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Author Topic: Athos in America = Orthodox Church of Tomorrow?  (Read 3803 times) Average Rating: 0
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SolEX01
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« on: October 08, 2008, 11:06:31 PM »

Dear Friends:

I have posted extensively about my concerns with the Elder Ephraim Monasteries in the USA & Canada and I see some facts which I find troubling.  Many of you are aware of the facts and I'll summarize them below:

1.
The more I think about the situation, the more I realize that the "Athos in America" concept is payback by EP/GOA for the Antiochian Church accepting the Evangelical Orthodox Protestants led by Rev. Peter Gillquist.  After all, Patriarch Dimitrios of Blessed Memory turned away the group in the 1980's.

Archbishop Iakovos of Blessed Memory also turned away Rev. Gillquist's group.  The bolded statement above is fact while the first clause is merely my opinion.   angel

2. 
Well, if I won't join Scientology and embrace Dianetics, why would I want to go to a place listed on a cult website just because it's affiliated with the Greek Orthdox Church?  That's my whole point.
And why would you refuse to go to a place that's affiliated with the Greek Orthodox Church just because it's listed on a cult website?  Why do you even trust that website?  That's my whole point.

FWIW, I never needed to read Rick Ross's website to know that Scientology is a cult, but if it weren't for you citing that site, I never would have thought that Elder Ephraim's monasteries could possibly also be a cult.  Why is this, I wonder.

Around 1990, Elder Ephraim, a monk from Mt. Athos, started establishing monasteries in the USA & Canada.  Some controversy arose from these Monasteries, resulting in their appearance on Rick Ross' Cult Website.

3. 
Quote from: Fr. John Peck
This new Orthodox Church will have a different face, will be ready for contemporary challenges, and will have begun to penetrate American society at every stage and on every level. This Church is the one that will be ready for the challenges of open persecution, fighting for the soul of every American, regardless of their genetic affiliation. This Church will be the one our grandchildren and great grandchildren will grow up in, looking back on the late 20th-early 21st century as a time of sentimental darkness from which burst forth the light of the Gospel. Let it begin.

Mission parishes in many Orthodox Jurisdictions are being established by spiritual children of the Elder Ephraim.  Father John Peck, A GOA priest (originally from OCA) from one such parish, Prescott Orthodox Church, delivered a controversial sermon (where the excerpt is taken from) where he also predicted that "ethnic Orthodoxy" would be extinct in 10-15 years and called for Churches to be built as centers of surrounding communities.

My question for this topic is as follows:

Are the Elder Ephraim Monasteries intended to foster the Orthodox Church of Tomorrow in the USA/Canada and do we even want the Orthodox Church of Tomorrow modeled on the monastic practices of Mt. Athos which, for all practical purposes, is an anachronism from the Byzantine Empire?

Corrected Capitalization of Elder Ephraim
« Last Edit: October 09, 2008, 02:34:21 AM by SolEX01 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2008, 02:00:14 AM »

Quote
Are the elder Ephraim Monasteries intended to foster the Orthodox Church of Tomorrow in the USA/Canada and do we even want the Orthodox Church of Tomorrow modeled on the monastic practices of Mt. Athos which, for all practical purposes, is an anachronism from the Byzantine Empire?

And if it were... would that be such a tragedy?

You, ah, are aware that there is precedent within Orthodoxy where indeed the life of the Church in the surrounding locality was centered upon Orthodox Monasteries?  Where, in fact, 'missionary' Orthodox monastic communities (founded from other 'missionary' monasteries) were instrumental in evangelizing the surrounding heathens and converting entire nations?  I'm sure my fellow Gaels will know what I am referencing. St. Columba of Iona, pray for us.

The above was a valid model of Church life and evangelization in its time and there is no reason it could not or should not be so again.


P.S.  I ask this without any ill intent, but what exactly drives this apparent antipathy you hold towards monasticism?

 
« Last Edit: October 09, 2008, 02:15:33 AM by Heracleides » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2008, 02:11:56 AM »

Quote
Are the elder Ephraim Monasteries intended to foster the Orthodox Church of Tomorrow in the USA/Canada and do we even want the Orthodox Church of Tomorrow modeled on the monastic practices of Mt. Athos which, for all practical purposes, is an anachronism from the Byzantine Empire?

And if it were... would that be such a tragedy?

Not a tragedy per se - more like problematic - see statement comparing Athos to an anachronism.

You, ah, are aware that there is precedent within Orthodoxy where the life of the Church in the surrounding locality was centered upon Orthodox Monasteries?

So?  Not everyone had easy access to a monastery.  Some were days or weeks walking distance from remote mountain villages.  Urban Constantinople was not the example of Orthodoxy.... 

Where, in fact, 'missionary' Orthodox monastic communities (founded from other 'missionary' monasteries) were responsible for evangelizing the surrounding heathens and converting entire nations?  I'm sure my fellow Gaels will know what I am referencing. St. Columba of Iona, pray for us.

You are correct (May the Memories of Those Saints martyred on the British Isles be Eternal) and note that William the Conqueror came 12 short years after the Great Schism to demolish Orthodoxy in the British Isles.

It was a valid model of Church life and evangelization in its time and there is no reason it should or could not be so again.

Sure, resurrect an anachronism because the ethnic Orthodox failed to evangelize for any reasons....

P.S.  I ask this without any ill intent, but what exactly drives this apparent antipathy you hold towards monasticism?

The excess focus on mysticism, almost to a cult-like status, which I feel is uncalled for in the Orthodox faith.  Yes, there are many Mysteries in the Orthodox praxis and I feel uncomfortable with excess mysticism given that a subset of ethnic Orthodox wear evil-eye amulets, consult horoscopes and fortune tellers and read coffee grounds.   Cheesy

Clarified comments about ethnic Orthodox to alleviate concerns of making broad generalizations and insults.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2008, 02:59:15 AM by SolEX01 » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2008, 02:46:02 AM »


Quote
Quote
And if it were... would that be such a tragedy?

Not a tragedy per se - more like problematic - see statement comparing Athos to an anachronism.

Just because you perceive monasteries (from Athos or elsewhere) to be an anachronism does not in fact make them so. Most non-Orthodox (that is, those even cognizant of us) consider Orthodoxy as a whole to be an anachronism... should Orthodoxy, and by extension Orthodox monasticism, cease its existence or expansion to conform to their/your mistaken perceptions? 

Quote
Quote
You, ah, are aware that there is precedent within Orthodoxy where the life of the Church in the surrounding locality was centered upon Orthodox Monasteries?

So?  Not everyone had easy access to a monastery.  Some were days or weeks walking distance from remote mountain villages.  Urban Constantinople was not the example of Orthodoxy....

Umm... did I every say or imply it was? 

Quote
Quote
Where, in fact, 'missionary' Orthodox monastic communities (founded from other 'missionary' monasteries) were responsible for evangelizing the surrounding heathens and converting entire nations?  I'm sure my fellow Gaels will know what I am referencing. St. Columba of Iona, pray for us.

You are correct (May the Memories of Those Saints martyred on the British Isles be Eternal) and note that William the Conqueror came 12 short years after the Great Schism to demolish Orthodoxy in the British Isles.

So...?  A happenstance of history (the Normon Conquest and subsequent papal suppression of the Celtic/Orthodox Church) invalidates a widespread (in the west) and very successful model of church life and growth?

Quote
Quote
It was a valid model of Church life and evangelization in its time and there is no reason it should or could not be so again.

