(Dateline OC.net Palace) With Fr. Chris' exit from his hibernation chamber on the feast of the Presentation of Christ signaling 6 more weeks of Fasting, the Global Moderators decided to pilfer the Post of the Month ballots in order to announce the winner before the onset of Holy Week. With the ceremonial scroll in hand, and with a payment to the Fruit Vendors Local 788 in their back pockets to cease distribution of the spoiled stuff, they exit to the balcony and declare loudly:
We are please to announce the Post of the Month winner for January 2010 is Father Giryus:
I have never visited an Ephraimite monastery, but I do know them by their fruits, and I think I can say that, as with our parishes, the fruits are mixed.
On the one hand, they have helped many folks. On the other hand, some of the advice they give is not appropriate to the people they give it to. For example, I know of numerous divorces that have occured because one spouse is given marital advice that bring him/her into conflict with the other. When you take a person raised as a nominal Orthodox and suddenly, all-at-once, dump a whole lot of discipline on them, they either run or go a bit nuts.
On Mt, Athos, there was a strict, but less severe, attitude. For example, at one monastery the abbott, seeing that I had a wedding ring, began to berate me for wearing it as a clergyman. He went on and on, and the poor monk assisting us raced to keep pace with the translation. In the end, the translating monk looked at me (looking rather bewildered) and said, "Don't worry about it." It was an opinion, one strongly held, but still only an opinion. The monk knew about how things are done in America and that my wearing a ring was not impious here. Essentially, I wasn't considered impious for not following the admonition. Those who have had monastic experiences here in America have told me that some monastics expect every jot and tittle of their opinions be fulfilled.
In defense of St. Anthony's Monastery, they have taken up the very difficult and much-needed task of building an understanding of Byzantine music in English. I am very grateful that the monastery has taken a more pro-English appoach which was different from when they were first established as Greek-only institutions. I have been told the original idea of keeping them all Greek language was to ensure that if the monasteries were driven out by necessity, the monks could be easily assimilated into Mt. Athos or other Greek monasteries. However, now that they have become well-established and are not going anywhere, they are looking to minister to the Church here in America.
While I have a great deal of respect for monastics and monasticism, I think it is important not to idealize them. They are imperfect and tempted as we all are. I would be cautious about taking advice from someone who has no experience in the area in which he speaks. For example, when I am asked to give marital advice, I always begin with a disclaimer that I am not a couselor and that I can only speak of my own experience in marriage.
And, one must take responsibility for the advice one is given. Many people want a mind-reading elder who will save them the great hassle of having to peer within themselves and discover, through tears, what it is that ills them. Clarvoyance is only helpful to kick-start a soddened conscience, but reliance on it is laziness. We need to discover our inner world for ourselves.
Anyway, that's my 2¢.
And as the crowds erupted with the usual cry ofAXIOS! AXIOS! AXIOS!
the Global Moderators slipped the money to the vendors and thanked them for their help.