This time we had a very hard choice. There were several outstanding posts nominated and eventually three posts receive the title of winner.
First honoured author is 88Devin12:
When I was in Greece I had an Old Calendarist and an Orthodox Christian both ask me about Elder Ephraim and if I'd ever been to Arizona. They showed me a calendar and stuff they'd gotten in the mail from there...
I know many Priests who've warned their faithful to watch out, not just at these, but all monasteries because the monastics are deep into the spiritual life and experts at monastic asceticism, but they don't know much about married asceticism and life in (but not of) the world.
I've even heard of some of Elder Ephraim's monks advising couples to fast from each other for a period of time, which inevitably caused undue tensions and conflict in the marriage, sometimes causing lustful passions to flare in one or each party and causing terrible strife between the couple...
I've also heard of other things, but monasteries are for going for quiet and solitude, for rest and spiritual exercises. But they aren't for us "worldly" ascetics to go seek advice and penance.
I don't know what you mean by a worldly ascetic, unless you mean a person who can't achieve the spiritual heights that an ascetic can reach, and rather than admitting it to himself and giving credit where credit is due, wants to rationalize away his own spiritual limitations. Don't, we're all sinners. God did not call everyone to sanctity.
As for monasteries, they follow the canons of the Orthodox Church, and if these Orthodox rules causes marital problems, then they should pray that someday they will acquire the spiritual growth required to be a 'true Orthodox', not just a traditional Orthodox who is Orthodox in name and appearance only.
It behooves me how so many people who are against the Orthodox canons, are at the same time critical of Protestant faiths who do not have those canons...I really wish they'd make up their minds.
Zenovia, there are two kinds of asceticism. There is the ascetism of marriage and the asceticism of monasticism. Those of us who are called to the married life have to live in the world. Those of us living in the world are called to asceticism, but it is much different than the asceticism that monastics are called to. Monastics are called to avoid the world and separate themselves from it totally, whereas we have to live within it without being of it.
For example: monastics are called to worship multiple times of day and exercise themselves in intense spiritual discipline, including active prayer. We, however, cannot attend church as often as monastics and the kind of prayer we offer to God is different than monastics.
Monasticism is not higher than marriage, and marriage is not higher than monasticism. Simply put, the two are two different roads to the same goal. We shouldn't be arrogant and think that monastics are lesser than us because they don't live in the world, yet monastics also shouldnt be arrogant and think married people and chaste people living in the world are less than monastics because they live in the world...
Most importantly, we cannot hold one group to the same standards as the others. Just because an elderly couple doesn't exhibit clairvoyance, bilocation or other spiritual gifts doesn't mean they should be regarded as less ascetic than the monks.
Remember that monasticism didn't exist in Christianity for over 200 years until St Anthony fled the city for the desert. Prior to that, all Christians lived in the cities, in the world, working side by side with the pagans and participating in everyday life (so much as our faith allowed). In fact, St Peter himself was married. Yet we don't see any of them locking themselves away in their cells and forming monastic communities. But that certainly doesn't mean thu weren't practicing asceticism...
You must lead that the path we follow and the path monastics follow are two paths to Christ. Both are equally valid and holy. Yet because we are human beings, we shouldn't pretend to be experts in the lives of the others and we shouldn't pretend our advice to the others is the best advice they can receive. If you are a monastic and want advice for your monastic lifestyle, you will naturally need to seek a monastic rather than a married Priest. Same for the opposite, if you're married, you will seek advice from a married Priest rather than a monastic who has never been married.
We shouldnt make the mistake of confusing the two paths or falling into arrogance and begin assuming one path is more "holy" than the other.
the second one - Maria:
Do not concern yourself with prophecies and rumors, instead repent.
and last but not least - witega:
Another question about baptism vs. Chrismation: if I chose Chrismation or baptism vice versa, will it affect my salvation at the final judgement day? Oh if I choose baptism not Chrismation, and my "first" protestant/Evangelical baptism is valid, will the "second" baptism serves as a "double check," which can be considered as another "safety lock" to the "box"(myself)? Will Father possiblily baptize me if I insist on "re-baptism". the Orthodox Baptism?
Second part of the question first: Your priest is going to do what his bishop and his synod have directed him to do. He may be asking questions to determine how your situation best fits into those instructions, but that is what he will and should follow. There are very few things within Orthodoxy where insisting that it be done your own way is either a) going to have any effect, or b) be spiritually healthy, and this is definitely not one of them. Do share with your priest what you prefer and the reason for those preferences--but be prepared to accept his decision as an ordained minister of the Church as one of your first acts of obedience, whether it fits your preference or not.
Secondly, no it will not affect your salvation at the final judgment day. Your bishop has been ordained by the Church as a successor to the Apostles, with the authority to 'bind and to loose' and to administer the Church of God. If he makes a bad decision, he will have to answer for it at the judgment day, but he is the one who has the authority to make this decision, and you will only be judged by your obedience. Furthermore, the Sacraments are not 'magical rituals' which if not performed according to a perfectly prescribed formula will not 'work'. The Sacraments are the actual activity of the Holy Spirit fulfilling God's promises to the Church (which include those to the Apostles and their successors about their authority). The same Spirit is at work in Holy Baptism, in Holy Chrismation, and in the Holy Eucharist. If you are received through Chrismation, the Holy Spirit is actively present in the blessed Chrism, effecting salvation upon you and filling any lack in what has gone before.
WORTHY! WORTHY! WORTHY!
The memory of God should be treasured in our hearts like the precious pearl mentioned in the Holy Gospel. Our life's goal should be to nurture and contemplate God always within, and never let it depart, for this steadfastness will drive demons away from us. - Paraphrased from St. Philotheus of Sinai
Writings from the Philokalia: On Prayer of the Heart,
Translated from the Russian by E. Kadloubovksy and G.E.H. Palmer, Faber and Faber, London, Boston, 1992 printing.