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Living in an isolated mountain cabin as an Orthodox?


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#21 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 12:30 PM

I absolutely disagree.

 

Rather than mention my own experience of people attaining to theosis, I should have mentioned that the Holy Fathers make it clear that salvation and union with God are possible for the married layman in the world and the monk in the monastery alike. St Anthony of Optina stresses this.



#22 Olga

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 12:38 PM

Rather than mention my own experience of people attaining to theosis, I should have mentioned that the Holy Fathers make it clear that salvation and union with God are possible for the married layman in the world and the monk in the monastery alike. St Anthony of Optina stresses this.

 

It is not just the Fathers who say this. The Church itself has glorified countless non-monastic saints, men and women alike.



#23 Gregorik

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 02:09 PM

Rather than mention my own experience of people attaining to theosis, I should have mentioned that the Holy Fathers make it clear that salvation and union with God are possible for the married layman in the world and the monk in the monastery alike. St Anthony of Optina stresses this.

It is not just the Fathers who say this. The Church itself has glorified countless non-monastic saints, men and women alike.

 

In my current understanding:

 

Salvation == easily possible for the married layperson.

Theosis == hard to believe it is practically attainable outside a monastic setting.

 

I need to deepen my Patristic studies. What you say is obviously irreconcilable with my Dispensationalist and Evangelical training. But I'm not here to polemicize, but to study.



#24 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 03:16 PM

Dear Gregorik,

 

"Salvation == easily possible for the married layperson.

Theosis == hard to believe it is practically attainable outside a monastic setting."

I am not saying this as trying to state the Church's teaching rather my personal understanding thereof. As far as I understand it our understanding as Orthodox is that the two are the same thing, Salvation is not apart from Theosis as it is not a legal understanding of being saved but a complete one. Certainly the Saints have attained Theosis whether or not they were/are monastics.

 

Regarding the issues of your first post, you live (I understand alone) in a fairly remote cabin, firstly I must ask do you  regularly attend the liturgy and are part of a local church? If you manage this then you are living remotely and without as much outside distraction and are able to "give more time to God" than a lot of other people, to me this is a normal life as it were not a strictly monastic one, though I do understand the idea of being a quasi-hermit. I would say that a calling to be a monastic is a separate issue to this, should you feel that you should become a monastic then make sure you are speaking  to abbots of monasteries or sketes that you feel you may wish to go to in order to practice monasticism (which I believe you are doing) and listen to their advice. In my understanding at first you would visit and decide where it was right for you to go, then become a novice for as many years as you and your spiritual father thought necessary before commitment to the monastic life. Don't try to do everything at once trying to go from being a laymen living remotely and in a sense monasticily (but remember we are all called to monasticism in our daily lives in one degree or another)  to being a hermit which is normally for those who are advanced in the monastic life. In all things use discernment, pray, and trust/have faith in God. This is only advice which I offer.

 

In Christ.

Daniel,



#25 Gregorik

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 04:08 PM

As far as I understand it our understanding as Orthodox is that the two are the same thing, Salvation is not apart from Theosis

 

Hello Daniel, thanks for the message. Yes, the two are the same in Orthodoxy: Justification is Sanctification. Which is something I find extremely worrying from a theological and Christological perspective. But I don't mean to trouble you or other readers with my Calvinistic sentiments. This is literally a 500 years old issue, ever since Philip Melanchthon, a disciple of Martin Luther, sent a copy of the newly formulated Augsburg Confession to Patriarch Joasaph of Constantinople -- and was mercilessly rejected.

 

you live (I understand alone) in a fairly remote cabin, firstly I must ask do you regularly attend the liturgy and are part of a local church

 

I actually own another, bigger house outside Budapest, right in the midst of the "world", unlike this cottage. But this topic shouldn't be about the details of my current living arrangements, I think, rather about the theological questions we rose. :) No, I don't currently go to a local church. Which would be RC in any case, there are no Orthodox churches here.


#26 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 05:51 PM

It is not just the Fathers who say this. The Church itself has glorified countless non-monastic saints, men and women alike.

 

Olga is quite correct: well-known examples are St Xenia of St Petersburg (a widow), St Matrona of Moscow (single who lived in Moscow), and St Nicholas Planas (a widower and father who lived all his life in a busy district of Athens).

 

In my current understanding


I don’t wish to be harsh but this expression may be telling. We do not have our own understanding; we acquaint ourselves with the doctrine and teaching of the Church.

 

Daniel is correct: salvation and theosis are one and the same thing for everyone.

 

Which is something I find extremely worrying from a theological and Christological perspective.

 

This gives cause for concern. How can someone who (presumably) received catechesis and at his reception into the Church renounced all erroneous and false doctrines and beliefs of his previous denomination say this of a basic doctrine of the Church?

 

But this topic shouldn't be about the details of my current living arrangements, I think, rather about the theological questions

 

The point is that how we arrange our life does have an impact on our spiritual life. For a neophyte to live in isolation and not go to church is fraught with danger.