Sure, resurrect an anachronism because the ethnic Orthodox failed to evangelize for any reasons....

17 thriving monasteries in less than one generation.... for being 'an anachronism' and all, the Athonite monasteries certainly seem to be doing something right... I again wonder why that frightens you?

Quote
Quote
P.S.  I ask this without any ill intent, but what exactly drives this apparent antipathy you hold towards monasticism?

The excess focus on mysticism, almost to a cult-like status, which I feel is uncalled for in the Orthodox faith.  Yes, there are many Mysteries in the Orthodox praxis and I feel uncomfortable with excess mysticism given that ethnic Orthodox wear evil-eye amulets, consult horoscopes and fortune tellers and read coffee grounds.   Cheesy

Sounds like a personal problem (i.e. bias).  Oddly enough, I've never witnessed any of the 'ethnic' superstitions you've listed above at any Orthodox monastery (Athonite or otherwise).  Lots of prayer... prayer... and prayer... now that I think of it, the entire witness was one of prayer.  Not a single GreekFest in sight... my oh my... how will Orthodoxy in America survive?  Wink
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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2008, 02:50:22 AM »

Quote
The excess focus on mysticism, almost to a cult-like status, which I feel is uncalled for in the Orthodox faith.  Yes, there are many Mysteries in the Orthodox praxis and I feel uncomfortable with excess mysticism given that ethnic Orthodox wear evil-eye amulets, consult horoscopes and fortune tellers and read coffee grounds.   

Don't you think you can get your point across without such generalizations and insults?

I am a cradle and therefore "ethnic" Orthodox and I don't do any of the above.

What is your point?  Please give some examples of "excess" mysticism in these monasteries.

I have never visited one so I am interested in this discussion.
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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2008, 02:57:36 AM »

Just because you perceive monasteries (from Athos or elsewhere) to be an anachronism does not in fact make them so. Most non-Orthodox (that is, those even cognizant of us) consider Orthodoxy as a whole to be an anachronism... should Orthodoxy, and by extension Orthodox monasticism, cease its existence or expansion to conform to their/your mistaken perceptions? 

You put words in my mouth - I focused only on Athos and nowhere else.  I can't speak for Monasteries in Serbia, Russia or anywhere else.  I know that the Monasteries in Kosovo have been decimated and destroyed although that is for another thread.   Cry

Why didn't the monks from Athos come to America in the 1920's - why wait until 1990?

Umm... did I every say or imply it was?

No.
 
So...?  A happenstance of history (the Normon Conquest and subsequent papal suppression of the Celtic/Orthodox Church) invalidates a widespread (in the west) and very successful model of church life and growth?

Sometimes, the seed takes root only to be reaped early.

17 thriving monasteries in less than one generation.... for being 'an anachronism' and all, the Athonite monasteries certainly seem to be doing something right... I again wonder why that frightens you?

I'm not frightened by Elder Ephraim and His followers.  All I want to know is why now and not the 1920's?

Sounds like a personal problem (i.e. bias).  Oddly enough, I've never witnessed any of the 'ethnic' superstitions you've listed above at any Orthodox monastery (Athonite or otherwise).

Of course not, the monks/nuns will not tolerate these things due to strict dress codes and the like. 

Lots of prayer... prayer... and prayer... now that I think of it, the entire witness was one of prayer.  Not a single GreekFest in sight... my oh my... how will Orthodoxy in America survive?  Wink

Orthodoxy in America doesn't stand a chance if Athos in America = Orthodox Church of Tomorrow.  I pray that I'm not around to see that happen.   Cry
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« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2008, 03:02:50 AM »

Don't you think you can get your point across without such generalizations and insults?

Note the correction I made to reduce generalizations.  I did not insult anyone nor do I believe I did.  If I insulted anyone, I humbly ask for forgiveness....

I am a cradle and therefore "ethnic" Orthodox and I don't do any of the above.

I am a cradle and I don't do any of the above as well.

What is your point?  Please give some examples of "excess" mysticism in these monasteries.

They have been cited in numerous places on numerous threads

I have never visited one so I am interested in this discussion.

Neither have I except I have a right to be concerned that these monasteries represent the future of the Orthodox Witness in America. 
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« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2008, 03:07:25 AM »

[
I have never visited one so I am interested in this discussion.

Neither have I except I have a right to be concerned that these monasteries represent the future of the Orthodox Witness in America. 

So basically, you're wary of 'excess mysticism' (which you've never witnessed) evidenced by Orthodox monastics (whom you've never met) at particular Orthodox monasteries (which you've never visited).

Interesting.  Grin
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« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2008, 09:33:27 AM »

Just because you perceive monasteries (from Athos or elsewhere) to be an anachronism does not in fact make them so. Most non-Orthodox (that is, those even cognizant of us) consider Orthodoxy as a whole to be an anachronism... should Orthodoxy, and by extension Orthodox monasticism, cease its existence or expansion to conform to their/your mistaken perceptions? 

You put words in my mouth - I focused only on Athos and nowhere else.  I can't speak for Monasteries in Serbia, Russia or anywhere else.  I know that the Monasteries in Kosovo have been decimated and destroyed although that is for another thread.   Cry

Why didn't the monks from Athos come to America in the 1920's - why wait until 1990?

Because when Elder Joseph the Hesychast passed away, Elder Ephraim was his disciple (along with 2 others), and they were sent to missionize to the world through monasticism.  Elder Ephraim was sent by his GERONTA, and his SPIRITUAL FATHER as a prime directive to establish monasticism in the USA.  He asked the Ecumenical patriarch, the Archbishop of America, and EACH LOCAL BISHOP before he started ANY of his monasteries. 

SO, his intentions were out of obedience to his geronta/spiritual father, out of love for monasticism and the american people, and in deference to any and all episcopal authority you can think of. 

Also I would like to say, that as much as some may think that these monasteries are centers for "greek culture" and etc.  Fr. Ephraim (a different one, who is also at St. Anthony's) has done ABSOLUTELY PROLIFIC work in regards to ENGLISH translations of GREEK texts, within the sphere of byzantine music.  He has translated, put into music and made available for FREE almost the entire year's worth of Menaia, as well as MANY other things.  He has also done translations, and put into music, the entire menaion into WESTERN STAFF music. 

Now, is this the work of a closed in community, that only cares about themselves?  Or is this the beginnings of a missionary effort?  I have been told by some of the geronta's of the Ephraim monasteries that within the next 20 years (or so) they will be moving to all english services.  They are beginning with Greek, because this is the tradition they have come from, and as soon as they have established themselves and are able to survive, they will begin in ernest to reach out to their communities. 

I would dare say that this is a much different picture than the one painted by the OP.  I hope this answers some of the questions out there...

edited for spelling
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« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2008, 09:45:50 AM »

Quote
Sure, resurrect an anachronism because the ethnic Orthodox failed to evangelize for any reasons....

It is not an anachronism. It is a living tradition.
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« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2008, 10:42:10 AM »

Quote
Sure, resurrect an anachronism because the ethnic Orthodox failed to evangelize for any reasons....

