Author Topic: Stylites and Huts?  (Read 2080 times)

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Offline Thanatos

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Stylites and Huts?
« on: February 23, 2007, 03:15:38 AM »
Hey,

I was wondering if there was any truth to this statement, taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia on the Stylites:

There can be no doubt that for the majority of the pillar hermits the extreme austerity of which we read in the lives of the Simeons and of Alypius was somewhat mitigated. Upon the summit of some of the columns for example a tiny hut was erected as a shelter against sun and rain, and we hear of other hermits of the same class among the Monophysites, who lived inside a hollow pillar rather than upon it; but the life in any case must have been one of extraordinary endurance and privation.

Was their austerity mitigated by these huts? Is there any historical veracity within this, because in the icons I have seen of the stylites, they are open-aired. This is written without any documentation or examples, so really I don't know how truthful it is.

Peace,
Bryan

Offline Anastasios

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Re: Stylites and Huts?
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2007, 09:15:02 AM »
Icons are not meant to be historically accurate of course, as you will notice things like St Paul in the icon of the Last Supper, etc. But I don't know the answer to your question :)
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Offline jmbejdl

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Re: Stylites and Huts?
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2007, 09:41:29 AM »
Icons are not meant to be historically accurate of course, as you will notice things like St Paul in the icon of the Last Supper, etc. But I don't know the answer to your question :)

I don't really know for certain either, but the life of St, Simeon the Stylite that I read certainly did mention a hut atop his pillar and that was from an Orthodox source, not a Roman Catholic one.

As for the realism of icons, my son's patron must have been a giant amongst men if his icon is supposed to be accurate, as he has the entire church of Putna monastery in his left hand, and I can vouch for the fact that it isn't a miniature building.

James
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Offline Schultz

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Re: Stylites and Huts?
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2007, 11:15:29 AM »
...
 This is written without any documentation or examples, so really I don't know how truthful it is.



The article actually does give two examples:

Quote
There can be no doubt that for the majority of the pillar hermits the extreme austerity of which we read in the lives of the Simeons and of Alypius was somewhat mitigated.
"Hearing a nun's confession is like being stoned to death with popcorn." --Abp. Fulton Sheen

Offline Thanatos

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Re: Stylites and Huts?
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2007, 07:52:33 PM »
Oh okay, thank you all.

Are there examples of Orthodox ascetics who have lived austere lives, as far as enduring torrential rains, the sun's rays of heat, etc. without any conception of shelter?

Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: Stylites and Huts?
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2009, 09:34:07 PM »
<blows the dust off this old thread>

I would like to discuss stylites a bit more. I have a few concerns with such practices, and I hope that we can address them.

First of all, the public manner in which these people displayed themselves seems to me, in my ignorance, very similar to what Christ was condemning when he told us to pray, fast, give alms, etc in secret. Does lifting these people up on these poles so that the public can witness their ascetical feats somehow diminish the humility and secrecy intended to be presented during such efforts?

Secondly, did Christ intend for us to fabricate our own crosses for ourselves, or to rely on God to provide us with such to bear? If we are to fabricate our own crosses, then why shouldn't we be using other forms of self-mortification, (flagellation, etc)? This is my second concern regarding these practice.

Any other discussion regarding stylites in general is welcome.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2009, 09:34:33 PM by Ortho_cat »

Offline Salpy

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Re: Stylites and Huts?
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2009, 09:52:19 PM »
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,24101.msg369759.html#msg369759

The above thread mentions the fact that the monasticism that developed in Syria was different from and more extreme than the monasticism that developed in Egypt.  In Syria the ascetics were more likely to engage in acts which I think we would call self-mortification.

The stylite form of asceticism started with St. Simeon.  It's been a while since I read the three biographies of him which were written by his contemporaries.  However, if I recall correctly, it was not his initial intent to be on a pillar.  I think at first he went into the desert to be alone in his prayers, but people who saw him and heard of him kept coming to him.  I think people were touching him and bothering him, so he began to stand on piles of rocks to discourage them.  However, people kept coming.  The piles of rocks became higher and eventually standing on a pillar just became a form of asceticism for him.  He started preaching and the rest is history.  Others imitated him, but I am assuming it was not from pride, but from a desire to discipline themselves spiritually.

Offline Andrew21091

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Re: Stylites and Huts?
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2009, 01:27:19 AM »
Yeah, from what I understand, he went on the pillar to avoid people in the first place. People kept coming to him in the desert and it I remember right he also tried living in an abandoned well but people still found him.

Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: Stylites and Huts?
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2009, 07:45:46 AM »
I guess this whole isolationist spirituality I don't understand. I mean perhaps for a couple weeks or a month or two, but for years on end? Of what benefit does this serve his fellow man? I guess in a way, it almost seems...selfish. I'm sorry, I speak truly out of ignorance, and wish to be enlightened... :-[
« Last Edit: December 12, 2009, 07:46:05 AM by Ortho_cat »

Offline ialmisry

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Re: Stylites and Huts?
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2009, 10:04:02 AM »
I guess this whole isolationist spirituality I don't understand. I mean perhaps for a couple weeks or a month or two, but for years on end? Of what benefit does this serve his fellow man? I guess in a way, it almost seems...selfish. I'm sorry, I speak truly out of ignorance, and wish to be enlightened... :-[

I could go in the theoretics on this (Body of Christ etc.) but just look at the actual results.  Once someone criticized St. Anthony as doing nothing.  I replied that if that was true, he would have gone out in the desert and we would have never heard of him.  Instead, milliions followed him.  Even secularists have to admit the role monasticism played in preserving and advancing knowledge.

