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Author Topic: GOA Monasteries  (Read 2158 times) Average Rating: 0
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Dmitri Rostovski
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« on: October 11, 2002, 10:00:17 AM »

I have been doing some research into Orthodox Monasteries in the USA.   One of the things I have noticed is that most of the GOA Monasteries in this country were started by a Fr. Ephraim of Mt. Athos.  I am to understand, however, that there is some controversy surrounding him.  Can anyone shed some light on this situation?  I am having problems finding unbiased sources.  Are these institutions still recognized by the Greek Archdiocese?   Is Fr. Ephraim still head of these groups?  What is the status of these monasteries?  Any assistance would be helpful.

Evxaristo poli,
Dmitri
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2002, 10:57:17 PM »

My understanding is that Fr.Ephraim is on the bad side of a lot of the greeks (or at least the modernizing/secularized parts of the GOA) because he has brought Athonite monasticism to North America.  In a healthy situation, this would be no crime.

It goes without saying that there is a lot in traditional Orthodox monasticism which goes against the grain of worldly expectations on what the "good life" is.  Obedience, poverty, placing one's hope totally in the "world to come", etc.  Such things are particularly unsettling to modern western/American civilization, which is quite materialistic and secular.

Sadly, a lot of this seculirizing tendency is present in the GOA, and this is where a lot of the complaining is coming from.  In part, I think these people are even worse than the non-Orthodox mainstream American, in their unreceptivity to authentic, traditional Orthodox Christianity.  It's no surprise that these are also the people most itchy for reunion with Rome - it seems to me that many of the Greeks in the USA have been trying to be looked at as being "respectable" and "noteworthy" in American society, no matter what the cost.  In short, it smacks of an inferiority complex.  It's like they'd be embarassed to have their priests walk around in traditional priestly garb, with long hair and scragly beards... let alone have to say that their son decided to run off not to become a doctor or a lawyer, but a monk.

While I think it's fair to say that there have been growing pains in Fr.Ephraim's monastic establishments, the treatment he and the monasteries themselves are receiving are signs not of problems in the monasteries so much as an unhealthy American Greek Orthodoxy.

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« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2002, 10:55:20 PM »

Dear Seraphim,

I take issue with you saying that liberal secular types are the ones "most itching" to rejoin communion with Rome.  That sounds like an assumption that could not be proved and which is patently false in my opinion.  Most secular Greeks I have met don't like Catholicism much at all and don't have any desire to join union with it.

Now to the point--Fr. Ephraim--I respect his work and think we need LOTS more monasteries if we ever want this country to be Orthodox.  My friend is a spiritual son of Fr. Ephraim.  But that leads to another point--moderation.  You don't have to be a nut to be holy.  Some of Fr. E's followers are crazy, let's just admit that.  One GOA priest was telling me about what happened when a parishoner of his went to one of those monasteries to get advice and was berated about being totally corrupt, that the doctors in America are evil, that they should not listen to the parish priests because they are too liberal, blah blah blah.  That's NOT good for Orthodoxy.

I think it boils down to there is not a lot of precedent in the American Orthodox Church to be able to "get" this monasticism thing while it's in its birth stage.  liberals and secularists will whine that monasticism is weird, and fanatics will join monasteries and take them downhill.  But in the end, I have faith that a good, natural synthesis will emerge where monks serve to check the secularist people and clergy, and where the parish clergy are able to stand up to fanatical elements present in monasticism that are reaching beyond the monastery gate.

In Christ,

anastasios
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Dmitri Rostovski
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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2002, 09:27:47 AM »

Thanks to you both.  I am beginning to get a better understanding of the situation.  We really have no idea of true monasticism in this country as compared to the Athonite system hundreds (some over a thousand) years old.   But I guess I question if Athonite monasticism is really appropriate for America.   From my very limited knowledge of monasteries in other traditions, I do not see this type of controversy.  What do they do differently (or not do) that makes their type of praxis more palatable to some Americans?  I can't imagine that the Russians would be less strict than the Greeks, yet their institutions are very popular.  Any ideas?

Dmitri
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« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2002, 12:08:26 AM »

Dmitri,

A movement beginning with the Persian sack of Jerusalem, continuing with the Latin sack of Constantinople, and culminationg after the T-----ish occupation of Constantinople, led to the establishment of ONE typikon for all monasteries and Churches.  Previously, there had been a Cathedral office and two monastic rites--that of St. Sabbas and that of the Studites.  Before that, there were typika for every monastery.  No ecumenical Council or even a local council (except maybe the Nikon council in Russia) ever mandated a monastic typikon (or any typikon for that matter).  The only reason we all use the Typikon of St. Sabbas is because it was in use when the printing press was invented.  There is nothing unorthodox with creating a new typikon for a monastery in America.  It might not be received by the people, however, which is the only test for if it will work.

In Christ,

anastasios
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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2002, 12:14:04 AM »

Should we put Turk in the banned word list?
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2002, 08:18:54 AM »

We have a banned word list?
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