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Author Topic: Monasticism and converts  (Read 5519 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 15, 2004, 04:21:07 PM »

This article has been posted here before : http://www.antiochian.org/midwest/Articles/5_Good_Reasons_Not_To_Visit_A_MonasteryNB.htm

But I think a discussion of it would be intersting.  There are several points in it that I tend to disagree with and other areas where I believe the author is misrepresenting things.  Before I write up a detailed version of my thoughts on it, what do other people think of the article?
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« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2004, 04:31:43 PM »

He is right on and I agree 100%.  We 've all seen the kind of person he describes right here on this and other sites.  What is there to disagree with?

Fr. Deacon Lance
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2004, 06:29:20 PM »

Very interesting article.  Of course the character in the article is likely a composite and somewhat exaggerated, I hope!  One thing in this young man's favor, he has read just about every book there is on Orthodoxy.  Would that cradle Orthodox (and Catholics) exhibit such zeal without the prelest side of that zeal!

One question.  It was my understanding that an Orthodox parishioner may not confessor to a hieromonk without first getting the permission of his/her spiritual father (i.e., the Pastor).  Is this correct?

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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2004, 06:33:19 PM »

. . .

One question.  It was my understanding that an Orthodox parishioner may not confessor to a hieromonk without first getting the permission of his/her spiritual father (i.e., the Pastor).  Is this correct?

Jim C.


Confessor should be confess!  It would be great to get the edit feature back PLEASE!!!!

Jim
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2004, 07:30:01 PM »

My objections:

Quote
Rather, prayer ropes flying from his wrists, he made grand bows at the entrance to the nave, and again, the entire congregation watching, with a flourish prostrated before virtually every icon in the church. It was such a display that no one listened to the hours.

Many lay people wear prayer ropes around thier wrists and it is barely noticable.  It is a great reminder to pray always - and when temptation strikes to turn first to prayer.  All of the other actions can be done without much ado as well.  And most people who do do them come to church EARLY.  The problem here is not monastic influence but attention seeking behaviour and tardiness.  

Quote
Then, just before the time the Liturgy should have begun, Bill came up to the door of the altar and announced he must have confession, or he’d be in big trouble with the holy elders. Father, being patient with zealous youths, went to hear the confession.

The problem here is that the person didn't go to confession at the proper time, NOT monastic influence.  You can't just waltz up to the altar and demand a priest hear your confession at any monastery I have every been to.  

The entire confession is just absurd.  The person in question has some serious issues and I don't think satire is the way to deal with.  Also I think this satire is just a sutble form of what is being parodied.  I thank God I'm not a crazy convert - sounds like the pharisee's prayer to me!

Quote
“Father,” Bill asked, “don’t you think it’s time to start being more traditional

Obviously Bill/Vasili was being rude in the manner of his request.  But it is never wrong IMO to ask a priest (politely) why one thing is done over another.  Also the priest is there to minister to his flock.  If having full length services and other "tradtional" stuff is what the flock wants shouldn't they be able to communicate this to the priest?  I know this example is hyperbole, but it seems like it is saying the parish priest is always right because he is the parish priest.

Quote
“Yesterday, at the monastery. I think I have finally found a spiritual father worthy of my obedience.”

The term spiritual father is often used much too losely today and thought to be the priest one goes to confession to most often.  He can be your spiritual father but not always.  A true spiritaul father/ mother is a much stricter relationship.  Not all people have spiritual fathers/mothers in the stricter sense of the word.  And before becoming obedient to one, a person should search -sometimes for YEARS - to find him/her.   The way it is phrased in the article is very proudful and delude of Bill, but the implication that all people that spend a great deal of time search are proudful and think no one is worthy of them is absurd and un-Orthodox.  

Quote
“Okay, Vasili, then. That guy was defrocked years ago. I can’t serve with him! Who gave you a blessing to go see him? Much less submit yourself to him? Much less invite him here?”

There is a great confusion that one needs the blessing of a parish priest to go to a monastery, see an elder or go to confession.  One only needs this blessing IF the parish priest is your spiritual father in the strict sense of the word.  The author talks about guru type elders that demand too much obediance....there is a IMO a large problem of parish priests that simple ASSUME they are spiritual fathers and even forbid a person from TALKING to a monastic elder.  I know cases where priests do this simply because they are afraid of losing money if that person starts going to a monastery more often.  

