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Does ROCOR ordain unmarried men?


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#1 Gregorios Dunn

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 02:44 AM

The title says it all. I have read the MP's statement saying unmarried men must not be ordained until they are 30 and then only after having completed a theological education which I was told that the canons of the Church say you have to be 30 before you are ordained to the priesthood regardless. So, does ROCOR ordain men to the diaconate at 25 if they are unmarried? Or if you are unmarried and seek to be ordained you need to either head to a monastery and hope you will be someday or get married or just forget it, it won't happen, if you're in ROCOR?

#2 Father David Moser

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 02:18 PM

ROCOR rarely ordains unmarried men beyond the rank of reader at any age. It does happen, however, in many of those situations there is usually some special circumstance that promotes such ordination. I can think of about 3 such persons off the top of my head and of those 3, 2 are now monastics and 1 is no longer among the clergy.

You have to remember that in the Russian tradition, once a man has been raised to the rank of subdeacon, he must remain as he is (married, or unmarried) and in the Greek tradition while subdeacons may marry, deacons may not. The life of an unmarried person living in the world is not easily supported within the Church even as a layman and to add the burden of ordination upon such a person is not lightly considered. In our society, I think that even 30 is much too young to assume that a person has settled into a celibate single life since it is not uncommon in these times for couples to be married at 40 and even 50 for the first time. So if you are "seeking ordination" (an issue in and of itself), whether in ROCOR or not, it is more than likely not going to happen until you are either married or a monastic.

Fr David

Edited by Father David Moser, 03 August 2011 - 07:23 PM.


#3 Gregorios Dunn

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 05:15 PM

The problem with that though is if you become a monastic, you may never be ordained to anything as they are two seperate things.

#4 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 05:35 PM

This is true. In fact one oft-given bit of advice for monastics by monastics: "Flee from women and bishops!" That is, try to avoid ordination if at all possible.

At any rate, the decision to priesthood is ultimately the bishop's to make, not really the individual. Most Orthodox seminaries stipulate that a degree may not necessarily lead to ordination or that ordination is not "guaranteed" upon graduation.

Herman the not-a-monastic Pooh

#5 Father David Moser

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 06:11 PM

The problem with that though is if you become a monastic, you may never be ordained to anything as they are two seperate things.


Which comes back to the separate issue of "seeking ordination". I would be wary of anyone "seeking ordination" - in my personal opinion (and since I'm not a bishop in this matter that doesn't usually count for much) the first disqualification for ordination to the priesthood is the desire to be ordained. A person who wants to be a priest is either 1. completely ignorant of what the priesthood is and so doesn't know what it means to be a priest or 2. understands the priesthood and yet is so filled with pride as to think that he can handle it. The best quality of a candidate for ordination is the desire to avoid it at all costs. - In my opinion.

Thus get married or don't; take monastic vows or don't in accordance with how God provides for you. If God wills that you will be a priest; married,monastic or celibate won't make any difference. OTOH if you jump into the priesthood on your own will, then it will become, at best, a heavy almost intolerable burden and at worst, the loss of your salvation and the salvation of those around you.

Fr David (who ran from the priesthood for about 5 years before he couldn't avoid it anymore)

#6 Gregorios Dunn

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 06:54 PM

Father bless. Please pray that I will always seek God's will and not my own..this dying to yourself thing is hard so please pray that I will truly seek His will and not mine.

#7 Anthony Stokes

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 01:11 PM

Metropolitan Jonah gave a talk this past weekend at my church's 10th anniversary celebrations, where he mentioned that there are really only two choices of lifestyles - marriage or monasticism. Basically, being single in the world all of your life is not really a great thing. His personal opinion was also that the choice is best made between the ages of 21-25, when our personal identity is not fully developed, and can be either molded together with a spouse in marriage, or in the monastery. Waiting too long to do either can create problems due to pride or a self-righteous attitude. This was just his personal experience and opinion.

Sbdn. Anthony

#8 Father David Moser

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 02:18 PM

Metropolitan Jonah gave a talk this past weekend at my church's 10th anniversary celebrations, where he mentioned that there are really only two choices of lifestyles - marriage or monasticism. Basically, being single in the world all of your life is not really a great thing.


Although I know many clergy who will agree with Metr Jonah - I disagree. I believe that it is possible and even preferable sometimes to live as a single person in the world. I know people who have done so quite successfully, both materially and more important spiritually. I think it is best to remain as you are until you are called into a different state. Monasticism is not the alternative to marriage (neither is marriage the alternative to monasticism) but rather both are callings. If one is not called, then why take on a burden that is not given to you by God, why put your hand to a plow that you do not own?

Yes, living as a single person in the world is difficult. Yes, it is not something that we commonly see. However, it can be done and has been done throughout the ages. The greatest difficulty in living as a single person in the world is that you do not have a "built in" support system (as one does in both marriage and monastic life). This is the greatest difficulty for we all need a support group around us. That means that the parish Church and local community becomes your "support group". That also means, btw, that those of us who are married and living in the world have to include our single friends in our lives and don't "freeze them out" as it were because they don't come as a pair. You are born a "single person living in the world" and until God calls you to something else, then it is best, imo, to remain so. Don't worry about what you aren't, but spend your time being who you are and living the life that God has given you today.

Fr David Moser

#9 Anthony Stokes

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 04:10 PM

He did add that he supports creating places for single people to live together (of the same gender, that is) under the guidance of a priest. Especially older women that might be widowers or divorced.

I didn't get to hear his second talk that day where he went more into depth on marriage, but we will be posting them on our website for those that might be curious.

Sbdn. Anthony

#10 Theodora E.