It is not an anachronism. It is a living tradition.
Amen.
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« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2008, 10:51:26 AM »

The purpose in this thread is a personal one for I dread the day anyone compares the Orthodox Church, the Bride of Christ, to a "cult" institution like JW, Scientology or anything else.
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« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2008, 11:03:13 AM »

Because when Elder Joseph the Hesychast passed away, Elder Ephraim was his disciple (along with 2 others), and they were sent to missionize to the world through monasticism.  Elder Ephraim was sent by his GERONTA, and his SPIRITUAL FATHER as a prime directive to establish monasticism in the USA.  He asked the Ecumenical patriarch, the Archbishop of America, and EACH LOCAL BISHOP before he started ANY of his monasteries.

All these entities said yes to Elder Ephraim and no to the Evangelical Protestants led by Rev. Peter Gillquist.  Would the "Athos in America" be here if the EP/GOA/Local Bishop received these Evangelical Protestants?

SO, his intentions were out of obedience to his geronta/spiritual father, out of love for monasticism and the american people, and in deference to any and all episcopal authority you can think of.

Or, a knee-jerk reaction to the AOA accepting American Evangelical Protestants.  The EP's predecessor of Blessed Memory reposed in 1990 and didn't live to see the monasteries "bloom" in USA/Canada.

 
Also I would like to say, that as much as some may think that these monasteries are centers for "greek culture" and etc.  Fr. Ephraim (a different one, who is also at St. Anthony's) has done ABSOLUTELY PROLIFIC work in regards to ENGLISH translations of GREEK texts, within the sphere of byzantine music.  He has translated, put into music and made available for FREE almost the entire year's worth of Menaia, as well as MANY other things.  He has also done translations, and put into music, the entire menaion into WESTERN STAFF music.

The cynic in me says that Americans will not listen to Byzantine chant in Greek; hence, translate it to English  (which I view as a good idea and I do give credit to the monasteries for doing something positive and beneficial).   Smiley 

 
Now, is this the work of a closed in community, that only cares about themselves?  Or is this the beginnings of a missionary effort?  I have been told by some of the geronta's of the Ephraim monasteries that within the next 20 years (or so) they will be moving to all english services.

Isn't the statement consistent with what was preached by Fr. Peck in his sermon?

 
They are beginning with Greek, because this is the tradition they have come from, and as soon as they have established themselves and are able to survive, they will begin in ernest to reach out to their communities.

The Monasteries have been surviving since 1990 and are slowly reaching out to their communities.
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« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2008, 11:58:08 AM »

Because when Elder Joseph the Hesychast passed away, Elder Ephraim was his disciple (along with 2 others), and they were sent to missionize to the world through monasticism.  Elder Ephraim was sent by his GERONTA, and his SPIRITUAL FATHER as a prime directive to establish monasticism in the USA.  He asked the Ecumenical patriarch, the Archbishop of America, and EACH LOCAL BISHOP before he started ANY of his monasteries.

All these entities said yes to Elder Ephraim and no to the Evangelical Protestants led by Rev. Peter Gillquist.  Would the "Athos in America" be here if the EP/GOA/Local Bishop received these Evangelical Protestants?

SO, his intentions were out of obedience to his geronta/spiritual father, out of love for monasticism and the american people, and in deference to any and all episcopal authority you can think of.

Or, a knee-jerk reaction to the AOA accepting American Evangelical Protestants.  The EP's predecessor of Blessed Memory reposed in 1990 and didn't live to see the monasteries "bloom" in USA/Canada.
So, you would impugn the motives of both Elder Ephraim and the GOA based on some silly speculation of a connection that you have not yet substantiated?  Again, what does the GOA's acceptance of Elder Ephraim and his desire for "Athos in America" have to do with her rejection of the EOC?  Should the hierarchs of the GOA have gone against their discernment that maybe Elder Ephraim represented an ancient Orthodox tradition and that maybe the EOC was not yet ready to enter the fold of canonical Orthodoxy?
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« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2008, 12:38:38 PM »

So, you would impugn the motives of both Elder Ephraim and the GOA based on some silly speculation of a connection that you have not yet substantiated?

There is a lot of history which has not been substantiated.  My purpose is not to spread rumor but to understand (or maybe develop some logical process) why A lead to B lead to C.  I am not interested in defending nor justifying the future of ethnic Orthodoxy.   Smiley

Again, what does the GOA's acceptance of Elder Ephraim and his desire for "Athos in America" have to do with her rejection of the EOC?

Lest I sound repetitive, here it goes....   Wink

When thousands of EOC asked to be received into Orthodoxy, the GOA, under Archbishop Iakovos of Blessed Memory's leadership, was the strongest Orthodox Jurisdiction in USA.  When EOC was rejected by GOA and received by AOA, the AOA & OCA quickly became the Orthodox Jurisdictions of choice for converts because the GOA was seen as too "ethnic" or too "partisan" or too "unwelcoming" or too <discussed elsewhere on this board>.  The GOA, IMO, played the trump card of the Athos Monasteries as "true" Orthodox Christianity as a reaction against fellow SCOBA members AOA & OCA.  By establishing Monasteries in the USA, the GOA could "reclaim" its title as the strongest Orthodox Jurisdiction and possibly persuade converts to "walk over" to GOA from the fellow SCOBA Jurisdictions (like the OCA priest Fr. John Peck).  Do I wish that other Orthodox authors would examine the topic further and provide some support, yes.


Should the hierarchs of the GOA have gone against their discernment that maybe Elder Ephraim represented an ancient Orthodox tradition and that maybe the EOC was not yet ready to enter the fold of canonical Orthodoxy?

Jonah the Prophet kept defying God time and time again until God prevailed.  Based on what I read in Rev. Peter Gillquist's own history, I feel that the GOA Hierarchs made a big mistake in rejecting the EOC and triggering my perceived chain of events.

Also note that the Antiochians do not have monasteries in the USA/Canada and welcomed the EOC with open arms into canonical Orthodoxy.  Before 1990, I don't think the GOA had very many monasteries in USA/Canada and if they did, they were under the EP's Jurisdiction as Stavropegial Monasteries.

Edited for punctuation and clarity.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2008, 01:00:47 PM by SolEX01 » Logged
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« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2008, 01:29:10 PM »

SolEx01,

You're still reaching.  It was approximately 2000 for the EOC, not "thousands" and they really were only Orthodox in basic theology.  Their "bishops" have acted like cult-leaders at times - the "Becoming Orthodox" book wouldn't say this of course, as it is written with rose-colored glasses.  More importantly though, you fail to pay attention to the fact that the EOC petitioned the OCA before the AOA as well.  You see, the EOC leaders wanted to pretty much have the entire EOC accepted "as is", with some slow transition as opposed to being received properly.  The OCA wouldn't do this and I'm sure the GOA thought it ludicrous how the EOC wanted to be received under their own terms.  Well, even though the EOC was accepted under the AOA, there were a lot of growing pains.  While everything seems to be working out now 20 years later, you better believe that things weren't that smooth the first 10 years, with a lot of casualties, power struggles, misunderstandings, etc.  You forget - I'm one of those original EOCers and lived through it.  I was 12 in '87 when it happened, but didn't learn about a lot of the difficulties until starting about 10 years later since I was so sheltered (as many of us were).  It's a good thing a lot of our faith is about forgiveness and repentance.

This reaction/retribution stuff is still just nonsense and wild speculation.
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« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2008, 01:39:04 PM »

So, you would impugn the motives of both Elder Ephraim and the GOA based on some silly speculation of a connection that you have not yet substantiated?