The problem of zeal without knowledge is a real one, and I am not trying to dismiss it.  But I think the approach of satire is a poor method of deal with it.  Father Seraphim Rose does with this in some of his writtings and gives a much more balences and sober Orthodox perspective.  This article is VERY one sided.  Even though the author won't admit it, there are failures at the parish level and that is PART of the problem behind "super-correctness."
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2004, 07:44:33 PM »

I would agree that the article is one-sided had it been written by a married priest but it is written by a monastic and a hegumen at that.  The article is hyperbole but not that far from the truth.  Again witness some that have been to this site or byzcath.

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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2004, 07:57:18 PM »

Father Deacon Lance,

I have seen many such people, some who have never set foot in a monastery.  The reason I think the article is one sided is because it seems to imply that the parish is always correct.  This is hardly the case and makes this entire issue very gray - not black and white.  There are a lot of parishes that simply don't offer vespers, regular confession, lenten serives etc.  Some services are so shortened that they have lost nearly all their character.  The great compline on clean monday at my parish was 20 minutes long, included NOTHING from the canon and just a fraction of the rest of great compline.  Thus people that are sincerely searching for Orthodoxy can easily get discourage and turn into Bill/Vasily of the article...

Another thing I didn't mention was the name issue.  There is nothing wrong with someone wishing to go by their baptismal name.  But the use of hypobole lost this issue.  If Bill decided he wished to be by Basil there is nothing wrong with that.
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« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2004, 10:15:01 PM »

The problem is just as easily with the supposed "holy elders" at the monastery he is visiting!
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« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2004, 11:09:57 PM »

Deacon Lance and dl, I totally agree with you.  I've read this article before, and I love it.  I've belonged to Orthodox boards for 3 years now, and I've seen too much of what he describes, and I've known a few people like that personally as well.

As far as the prayer ropes, I heard another abbot say the very same thing.  He also doesn't like seeing people wear prayer ropes (especially the really long ones) wrapped around their wrists.  What's wrong with keeping it in your pocket and pulling it out when you are actually praying?  

I agree that the Holy elders are part of the problem with this person.  Instead of encouraging him to be respectful and obedient to his priest and/or hierarchs, they are encouraging him to think he knows better than him/them how things should be done and what is *correct*.  Personally, I think a good spiritual father would put him in his place really quickly if this was happening.  To demand that a priest stop his preparations for liturgy to hear his confession when he'd just done one the day before at the monastery was totally ridiculous.  Sometimes priests will do them sometimes before liturgy, especially if the person has to travel some distance to get there, and therefore, can't do it at times when the priest usually does them, such as after Vespers, but this wasn't the case with this person.  

Also, personally, I don't think I should be telling the priest how to do his job.  Do the sheep tell the shepherd how to do his job?  Also, this is one person.  Maybe the rest of the flock is perfectly happy with services the way they are.  

Also, very few of us really need a staretz.  I've heard many priests and monks say that this *can* be a serious sign of spiritual pride.    It can be a sign of pride because it's like saying that a *mere* priest isn't worthy of my obedience.  I need someone *special*.  Also, the level of guidance and obedience for a layperson is different than that of a monk.  Too many people want and expect the same level expected of a monk.  If a spiritual father is demanding of you what he would want of a monk, I think many priests and hierarchs rightly wonder if this is a healthy relationship.  Sometimes, hierarchs have quite rightly removed spiritual fathers who are demanding of laypeople what is expected of monks.  They realize that this isn't healthy for either the spiritual father or the spiritual children.  Also, some people who speak about searching for the perfect spiritual father *can* be prideful.  Sometimes, they make it quite clear that their priest is not *good* enough for them and not what they need.  However, that person may be just what God has decided that they need.

Also, I do believe that a person should get his priest's blessing to visit a monastery and to hear your confessions.  He is your shepherd, and he is responsible to God for your well-being.  You could be visiting a monastery that isn't a good one and could be quite damaging for the soul.  Asking the priest's blessing could prevent that.  

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« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2004, 12:07:47 AM »

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The problem is just as easily with the supposed "holy elders" at the monastery he is visiting!  

