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Want to become a monk...


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#41 Owen Jones

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Posted 12 December 2002 - 07:19 PM

One of the problems with comparing ourselves to the Apostles is that God had some very specific things in mind for them that they really could not get out of very easily, and the cultural environment was also very different than it is today. I am skeptical of expectations that God's will for a vocation would by quite so dramatically clear today. Also, there is precious little institutional guidance and support for such things today, particularly in the U.S. Many bishops are ambivalent about more monks and monasteries at best, since they tend to be a thorn in their side, and they compete for dollars rather than contribute to diocesan budgets. I think that making a connection to a monastery is an important aspect of Christian life, however. That connection might evolve into something more over time. Also, most ethnic Orthodox families in the U.S. want their sons to become successful businessmen and professionals, and would be crestfallen if informed that their son wanted to become a monk. And they want their daughters to be well educated and either become successful professionals or marry a good Greek boy with a business or a career. Also, the careerism in the clergy tends to create an insecurity on the part of many of our clergy who might feel like they are in competition with monks for the devotion of their flock. So they are not likely to encourage monasticism or provide guidance on how to explore this vocation. They would surely incur the wrath of the parents in their parish if they preached on the virtues of monasticism.

Again, I just think it's good practice to visit some monasteries and make a connection to a monastery that seems to be more or less stable and seems to demonstrate some competency. A lot of them have just attracted unstable, alienated people. They are usually happy to have people visit regularly. Sometimes you are invited to receive communion, sometimes not. The Athenite custom is to not permit converts who have not been baptised to even go beyond the narthex, a problem for some of us who were not baptised by our priests or have not yet been baptised, through no fault of our own. But that's not an insurmountable obstacle.

My caution is against wanting to become a monk because you feel lonely. If you feel lonely most of the time, you are going to feel just as lonely, perhaps more so, in a community. Joining a monastery is not about overcoming our psychological feelings of isolation, but doing God's will. We have to have not just a sincere but also a mature desire to do God's will. We cannot expect for our emotional maturity to result from becoming a monk.


#42 Moses Anthony

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Posted 12 December 2002 - 08:08 PM

There's an old saying which goes something like this; "The Church is not a club for saints, but a hospital for sinners." The work of the devil doesn't stop at the entry way of a monastery, he just uses different tactics.

Think of the monk who groped Margaret remaining at the monastery, as yourself breaking one of the rules for this community, and at the first offense being kicked out and not allowed to return. Remember we fall down we get up, we fall down we get up. It is a severe and harsh mercy that doesn't take into account human frailty, or allow for repentance!

t.u.s

#43 Guest_Allen

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Posted 13 December 2002 - 01:31 PM

About going to a monastery because you're lonely.... a thought from a page on this website:

"I met with an old monk and spiritual mentor some years ago, and our conversation quickly turned to the monastic life. I said to him, 'Father I don't know if I am ready to become a monk; I don't know if I can so easily run away from the world.' He replied, 'No, indeed you are not ready. No one is ready for the tonsure until they stop seeing it as running away from the world, and start seeing it as running toward Jesus Christ.'



#44 Guest_Waylon E. Windrow

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Posted 25 January 2003 - 02:30 PM

Is it possible for an American to go to a monastery in Russia? And if it is possible, what would be the legal process?


#45 Guest_Hermit

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Posted 25 January 2003 - 07:39 PM

Here are some parishes in Russia, maybe they could give you further information:
http://www.directory...itButtonName=Go

Here's a nearby monastery I've been meaning to visit if I can get a ride, but I don't know if they welcome people outside their faith ... they seem very conservative and sectarian from the website. They still use a Julian calendar!

St. Gregory Palamas Monastery
For Men
Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies
P.O. Box 398 (1307 Sawyers Bar Road)
Etna, CA. 96027
(916)467-3228
TOC

Archimandrite Akakios, Abbot

Visitation Information
Three days of hospitality, including meals, are provided in the monastery guest house for men only. No children under 16. No smoking, radios, or personal food are permitted on the grounds. Guests are expected to dress modestly, to avoid interaction or conversation with the monks (except the Abbot and guestmaster), and to attend Matins, Vespers, and the daily Liturgy. While visitors from all Orthodox jurisdictions are welcome, the monastery is strictly traditionalist and follows the Julian Calendar. The Mysteries are not generally available to visitors outside its jurisdiction.