Edited by Reader Andreas, 04 September 2014 - 05:59 PM.


#27 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 07:56 PM

to live in isolation and not go to church is fraught with danger.
 


For almost anyone.



#28 Ilaria

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 08:23 AM

So are Hungarians like me. That shouldn't exclude the possibility of candidness and warmth, especially in the area of spirituality.

One of the main features that kept Orthodoxy the way it is now is this kind of attitude towards the ways its flock is living a genuine Christian life. There are two major ways that conduct to salvation in our Orthodox Church: monasticism and marriage; the main reason maybe this: "It is not good for the man to be alone”. From these two main ‘roads’ derives two other branches celibacy (living alone in the world) or hermits (living alone in the wilderness). But because, again, it is not good for the man to be alone, those living alone have to be under Church blessing – going to the services, confessing and receiving Holy Communion on a regularly basis - under the guidance of their spiritual father.

Hermits are not people made-up by themselves. They are chosen from those who first lived a genuine monastic life; even so, they do attend the church weekly/monthly, for the Holy Liturgy and for the confessing and receiving of the Holy Communion.

Dear Gregorik, because you asked for advice, you have to reconsider your way; living apart from the church’s life – services and mysteries - even for a good reason, it is not an Orthodox way of life.

 

So, you shouldn’t consider these replies as a lack of warm but a loving warning; in this regard, I would ask all those who responded to your call to pray for you, so that God will help you finding a good spiritual father. Furthermore, you should take advantage of this solitude period and fervently pray to God and He will show you the way, provided that you ‘abandon’ yourself in His hands.



#29 Gregorik

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 09:25 AM

Thank you for clarifying a few things, Ilaria.

I grew a bit uncomfortable that this topic keeps focusing on me, but that is clearly the result of my admittedly dramatic first post. I'm not a hermit: I own a car and 2 houses, and had a girlfriend as recently as this Spring. I was baptised a Protestant, and am basically still a part of my Evangelical congregation; thus I've "barely dipped my toe" in Eastern Christianity at this time. I expect the next months to be my "make or break" with Orthodoxy, due to my planned visits to sketes all over Central Europe. I believe that sketes and their dwellers are at the very core of Orthodox spirituality. In my original post I've expressed the desire to hear from actual monastics anyway.

 

you should take advantage of this solitude period and fervently pray to God and He will show you the way, provided that you ‘abandon’ yourself in His hands.

 

A very good advice, thank you.



#30 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 10:36 AM

and am basically still a part of my Evangelical congregation

 

 How can this be if you are Orthodox?



#31 Ilaria

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 11:17 AM

This visit to the sketes is a wise plan; try to find an elder to whom you may speak. We all have had a time of seeking and I can tell from my or others experiences - it is a fruitful period. May God help and guide you!



#32 Father David Moser

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 01:54 PM

Since the image of Fr Averky has been raised, I feel like I need to clarify some.  I knew Fr Averky - long before he appeared on this forum (long before forums even existed and before there was an internet).  I count our friendship as an important and influential part of my life - but it wasn't always easy.  On this forum Fr Averky always presented quite well, he was indeed "outspoken" - or better yet forthright and plain-spoken, even blunt in what he said - however, he was also quite good natured and loved a certain amount of fun.  He had a way of saying things that made his point crystal clear and yet did not offend. He was, in many ways, well loved.  I am one of those who remember him fondly.  However, his internet presence is somewhat of a false picture.  While the qualities I just mentioned were quite real and present in him, in person, at times, he could be impatient, demanding, rude, and hurtful.  He could be self centered and careless of others.  I can tell you of the many times we laughed together, but also of the many times we yelled at each other.  The most important thing that I can tell you though was that near the end of his life - in his last weeks - he knew he was going to die (barring a miracle) and we spoke on the phone specifically to ask forgiveness of one another that we might part from this life in peace. 

 

People generally loved Fr A or hated him - very few were "lukewarm" about him.  I loved him and still pray daily for him.  Last time I was at his monastery, I went and sat at his grave and had a long talk with him.  I hope that as you go back and read his posts, you will be blessed by what he has said and give thanks to God that in his last year, he found this venue to communicate because now at least some of his rich commentary is preserved for those of us who remember him so well.

 

Fr David Moser



#33 Michał

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 04:00 PM

 I believe that sketes and their dwellers are at the very core of Orthodox spirituality. 

 

Not, not really. Monasticism is a path but not the only one and not the most glorious one. A path that is suitable for some, and for some - it isn't.



#34 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 04:17 PM

Lord gives abundant means for salvation to those living the monastic life and to those living in the status of a layperson alike. There is not a single person, no matter what his life’s situation may be, who would be deprived of the means of acquiring eternal blessings, for the Lord God wishes all to be saved—unmarried and married alike; withdrawn to a monastery, or dwelling in the lay state. Both to the one and to the other are given abundant means towards salvation!


