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Urban monasticism


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#1 Tim Flanders

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Posted 27 September 2008 - 04:09 PM

timothy, a slave of Messiah Yeshua for the proclamation and establishment of the eternal and everlasting Kingdom of G-d on Earth, so that His name may be hollowed and His will be done; to you, my fellow pilgrims and workers for the Glory of the L-rd of Hosts, Blessed Be He.

Grace and Peace to you from G-d our Father and the L-rd Yeshua HaMashiach.


I write this post because I desire to speak about the phenominon of "new monasticism" in America, inspired, just as Athanasius' Vita Antonii, by a widely circulated work by a brother by the name of Shane Claiborne, that is, The Irresistable Revolution.

I am unaware of any other postings to this effect, however I must admit and subsequently apologize for the fact that I am entirely new to not only Monachos.net, but Orthodoxy Herself.

However, I intend to tell you of my (our) own pursuit of an urban monasticism and its effects on our lives. I hope that this will encourage you, and that you can encourage us, that we may edify and admonish one another, from novice to elder, from disciple to father.

After about 5 months of fasting and praying and discussing together, I and around 6 others (the group changed people throughout this Journey as The L-rd saw fit) finally found a house in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, in a place that is pretty run down by violence and addiction.

We take our inspiration from such works as Shane Claiborne, Scott Bessenecker's New Friars, and our relationship with a prayer house downtown that takes in addicts.

We began our monastic dream with a conversation, and once we had a house we continued that conversation, and this post itsself is simply the continuation of that. We have been living in the house for a period of about a month and so far we have developed certain practices and rules for ourselves of which I will try to describe.

First, we began a rhythm of the hours, based on a seven a day schedule: 6a, 9a, 12p, 3, 6, 9, 12. Most of us our students, so usually we are only able to be together praying at 6a, but whenever we are together or alone, we pray at these times. Two of us have been trying to learn more about the rotation of the Psalter in the Hours, because right now we are simply praying as we feel best.

We took our attic and made into a sancuary, taking off our shoes and coming together once a week on Wednesday to pray and worship the Holy One together. This we do with music, with words, and with silence, and with bread and wine. Sometimes there is leader, sometimes we pray as best, but all things to the grace of the Spirit.

There's a tension between our internal community that we seek and the external community which we seek to build. There are 3 women and 4 men in the house, and the they meet separately each week. But we also, (so far, monthly) hold a Love Feast at our house in which we invite the neighborhood and anyone else to simply share food and love. This is a tradition of the Moravian Church, but it is based on the vein of Acts 2, and on the tradition of communal worship and fellowship throughout the Church.

But it has been hard to reach out to our neighbors. One thing, 5 of us are students and we have so little time to actually spend with our neighbors that we wish we weren't in school sometimes. Our next door neighbors are gay coke-addicts who recently beat up our other neighbor whose grandmother gives us peatnut butter and oats. Our other neighbor is a Satanist who mocks us because our coke-addict friends take advantage of our generosity. We are trying to pursue reconciliation between our friends.

In addition to this, we are pursuing ways to live in the Kingdom of G-d within this American culture, dominated by consumerism-fueld oppression and wastfulness. To this end, we "rescue" much of our food (that is, we find it in the trash) and we find creative alternatives to our products. Like sharing a vegetable garden with our neighbor and having a compost pile. We also make clothes and granola, and we'd like to learn to make other things from the scraps of this society.

I think this is all part of the mentality that the Kingdom is one where the most powerless and marginalized of Society are actuallt the one's called Blessed in This Kingdom: the poor. We take our inspiration from the Father and Mothers of Church striving for the face of Christ in the poor. People like St John Chrysostom and Clare of the Poor Clares.

Together we try to find meaning and order to our weeks, living liturgically. We have a tradition of having pancakes on Sabbath morning and making "Indeed" for the L-rd's Day. ("Indeed" is simply a sweet baked good, like a cinnamon roll. The name comes from the liturgy of the West: "Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.) And we are pursuing what types of fasting rhythm we might take, if, as the Didache teaching, we shall fast on Wed and Fri, this would coincide with our prayer times.

However, all of this is under the subjugation of Christ and His Church, and so we offer it to you for your praise and admonishion.

we are yours faithfully and utterly in Messiah our L-rd.


timothy flanders and the Gold Street House

#2 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 27 September 2008 - 11:25 PM

I am unaware of any other postings to this effect...


No offence, but you didn't look very hard, did you? :)

I'm confused. I this group you speak of Orthodox, or are you one of these new post modern protestant groups that are just making things up as you go along? Because if you were Orthodox, you'd probably know that monastic presences in urban areas are not unknown, quite canonical, and generally healthy. They have a few challenges that monks and nuns in remote monasteries don't have, and a few advantages that the others don't.

