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Small details from Mt Athos


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#1 Paul Cowan

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 07:41 PM

I hope those that have been and have seen first hand will offer some of the finer points about life on Athos. I was reminscing today and read the Friends of Mount Athos website and came across this passage.

Monks and pilgrims usually eat together in the refectory (trapeza), sometimes at separate tables. Meat is not eaten; but fish is regular fare for feasts, and sometimes on other days too. Otherwise the diet is largely made up of bread, olives, vegetables, rice, pasta, soya dishes, salad, cheese, and fruit. A glass of wine is usually available, but on fast days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and longer periods before major feasts) monks abstain from wine, oil, and dairy products.


What caught my eye was the part about cheese and dairy products. If the only females on the mountain are cats and chickens, where do they get the cream for the cheese and other dairy products? I remember at least 2 if not 3 monasteries that served cheese with meals and St. Panteleimon had a white cream sauce over pilaf.

I hope this thread will open up into more of a reflection on personal experiences and not a text book answer to how one has "heard" life is or should be.

While in Karyes there were hundreds of cats. Most of them congregated around the bakery. And ohhh, what bread they made!!!

It has been 18 months now since my return and I still relive my visit as if it were just this morning. I have finished my diary, but am still working on the pictures. I am not really tech savvy and my wife when she is able tries to help me get it all sorted out. I really want to share this with you all, but between all the hyperlinks, hundreds of pictures and learning HTML all is very slow.

Please do share stories of things that were personal to you while you visited. Things like pondering who and when the creek bed under the road between Karyes and Iveron was built up with hand laid cut stone.

Aching to go back,
Paul

#2 Vasiliki D.

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 12:00 AM

I have a story to share (and obviously it is not mine).

Our fellowship leader, Dr. X, went to Mount Athos last year and stayed with his Spiritual Father, Father Y. Father Y and X went to a Vesper service (?? I think it was a vesper) to a neighbouring Monastery with the little monastery jeep.

What they didnt realise is that the jeep's fuel tank had run to empty. So, on the return, Dr X. (who was driving) noticed that the tank was empty and that they had another 1-2 hours to drive back (with no fuel) and that it was not enough and that it was very dark. Dr X was concerned because it was late and he mentioned to Father Y that they had no fuel. Apparantly, Father Y responded with a calm and relaxed attitude that the Virgin Mary always looks after her chidlren ...

Dr. X, told us that he saw the fuel tank gauge go from right on empty to a full tank of fuel in front of his eyes - as he was driving - and as soon as Father Y had said that the Panagia would take care of it ...

I know Dr X personally. He is a respected and serious member of the community and a Doctor who has 3 clinics ... so, when he was telling us this miracle ... I not only believe him - I also saw the "look" in his face of a person who had witnessed something that was not of this world.

This happened last year - 2008 in Mount Athos. Are these the sort of experiences you want to hear Paul? If so, I have heaps more I can share.

#3 Alice

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 03:23 AM

Dear Vasiliki,

That is such an awesome story!!!

(I thought that the pseudonym of Dr. 'X' was cute--it almost sounded James Bond like!)

You said that you have many more stories. Please share some more....

With love in the risen Christ,
Alice :-)

#4 Paul Cowan

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 04:23 AM

Are these the sort of experiences you want to hear Paul? If so, I have heaps more I can share.


Of course the thread is open to all stories of the Holy Mountain. What I was originally intending was to hear not so much about miracles per se, (not that we can ever have too many) but about something that touched the heart of a pilgrim while there. I don't want to pry into someones private memories of their visit, but something that stood out in significance that might not otherwise be written down somewhere.

For example; when I was looking over the balcony of Simon Petra, I don't recommmend all do this, I noticed a large bag being thrown over the side from the refectory crashing with a thunderous boom to the rocks below. Within minutes, seagulls were swooping in in formation as well coreographed as any air traffic controller could have done to eat the refuse thrown down to them. Have you ever seen seagulls from above looking down on them as their flight patterns bring them into a landing? Beautiful birds. Picturesque scene.

While at St. Panteilemon's I had the chance to walk into the bell tower. (I love the bells) Much like a lighthouse from the inside stairwell. I was allowed to stand under "the big one". It was enormous and had the priveldge to hear it sing the next morning. To leave this place was a horizontal ladder leading to one of the main churches. It was precarious to say the least walking on it.

Stuff like that.
Perhaps another thread could be started on Miracles of the Holy Mountain?

Paul

#5 Alice

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 03:22 PM

Dear Paul,

Perhaps the thread can be called 'Memories and Miracles from the Holy Mountain'.

The beautiful moments you shared are also miracles in a way. They are miracles of the beauty of God's creations and His world, and also of another time and place which was simpler and more in tune with God.

In Christ,
Alice :-)

#6 Fr Seraphim (Black)

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 10:05 AM

Dear Paul,

Simply to keep to your original question; the yogurt and other dairy products are brought in from the islands and the mainland. While I lived at Stavronikita, at which time the boats were much, much smaller, and the entire life-style was simplier (for instance, to go from one monstery to another, you either walked, took a donkey or if the weather permitted took one of the boats, which were much like the fishing boats one still sees at Nea Rodi, and Ierrisos). Most of our dairy products came from the island directly across from us: Thassos.

Last time I was on the Holy Mountain I was determined to keep to my 'former' ways and walked from Monastery to Monastery and indeed walked around the entire penninsula three times. Everytime a taxi or jeep or whatever passed me, leaving me covered in dust, the passengers would be peering out the back windows wondering to themselves...

Alas, some feel otherwise, but every Father I spoke with who lived on Athos during the epoch I knew lamented the roads, the endless construction of new roads etc. At Stavronikia we had one donkey - which has now been replaced by several jeeps and a fire truck!

Everytime I re-read the "Contemporary Ascetics of Mount Athos" (the beautiful and inspiring two-volume set published by the St. Herman Brotherhood) I hang my head and lament.

Nevertheless, the Holy Mountain is the Holy Mountain - those who seek the wondorous life-giving asceticism of the former days need only journey north to the second 'To Perivoli tis Panagias': Romania.

#7 Paul Cowan

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 10:44 PM

Thank you Fr. Seraphim. I agree; walking is a must for anyone going to the Holy Mountain. Here is an excerpt from soon to come (I still hope) diary. This is a portion of my 3rd day on the Mountain and having lost the ability to walk took the bus to Xeropotamou Monastery.

Being a pilgrim (walking) should be a requisite for visiting this place. We returned in the bus at 30 miles per hour and passed by everything that was important to me on the way. No one noticed the many quartz veins in the rock or the streams as we splashed through them, or the loud bumble bees, multi-colored butterflies, ancient ruins, the “angels” singing, fresh chestnuts, very old fig trees or the sea hitting the rocks 200 meters below. What makes Athos beautiful cannot be experienced in a vehicle. I was very sad for the others in the bus as they talked to themselves and were oblivious to the Mountain and all it had to offer as we passed by even the wild beets at breakneck speeds.


Of course everything listed above is more spelled out in the diary. Is that enough of a teaser?

Paul




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