The article already brought up that point.  What I was saying is that the article didn't bring up the blame isn't always 100% the monastery's...it if often mutually the parishes and monastery's fault.  

Quote
As far as the prayer ropes, I heard another abbot say the very same thing.  He also doesn't like seeing people wear prayer ropes (especially the really long ones) wrapped around their wrists.  What's wrong with keeping it in your pocket and pulling it out when you are actually praying?

Some spiritual fathers do bless their spiritual children to wear them on thier wrists.  Whichever one helps them to pray always and fight temptations the most and thier spiritual father blesses is best.  

Quote
Also, personally, I don't think I should be telling the priest how to do his job.  Do the sheep tell the shepherd how to do his job?  Also, this is one person.  Maybe the rest of the flock is perfectly happy with services the way they are.

One can politely ask, "Father, is there anyone else intersted in...."  if it is just a small group of people try to arrange getting togething on your own and doing a full length reader service oen evening a week or something.  Priests like anyone else need communication as to what people want.  And if what the person requests isn't feasable, the priest can tell them where to go to find it (if possible).  That is why this article is a very unfair portrayal.  Not all traditionalist and lay friends of monasticism are like "Bill."

Quote
Also, very few of us really need a staretz.  I've heard many priests and monks say that this *can* be a serious sign of spiritual pride.    It can be a sign of pride because it's like saying that a *mere* priest isn't worthy of my obedience.  I need someone *special*

Some people wish to have a stricter and deeper relationship with thier spiritual guide.  Different strokes for different folks.  Most people that I know who frequent monasteries use them to supplament what they get in the parish - the parish is the meat (except during lent of course) and potatos and the monastery is the dessert.  And for some people a more monastic influenced lay life is what God is calling them to lead.  How PRIDEFUL it is for anyone to judge them for that!

Quote
Also, the level of guidance and obedience for a layperson is different than that of a monk.  Too many people want and expect the same level expected of a monk.  If a spiritual father is demanding of you what he would want of a monk, I think many priests and hierarchs rightly wonder if this is a healthy relationship.  Sometimes, hierarchs have quite rightly removed spiritual fathers who are demanding of laypeople what is expected of monks.  They realize that this isn't healthy for either the spiritual father or the spiritual children.

I was never saying all lay people need a monastic spiritual father and the level of obediance that a novice would have.  But if a layperson desires this should he be denied it if the spiritual father is willing to take him in?  

Quote
Also, some people who speak about searching for the perfect spiritual father *can* be prideful.  Sometimes, they make it quite clear that their priest is not *good* enough for them and not what they need.  However, that person may be just what God has decided that they need.

Be careful making a blanket condemnaton here as your current wording would include Saint Paisius, Elder Joseph the Hesychast and others.  

Quote
Also, I do believe that a person should get his priest's blessing to visit a monastery and to hear your confessions.  He is your shepherd, and he is responsible to God for your well-being.

But a parish priest is not someone's de facto spiritual father.  This scenario assumes he is.  If he is your spiritual father of course you should seek his blessing.  

Quote
You could be visiting a monastery that isn't a good one and could be quite damaging for the soul.  Asking the priest's blessing could prevent that.

A visit to an ORTHODOX monastery will not damage one's soul, but it is a good idea to make sure the place a person is going is not schismatic or out of the church in anyway.  

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« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2004, 03:14:36 AM »

Be careful making a blanket condemnaton here as your current wording would include Saint Paisius, Elder Joseph the Hesychast and others.

+¥+¦+¦-ä+¼-ü+¦+¦, there was nothing "blanket" nor "condemning" about the statement. Katherine was talking about the laity who seek the "perfect" spiritual father, not the spiritual fathers themselves.

(I was also unaware that Elder Paisios had been canonised a saint Wink)

John.
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« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2004, 03:56:50 AM »

I read the article a while ago a think it is a great article.

From the backlash I see from you Nektarios, it seems that YOU are the one that needs to hold his tongue.  As wise as you are for your age, you are still only 18 (or whatever).  I don't think you have much basis to criticize Fr. Jonah.  His whole point is that one who visits a monastery should do it for the right reasons and not the wrong ones.  Take a step back and consider what he's saying first.

