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Author Topic: Visiting a Coptic Monastery  (Read 3498 times) Average Rating: 0
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howdydave
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« on: May 01, 2008, 01:28:37 PM »

Howdy!

I will be making my first visit to a local Coptic Monastery in the near future.

I have learned through my readings that brandy is always an appropriate gift when visiting an Eastern Orthodox Monastery.

Is it an appropriate gift when visiting a Coptic Monastery?

Dave
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2008, 01:43:09 PM »

Howdy!

I will be making my first visit to a local Coptic Monastery in the near future.

I have learned through my readings that brandy is always an appropriate gift when visiting an Eastern Orthodox Monastery.

Is it an appropriate gift when visiting a Coptic Monastery?

Dave

Coptic monks generally don't engage themselves in any alcoholic beverage (a lot like to give themselves a sense of a vow similar to the Old Testament Nazarene: no wine, no cutting hair, and eating lots and lots of beans and lentils), with the exception of the use of wine for the Blood of Christ.  I'm not very sure what gifts a monastery would like really.  Good question!  An icon maybe?  I would assume they would rather have something spiritual.  But I'm not sure.
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2008, 01:49:36 PM »

No. Coptic monks do not drink any alcohol nor could it be used as sacramental wine for the divine liturgy since it is a distilled spirit. So while the gesture would be appreciated, it would be a wasted gift.

I know in my parents and grandparents day they would take different foodstuffs, namely fresh fruits and other items the monasteries did not grow or produce, also they would bring their first fruit offerings to the monasteries.  But this practice while still practiced is not as common nor really necessary in the most monasteries outside of Egypt. More commonly in the modern day, we mostly leave small monetary donation (or if know the monastery is in particular need of something, that item)  or if we could render a service for the monastery, such as construction/manual labor/landscaping et c..

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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2008, 02:04:58 PM »

Thank you very much!

I don't want to stick my foot into it on my first visit.

Especially since I want to use them as my "Monastic Prep-school"...

I am thinking about becoming a monastic and want to learn enough about monasticism to be able to ask some intelligent questions when I start my search for a monastery for myself.

Maybe I will go back to my original idea -- a crate of clementine oranges and my services.
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2008, 08:38:32 PM »


Maybe I will go back to my original idea -- a crate of clementine oranges and my services.

That would be very appropriate.  My friends and I sometimes visit St. Antony Coptic monastery in California and we bring fruit as gifts.  Also, if you are willing to do a little physical labor for them, I know that would be appreciated if there is work to be done at the time you come.  It is common and not disrepectful for men to go there wearing a clean pair of jeans and a t-shirt, partly because there is sometimes work to do.

Which monastery do you plan on visiting? 
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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2008, 08:53:02 PM »

I have learned through my readings that brandy is always an appropriate gift when visiting an Eastern Orthodox Monastery.

Whoa, I have never even heard of this tradition before. I don't think monks in the Eastern Orthodox Church are allowed to have alcoholic beverages either.
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2008, 09:25:52 PM »

Whoa, I have never even heard of this tradition before. I don't think monks in the Eastern Orthodox Church are allowed to have alcoholic beverages either.


Brandy is actually seen as a traditional gift, my fiancee's family brings it to the local Serbian monastery everytime they visit.  Another great gift is olive oil.
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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2008, 09:33:54 PM »

Whoa, I have never even heard of this tradition before. I don't think monks in the Eastern Orthodox Church are allowed to have alcoholic beverages either.


Yes they are, of course according to the discipline established by their abbot. Every monastery I know of serves wine at various occasions. When you go to various monasteries on Mt Athos they often greet you with a shot of ouzo.
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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2008, 09:50:38 PM »

That would be very appropriate.  My friends and I sometimes visit St. Antony Coptic monastery in California and we bring fruit as gifts.  Also, if you are willing to do a little physical labor for them, I know that would be appreciated if there is work to be done at the time you come.  It is common and not disrepectful for men to go there wearing a clean pair of jeans and a t-shirt, partly because there is sometimes work to do.

Which monastery do you plan on visiting? 

I am going to:

St. Shenouda in Rochester, NY
http://www.stshenouda.rochcopts.org/

They are fairly new, small, and have taken a giant leap of faith by going deeply into debt. They bought a big RC church in downtown Rochester which they intend to turn into a mission center.
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« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2008, 09:51:41 PM »

Cool!  I've never been there.  Let us all know what it is like.

And welcome to the forum!
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« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2008, 10:12:03 PM »

No. Coptic monks do not drink any alcohol nor could it be used as sacramental wine for the divine liturgy since it is a distilled spirit. So while the gesture would be appreciated, it would be a wasted gift.

I know in my parents and grandparents day they would take different foodstuffs, namely fresh fruits and other items the monasteries did not grow or produce, also they would bring their first fruit offerings to the monasteries.  But this practice while still practiced is not as common nor really necessary in the most monasteries outside of Egypt. More commonly in the modern day, we mostly leave small monetary donation (or if know the monastery is in particular need of something, that item)  or if we could render a service for the monastery, such as construction/manual labor/landscaping et c..

