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Author Topic: modern OO monasticism  (Read 1364 times) Average Rating: 0
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pathofsolitude
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« on: October 11, 2007, 10:39:35 AM »

How much is the eremitic or semieremitic [ie in skete, laura] life practiced right now in the Coptic, Armenian, and Syrian churches? I havent been able to find much literature on the topic. Any information would be useful.

The Copts are traditionally the most eremitically inclined. I know that at least the famous ancient cenobitical communities experienced a revival in the 20th century. I hope the revival wasnt confined to those centres.

From what I gathered about the Armenians, it seems that they abandoned the eremitic life in the middle ages, in preference to Basilian communities that are more into priestly ministry, charitable works, missions, scholarship, and national cultural advancement. Correct me if I'm wrong though. Are there any eremitic or semieremitic communities in the Armenian church today?

I know nothing at all about monasticism in the two OO Syrian churches...

Thanks for any info.





« Last Edit: October 11, 2007, 10:40:53 AM by pathofsolitude » Logged

The great apostasy has occured. Get out of there while you can!!! Its better to be priestless than to have a heretic bishop. The apostles taught that the church consists of saints only. There are about 7,000 Spirit-bearers currently in the catacombs.
Salpy
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2007, 11:58:29 AM »

In the Armenian Church, I know that in the early days there were a lot of hermits.  One of my favorite hymns, in fact, is one written by St. Nerses Shnorhali asking the hermits of the past to pray for us.  This would have been written in the 1100's.  It is usually sung during the Prime service during Lent.

At some point in time, monasteries became more common, but I can't really say when.  I don't think we really have hermits right now, like we did in the past.

There are not a lot of monastics right now.  One reason, of course, was that they were mostly wiped out during the Genocide.  The Turks killed about half of the general Armenian population, but they made a point of killing every person associated with the Church that they could get their hands on.  In my grandfather's village, the priests were doused with kerosene and set on fire.  So it is not like there would have been any monks or nuns left alive after that time.  Then, of course, after the Genocide, the part of Armenia that the Turks couldn't get to went under Communist rule.  When you look at the history of the Armenian Church in the twentieth century, it is really kind of amazing that it still exists.

I know there are Armenian monks in Jerusalem.  I also know that there is an Armenian nun living in Constantinople.  I think they are trying to establish some monastic communities in Armenia, but I don't know the details.

The Copts are probably the OO's with the most active monasteries right now.  Also, I think the Ethiopians have a lot of monks, and possibly hermits.  Actually, I know of one Copt who lived as a hermit for a while in the mid twentieth century.  That was Pope Kyrillos, who lived for a while in a deserted wind mill in the middle of the desert.  I think that was before he was pope.

I don't know much about current Syriac monasticism.  Someone once told me they still have stylite monks, but I don't know if that is true. 

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pathofsolitude
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2007, 02:18:54 PM »

Thanks for the reply.

Quote
I also know that there is an Armenian nun living in Constantinople.

One Armenian nun! I didnt know it was that bad.

Quote
Actually, I know of one Copt who lived as a hermit for a while in the mid twentieth century.  That was Pope Kyrillos, who lived for a while in a deserted wind mill in the middle of the desert.  I think that was before he was pope.

Do you know if he undertook this independently, or if he was under the patronage of a monastery, or whatever?


Anyways, I went to the university library today to try to find some more information, and I'm surprised I finally found some things.

There was a book written by the Armenian patriarch of Constantinople in 1913. He said that the Armenians ceased to practice the contemplative life [I guess even in its cenobitical form] a long long time ago. And he said that the [socalled] monasteries that are still around exist "solely" [to use his word] for the training of celibate clergy. They are basically seminaries. The priests who live there permanently are teachers and no one takes vows.

I also came across a book written in 1947 which mentioned the state of Coptic and Syrian monasticism in that time. In regards to the Copts he said that only 8 monasteries remain, that there are about 300 monks, and that there are 3 convents for women. Thats next to nothing. And this was merely 60 years ago! Apparently the monastic revival in the late 20th century must have been huge. I wonder what the numbers are now. Anyways this book mentioned nothing about the semieremitic life. The 8 monasteries he mentioned were the ancient famous cenobitical centres. In regards to Syrian monasticism he said that only a few monasteries remain, that those few are basically uninhabited, and that they are struggling even to stay alive.

Personally I believe that there is an ubroken lineage of Godbearing hermits going back to the time of the Old Testament prophets. Heb 11:37- "They wandered in deserts, mountains, caves and holes in the ground." We dont know where they are. Just like we would have never known about St Paul if St Antony had not received a revelation about him.
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The great apostasy has occured. Get out of there while you can!!! Its better to be priestless than to have a heretic bishop. The apostles taught that the church consists of saints only. There are about 7,000 Spirit-bearers currently in the catacombs.
Salpy
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2007, 03:01:44 PM »

With regard to Pope Kyrillos, our Coptic brothers would know more about him than I do.  I just know he was a great ascetic.  He tried hiding it, especially when he was pope, but the monks who knew him were able to see that he ate almost nothing and he slept only a few hours because he wanted to pray at night when he couldn't be disturbed. 

I think there has been a revival of Coptic monasticism since the book you read was written.  There are many Coptic monasteries, including a few in the U.S.  There is one in the Mojavi desert, outside of Barstow, which I have been to several times.  When I first started going there over a decade ago, the monks were just living out of trailers and the churches were not much better.  Now they are building more proper buildings.  There are also Coptic monasteries in Texas and I think the East Coast.

With regard to Armenian monks and nuns before the Genocide, I know some existed only because I've seen photographs that were taken of them at the turn of the century.  The pictures of nuns I think were taken in Iran, where I think Christians had more protection than in the Ottoman Empire, so it could be there were more monastics there.  I do know that monasteries were places where priests trained.  In fact, the word Armenians commonly use for seminary is "vank," which also means monastery.

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Salpy
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« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2007, 12:13:44 AM »

http://flickr.com/groups/sanctus/discuss/72157600017074537/

I think this is a picture of the windmill St. Pope Kyrillos lived in back when he was a monk.  His name was Father Mina before he became Pope.
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Tags: Monastery Oriental Orthodox saints saints St. Nerses Shnorhali Coptic Orthodox Church St. Kyrillos 
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