Peace, out.
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« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2004, 04:02:29 AM »

The whole point of the articlem which I don't believe anyone has a right to disagree with (or they're just wrong  Smiley).

This story is a rather extreme, but not entirely uncommon, example of what can go wrong when laypeople—especially those who are spiritually immature— take to visiting monasteries for the wrong reasons and in the wrong spirit.
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« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2004, 10:33:00 AM »

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(I was also unaware that Elder Paisios had been canonised a saint )

Sorry I wasn't clear I meant Saint Paisius Velichovsky (sp?).  Back when he just started his monastic life he spent years searching for a spiritual father.  

Quote
From the backlash I see from you Nektarios, it seems that YOU are the one that needs to hold his tongue.  As wise as you are for your age, you are still only 18 (or whatever).  I don't think you have much basis to criticize Fr. Jonah.  His whole point is that one who visits a monastery should do it for the right reasons and not the wrong ones.  Take a step back and consider what he's saying first.

I don't disagree with the idea that new converts (or anyone really) can easily fall into the trap that Bill/Vasily did.  I disagreed with the approach of the article and said that other authors such as Father Seraphim Rose dealt with the issue in a more realistic and balanced manner.  

BTW - I am 17, turning 18 next December

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« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2004, 02:16:26 PM »


. . .

Also, I do believe that a person should get his priest's blessing to visit a monastery and to hear your confessions.  He is your shepherd, and he is responsible to God for your well-being.  You could be visiting a monastery that isn't a good one and could be quite damaging for the soul.  Asking the priest's blessing could prevent that.  


I recall reading "somewhere" in my increasingly dim past that the Armenian Church does not allow its hieromonks to hear the confessions of the laity under ordinary circumstances.  Only the parish clergy are allowed to do so.

Perhaps it is because the spirituality of the laity is a little less rigorous in the outward observances than monks and nuns and requires special care that normally is the concern of the parish clergy.

Does anyone know anything specific about the Armenian practice and justifications for same?

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« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2004, 03:39:39 PM »

A friend has asked me to post the following comment in reply to the article:

"This article is one of my favorites, containing a great deal of wisdom, and is one everyone should read, and ponder, before seeking a blessing to make a pilgrimage to a monastery.
 
I agree with Nektarios that "It is not good to have zeal without knowledge,
nor to be hasty and miss the way." (Proverbs 19:2), which is the exact point that Hieromonk Jonah makes in the article.  Many miss the great spiritual benefits to be derived from visiting a monastery through yielding to what the subtitle refers to as "the temptations of monastic maximalism". However, the author is not arguing against visiting monasteries, but rather for reflecting and visiting in the right spirit before doing so.
 
All of us have seen in parishes and on message boards the Bill/Vasili type of character portrayed in his opening segment. The sort of young man who read all the Orthodox books in the space of six months, and understood none of them, because he lacked the spiritual maturity to do so. Yet he felt he had the knowledge, because he read it in the pop-Orthodoxy books...or picked up a copy of the Rudder...or the Canons. So, he knows it all. And we all know that our immediate response on seeing such a character either in literature or in life is to cringe, as they are narrow minded and judgmental to a fault, most somehow having missed the command to be strict with oneself, and forgiving with others. We cringe when we feel their eyes upon us, not because we feel we have done anything "wrong" but because we know their presence annoys us so that we will instantly fall into the sin of judgment for our feelings of annoyance at the "outward piety" of these displays...see the quote about Madonna on Saturday Night Live, and Judging everyone else in sight to justify Bill's own sins, if you want to know what I mean...So IF we are lucky, we can view these people as opportunities God provides us with to learn how to overcome the sin of judgment. If not, they provide us with another reason to grit our teeth, and confess judgment at our next confession.
 
BUT! Never fall into the trap that visiting a monastery in search of the Living Water is wrong. The article makes certain things clear that so far no one has mentioned.
 