I did hear of one monk who people said was okay with drinking.  Of course, these were rumors, so I don't know whether they were there to hurt him or not, but my reaction was plainly, "So, what in the world is wrong with that?  I drink too!"
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« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2008, 10:21:38 PM »

Brandy is always an appropriate gift when visiting a monastery?? I'm a layperson and never drink brandy-it seems odd that monastics would...this is all very new to me!!! Shocked I guess I've always given a gift of money-not realizing we were supposed to be giving alcoholic beverages...
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« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2008, 10:49:36 PM »

Brandy is always an appropriate gift when visiting a monastery?? I'm a layperson and never drink brandy-it seems odd that monastics would...this is all very new to me!!! Shocked I guess I've always given a gift of money-not realizing we were supposed to be giving alcoholic beverages...

Monastics across Europe have brewed/distilled/fermented wines, beers, brandies, etc, for centuries, only makes sense they would drink it too.  Cheesy  Brandy just means they have very good taste!   laugh
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« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2008, 10:55:21 PM »

Monastics across Europe have brewed/distilled/fermented wines, beers, brandies, etc, for centuries, only makes sense they would drink it too.  Cheesy  Brandy just means they have very good taste!   laugh

Yes, of course, that's true. It just seems odd that meat isn't allowed, but alcohol is. I thought monks were supposed to be practising self-denial. Or isn't avoiding alcohol self-denial? Undecided Forgive me, I'm not trying to be judgmental-it just takes a long time to readjust my thinking processes...sigh...
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« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2008, 02:36:25 AM »

Yes, of course, that's true. It just seems odd that meat isn't allowed, but alcohol is. I thought monks were supposed to be practising self-denial. Or isn't avoiding alcohol self-denial? Undecided Forgive me, I'm not trying to be judgmental-it just takes a long time to readjust my thinking processes...sigh...

A night of drinking with some Russian buddies is FAR more a feat of asceticism than giving up meat...  Cheesy
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« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2008, 05:12:09 PM »

Brandy is actually seen as a traditional gift, my fiancee's family brings it to the local Serbian monastery everytime they visit.  Another great gift is olive oil.

Yes they are, of course according to the discipline established by their abbot. Every monastery I know of serves wine at various occasions. When you go to various monasteries on Mt Athos they often greet you with a shot of ouzo.


Wow, I never knew that. I learn something new everyday. Grin Thanks for clearing this up for me.
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« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2008, 05:47:29 PM »

The Church puts food in the following order:

meat
dairy
fish
wine & oil

So you would give up meat before dairy, dairy before fish, etc under normal circumstances.

Of course, gluttony or overconsumption of wine is a sin in any case. but eating meat causes more passions than drinking wine which is why we give up meat more than wine.
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« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2008, 07:17:22 PM »

Quote

Of course, gluttony or overconsumption of wine is a sin in any case. but eating meat causes more passions than drinking wine which is why we give up meat more than wine.

It does? I never quite understood this somehow. I find if I drink even a small amount of wine it affects my behaviour detrimentally, but eating meat has never had this effect-if anything it is beneficial because I am better able to think more clearly and have the strength to work.
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« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2008, 07:49:39 PM »

It does? I never quite understood this somehow. I find if I drink even a small amount of wine it affects my behaviour detrimentally, but eating meat has never had this effect-if anything it is beneficial because I am better able to think more clearly and have the strength to work.


Meat tends to be harder to digest, so it can lead to laziness/idleness afterwards.  I believe they also say that to eat flesh will make your mind wander onto those of the flesh.  Though people react to alcohol differently, using wine/oil in cooking or enjoying it (in moderation) with a meal, tend not to lead to more sloth-like behaviour like meat does.  I suppose it depends on one's upbringing and tolerance to alcohol what "moderation" means.  For some it is a few classes of wine, some one, others sniffing the cork is enough.  Tongue
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« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2008, 08:53:41 PM »

It does? I never quite understood this somehow. I find if I drink even a small amount of wine it affects my behaviour detrimentally, but eating meat has never had this effect-if anything it is beneficial because I am better able to think more clearly and have the strength to work.


The effects of wine are more obvious but the effects of meat are more insidious. I find that I have more energy when I get my protein from other sources.

If you don't like the effect of wine on you then of course you should abstain. Fasting is of course a discipline that can be modified by the spiritual father.
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« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2008, 09:07:22 PM »

I find that I have more energy when I get my protein from other sources.

Very true, I've noticed that too.  If anything, fasting seasons tend to be my healthiest.  While I'm eating meat now, I'm still balancing off with beans and soy products.
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« Reply #21 on: May 03, 2008, 01:24:29 AM »

Then there's always peanut butter.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.  That's a good fasting food and source for protein.
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« Reply #22 on: May 06, 2008, 05:16:45 PM »

Howdy!

I found my first Lent to be very easy due to the fact that there is an Indian store just down the street where I got myself a lot of frozen vegetarian and vegan entrees.

The fact that we had 2 pot lucks every week at church helped quite a bit too! One for the choir (Wednesdays after Pre-Sanctified and before choir practice) and one for everybody (on Fridays.)
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« Reply #23 on: May 07, 2008, 03:10:35 PM »

I found my first Lent to be very easy due to the fact that there is an Indian store just down the street where I got myself a lot of frozen vegetarian and vegan entrees.
Yeah, Indian food is great for the fast. Between the Hindus who won't eat beef, the Muslims who won't eat pork, the Buddhists who won't eat meat at all, and the Orthodox who fast half the year, the Indians have created a culture which eats a great variety of vegetarian foods. We have several Indians in our parish who cook the most wonderful things. They almost make me look forward to fasting.
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« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2008, 01:52:08 PM »

Yup...

My mission this year was to introduce all of those Greeks to Indian pickled fruits and vegetables!
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