There is a lot of history which has not been substantiated.  My purpose is not to spread rumor but to understand (or maybe develop some logical process) why A lead to B lead to C.  I am not interested in defending nor justifying the future of ethnic Orthodoxy.   Smiley
Maybe A doesn't lead to B, which doesn't lead to C.  Maybe A, B, and C are just unrelated occurrences.
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« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2008, 01:55:39 PM »

Maybe A doesn't lead to B, which doesn't lead to C.  Maybe A, B, and C are just unrelated occurrences.

Well, they could very well be unrelated occurrences.  Since Elisha has lived through the experience of being rejected/accepted by different Orthodox Jurisdictions, what he's saying has more relevance:

Quote from: Elisha
You forget - I'm one of those original EOCers and lived through it.  I was 12 in '87 when it happened, but didn't learn about a lot of the difficulties until starting about 10 years later since I was so sheltered (as many of us were).  It's a good thing a lot of our faith is about forgiveness and repentance.

This reaction/retribution stuff is still just nonsense and wild speculation.

Again, I humbly ask for forgiveness if I offended or insulted anyone.   Cry
 
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« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2008, 04:49:03 PM »

SolEX01,

You're forgiven...and not offended either.  Again though, I'm not saying that I think the Elder Ephraim monasteries (or himself) are beyond reproach/conspiracy - just that I'm 99.9% sure that there is no connection with the former EOCers if there happens to be.
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« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2008, 05:17:22 PM »

SolEX01,

You're forgiven...and not offended either.  Again though, I'm not saying that I think the Elder Ephraim monasteries (or himself) are beyond reproach/conspiracy - just that I'm 99.9% sure that there is no connection with the former EOCers if there happens to be.

Thank You.   Smiley

I always reserved my skepticism for the EOC leaders after reading Rev. Gillquist's book, mostly for political reasons which I'll post in that board.  I'm glad that the EOC "returned home" so to speak although I'm also looking at the 65-80% Intermarriage rate in the GOA where families are leaving the GOA.  GOA knows the ethnic numbers are dwindling; Greek school enrollments are down; Fewer people and organizations show up for March 25 parades (in Baltimore, the number of "non-Greek" organizations outnumbered the Greek Churches, Organizations and schools 3-1).

With busloads of faithful traveling to "Athos in America" monasteries throughout the USA/Canada, paradoxes are created.  For example, women are forbidden from setting foot on Mt. Athos and yet, women are welcomed in every Elder Ephraim Monastery.  Why not relax the restrictions on Athos and allow women (besides cats for catching mice and chickens for providing egg yolk for icon painting)?  Their restriction on women is an anachronism since why allow women in an American/Canadian monastery while restrict women on Mt. Athos soil.

Can a monk serve the Divine Liturgy or does a neighboring priest serve Liturgy at 5 AM or whatever "atypical" hours Liturgy is served?  Why do monks hear confessions when they aren't clergy (unless they really are clergy and withhold that information from those who come for confession)?

America is land of the free, home of the brave.  Mt. Athos is semi-independent, monastic state with strict rules whose spiritual leader is the EP, just like the GOA in the US.  Again, many paradoxes are in play here....
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« Reply #20 on: October 09, 2008, 06:03:25 PM »

SolEX01,

It seems like you have many different unrelated thoughts in this post, which can make it a bit confusing... However, I'll try and respond as best as I can.

I always reserved my skepticism for the EOC leaders after reading Rev. Gillquist's book, mostly for political reasons which I'll post in that board. 

I'm interested in reading what you have to say, largely because I don't have the foggiest clue based on the context.

I'm glad that the EOC "returned home" so to speak although I'm also looking at the 65-80% Intermarriage rate in the GOA where families are leaving the GOA.  GOA knows the ethnic numbers are dwindling; Greek school enrollments are down; Fewer people and organizations show up for March 25 parades (in Baltimore, the number of "non-Greek" organizations outnumbered the Greek Churches, Organizations and schools 3-1).

So what does this have to do with the EOC, again?

With busloads of faithful traveling to "Athos in America" monasteries throughout the USA/Canada, paradoxes are created. 

I fail to see paradoxes in your following statements...

For example, women are forbidden from setting foot on Mt. Athos and yet, women are welcomed in every Elder Ephraim Monastery.  Why not relax the restrictions on Athos and allow women (besides cats for catching mice and chickens for providing egg yolk for icon painting)?

The restriction on women going to Mt. Athos is related to but not the same as the restrictions on persons of the opposite gender going to a monastery, which is related to but not the same as restrictions on visitors.

All visitors are restricted from visiting a monastery; one must arrange in advance to visit if one is staying overnight, and one must have permission to enter regardless of length of stay.

All visitors of the opposite gender (i.e. men visiting a womens monastery and women visiting a mens monastery) must have special permission to enter the monastery, and can only stay overnight if (a) there are guest quarters which are in a separate building from the monks' quarters, and (b) if they have special permission.

The restriction against women going to Mt. Athos is both legal and spiritual, having to do with the long-standing tradition regarding the revelation to, and possession of, the mountain by the Theotokos, and the codification of said restriction into the Law of the Autonomous state of Mt. Athos.

Their restriction on women is an anachronism since why allow women in an American/Canadian monastery while restrict women on Mt. Athos soil.

I quote Enigo Montoya in this case, with regards to your use of the word anachronism, when I say "You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means."

Anachronism has two different definitions, one which certainly doesn't fit, and one which could, but doesn't fit because of circumstances.  First definition: mis-assigning time to a historical person or event; saying that Jesus walked the Earth in the 5th century would be an anachronism.  Second definition: use of a phrase, object, idea, etc. in a time when it doesn't fit; using a catapult in Iraq would be an anachronism.  The problem with saying that "not allowing women on Mt. Athos is an anachronism" is that the law has been in continuous effect for centuries; it would only be an anachronism if they went back to banning women after permitting women for a period of time.

Can a monk serve the Divine Liturgy or does a neighboring priest serve Liturgy at 5 AM or whatever "atypical" hours Liturgy is served?  Why do monks hear confessions when they aren't clergy (unless they really are clergy and withhold that information from those who come for confession)?

Many monks are priests; only priest-monks can serve, not non-priest monks.  There are monks and nuns who are blessed to hear confessions by a bishop; but they are not permitted to read the prayers of forgiveness.  This is a topic for another thread.

America is land of the free, home of the brave.  Mt. Athos is semi-independent, monastic state with strict rules whose spiritual leader is the EP, just like the GOA in the US.  Again, many paradoxes are in play here....

I don't get your point here...
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« Reply #21 on: October 09, 2008, 07:16:19 PM »

I was going to respond to, but Cleveland pretty much covered it.

Mt. Athos:  I would say "Athos in America" is just a figure of speech.  I just finished off a pint of Ben & Jerry's Creme Brulee ice cream.  It still isn't Creme Brulee though.  Just because Mt. Athos doesn't allow women, doesn't mean an Elder Ephraim monastery wouldn't either.  Cleveland's explanation for the rest of staying overnight, etc. covers the rest.

Confession: pretty much anyone care hear one, but only a priest can give absolution.  As Cleveland said, yes, there are monks/nuns that have special blessings to hear confessions, but they absolution would have to be given by a priest.

The EOC:  Please do share your thoughts (and direct us to another thread if that is where it is appropriate).
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« Reply #22 on: October 10, 2008, 12:20:41 AM »

All these entities said yes to Elder Ephraim and no to the Evangelical Protestants led by Rev. Peter Gillquist.  Would the "Athos in America" be here if the EP/GOA/Local Bishop received these Evangelical Protestants?