"Monastics have a different calling: to be “not of this world,” and to structure their lives solely by the Gospel, and by the traditions of the Church, especially the liturgical cycles. It is very important to remember that there is no difference between the services prescribed for a parish and those of a monastery. There is no difference in the rules of fasting, prayer, or piety. The main difference is that people in parishes are engaged in the world, and monks are not. The monasteries are critically important to the life of the parishes: they constitute the reservoir of the living Tradition, in its purity, where people can experience the Gospel lived out in a radical way. Monasticism can inform their lives, inspire faithful laity to greater dedication of their lives to Christ and the Gospel, and provide a place of healing and spiritual consolation." (Bold my own)
 
In parishes, what has frequently happened is that due to either poor pastoral care, or  small mission parishes, etc, services are either reduced, or eliminated, or abbreviated (no, I am not falling into the trap as in the article...some priests tell you outright they see no reason to have Vespers since "no one will come", when they have 30 or forty people asking for the service, who are deeply disappointed and go elsewhere). There are priests who think that if they tell people the proper rules of fasting, THEN exercise "ekonomia" in the individual's circumstances, people will be "scared away" from the Orthodox faith, because it is "too hard" or not realistic. So, they say, "Only monks do this". The fact is, that anyone who reads about his faith knows this is not so...and a small wedge of distrust begins to grow. Why was I told this thing that is not true?  So...people begin to jurisdiction hop...or badmouth their jurisdiction, or, if they do none of these, but quietly wait for a more liberal priest to retire, say...they may visit monasteries for a weekend or two here or there, and seek the spiritual advice of a Geronda or Gerondissa at the monastery there as their spiritual father or mother. There is nothing prideful about this, in a situation where there are genuinely bad priests, or in a case where one's parish priest is not yet qualified to hear confessions, as in the case of the GOA, where a priest is not immediately eligible for such upon becoming a priest.  It is not prelest to do such. In a case where one is aware that one is receiving poor spiritual advice, it is important, in a spirit of humility, to seek out a canonical monastery, and obtain that which one's soul needs. Now, that is an important task, and not to be assumed lightly, as a spiritual father is one you are placing yourself under obedience to, and whom you must obey, not one whom maybe if you feel like it you will listen to occasionally. naturally, this search takes time, and is not a matter of Bill/Vasili's "worthy of my obedience" but one who is willing to take you on, and who you are comfortable with!  Regarding that "And sometimes people will go to a monastery or spiritual father who has been disciplined by the Church, and disregarded the discipline. (Recent case in point...Burning Bush "Monastery" in Mississippi and its self-proclaimed Hegumen Elia...parenthetical my own). Then the pilgrim-turned-disciple gets caught up in the self-justification of the errant elder, which in some cases has created a schism." Oh, indeed so! Americans especially like to crawl places looking for "gurus"...and the more "radical" the better.
 
"The priestmonk may appear to be more “spiritual” because he is in church for six or eight hours a day, and has few other responsibilities. Try to do that with a family, and dozens or hundreds of parishioners to serve! The asceticism of being in the world and serving Christ, whether as priest or layperson, is equally as great as that of a monk in a monastery. It takes as profound a “spirituality” to do it. But the details will differ with the circumstances." Here the author and I agree on some points, and disagree on others. I agree that the spirituality must be profound, but disagree when a priest in the world fails to teach the true faith, on the grounds that only a monk would say that. Or do that. Teach the truth, then allow the exception. But always tell the rule first. If not, the laity does have the canonical right to judge that a priest is not teaching the faith correctly, and refer the matter to the bishop.

 

Now...The author's most valuable point...and one I think he should turn into a full novel on its own:

 

"5  Ecclesiastical Gossip

A last great temptation is to get involved in gossip about people, places, practices, and especially the “issues” confronting the Church. Whether it is who is doing what, how they serve this or that service and with whom, or the like, which is all gossip; or whether it involves the greater problems confronting the Church, such as ecumenism, the calendar, or what they are or are not teaching at such and such a seminary; there is very little fruitful and much more that is sinful in all that idle talk. The Lord said that we will be accountable for each word.

Not only does this gossip involve judging people, especially hierarchs, clergy, and teachers who will have to answer for themselves before God; it distracts us from the one thing needful: to pursue our own salvation. We are only accountable to God for our own salvation, not for issues which we can have no effect on. One of the saddest things is that monasteries tend to attract people who in the name of being serious about their spiritual life fall into this delusion, while all this kind of gossip and factionalism actually destroys their souls.

It is bad enough that people talk about such things in person; many also read whole publications that are essentially scandal sheets. The Internet is perhaps the worst vehicle for such gossip. This is nothing other than ecclesiastical pornography. It must be avoided at all costs!"