The Orthodox have had monasteries in urban areas almost as long as we've had monasticism.

#3 Paul Cowan

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 12:53 AM

There are 6 Orthodox Parishes in Grand Rapids Michigan of several jurisdictions. I strongly encourage your group if not just yourself to visit any one of these priests and get his counsel on your group then do what he says.

We are all subject to authority and ultimately the authority of Christ. But as young as we are, and I say young includes those of us that are younger than 200 years old, we look towards the established Church for guidance. I commend your efforts to reach out to the poor, I caution you in How you do it. If you are going to use liturgical methods, learn them first with the guidance of a true priest and do ONLY what he says.

Otherwise you run the risk of what happened in the gospel.

Acts 19:13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We[a] exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.
15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”
16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered[b] them, and prevailed against them,[c] so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.


Paul

#4 Andrew Don

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 05:57 PM

Congratulations and may God bless you on your journey of discipleship. I am reminded by your post of my Catholic Worker days. Connecting with a parish is a good idea because you need not reinvent the wheel and can avoid a lot of the pitfalls in the minefield of intentional community.

#5 Tim Flanders

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 09:29 PM

Thank you for your thoughts, brothers. We are a combination of Orthodox and non-Orthodox, protestant and non. And so we are both making it up and trying to learn. That's the reason I posted this whole thing, in fact. Yes, two of us are connected with one of the parishes here and we are seeking the guidance of our priest.

Does anyone have suggestions as to who in history might we study more, at least in terms of urban monasticism?

#6 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 10:01 PM

I suggest you contact the monastics at Mercy House. You don't get much more urban than New York City, lower east side.

You might also want to talk with the monastics at New Skete. Although controversial, they are the closest thing to what you seem to be attempting to do in creating a "mixed" monastic environment.

Herman

#7 Paul Cowan

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 10:02 PM

And so we are both making it up and trying to learn.


I guess that was the point of my post. You should not be making it up. If you are looking into becoming a mission of a jurisdiction in your area, you need the approval of the local Bishop. Otherwise, you should be following the instructions of your priest. The best way to do that is to have the community attend the local parish and go it alone in the group home.

You can live by example and of course pray together, but when it coes to you using the wine and bread, be careful brother you do not profane the divine gifts.

and with bread and wine.

ONLY the clergy may disseminate the Holy Gifts.

Forgive me. I don't know anything about your group. I just "hear" what you are doing as potentially dangerous.

Paul

#8 C. Kraker

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 12:14 AM

Paul sent a private message to both Tim and I and I responded, then read through some of these responses... and decided to post here what I said to Paul. Also, I wanted to say that we are not seeking to be any official Orthodox entity and that we are in fact seeking out guidance and suggestions from people who have done this for years and years and years. Thanks so much for all of your suggestions!



Paul - First off, thank you so much for writing! I really, really appreciate how you worded what you have (it was apparent that you are speaking in love) and what you have shared.

You were correct in guessing that both Tim and I are involved in the house that Tim wrote about. What wasn't made clear, I think, is that the house and our pursuit of the Orthodox Church are somewhat separate. Tim and I have been attending St. George Orthodox Church here in Grand Rapids as well as participating in an adult Bible Study and an Inquirers' class, both lead by Fr. John Winfrey. We actually had the Most Rev. Metropolitan Philip Saliba preside over the Divine Liturgy last Sunday at St. George.

All of that to say that we are pursuing Orthodoxy through the actual, established Orthodox Church.

The house, on the other hand, is a group of individuals who are seeking to pursue God in the way we live our lives in all aspects. We all attend different churches and are really just getting settled into what God is doing with this. We've actually talked with Fr. John about the house as well and will continue to do so.

I must admit, I haven't actually read what Tim wrote about the house so I'm not sure what else to cover here (I have to leave so I don't have time to read it but I wanted to drop this line first) but I know we would both absolutely love to continue this conversation with you about what your experience was, what we're seeing, and where it is that God is leading.

Thank you again for your message - getting this has actually made me feel more welcome to this community here at Monachos.net.

-Carolyn Kraker

#9 Rick H.

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 11:53 PM

It's been about four years, I wonder how the house is doing?

#10 Tim Flanders

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 12:41 AM

Hey Rick,

The house was a success! I lived in it for two years, and then it became a women's house that went on for one more year and then people were moving on/getting married.

It definitely helped lead me to become Orthodox, and now I'm pursuing REAL monasticism and am thankful for this experience of community. I would like to pursue this type of thing in the future, if God would so will.

in Christ,

Timothy

#11 Rick H.

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 11:01 AM

That's great Tim. Thanks!




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