Well...I can't answer a basically rhetorical question such as this in a direct manner.  what i CAN say is that when Fr. Gilquest went to the GOA, the story is a lot more full than you may think.  I will be writing you a PM in regards to this.  The reason they were not accepted has nothing to do with race or color or creed, but rather obedience, which none of them wanted to have, to anyone, at that time. 

Quote
Or, a knee-jerk reaction to the AOA accepting American Evangelical Protestants.  The EP's predecessor of Blessed Memory reposed in 1990 and didn't live to see the monasteries "bloom" in USA/Canada.

I don't think that monasticism is a knee-jerk reaction.  If you have a problem with the timing of it, take it up with Elder Joseph the Hesychast.  I'm pretty sure he couldn't control when he was going to die, and send out his disciples.  Just a thought. 

Quote
Isn't the statement consistent with what was preached by Fr. Peck in his sermon?

In what sense?  He said that the WHOLE COUNTRY would go english.  I'm just talking about 17 monasteries.  I can personally guarantee you right now that neither the churches in Astoria NY nor the entire Chicago-land area will go english in 20 years.  Call me a prophet, or a sociologist, your choice. 

Quote
The Monasteries have been surviving since 1990 and are slowly reaching out to their communities.

I had a problem with this as well.  In fact, i've had the SAME questions that YOU have had.  You know what I did?  I went to an Ephraim monastery, and just asked the monks what's up.  That's it. they answered it very calmly and very well (I thought).  For this answer, they gave a very practical explanation.  Do you know what it takes to be established, to just be able to take care of yourselves, much less the people around you?  Ask any parish that's been around for a while how long it took them before they started doing real work in the community.  Is it because their bad christians, or is there a reality of life where things TAKE A LONG TIME. 

In the orthodox church we do not rush into decisions and just do things b/c they sound good.  We did that with Iconoclasm a few times, look how that turned out.  We have to take our time with everything.  The MP did not become its own patriarchate until 600 years after the first Russians were baptized.  I think we can wait a few more years before we start saying "things are a certain way"





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« Reply #23 on: October 10, 2008, 12:42:13 AM »

SolEX01,

It seems like you have many different unrelated thoughts in this post, which can make it a bit confusing... However, I'll try and respond as best as I can.

Thanks although I admit that I confused myself as well.   Smiley

I'm interested in reading what you have to say, largely because I don't have the foggiest clue based on the context.

I try to stay on my best behavior on this forum.   angel

With busloads of faithful traveling to "Athos in America" monasteries throughout the USA/Canada, paradoxes are created. 

I fail to see paradoxes in your following statements...

The paradox was why women are banned from Athos while women walk freely in and out of Elder Ephraim's monasteries.

paradox - any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature.

The restriction on women going to Mt. Athos is related to but not the same as the restrictions on persons of the opposite gender going to a monastery, which is related to but not the same as restrictions on visitors.

Honestly, I didn't know of these restrictions.  If I were representing Athos, I would want the same rules here as for Athos for the sake of consistency (e.g. no women allowed) because I represent Athos....

All visitors are restricted from visiting a monastery; one must arrange in advance to visit if one is staying overnight, and one must have permission to enter regardless of length of stay.

Including the busloads of people which travel to the Elder Ephraim Monasteries - each one has to notify the Monastery in advance for permission of does a tour guide facillitate interactions with the Monastery?  See, I'm asking a dumb question because I don't know....   Huh

All visitors of the opposite gender (i.e. men visiting a womens monastery and women visiting a mens monastery) must have special permission to enter the monastery, and can only stay overnight if (a) there are guest quarters which are in a separate building from the monks' quarters, and (b) if they have special permission.

So, one has to call and write (or e-mail) for permission to visit a monastery whether it's one person or 5 buses worth?

The restriction against women going to Mt. Athos is both legal and spiritual, having to do with the long-standing tradition regarding the revelation to, and possession of, the mountain by the Theotokos, and the codification of said restriction into the Law of the Autonomous state of Mt. Athos.

Why doesn't that restriction extend to the Monasteries founded by the Elder Ephraim?  Did the Theotokos practice Oikonomia for the USA/Canada in allowing women to visit said Monasteries founded by an Elder from Athos?

I quote Enigo Montoya in this case, with regards to your use of the word anachronism, when I say "You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means."

OK, I call uncle on anachronism.   Wink  I could have found a different word and I didn't....

Many monks are priests; only priest-monks can serve, not non-priest monks.  There are monks and nuns who are blessed to hear confessions by a bishop; but they are not permitted to read the prayers of forgiveness.  This is a topic for another thread.

Can a person become a monk first and then a priest or the other way around or there's no difference?

America is land of the free, home of the brave.  Mt. Athos is semi-independent, monastic state with strict rules whose spiritual leader is the EP, just like the GOA in the US.  Again, many paradoxes are in play here....

I don't get your point here...

I find it troubling that the rules governing Mt. Athos did not transfer to the Monasteries in USA/Canada - there's my paradox since the situation in Athos is different than the situation here.   Smiley
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« Reply #24 on: October 10, 2008, 01:05:17 AM »

Well...I can't answer a basically rhetorical question such as this in a direct manner.  what i CAN say is that when Fr. Gilquest went to the GOA, the story is a lot more full than you may think.  I will be writing you a PM in regards to this.  The reason they were not accepted has nothing to do with race or color or creed, but rather obedience, which none of them wanted to have, to anyone, at that time.

I look forward to reading the PM.   Grin

I don't think that monasticism is a knee-jerk reaction.  If you have a problem with the timing of it, take it up with Elder Joseph the Hesychast.  I'm pretty sure he couldn't control when he was going to die, and send out his disciples.  Just a thought.

Playing Devil's Advocate ... ... ... Monasticism could have been seen as a path to Orthodox Unity ... ... ...

 
In what sense?  He said that the WHOLE COUNTRY would go english.  I'm just talking about 17 monasteries.  I can personally guarantee you right now that neither the churches in Astoria NY nor the entire Chicago-land area will go english in 20 years.  Call me a prophet, or a sociologist, your choice.

Where's ozgeorge to set up a betting book - I'll bet $1 that Astoria and Chicagoland will be English in 20 Years unless they build Chapels in Greek Nightclubs.   Wink 

 
I had a problem with this as well.  In fact, i've had the SAME questions that YOU have had.  You know what I did?  I went to an Ephraim monastery, and just asked the monks what's up.  That's it. they answered it very calmly and very well (I thought).

I would ask some tough questions and I would speak in English even though my Greek is impeccable.   Grin  I will probably do the same exact thing you did except I don't know when.   Huh  I keep praying and I'm told to stay put. 

 
For this answer, they gave a very practical explanation.  Do you know what it takes to be established, to just be able to take care of yourselves, much less the people around you?  Ask any parish that's been around for a while how long it took them before they started doing real work in the community.  Is it because their bad christians, or is there a reality of life where things TAKE A LONG TIME.

Cliche but Rome wasn't built in a day.

 
In the orthodox church we do not rush into decisions and just do things b/c they sound good.  We did that with Iconoclasm a few times, look how that turned out.  We have to take our time with everything.  The MP did not become its own patriarchate until 600 years after the first Russians were baptized.  I think we can wait a few more years before we start saying "things are a certain way"

In the good old days, people can take their time.
In the days of Internet, time is of the essence.
In 1990, Internet barely existed.  Now, it's ubitquitous.  People want information today, not yesterday.