There are various paths to salvation. St. Nicholas of Myra in Lycia went away into the wilderness in order to exercise himself in fasting and prayer, but the Lord did not bless him to stay there. Appearing to the saint, the Lord commanded him to go into the world: ‘That [the wilderness] is not the field in which you will bring Me fruit,” said the Lord to him. Neither did St. Taisia, St. Mary of Egypt, or St. Evdokia live in monasteries. It is possible to be saved everywhere, only do not leave the Saviour. Hold fast to Christ’s robe, and He will not leave you.


Once again, I repeat: I am not calling you into the monastery, and in the world there are many paths that lead to God and to one’s neighbour: This work is unquestionably holy—saving others, and to be saved.


Before you lie different paths: for some, the monastic way; but not all people are capable of going into a monastery; if a person doesn’t have this desire, he shouldn’t force himself. There is an expression: ‘White garments do not ruin you, and black ones by themselves do not save you.’ You can be saved in the world, only don’t forget the Lord, and keep His commandments according to your strength. The main thing is to prize the Orthodox faith and not to exchange it for any treasure of this world whatsoever.

 

St Anthony of Optina.

 

Monasteries are, many would say, the 'engine rooms' of Orthodoxy. From what I know of Russia and Cyprus, monasteries and parishes are closely linked, not least because it is very common for a parishioner to have a spiritual father who is in a monastery.


Edited by Reader Andreas, 05 September 2014 - 04:21 PM.


#35 Michał

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Posted 08 September 2014 - 08:51 AM

 From what I know of Russia and Cyprus, monasteries and parishes are closely linked, not least because it is very common for a parishioner to have a spiritual father who is in a monastery.

 

 

I think there is a trend for parishes and parish-priests becoming more monastic-like and for monasteries and monks to become more parish-like. I wouldn't be surprised if in future they blurred so that there would not be any formal differences except for large monastic centers like Athos, Pochayev etc.



#36 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 08 September 2014 - 12:20 PM

Such a trend is not very likely to be strong in Russia where it is unusual though not unknown for a hieromonk to be a parish priest as, indeed, is the case at one church we know in Moscow. Another possibility is the situation at our local church in Moscow which has a rector who is a hieromonk and two other priests who are married.



#37 Gregorik

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 06:34 PM

I was pulled over by a police jeep while driving today in the country; they fined me for $270. 

Frankly, it is things like these, among others, that do cement my decision to recede from "the elements of the world" (Paul of Tarsus) rather than embrace them even further, like lifelong laypeople do. If we think deep about it, the police is not on Christ's side at all. But they obviously reign over this culture and tend to abuse this fact.

 

Anyway, I don't mean to sound like a secular anarchist. Instead, I'd like to ask you about your opinion and knowledge on idiorrhythmic sketes, and if anyone thinks these are a "good" option. I know they still exist on Mt. Athos and other places, though they are less popular than they used to be centuries ago. (Yes, I will ask some of the monastics I'm in contact with; but as the No.1 Orthodox forum, I suppose such a question has a place here as well.)

 

 

To be perfectly clear on its meaning, Merriam-Webster says:

 

(Eastern Church) : self-regulating —used of (1) monks that live separately, hold property, work individually in supporting themselves, and though members of a monastery supervised by an elected council are not under direct daily supervision or (2) of monasteries so organized. Late Greek idiorrhythmos (from Greek idio- + rhythmos measured motion, measure, proportion) + English -ic


Edited by Gregorik, 14 September 2014 - 06:35 PM.


#38 Olga

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Posted 15 September 2014 - 12:00 AM

I was pulled over by a police jeep while driving today in the country; they fined me for $270. 

Frankly, it is things like these, among others, that do cement my decision to recede from "the elements of the world" (Paul of Tarsus) rather than embrace them even further, like lifelong laypeople do.

 

If you broke the law while driving and were fined according to the laws of the land, you simply have to deal with it, as we all do. It's unpleasant having to pay such fines, but the chastening will hopefully teach us to control ourselves better when behind the wheel.
 

 

If we think deep about it, the police is not on Christ's side at all. But they obviously reign over this culture and tend to abuse this fact.

 

Matthew 22: 15-21 comes to mind.



#39 Gregorik

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Posted 15 September 2014 - 08:54 AM

Matthew 22: 15-21 comes to mind.

 

So do Galatians 4:3,9 and Colossians 2:8,20.

 

"So we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elementary principles of the world... But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years."

 

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ... If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees such as, 'Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!'"



#40 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 15 September 2014 - 11:08 AM

Neither Galatians 4:3-9, nor Colossians 2:8-20 relate to observing the law of the land. Romans 13:1-5, however, has everything to do with it. One has to wonder at grumbling about a traffic violation being a motive for seeking out an idiorrhythmic skete.


Edited by Reader Andreas, 15 September 2014 - 11:08 AM.





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