More to the OP: St. Simeon Styalites attracted people as far away as England, and his Church complex at one time was among the largest in Christendom.

<blows the dust off this old thread>

I would like to discuss stylites a bit more. I have a few concerns with such practices, and I hope that we can address them.

First of all, the public manner in which these people displayed themselves seems to me, in my ignorance, very similar to what Christ was condemning when he told us to pray, fast, give alms, etc in secret. Does lifting these people up on these poles so that the public can witness their ascetical feats somehow diminish the humility and secrecy intended to be presented during such efforts?

Secondly, did Christ intend for us to fabricate our own crosses for ourselves, or to rely on God to provide us with such to bear? If we are to fabricate our own crosses, then why shouldn't we be using other forms of self-mortification, (flagellation, etc)? This is my second concern regarding these practice.

Any other discussion regarding stylites in general is welcome.

As always, the answers to these questions is discernment.

Society makes all sorts of claims on the individual.  The extreme asceticism here is demonstrating that such claims are not absoute as people make them out to be.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2009, 10:09:50 AM by ialmisry »
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Offline Salpy

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Re: Stylites and Huts?
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2009, 12:25:27 PM »
I guess this whole isolationist spirituality I don't understand. I mean perhaps for a couple weeks or a month or two, but for years on end? Of what benefit does this serve his fellow man?

The work of a monk is prayer.  When they pray for us and for the world it always helps. 

In St. Simeon's case, he also preached and God used him to heal others both spiritually and physically.  God still works miracles through his intercession.  I don't normally talk about these things, but I was once healed of something through his intercession.

There were also times when he worked justice for the oppressed.  I recall reading about a time when a simple villager came to him because a landowner, or someone, was being unfair to him.  St. Simeon straightened out the situation.

Desert monasticism is serious spiritual business.  It's not a vacation resort for the monks.   :)  It's hard and rigorous and to survive there they are in constant prayer, not only for themselves, but for others.  I think the world would be worse off without these holy men and women.

Offline rakovsky

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Re: Stylites and Huts?
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2010, 08:48:30 PM »
Quote
"Marina Abramovic... the celebrated performance artist Marina Abramovic"
June 29, 2009, The Sunday Times.
http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual_arts/article6596386.ece

Marina Abramovic is one of the most celebrated performance artists alive.

Her often hair-raising performances have involved both self-mortification and heroic endurance...

“My mother and father were heroes and my grandfather was a saint, which makes me . . .” here she pauses and laughs, “a complete puzzle.”

Although Abramovic left her native Belgrade in 1975 and in recent years has lived in New York, her speech retains a guttural Serbian edge so that “wow!” — which she says often — becomes “vow!” and “zipping” is “zzipingk”.

 “I spent most of the time when I was small with my grandmother on my mother’s side. She was religious and there was always a big conflict between her and my communist mother, which continued with me and my mother later on.

“My first attempt to become holy was when I was staying with my grandmother. There was a marble holy water stoop at church and I tried to drink it all. The only effect was that I got diarrhoea because it was really dirty.”

Her mother’s father had been a Patriarch of the Orthodox Church. He was declared a saint and his body was embalmed and displayed in St Sava’s church in Belgrade. Some of the things that Abramovic does in performance, such as self-mortification and fasting, recall the austerities of Orthodox hermits such as St Simeon Stylites, who lived on a pillar in the Syrian desert. Many saints, though, would have drawn the line at Role Exchange (1975) in which she changed places for four hours in Amsterdam.

However outré her art, in private she was subject to tight domestic discipline. Her mother had imposed partisan-style order on the household so, after performing extreme acts in public, Abramovic would have to rush home to bed. “I had to be back by 10pm because only bad women were out after that,” she says. “She would wake me in the night because my bed was a mess. Everything had to be washed with detergent, even bananas."

At 29 Abramovic ran away; her mother asked the police to haul her back but they laughed when they heard her age. From repressed Belgrade she moved to the liberation of 1970s Amsterdam. “It was hell for me,” she says. “It was such a shock to go from total control to complete freedom.”

Her objective, she says, is not suffering but liberation. “It is extremely painful to sit for seven hours without moving, as Ulay and I did in a performance. But if you carry on, you reach a point where you are ready to lose consciousness and the pain disappears — it was in the mind. The pain is like a door and there is amazing freedom on the other side.”

For her, performance involves altered consciousness, almost entering a state of trance. “If I cut myself chopping garlic in the kitchen, I cry. In private life you feel fragile, you are working from low-self. But in a performance you can use the enormous energy of the public to push your limits. It’s all about how to elevate the human mind.”

You suspect that her grandfather would have approved of the aim, if not all the means.


Personally, I believe it is far better to wear yourself out spreading the gospel and doing tireless charity works than to hurt yourself.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2010, 08:48:59 PM by rakovsky »