Christ is timeless - people fail to realize that....

Edited out reference to Slivo because I confused one Serb poster with another, oops.   Wink
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« Reply #25 on: October 10, 2008, 10:23:36 AM »

I am going to respond to some of the questions you gave to Cleveland as well as to me.  I'm sure Cleveland will add to my posts though (hopefully..lol). 

From your conversation with me (the latest): 

Quote
I look forward to reading the PM.   

I just wrote it.  hopefully it can fill in the blanks. 

Quote
Playing Devil's Advocate ... ... ... Monasticism could have been seen as a path to Orthodox Unity ... ... ...

Sure.  And it could have been just one monk, obeying his elder.  Here is why I think that your thesis is wrong. If it WERE seen as a path to orthodox unity, then EVERY metropolis in the GOA would have an Ephraim monastery.  As it stands now 3 Metropolis' do NOT have an Ephraim monastery.  SO are those 3 going to NOT be part of this unity?  Riddle me this my friend...lol. 

Quote
Where's ozgeorge to set up a betting book - I'll bet $1 that Astoria and Chicagoland will be English in 20 Years unless they build Chapels in Greek Nightclubs.     

I'll see your bet and raise you $10 that you still won't see a single word of english in the liturgy until 2050  angel

Quote
I would ask some tough questions and I would speak in English even though my Greek is impeccable.     I will probably do the same exact thing you did except I don't know when.     I keep praying and I'm told to stay put. 

In most of the monasteries the monks speak very good english.  In fact, in all of the Ephraim monasteries I have been to (3 of them), at least half of the brotherhood/sisterhood is American.

I certainly DO hope you go and ask them these questions.  I went into the monastery with a HUGE chip on my shoulder and I left being spiritual edified and with a whole new outlook. 

Quote
Honestly, I didn't know of these restrictions.  If I were representing Athos, I would want the same rules here as for Athos for the sake of consistency (e.g. no women allowed) because I represent Athos....

The consistency is seen in their lives.  they way they live, pray, approach prayer, services, they typikon, etc.  All of that is Athonite.  The rule on Mt. Athos about women is from the Panagia, not from the monks.  IN fact, there is a story (well documented) about a Serbian wife of a sultan in the 15th or 16th c. (I forget the time frame right now), who donated the Gifts of the Magi (which the sultan had in his possession), to the monastery of St. Paul on Mt. Athos. 

When she arrived on the Peninsula and landed on the beach.  She got out and began to walk up the mountain to deliver the gifts, which she was bringing to them.  She didn't even get a few steps on the peninsula, when the Panagia appeared to her and said "this is my area, I am the only woman allowed here, leave your gifts where you stand and return to your boat" (or something to that effect) and the sultan's wife had to return to the boat. 

Beyond that though we have documented that the Panagia appeared to St. Athanasios in the 10th c. and told him that this area would be for monks, and only male monks, and she would be the only woman there.  SO, when women ask why they cannot go to Mt. Athos, I have heard some of the monks say "take it up with the Panagia" and I would say they have a good point. 

The Panagia did not say that they should do that in EVERY place, just that place.  it is specific to that area.  their PRAYER life and their MONASTIC life can be taken anywhere.  but that specific rule is for a specific place, why would they take that everywhere in the world? 





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« Reply #26 on: October 10, 2008, 06:43:37 PM »

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I have heard some of the monks say "take it up with the Panagia" and I would say they have a good point. 


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« Reply #27 on: October 10, 2008, 09:26:54 PM »

SolEx,

It seems to me that you're starting from a several assumptions, many of which I personally think are problematic.  I think that if you moved beyond them this discussion would be better and would better get at the underlying issue I think you're trying to discuss - they're red herrings.  Paraphrasing them:

1. "Athos is a monolith, and there is an "Athonite way" which is different from "regular" Orthodoxy".  This is unfortunately not true.  The Great Lavra is not Philotheou is not Simonopetra is not Iviron is not Vatopedi which certainly is not Esphigmenou.  And the "Athonite revival" of the past 40 years, namely the physical  repopulation and spiritual vitality of many of the monasteries, has taken different forms in different monasteries.   Their charisms are different.  Speaking personally, I'm extremely impressed of what I've seen from Simonopetra and Iviron, but I (as well as some perfectly Orthodox Greeks) are a bit distressed by some over-"conservatism" from other quarters.    Not a condemnation (I'm in no position to judge them) but the  point is that the phenomenon of post-1960s Athos is by no means monolithic. 

Also, don't think that Geronda Ephraim's monasteries are the only ones in America where former Athonites live.  Also note that the vast majority of monasteries in Greece are not on Mt. Athos and many of them are open to women visitors, based on whatever the monk's rule is (as another poster has described).   Monasticism is much more than Athos.  And I wouldn't say that historically, Athos has necessarily been the been the most influential grouping of monasteries.   Deir Mar Savas or the (now defunct) Monastery of Stoudios are also as, maybe even more important. 

2. "There is something fundamentally wrong with tour buses including women going to monasteries".  I have been told Meteora and the Monastery of St. John  on Patmos have scores of visitors come daily during the tourist season.  Some of these doubtlessly are simple non-Orthodox tourists coming as part of their package tour.  But I would hope at least some of them include the Orthodox faithful coming on pilgrimage.  It is fundamentally up to the Abbot and his Bishop the rules on visitors.  Some I'm sure are very strict.  Others I'm told welcome just about anyone, at the cost of great discomfort (Meteora comes to mind). 

3.  "Monasticism is not a integral to traditional Orthodoxy".  Speaking only for Greece, there were 563 men's and 18 women's monasteries in the Kingdom of Greece in 1832 (not withstanding the fact that the Greek government dissolved over 70% of them shortly after independence).  This is in a population of 693,592, according to the first census, or a ratio of about 1 monastery per 1,000 people.  I'd imagine this is a higher ratio than the number of McDonald's franchises in the United States. That's looks pretty integral to me.   And note that none of these monasteries were Athonite.   

4. Finally, that "some are trying to make the "future Orthodox church" into a new Mount Athos, that some people think this would be a good thing but (in contrast) another "model" of Church would be better".   I don't accept any of those.   
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« Reply #28 on: October 10, 2008, 11:18:57 PM »

SolEx,

It seems to me that you're starting from a several assumptions, many of which I personally think are problematic.

Problematic?  Based on your Jurisdiction's perspective?  Do we agree or disagree?

1. "Athos is a monolith, and there is an "Athonite way" which is different from "regular" Orthodoxy".  This is unfortunately not true.  The Great Lavra is not Philotheou is not Simonopetra is not Iviron is not Vatopedi which certainly is not Esphigmenou.  And the "Athonite revival" of the past 40 years, namely the physical  repopulation and spiritual vitality of many of the monasteries, has taken different forms in different monasteries.   Their charisms are different.  Speaking personally, I'm extremely impressed of what I've seen from Simonopetra and Iviron, but I (as well as some perfectly Orthodox Greeks) are a bit distressed by some over-"conservatism" from other quarters.    Not a condemnation (I'm in no position to judge them) but the  point is that the phenomenon of post-1960s Athos is by no means monolithic.

What I bolded is also my problem as well.  I could sit here and say that Athos is the closest thing Orthdoxy has to the Vatican except that the Greek Government provides some balance and structure to the autonomous monastic community; hence, I don't make that statement.   Cool

Also, don't think that Geronda Ephraim's monasteries are the only ones in America where former Athonites live.

