way that I had never known before.

But I can't help wondering to what extent Monasticism is fountain-spring that Laity can and should be able to drink from, as deeply as they wish, within the context of their lives in the world.

Doesn't Monasticism have something to say to busy lay people? Can aspects of this life not become part of their lives?

Retreats and other ways of directly experiencing monastic life are important.

But how can the insights of the Desert belong to laity as well, laity who do not have the option of turning their backs on the world.

And are we called to do that anyway? Aren't we called to be in the world, but not of the world?

Just thinking out loud . . .

Alex
Posted By: Diak

Re: monasticism - 05/30/02 12:31 AM

Alex - have you ever read "Poustinia" by Catherine de Hueck Doherty (Madonna House, Combermere)? She addresses that very issue, of how we can have a poustinia and some of that precious life even while "in the world" with all of its hustle and bustle.
Posted By: Fr. Deacon Lance

Re: monasticism - 05/30/02 01:06 AM

Perhaps the answer lies in hegumens not allowing their monks to become priests. This was the practice of the earliest monks. Our great monastic fathers, St. Pachomius and St. Sabbas the Sanctified, would not accept priests into their monasteries nor allow their monks to become priests. For Eastern monasticism to flourish again perhaps this rule needs to restored, maybe only temporarily so bishops are not tempted to raid the monasteries for priests. One priest and deacon per monastery for the liturgical needs of the community.

In Christ,
Lance
Posted By: Diak

Re: monasticism - 05/30/02 01:29 AM

Lance - excellent point. Traditionally the monastic life was precisely the the living out of the "angelic life" and monks proficient in the monastic life were referred to as "Father" regardless of whether or not they were priests or deacons. The Studites have attempted to restore this practice within the Byzantine tradition of the Catholic Church.
Posted By: Hieromonk Elias

Re: monasticism - 05/30/02 01:29 AM

Dear Lance,

An astute observation, and timely.

For both Sabbas, and Pachomius, to allow monks to become priests, they had to study. That was the problem. Study made them nervous.

However, to preserve "Orthodoxy" Sabbas and Euthymius readily supplied clergy for the Anastasis, and for Jerusalem (and dioceses beyond). To provide a Chalcedonian Bishop, they would happily part with any number of monks. They were able to make the sacrifice to insure that a diocese was saved from the Origenists, or the non-Chalcedonians... (forgive me for using these labels, now not correct).

Elias
Posted By: Diak

Re: monasticism - 05/30/02 02:28 AM

Origen wasn't all bad - and he had some great students...the Cappadocians wouldn't have been the same without him...oops, sorry, starting to drift off-topic..

Very interesting thoughts about Sabas and Euthyimios in that light, reverend Father! They supplied the clerical need where appropriate. I really hadn't thought in that way except that there was a basic need for presbyter, deacon and minor clergy (subdeacons, cantors, etc.) to fulfill the liturgical roles of the community, and not many presbyters except those necessary for celebrating the Holy Mysteries. But correct me if I'm wrong, but the Sabaitic monasteries even in this case of supplying extra presbyters and episcopal candidates were never the "priest factories" of the medieval Western European monasteries.

The Sabaitic influence on the shape of our current liturgical typikon and services certainly is significant.
Posted By: Hieromonk Elias

Re: monasticism - 05/30/02 03:27 AM

You are right, that was not their purpose. They were certainly not priest factories, or sources of "supply".

They were passionate about the Church, and willing to leave the desert when the true faith was threatened. The Sabaite monasteries were the "true faith"'s musclemen, the guardians of Orthodoxy. ...and they were well able for the fight.

My kind of monks...
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: monasticism - 05/30/02 01:21 PM

Dear Lovers of the Angelic Life!

The ancient monks, although not priests, actually did have amongst themselves those who had aptitudes for intellectual study and these were asked to apply themselves to the Scriptures and Patristics.

Their studies were less of the philosophical kind that one would find in the great schools of their period.

The ancient monastic three year preparation or "novitiate" paid a great deal of attention to the memorization of the Psalms and a book of the Gospels, usually the Gospel of John.

They were expected to be able to quote from the Scriptures and the Fathers so as to defend the Orthodox Faith against the heretics of the day.

Their intense patristic and scriptural background made them ideal candidates for the episcopate in times of upheaval in the Church, as they stuck to the basics in defending the Church's faith and morals.

To this day, the rules for accepting priestly candidates to ordination include the bishop seeing if the candidate "knows the Psalms and the Gospels" which, previously, meant that he knew them off by heart - the original monastic rule.

St Benedict as well, in his Rule, considered the admission of priests into his monasteries as highly irregular and one can detect a nervousness on his part to do so. He was also worried that priests might consider themselves "above" the other monks etc.

When a monk was asked to be a priest or a bishop, there was no question that he wasn't fully qualified to fulfill his duties or somehow needed extra theological preparation - he didn't.

He was simply released from the monastery by his Ihumen and was then ordained a priest and then consecrated a bishop.

To this day, a bishop in our Church must be a monk or a member of a religious Order.

Alex
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