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 11:37 PM

Metropolitan Jonah gave a talk this past weekend at my church's 10th anniversary celebrations, where he mentioned that there are really only two choices of lifestyles - marriage or monasticism. Basically, being single in the world all of your life is not really a great thing. His personal opinion was also that the choice is best made between the ages of 21-25, when our personal identity is not fully developed, and can be either molded together with a spouse in marriage, or in the monastery. Waiting too long to do either can create problems due to pride or a self-righteous attitude. This was just his personal experience and opinion.

Sbdn. Anthony


I love Met. Jonah, but I'm going to have to disagree with him on this one. "Waiting too long"?! I know plenty of people (myself included) who've wanted very much to be married, but haven't met the right person. "Settling" and marrying just anyone so you can be married is a recipe for divorce. And then there's the person I know who wanted very much to be a monastic, but was turned away by at least one monastery.

#11 Theodora E.

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 11:38 PM

I didn't get to hear his second talk that day where he went more into depth on marriage, but we will be posting them on our website for those that might be curious.


Yes, the link, please.

#12 Father David Moser

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 11:55 PM

He did add that he supports creating places for single people to live together (of the same gender, that is) under the guidance of a priest. Especially older women that might be widowers or divorced.


This sounds like a good idea on the surface - and it does work for some people, I suppose - but it is not as great an idea as it might sound. A bunch of people living together as roommates is one thing - but an "intentional community" as proposed above is something quite different, and it is something that is much more difficult. I studied intentional communities in Social Psych and lived in a defacto community (didn't quite fit the full definition - but for all intents and purposes it was a community). Such an entity is almost harder to maintain than a marriage and more difficult to live in than a monastery. People who advocate such things are usually those who have never lived in one and so have no idea of what is entailed.

Fr David

#13 Alice

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 12:58 PM

I love Met. Jonah, but I'm going to have to disagree with him on this one. "Waiting too long"?! I know plenty of people (myself included) who've wanted very much to be married, but haven't met the right person. "Settling" and marrying just anyone so you can be married is a recipe for divorce. And then there's the person I know who wanted very much to be a monastic, but was turned away by at least one monastery.


Dear Theodora,

Perhaps he meant that in a more perfect society, the average age of marriage would once again become of that age? Just wondering...It would be very hard to get married in that age group today for a myriad of reasons.

I married at 22, right out of college at a time when the average age for marriage had been slowly rising and the idea of going to college and not immediately starting a career rather than a family made me an anomaly. When my children reached that age, they were dumbfounded at how my husband and I could have been that young. I remember my best friend being just as dumbfounded that her Greek born mother was married at 18!

If any one has ever watched 'All in the Family' (from the 1970's), they might find it anomalous that Gloria and her husband are around 22 years old, and that since he is studying for his Master's, they are both living in her parent's home. Such set ups were acceptable then and not uncommon, and made early marriage an easier thing to do. I don't know anyone that would do that today, sadly. Indeed, when a young married couple's peers are not on the same page, that is truly a recipe for a disasterous marriage.

#14 Anthony Stokes

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 01:46 PM

Dear Theodora,

Perhaps he meant that in a more perfect society, the average age of marriage would once again become of that age? Just wondering...It would be very hard to get married in that age group today for a myriad of reasons.


To clarify, His Beatitude was saying that he thought the ideal age would be 21-25, from his own experience of becoming a monk in his 30s.

Sbdn. Anthony

Edited by Anthony Stokes, 05 August 2011 - 01:50 PM.
added emphasis


#15 Anthony Stokes

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 01:50 PM

Fr. David,
Intentional communities were mentioned in the talk, and if I remember correctly, Metropolitan Jonah said that they usually don't work. What he was referring to was something along the lines of 4 older widows or divorced women from the same church renting a house together, sharing the chores and bills, and praying together, all under the watch of a priest, but not in an intentional community kind of way.

The same thing could be done by college kids, or those right out of college that are still figuring out what they want to do.

Sbdn. Anthony

#16 Father David Moser

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 02:21 PM

he was referring to was something along the lines of 4 older widows or divorced women from the same church renting a house together, sharing the chores and bills, and praying together, all under the watch of a priest, but not in an intentional community kind of way.


I"m not sure how that differs from an intentional community - especially with that special provision "all under the watch of a priest". Now, every parish priest "watches over" the members of his flock, whether married or not, whether living alone or with others. But to make a special provision that this should be done "under the watch of a priest" somehow makes this a little more than just "4 (people) renting a house together..." But the M. Jonah is a monastic and so sees things primarily in a monastic way. If a local parish wanted to do something to help folks in this situation, then a better choice would be to purchase a house/small apartment bldg (say a 4 plex) which could then be rented at cost to single members of the Church who need a place to live. If a "community" develops on its own, then fine, but it can't be imposed from the outside (even if it is just the parish priest "watching over" the place in a special way).

Fr David

#17 Anthony Stokes

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 04:56 PM

I think I'm going to stop trying to summarize His Beatitude's talk and try to get the recordings up for those that might want to listen. I'm afraid I might not be giving the correct information.

Sbdn. Anthony

#18 Anthony Stokes

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 06:58 PM

If you are interested in hearing Met. Jonah in his own words, the recordings are available here.

www.stmaximus.org/anniversary.html

Sbdn. Anthony

#19 Salaam Yitbarek

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 02:25 PM

What I like about Met. Jonah, from the speeches I've heard him make, his that he speaks openly and frankly and tends to 'brainstorm' when he talks. This is good. Often, while we struggle to package our words just right to aim for completeness and avoid speculation or misinterpretation, we end up saying nothing at all!

So I think, Anthony, you're right to simply point to his recording and let people hear his speech in its whole context!!

#20 Rick H.

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 03:31 PM

often, while we struggle to package our words just right to aim for completeness and avoid speculation or misinterpretation, we end up saying nothing at all!


AMEN brother




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