Those who seek the blessing of their current spiritual father, if they have one, to go one pilgrimage to a canonical monastery, for the refreshment of their souls, seeking to draw closer to God through a retreat from the world, fuller prayer life, and fuller fast, will indeed find themselves blessed. All should do so, at least twice a year, in my opinion. It doesn't mean you come back like Bill/Vasili...or that the monks sign you up on a list for their guru-du-jour...but it will strengthen your spirituality as nothing you have ever encountered before has done.  In this regard, listen most to those who have made pilgrimages to these monasteries.

Blessed Lenten journey!"
« Last Edit: March 16, 2004, 04:12:29 PM by +Â¥+¦+¦-ä+¼-ü+¦++-é » Logged
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« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2004, 10:43:52 PM »

Nice reply, Karamazov. Too bad you were not able to reveal the author's identity.

Demetri
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« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2004, 11:28:00 PM »

I think I got a little out of hand with my comments and thus I apologize to the board.  

I appreciated Karamazov's post and found it to be an interesting read.

After thinking over this here is my toned down opinion:

     -  I don't know if the parody/ hyperbole is the best way to express the point

     -  The article didn't adress that there are a LOT of problems in many Orthodox parishes in this country and that has a role in the main problem.

     -  I think the general problem of "super-correctness" is the culprit not just an ubalenced view of monasticism.  For example I know many such "Vasilis" who have never stepped foor at a monastery.  
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« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2004, 11:42:32 AM »

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In a case where one is aware that one is receiving poor spiritual advice, it is important, in a spirit of humility, to seek out a canonical monastery, and obtain that which one's soul needs.

Well, that leads to the following scenario:

An Episcopalian gives up on his church in disgust at (say) "Bishop" Robinson (his quotes). He falls in with the local OCA church. Now he has found a church which has the discipline his old church lacked.

BUT

He is also coming in with some bad attitudes. In the first place, he has come in with an attitude of judgement-- and very probably of sophistication too. He is specifically attracted to Orthodoxy because of the "Change!?!" attitude. He looks upon the Episcopal Church as "wimpy" and upon Orthodoxy as a "Real Man's" church.

This immediately sets him up for problems. If he is judging his old rector and bishop, he is almost certainly going to judge his new priest and new bishop. And there are plenty of voices in Orthodoxy egging him on in that judgement, and urging him to judge them unfavorably. At the same time, his competence to pass this judgement is questionable. After all, we are talking someone who is supposed to junk his entire prior theological apparatus. How is he to judge whether he is receiving poor spiritual advice? His natural tendency is to use rigor of praxis and extremity of judgement as standards, falling right into a trap which Jesus warns against.

Monastics are prone to the same machismo, so they present a danger at this point. And furthermore, if this convert is not really competent to pass judgement on his priest, he is even less able to sit through monastics.
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Keble
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« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2004, 11:43:07 AM »

THat would be "sift through monastics."
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Linus7
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« Reply #20 on: March 17, 2004, 12:03:56 PM »

Well said, Keble.

And congratulations on finally passing 1,000 posts (in a quiet, sneaky sort of way).  Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: March 17, 2004, 05:51:40 PM »

Quote
I recall reading "somewhere" in my increasingly dim past that the Armenian Church does not allow its hieromonks to hear the confessions of the laity under ordinary circumstances.  Only the parish clergy are allowed to do so.

A friend who emailed an Armenian priest at St. Nersess Seminary got this response:

I know of no such practice. Could it perhaps have been an aberration that
was recorded somewhere? If anything it was usually the monks who heard
confessions.

If you could find out the source of this information, then I would be
interested in checking it out.
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« Reply #22 on: March 17, 2004, 06:58:05 PM »

A friend who emailed an Armenian priest at St. Nersess Seminary got this response:

I know of no such practice. Could it perhaps have been an aberration that
was recorded somewhere? If anything it was usually the monks who heard
confessions.

If you could find out the source of this information, then I would be
interested in checking it out.

I thought I came across this in a book I had check out of the University of New Mexico library on eastern Churches several years ago.  This weekend I'll see if I can find the tome and report back.  Of course this may go the way of my statement re Pius XII and E. Patriarch  Athenagoras of a few weeks ago.  I consulted several books in which I thought that I had read this and could not find support for it.