Geronda Ephraim has 17 Monasteries.  That's less than half of the total Monasteries in the US.  Of course I know Athonite monks live elsewhere in USA/Canada.  My concern is about the one with the greater presence and influence.... 

Monasticism is much more than Athos. 

True.

I have been told Meteora and the Monastery of St. John  on Patmos have scores of visitors come daily during the tourist season.  Some of these doubtlessly are simple non-Orthodox tourists coming as part of their package tour.  But I would hope at least some of them include the Orthodox faithful coming on pilgrimage.  It is fundamentally up to the Abbot and his Bishop the rules on visitors.  Some I'm sure are very strict.  Others I'm told welcome just about anyone, at the cost of great discomfort (Meteora comes to mind).

If the busloads of pilgrims leave behind tons of money, the Abbots/Abbesses can afford to have visitors around the clock.  If any visitor is going to put $100 in the donation tray, who's going to turn him/her away?  Athos sheltered women and children during the War of 1821 which means that the Panaghia allows Athos to be a temporary shelter for women and children.  The story regarding the Serbian woman from the Sultan's harem who was turned away reveals that the Serbian woman was dropping off a gift and wasn't looking for shelter or refuge.

Speaking only for Greece, there were 563 men's and 18 women's monasteries in the Kingdom of Greece in 1832 (not withstanding the fact that the Greek government dissolved over 70% of them shortly after independence).  This is in a population of 693,592, according to the first census, or a ratio of about 1 monastery per 1,000 people.  I'd imagine this is a higher ratio than the number of McDonald's franchises in the United States. That's looks pretty integral to me.   And note that none of these monasteries were Athonite.

Athos wasn't part of Greece in 1832 as it remained under Ottoman Rule.  I'm curious - do you have a source for the above statement?  Source for statement below and for statement regarding women and children during War of 1821:

Quote
Ottoman rule ended in 1912, when the First Balkan War broke out. A Greek naval squadron landed at Daphne and occupied the area. The international conferences which followed the Balkan Wars were unable to clarify the status of Mount Athos. The Treaty of Lausanne eventually recognized Athos as being under Greek sovereignty, but as ‘a self-governing part of the Greek state’.
 

4. Finally, that "some are trying to make the "future Orthodox church" into a new Mount Athos, that some people think this would be a good thing but (in contrast) another "model" of Church would be better".   I don't accept any of those. 

I perfectly understand.  See, we agree more than you think.   Wink
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« Reply #29 on: October 12, 2008, 11:27:35 PM »

My responses in red

SolEx,

It seems to me that you're starting from a several assumptions, many of which I personally think are problematic.

Problematic?  Based on your Jurisdiction's perspective?  Do we agree or disagree?


No, based solely on my perspective.  I do not represent the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, I don't pretend I represent it, and I can't imagine it has any position or any concern on the specific issues that have been in the thread.  The biggest monastery in the entire Patriarchate these days I'm told is a 3 monk monastery in PA.  Sad   AFAIC, survival is the first order of business for us, and that's a matter of making some sort of reasonable life possible in the Middle East while at the same time opening the Church up here to all, to renew our "authentic" life of what we believe to be (small o) orthodoxy while not being absorbed by and thereby parroting mainstream America,  Latin Catholicism, or the ostensibly vital evangelical protestantism.  [the latter is a problem in some places and jurisdiction - I know one parish of one jurisdiction (which I won't identify) where the priest believes he's retaining the young and building the church by adopting some of the programs of the local megachurch]

I personally believe some of the assumptions are incorrect and that this has degraded the accuracy of some of your statements.   But, as your last post indicates, we probably do agree on many things.  Cheesy



1. "Athos is a monolith, and there is an "Athonite way" which is different from "regular" Orthodoxy".  This is unfortunately not true.  The Great Lavra is not Philotheou is not Simonopetra is not Iviron is not Vatopedi which certainly is not Esphigmenou.  And the "Athonite revival" of the past 40 years, namely the physical  repopulation and spiritual vitality of many of the monasteries, has taken different forms in different monasteries.   Their charisms are different.  Speaking personally, I'm extremely impressed of what I've seen from Simonopetra and Iviron, but I (as well as some perfectly Orthodox Greeks) are a bit distressed by some over-"conservatism" from other quarters.    Not a condemnation (I'm in no position to judge them) but the  point is that the phenomenon of post-1960s Athos is by no means monolithic.

What I bolded is also my problem as well.  I could sit here and say that Athos is the closest thing Orthdoxy has to the Vatican except that the Greek Government provides some balance and structure to the autonomous monastic community; hence, I don't make that statement.   Cool

Funny, some Athonites would say the EP acts like the Vatican.  Cheesy  Seriously, again there's no such a thing as "Athonite" monasticism as opposed to "regular" monasticism or "Mar Sabbas monasticism" or any such thing.  Christos Yannras says (at the very pessimistic conclusion/future prognosis in his book (http://store.holycrossbookstore.com/orandwechyab.html )discussing the negative trends that have affected Orthodox in Greece since the 1400s):

Quote
Even the astonishing revival of monasticism in Mount Athos seems to be slipping into a zealous conservatism.  On the pretext of anxiety to preserve Orthodoxy form heresy, monks are taking upon themselves the role of the Church's policemen and protectors.   The role takes over, and the monk is no longer a penitent crucified "on behalf of the body of Christ, which is the Church" but is the bearer of an authority sustained by the secular power.  He claims the right to fulminate at patriarchates, archbishops, bishops or anyone else, accusing them of heresy, betrayal, and making concessions on matters of faith.

Thus the garment of mourning assumed through a consciousness of sin, a garment of freedom from the need for personal assertion and personal authority, is transformed into the clothing of conventional authority, and the peace of spiritual withdrawal is turned into a place for making ex cathedra pronouncements.  Certainly, Orthodoxy has always recognized monasticism as the guardian of the Church's faith.  But it is a tragic sign of alienation when this guardianship is understood in terms of a papal Defensor Fidei, instead of as a lifelong ascetic effort to live out the authenticity of the faith as the Church teaches.

From another point of view, a large number of religiously inclined laypeople are encouraging the monks, without realizing it, to preen themselves on their "authority" [emphasis original].   These are the people who once found psychological comfort in the totalitarian discipline of the extra-ecclesiastical organizations [he refers to the Zoe and similar organizations, of which he is a former member and which he savages - and if his discussion is correct, AFAIC he's 100% right in doing so]  and have now found a substitute ... in the objective authority of the counsels of some "elder".   Priests in the cities, without any personal experience of monastic life, have become self-styled "elders", changing the struggle to attain freedom  - which is what the ascetical obedience means - into a disciplining of laypeople afraid of responsibility, into a spiritual direction that extends to the details of private life.   

And this is from an author who calls Abbot Vasilios of Iviron the "great witness to Philokalian spirituality" of our time and praises how things have turned out, among other places, at Stavronikita, Iviron, Simonopetra, and Osiou Gregoriou.   Based on what I've seen from Abbots Vasilios and Aimilianos, as well as the other things that have come out of Simonopetra and Vatopedi, I'd agree with him on that point.   At the same time, I agree with him: it would be unfortunate if some people acted in the way he described in the quote above. 


Also, don't think that Geronda Ephraim's monasteries are the only ones in America where former Athonites live.

Geronda Ephraim has 17 Monasteries.  That's less than half of the total Monasteries in the US.  Of course I know Athonite monks live elsewhere in USA/Canada.  My concern is about the one with the greater presence and influence.... 

