Author Topic: "Active" monastics in the Orthodox Church?  (Read 1336 times)

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Offline Eugenio

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"Active" monastics in the Orthodox Church?
« on: March 01, 2009, 02:11:27 AM »
I have questions about monasticism as it's practiced in the Orthodox Church.

I'm a bit more familiar with monasticism as it's practiced in the Catholic church, where numerous orders exist and these orders are divided between "contemplative" and "active" orders. (For further explanation, see
http://www.religious-vocation.com/differences_religious_orders.html).

From what I can tell, the "contemplative" style of monasticism is the only one that exists in Orthodoxy. There are is no equivalent of "active" orders, which the above-referenced site describes thus: "While still principally prayer-centered, active orders generally dedicate more time to certain apostolates, such as feeding the hungry, teaching, preaching, missions, youth retreats, and various forms of service to the community. In this sense, they tend to follow Scripture in a more literal way; to "feed the hungry", "give drink to the thirsty", help the desolate and shunned of society....Active orders tend to be less bound by the walls of a monastery, and may reassign members of their community to different locations abroad."

Are there monastics in Orthodoxy who choose to engage the world and its problems and live out Christ's words in The Beatitudes? I can think of one - the Holy Martyr St. Maria Skobstova, whose extrordinary life is described here:
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Maria_Skobtsova

"Mother Maria made a rented house in Paris her "convent." It was a place with an open door for refugees, the needy and the lonely. It also soon became a center for intellectual and theological discussion. In Mother Maria these two elements—service to the poor and theology—went hand-in-hand.

"When the Nazis took Paris in World War II, Jews soon approached the house asking for baptismal certificates, which Father Dimitri would provide them. Many Jews came to stay with them. They provided shelter and helped many escape. Eventually the house was closed down. Mother Maria, Fr. Dimitri, Yuri, and Sophia were all taken by the Gestapo. Fr. Dimitri and Yuri both died at the prison camp in Dora."

So, does St. Maria have contemporaries today? Orthodox monastics who choose to feed the poor, teach, and help others, in addition to praying?

Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: "Active" monastics in the Orthodox Church?
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2009, 02:26:02 AM »
So, does St. Maria have contemporaries today? Orthodox monastics who choose to feed the poor, teach, and help others, in addition to praying?

Yes and no!   In all the Orthodox home countries you will find monastics involved in these types of activities but it is not the norm.

For example, the Diocese of Moscow runs 400 soup kitchens and some of these are run by monks and nuns.  Also orphanages, etc.

The monastery of Solovki is home to many non-monastics during the hard winter months when they could not surivive otherwise.

The nuns of Jerusalem run schools for the poor (mainly Muslim students these days.)

We have a young man en route to Serbia to become a monk, God willing, in the monastery of Kovilj.   Kovilj has about 30 monks and many of them are young, victims and orphans of the wars which hit that region after Yugoslavia broke up.  Not a few of the monks are ex drug addicts and part of their ministry is to assist those addicted to narcotics.  They live in the monastery with the monks and share the monks' lives and work.

You will find monks and nuns engaged in this type of charitable work... but it's best to repeat that this is *not* the norm.   Activities such as these should be the realm of the faithful.  Monks and nuns should tend to the type of life exemplified by our holy fathers and mothers in the desert.

Fr Ambrose
(who is a monk but has had to live back in the world for many years in order to take care of parishes which do not have their own priests, and in the process developed a ministry to streetkids and refugees and shipjumpers.  Unlike Saint Mary of Paris I don't have a love for smoking cigarettes nor the taste of Pernod  :) )
« Last Edit: March 01, 2009, 02:31:30 AM by Irish Hermit »

Offline Starlight

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Re: "Active" monastics in the Orthodox Church?
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2009, 02:28:47 AM »
St. Mary of Egypt Convent (GOA) and St. Herman of Alaska Monastery (UOC-USA) both in Cleveland, OH provide a lot of charitable work. St. Herman of Alaska Monastery helps homeless people. St. Mary of Egypt Convent supports refugees as well as children, receiving treatment in USA. Also, St. John Maximovich Monastery (OCA) in Manton, CA actively participates in local charitable events.

Additionally, many Hierarchs worldwide orchestrate activities of charity. So they also can be listed as examples.

Offline StGeorge

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Re: "Active" monastics in the Orthodox Church?
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2009, 02:38:40 AM »
I have questions about monasticism as it's practiced in the Orthodox Church.

I'm a bit more familiar with monasticism as it's practiced in the Catholic church, where numerous orders exist and these orders are divided between "contemplative" and "active" orders. (For further explanation, see
http://www.religious-vocation.com/differences_religious_orders.html).

From what I can tell, the "contemplative" style of monasticism is the only one that exists in Orthodoxy. There are is no equivalent of "active" orders, which the above-referenced site describes thus: "While still principally prayer-centered, active orders generally dedicate more time to certain apostolates, such as feeding the hungry, teaching, preaching, missions, youth retreats, and various forms of service to the community. In this sense, they tend to follow Scripture in a more literal way; to "feed the hungry", "give drink to the thirsty", help the desolate and shunned of society....Active orders tend to be less bound by the walls of a monastery, and may reassign members of their community to different locations abroad."

Are there monastics in Orthodoxy who choose to engage the world and its problems and live out Christ's words in The Beatitudes? I can think of one - the Holy Martyr St. Maria Skobstova, whose extrordinary life is described here:
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Maria_Skobtsova

"Mother Maria made a rented house in Paris her "convent." It was a place with an open door for refugees, the needy and the lonely. It also soon became a center for intellectual and theological discussion. In Mother Maria these two elements—service to the poor and theology—went hand-in-hand.

"When the Nazis took Paris in World War II, Jews soon approached the house asking for baptismal certificates, which Father Dimitri would provide them. Many Jews came to stay with them. They provided shelter and helped many escape. Eventually the house was closed down. Mother Maria, Fr. Dimitri, Yuri, and Sophia were all taken by the Gestapo. Fr. Dimitri and Yuri both died at the prison camp in Dora."

So, does St. Maria have contemporaries today? Orthodox monastics who choose to feed the poor, teach, and help others, in addition to praying?

A good video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzmPnKjviho

I think they're monks.  But maybe non-monastic priests. 
« Last Edit: March 01, 2009, 02:42:27 AM by StGeorge »

Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: "Active" monastics in the Orthodox Church?
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2009, 02:44:59 AM »

The Angelic Path - An Outline of Orthodox Monasticism

In three parts.

http://www.roca.org/OA/66-68/66k.htm

http://www.roca.org/OA/69/69f.htm

http://www.roca.org/OA/70/70m.htm

Offline Elisha

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Re: "Active" monastics in the Orthodox Church?
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2009, 03:23:21 AM »
...nor the taste of Pernod  :) )

Mmmm...Pernod....

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Re: "Active" monastics in the Orthodox Church?
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2009, 04:20:29 AM »

Offline Elisha

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Re: "Active" monastics in the Orthodox Church?
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2009, 04:23:54 AM »