JBC
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« Reply #23 on: March 17, 2004, 07:40:57 PM »

I thought I came across this in a book I had check out of the University of New Mexico library on eastern Churches several years ago.  This weekend I'll see if I can find the tome and report back.  Of course this may go the way of my statement re Pius XII and E. Patriarch  Athenagoras of a few weeks ago.  I consulted several books in which I thought that I had read this and could not find support for it.

JBC


The book in question is:

Peter D. Day. Eastern Christian Liturgies: the Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syrian rites; Eucharistic Rites with Introductory Notes and Rubrical Instructions. Shannon: Irish University Press. 1972. ISBN: 0716505959.

Of course what does the issue of confession by laity to Armenian parish priests or monks have to do with the Eastern Christian Liturgies in this book?  I don't know.  Perhaps my mind is going downhill slowly but surely.  I will try to get the book and verify one way or another.

Jim C.
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« Reply #24 on: March 20, 2004, 08:06:09 PM »

The book in question is:

Peter D. Day. Eastern Christian Liturgies: the Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syrian rites; Eucharistic Rites with Introductory Notes and Rubrical Instructions. Shannon: Irish University Press. 1972. ISBN: 0716505959.

Of course what does the issue of confession by laity to Armenian parish priests or monks have to do with the Eastern Christian Liturgies in this book?  I don't know.  Perhaps my mind is going downhill slowly but surely.  I will try to get the book and verify one way or another.

Jim C.


OK I found the book this afternoon at the Univ of NM's Zimmerman Library.  My high school (sophmore)  son was competing in the NM Region Science Fair today and was awarded a Third Place Ribbon for a science fair project in Microbiology!!!  Yay!  And he has qualified to go on to the NM State Science Fair competitions at New Mexico Tech in Socorro, NM in two weeks!  More Yay! . . . Sorry for bragging. Roll Eyes

Here is the information:



Regarding confessions, three quotes from the aforementioned book follow:

From page 18: VIII. Vartapets

Quote
The office and rank of vartapet is peculiar to the Armenians and is a rank conferred by a kind of ordination rite.  The attention given by the Armenians to education is very high and therefore it is not surprising to find that among them there is a distinct order of the hierarchy set aside with this object in mind.

Vartapets are of two classes, minor and major.  The staff or gauazan which is presented to each vartapet distinguishes the grade: a minor vartapet has a staff surmounted by a cross with only one entwined serpent, while the major vartapet would have two entwined serpents.

All vartapets are celibate priests who follow the Rule of St. Bail of Caesarea.  Being unmarried, they are not allowed to hear confessions, and thus occupy themselves entirely with preaching and teaching.  It is from this body of clergy that the Armenian bishops are chosen.  It has already been noted that vartapets have certain privileges with respect to the use of vestments.

. . .

From Page 20: 3) Penance:

Quote
Among Catholic Armenians auricular confession has always been the custom, and the sacrament is administered almost the same way as it is in the Latin Church.  Monophysite Armenians allow only married priests to hear confessions.  The priest sits on the floor of the house or sacristy where the confession is to be heard, while the penitent kneels and relates each sin quite distinctly, avoiding obscure generalities.  The Monophysite priest may defer absolution for a few days, whereas the Catholic usually grants absolution immediately, except for a few obvious exceptions.

Armenians are expected to receive this sacrament at least five times a year, and these occasions must include Epiphany and Easter.  The practice of receiving absolution as a necessary preliminary to Communion is not universal among the Armenians, but the tendency is there.

Furthermore, according to this text, there are no circumstances in which a secular priest may become a bishop.

Quote
From Page 23:

. . . If an unmarried man is promoted to orders higher than that of acolyte, he is obliged to remain celibate, and as an unmarried man he may become a monk.  If a secular priest is widowed, he may not remarry, nor may be become a bishop.



Now don't anybody jump all over me for my use of the word, "Monophysite."  This is a quote from the book . . . not necessarily from me!


Thanks,

Jim C.


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« Reply #25 on: March 21, 2004, 05:16:19 AM »

It's a good article. I was actually reading that recently. I know several people who had the same mentality and eventually joined a schismatic group. Fortunately one has come back.

Athanasius
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