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Chevetogne Monastery in Belgium – Catholic, Orthodox, or both?

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#1 Michael 'Anthony' Cornett

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Posted 27 July 2011 - 08:04 PM


Following yesterday's Great Vespers service, my priest handed me a copy of the PRAXIS magazine published through the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. He asked me to check it out and see if there might be anything worthy of including in next week's bulletin. I wasn't familiar with the publication, but apparently it's specific purpose is regarding religious education ministry.

Last night, thumbing through it, I happened upon a very intriguing article titled "East Meets West" by Rev. Dr. Miltiades B. Efthimiou, retired Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In it, he discusses a basic overview of the Chevetogne Monastery in Belgium, as well as his personal experience visiting it.

For those interested, a copy of the article can be read here: http://www.ocl.org/i...tp_preview=true

I had never heard of the monastery before, and the uniquely described way of life, combining a Benedictine Abbey w/ a supposed Orthodox Byzantine monastery, peaked my interest. It clearly states that the Benedictine Catholics worship separately from their Orthodox brethren, but both unite for an agape meal, as well as other conversations and research projects within their vast library. Certain red flags were going off, so I decided to look into this monastery a little further. In any other sources I've been able to find, I don't read of any claims to being Orthodox. It appears as though they are Byzantine/Eastern Rite Catholic. I've seen the number 27 related to how many monks are at the entire complex, and have read about half are Byzantine Rite, half Benedictine.

I wouldn't imagine any bishop would allow Orthodox clergy to concelebrate with Eastern Rite Catholics in the Katholikon. I know that Catholics are able to distribute communion to Orthodox, Coptic, and sometimes even Anglican parishioners, but that we Eastern Orthodox are prohibited from either partaking of, or distributing the Eucharist to anyone that is either not Eastern Orthodox, or in good standing.

I truly don't want this to get into some ecumenism thread, because it really isn't my intention. I am really just seeking clarity on whether or not this monastery truly is a catholic/Orthodox hybrid, or if some faithful are seemingly confused by the smoke & mirrors of a Byzantine Rite Liturgy?

After reading the article, and having it distributed by the GOARCH, particularly written by a retired priest of such high regard, I sense that there might be much confusion upon its reception that is worth clearing up.

I contacted Fr. Miltiades, and he seems to be under the impression that canonical Orthodox clergy come in and serve for Sunday Divine Liturgy & Feast Days. I asked for further clarification on whether or not the supposed Byzantine Rite Catholic monks partake of the Eucharist at this Liturgy, as well as Orthodox. I have yet to hear back, but eagerly await a reply. I have also contacted the publisher asking for any possible clarification on some of these matters, and he quickly replied that he would look into it.

Being a magazine that thrives on the ministry of religious education, I would hope that such an article can be cleared up and/or resolved. Either that, or my undiscerning eye & brain is potentially functioning at half-wit...which wouldn't be the first or last time ;)

Perhaps some of you here have some more perspective or information regarding this community that may clear some of this up?

Thank you,
Michael Anthony Cornett

Edited by Michael 'Anthony' Cornett, 27 July 2011 - 08:07 PM.

#2 Paul Cowan

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Posted 28 July 2011 - 04:11 AM

I didn't see anything in the article about sharing communion or feast days.

Every Sunday, a Mass is held in the Catholic basilica and a Divine Liturgy at the Byzantine Orthodox Katholikon. Roman Catholics attend and receive the Eucharist in their church, and the Orthodox attend and receive the Eucharist in their church. Then the parishioners and visitors, who come not only from the surrounding areas of Belgium but from neighboring countries, go to the common refec*tory to break bread in the Name of their common Lord and Savior — a most uplifting experience of diverse people coming together in love.

#3 Michael 'Anthony' Cornett

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Posted 28 July 2011 - 05:37 AM

Forgive me for not being more clear. The monastery appears to be entirely Catholic...albeit Benedictine Rite on one half, and Byzantine Rite on the other. The article portrays that it is Orthodox, and that Orthodox clergy serve, and Orthodox faithful partake of the Mystical Supper. I suppose that was my point of confusion/contention. In all of my findings thus far, it is Byzantine Rite clergy who serve, Byzantine Rite monks were participate, etc. The retired Protopresbyter who authored the article makes it seem as if half of the monastery is Orthodox, not just Byzantine, or Eastern. That's what I can't seem to find answers to or get clarity on.

#4 Olga



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Posted 28 July 2011 - 06:46 AM

To add to the confusion, the choir at Chevetogne has become well-known for its recordings of Slavonic hymnody.

#5 Kosta


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Posted 28 July 2011 - 06:46 AM

The reason Fr Mitiliades is confused is because this is precisely why this monastery exists- to confuse the Orthodox. The benedictine monks decide amongst themselves which rite they will serve. Actually in a benedictine monastery, most likely the Abbot picks and chooses which of his monks will belong to which rite; as benedictine abbbots have complete and sole control over their monasteries. Its written right in their website:

The community of Chevetogne was founded in 1925 by a pioneer of ecumenism in the Roman Catholic Church, Dom Lambert Beauduin. Ever since its foundation the Abbey strives to be a center of prayer, of meeting and theological study.
The monks are liturgically organized in two groups, one celebrating according to the Western tradition, the other according to the Eastern Byzantine tradition. This has been the fundamental option from the very beginning, the two rites having been adopted for ecumenical reasons, in view of the reconciliation between the christian East and West....

The Monastery encourages non-papists of all stripes to attend their services and possibly (highly likely) to commune:

From the very beginning the community of Chevetogne has been committed to learning from the Christian East, particularly from the Russian Orthodox Church. The Liturgy is celebrated mainly in Slavonic, and sometimes in Greek.
Close relations with the Oriental Orthodox Churches, with the Anglican Communion and the Protestant Churches allow the monks in their daily prayer to be with all the disciples of Christ in the common supplication for the communion between the Churches.

So the (benedictine) monks are dedicated to learning the eastern tradition. Obviously the eastern side is not an Orthodox group or it would have said the Chevetogne community are dedicated to learning from each other.

Edited by Olga, 28 July 2011 - 06:50 AM.
Adding quote boxes for ease of comprehension

#6 Thomas Brunson

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Posted 28 July 2011 - 11:31 PM

I have heard of this monastery quite awhile ago and I think it is Roman Catholic as someone stated with Eastern rite and Benedictine monks. I have always followed something an Orthodox monk told me when it comes to these situations. He said if there is any question whether Orthodox should participate, and in this case there is, then do not participate. There are plenty of Orthodox Churches and Monasteries that you can go and attend services and receive the Holy Eucharist without question or hesitation or fear of being lead to believe something that turns out not to be true. +Thomas

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