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Going to Mount Athos in early July and could use guidance and advice

holy mountain mount athos

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#1 markeperk

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Posted 10 February 2015 - 01:36 AM

Hi everyone,

 

This forum has been incredibly helpful thus far - thank you! I am planning a trip to Mount Athos on the first week of July. I realize that the timing is less than ideal, since the weather will be very warm and there will be many pilgrims during this time of the year. But it's about the only time that I can make it work. In any case, I am just about to send my request letters to 3 different monasteries to request lodging (as a non-orthodox person, I'm only allowed to be there for 3 nights and at separate monasteries) and am trying to decide the best use of my time. I've been leaning toward Vatopedi, Osiou Grigoriou and Dionysiou. What do you think? For any that have been there, how would you arrange your pilgrimage if you were to do it again knowing what you know now? I am very interested in climbing the Holy Mountain and was hoping to do that on my last day (or second to last day) leaving from Dionysiou? Is this feasible?

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

 

Thank you,

Mark



#2 Michał

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 01:04 PM

From what I was told if you manage to enter Athos do not always are strictly observed. If the monks agree you may stay longer.



#3 markeperk

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 04:01 PM

Good to know Michal. Thank you! It would be great to stay longer, however, based on my conversation with Lolis at the Pilgrim office, I'll plan on abiding by their time limit. If you have any recommendations on where to stay and things to try and fit in during this limited time, it would be greatly appreciated.

Best, Mark 



#4 Paul Cowan

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 11:41 PM

If you are going to try to climb the mountain, I would encourage you to stay at or near St. Anne's Skete or even St. Paul's monastery. It's one mile above sea level and will take a full day to get up there not to mention coming back down. I would encourage you to stay on one side of the mountain or the other so you do not waste time on the road walking (I DO encourage you to walk between monasteries rather than take the expensive taxi). You will spend close to 4 hours just getting to Vatopedi from Daphne then that much more time coming back to the west side to Grigoriou.

 

Are you planning to see anything specific at your chosen locations? Xeropotamo has the largest piece of the Holy cross in the world (also on the west side).

 

Paul



#5 markeperk

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 10:27 PM

Paul,

 

The questions you are bringing up are making me realize how much I need to do to prepare. I'm really starting from scratch here - so your comments on time spent walking, what to see, etc really help. Primarily, I'm looking for a spiritual experience just being there and seeing and experiencing as much as I can while I'm there. The other thing on my list was definitely climbing Athos. I don't mind walking or hiking and I'm in pretty good shape and fairly fast.

 

Anyway, what would you recommend for someone who is very unfamiliar with the faith and going solo? As you mentioned, perhaps Vatopedi isn't the best choice if I'm planning on Grigoriou and Dionysius the other days. I guess the best question is if you were in my shoes, what would you do? Any recommendations on what to read and advice on how to prepare would be great as well. So far, I've been just scouring the web trying to learn more, but there's a lot and its a bit overwhelming and foreign to me.

 

Much appreciation in advance,

 

Mark



#6 Paul Cowan

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 03:05 AM

First since you are in Arizona already, go spend the weekend at St. Anthonys Monastery in Florence AZ and talk to the Holy Fathers there. Its only an hour southwest of you.

 

Ask yourself if you want a buffet or a gourmet meal. I as you wanted to fit in as much as possible while I was there. I got more than the minimum days allowed so had more time to visit. Being more restrained you need to pick wisely. During the slow season you might convince a House to allow you stay another day or so, but being the high season as you said, non-Orthodox are not treated the same and will be ushered off the mountain quicker than an Orthodox will be (just being honest).

 

Have you read the other threads on Mt Athos and the links from elsewhere on this website? All great information. I posted my experience somewhere in the milieu of threads back in 2007-2008.

 

Are you going alone? or with a partner/group? Even with reservations, if the monastery is full, it is full and they will not let you in and then you are screwed for the night and scrambling for a place to sleep. not that you will anyway with all that snoring all around you. HAHAHA

 

I assume you have been to the FOMA website? I can't seem to paste anything here anymore so I can't send you any links. With 3 days to work with and 1 of them is climbing the mountain, I would encourage you to stay at St. Anne's Skete or St. Paul Monastery the first day, climb the second and stay at Magista Lavra the third day. Or in reverse...It will take the boat 4-6 hours to get to St. Anne's from Ouranopolis (basically, most of your first day) and then if you leave from Magista lavra on day 3 it will take a taxi(s) 2-3 hours to get you back over to Daphne for your return boat.

 

I would prefer to encourage you to pick 1 monastery as your base of ops and come and go from there. That is if you truly want a "religious experience" and not just a rushed tourist trip. Please do first talk to the fathers at St. Anthony!!! The holy elder is from Vatopedi as I recall.

 

Paul



#7 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 04:40 AM

Just as a heads up, you'll need a blessing for a weekend at St. Anthony's if you aren't Orthodox. Likewise for time spent at Xeropotamou, but I can't speak for the others, except for perhaps Philotheou and maybe St. Andrew Skete. Some great advice already given. My question would be: If you aren't Orthodox, why do you want to go, other than to sight see? I mean it in the most genuine manner. If you are seeking spiritual counsel, have you sought it locally first? The recommendation of visiting St. Anthony's is a great one. It will do much to quell any loose ends in terms of expectations. Mt. Athos is a long ways to go without a plan. Especially as a non-Orthodox, a guide-less mission might lead to more disappointments than otherwise. I recommend calling St. Anthony's if you are able to make that visit ahead of time. If you have a blessing to stay, try to arrange a time to meet with Geronda Paisios, perhaps during one of his confession blocks. Let the guest master or bookstore clerk know your purpose for coming, whether it is to seek counsel before going to the Holy Mountain, or whatever it may be. Let them know you are not Orthodox. These things will prepare them and yourself for a more guided journey. If Philotheou, Xeropotamou, St. Andrew Skete (those connected to St. Anthony's) are not recommended to visit for you at this time, they (or Geronda Paisios) may have a better recommendation for you, and perhaps even a direct connection for you to more easily make the journey once on the Mountain.

 

As a sidenote, and slight correction to Paul Cowan, Geronda Ephraim, the spiritual Father of St. Anthony's, came from Philotheou, but his spiritual brother headed Vatopedi. Geronda Ephraim isn't an English speaker, and those pilgrims are typically directed to the other abbot, Geronda Paisios. Geronda Ephraim's spiritual children are the abbots/spiritual fathers of St. Andrew Skete (Fr. Ephraim), Philotheou (Fr. Lukas? I could be wrong), and Xeropotamou (Fr. Iosiph). Fr. Lukas gave a wonderful homily outdoors overlooking the beautiful mountain side and sea when I stayed at Philotheou. Fr. Isidoros (https://lessonsfroma...nt-of-holiness/) was also there, and many had spoken about his blessed clairvoyance. 


Edited by Anthony Cornett, 14 February 2015 - 04:54 AM.


#8 Paul Cowan

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 04:09 PM

Thank you for the clarification Anthony. I knew the elder didn't speak English and was from Athos but I was shooting in the dark on the rest.



#9 markeperk

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Posted 16 February 2015 - 07:27 PM

Thank you both for your great replies. I have been really busy over the weekend, am going over the information you both have posted and will respond more thoughtfully once I get a second to go through the information that you've already posted and ask further considerations. Thank you for your guidance thus far.






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