Fair enough.  I'd say don't worry about undue influence.  The Church has always had charlatans and people who abrogate things to themselves, and sometimes they appear very strong - it's just the way of it.  But those disappear like so much wax and smoke.  The Church remains, constantly "renewing" itself at all times.  I mean "renew" kin the sense that it takes in faithful and works its salvation and renews its vigor all the time, not in the sense that it's reinventing itself.  If Geronda Ephraim's monasteries really are just a cult the way some say, then they'll disappear after a while.   I certainly hope their not, however  - an authentic monastic witness of the size of those monasteries is a tremendous gift, and it would be a horrible loss for America if they betrayed their calling. 

Note I pass no judgment on them; I've never been to their monasteries and even if I had I would not be concerned with forming an opinion about their operations.  The only thing I'd be concerned about is my private assessment of the authenticity of their witness to Orthodoxy, and whether I'd go back based on that assessment.



Speaking only for Greece, there were 563 men's and 18 women's monasteries in the Kingdom of Greece in 1832 (not withstanding the fact that the Greek government dissolved over 70% of them shortly after independence).  This is in a population of 693,592, according to the first census, or a ratio of about 1 monastery per 1,000 people.  I'd imagine this is a higher ratio than the number of McDonald's franchises in the United States. That's looks pretty integral to me.   And note that none of these monasteries were Athonite.

Athos wasn't part of Greece in 1832 as it remained under Ottoman Rule.  I'm curious - do you have a source for the above statement?  Source for statement below and for statement regarding women and children during War of 1821:

Quote
Ottoman rule ended in 1912, when the First Balkan War broke out. A Greek naval squadron landed at Daphne and occupied the area. The international conferences which followed the Balkan Wars were unable to clarify the status of Mount Athos. The Treaty of Lausanne eventually recognized Athos as being under Greek sovereignty, but as ‘a self-governing part of the Greek state’.
 

Right, I say that "none of them are Athonite" just to point out the obvious.  Wink 

And the sources are: Christos Yannara's book "Orthodoxy and the West", and I presume he cites official figures from the Bavarian regime of the time.  Population figures are from (what wikipedia claims) is the first official 1833 census in the section on "demography of modern Greece".   



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« Reply #30 on: October 13, 2008, 12:24:16 AM »

No, based solely on my perspective.  I do not represent the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, I don't pretend I represent it, and I can't imagine it has any position or any concern on the specific issues that have been in the thread.

I apologize if I have offended you in any way.  I ask for forgiveness for I thought that Melkites may have had a position that I did not know.   angel

I personally believe some of the assumptions are incorrect and that this has degraded the accuracy of some of your statements.   But, as your last post indicates, we probably do agree on many things.  Cheesy

Indeed we do which makes me happy.   Smiley  You know Athos quite well; Did you perform scholastic research because sometimes, I speak from the heart based on what I read and I think I admitted that I'm a rookie when it comes to monasticism anywhere....

And the sources are: Christos Yannara's book "Orthodoxy and the West", and I presume he cites official figures from the Bavarian regime of the time.  Population figures are from (what wikipedia claims) is the first official 1833 census in the section on "demography of modern Greece".

Thanks.  Smiley
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« Reply #31 on: October 13, 2008, 08:42:20 AM »

SolEx,

It seems to me that you're starting from a several assumptions, many of which I personally think are problematic.  I think that if you moved beyond them this discussion would be better and would better get at the underlying issue I think you're trying to discuss - they're red herrings.  Paraphrasing them:

1. "Athos is a monolith, and there is an "Athonite way" which is different from "regular" Orthodoxy".  This is unfortunately not true.  The Great Lavra is not Philotheou is not Simonopetra is not Iviron is not Vatopedi which certainly is not Esphigmenou.  And the "Athonite revival" of the past 40 years, namely the physical  repopulation and spiritual vitality of many of the monasteries, has taken different forms in different monasteries.   Their charisms are different.  Speaking personally, I'm extremely impressed of what I've seen from Simonopetra and Iviron, but I (as well as some perfectly Orthodox Greeks) are a bit distressed by some over-"conservatism" from other quarters.    Not a condemnation (I'm in no position to judge them) but the  point is that the phenomenon of post-1960s Athos is by no means monolithic. 

Also, don't think that Geronda Ephraim's monasteries are the only ones in America where former Athonites live.  Also note that the vast majority of monasteries in Greece are not on Mt. Athos and many of them are open to women visitors, based on whatever the monk's rule is (as another poster has described).   Monasticism is much more than Athos.  And I wouldn't say that historically, Athos has necessarily been the been the most influential grouping of monasteries.   Deir Mar Savas or the (now defunct) Monastery of Stoudios are also as, maybe even more important. 

2. "There is something fundamentally wrong with tour buses including women going to monasteries".  I have been told Meteora and the Monastery of St. John  on Patmos have scores of visitors come daily during the tourist season.  Some of these doubtlessly are simple non-Orthodox tourists coming as part of their package tour.  But I would hope at least some of them include the Orthodox faithful coming on pilgrimage.  It is fundamentally up to the Abbot and his Bishop the rules on visitors.  Some I'm sure are very strict.  Others I'm told welcome just about anyone, at the cost of great discomfort (Meteora comes to mind). 

3.  "Monasticism is not a integral to traditional Orthodoxy".  Speaking only for Greece, there were 563 men's and 18 women's monasteries in the Kingdom of Greece in 1832 (not withstanding the fact that the Greek government dissolved over 70% of them shortly after independence).  This is in a population of 693,592, according to the first census, or a ratio of about 1 monastery per 1,000 people.  I'd imagine this is a higher ratio than the number of McDonald's franchises in the United States. That's looks pretty integral to me.   And note that none of these monasteries were Athonite.   

4. Finally, that "some are trying to make the "future Orthodox church" into a new Mount Athos, that some people think this would be a good thing but (in contrast) another "model" of Church would be better".   I don't accept any of those.   

What non-monastic model is there? The Church got started in America on the Russian monastic model, used across Siberia and into Alaska.

Interesting stat on the Greeks at Independence, btw.
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« Reply #32 on: October 13, 2008, 09:31:39 PM »


I apologize if I have offended you in any way.  I ask for forgiveness for I thought that Melkites may have had a position that I did not know.   angel

No offense was taken in any way.   Grin


[Indeed we do which makes me happy.   Smiley  You know Athos quite well; Did you perform scholastic research because sometimes, I speak from the heart based on what I read and I think I admitted that I'm a rookie when it comes to monasticism anywhere.... 

Nope, can't claim scholastic research.   All I can claim right now is that I read a book on the Holy Mountain (Graham Speake's book "Renewal in Paradise" - well worth reading) as well as some of the books by Abbots Vasilios and Aimilianos. 

The translations of Abbot Vasilios' from Alexandra press are excellent and easy reads.  His book "Hymn of Entry" I believe is the best written witness to "Byzantine Christianity" of our era, but is a  much harder read.  I'm sure some of his other works are available online (if you read Greek - search Google for Αρχιμανδρίτης Βασίλειος Γοντικάκης, and Μονής Ιβήρων).
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O Lord although I desired to blot out
with my tears the handwriting of my many sins
And for the rest of my life to please Thee
through sincere repentance
Yet doth the enemy lead me astray as he wareth
against my sould with his cunning

O Lord before I utterly perish do Thou save me!
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