About the Monastery
The St. Gregory Palamas Monastery is a dependency of the Holy Monastery of Sts. Cyprian and Justina in Fili (Athens), Greece, and serves as the spiritual center for the American Exarchate of the Synod of Old Calendarist Greek Orthodox Bishops under Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili. The monastery follows an Athonite typikon. Services are conducted in Greek and English and chanted in Byzantine style. There are eleven monks and one novice in residence. Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna, Synodal Exarch in America, and his assistant Bishop Auxentios of Photiki, reside at the monastery.


Points of Contact
Visits
Archimandrite Akakios (916)467-3228
Vocations
Vocations are not solicited

http://www.nettinker...ries/gregoc.htm

#46 Justin

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Posted 25 January 2003 - 09:58 PM

they seem very conservative and sectarian from the website. They still use a Julian calendar!


They aren't "sectarian" Posted Image Though many groups aren't in communion with this monastery (and Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili), they are indeed an Orthodox group, and in communion with a number of other Orthodox groups, such as ROCOR.

The Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies is also a well-regarded publisher among traditionalists, and they (especially Archbishop Chrysostomos) print some of the best Orthodox material available in English. Met. Cyprian's "moderate ecclesiology" is also a highly respected position among traditionalists.

Justin

PS. The overwhelming majority of Orthodox still use the Julian calendar ;)

#47 Fr Averky

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Posted 06 March 2003 - 02:47 AM

I entered my monastery in 1975, and I can truthfully say that it took the first 25 or 26 years to fully understand the fullness of the monastic life. A week or so ago I picked up a copy of "Unseen Warfare," which I had not really read since my days as a novice. It was so wonderful to see how much more I could understand the book than when I fist read it so long ago. I was taught that monasticism is not a "vocation," or a "calling" in the Western sense. It is a particular desire to leave the world when one begins to realize that he does not fit into the world around him, like Dostoevsky's "superflous man." We monks are superflous, because we have a sense of not belonging to the world into which we were born. It is true that you should not enter a monastery because you are lonely; our monastery is like a small city, yet all of the monastics live very individual lives under the direction of their spiritual father. I don't think that I ever experienced more loneliness than during the first few years in the monastery. Then, slowly but surely, I grew to love my silence and my time alone; prayer is less distracting than before, and thinking about God gives me a new strength. Now, I rarely leave the monastery, and since my obedience involves working at my computer, other than services, I rarely leave my cell. And I am quite content. To learn this, I had to go through a real trial by fire; I fell dreadfully ill and experienced not only constant great pain, but had to battle being all alone most of the time, fighting off deep depression. Yet, as it all came to an end, I was to tell my spiritual father that while this had been the worst period in my whole life, at the same time, it turned out to be the best. In the Christian life, not just the monastic life, we have to learn to be patient and endure. to the young man who is thinking about becoming a monk, Owen's advise is very sound; get to know a monastery, visit it when you can, and see how it goes. I can tell you this; until you actually are clothed as a novice, you could live in a monastery until the end of your days and not know this life. God help you!


#48 Guest_peter derick

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Posted 14 March 2003 - 03:09 AM

rev hieromonk A. hello my father it is your friend peter from australia speaking to you again please allow me to ask this question since you have so much experiance in the monastic life and what great experiance you must have by the innumerable trials you have gone through by the grace of god that he has undeservevedly given to you his servant and messager i too would like to be a monk some day though not yet i still live in the world praying god to send more tests and trials so i can with the help of gods grace get through them and hopefully just purify a little of this sin stained vessel of mine of whom i am responsable for its blackness and corruptness first i implore you by the name of jesus christ dont leave me out of your good prayers and also give me advise on the following my father, i ask you can you explain to me how the fathers mean when they say to flee from temptations and then again they say that we should endure insults and rejections from people and persevere and like in that holy god inspiried book (unseen warfare) it says dont avoid temptations and trials go out look for them please explain to me this deep teaching since it seems strange to me having myself a darkened unpurfied mind filled with passions and not leaving room for grace too inspire me which is not the case with you an obediant servant of the lord your friend petere from australia my and gods love with you forever...


#49 Fr Averky

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Posted 16 March 2003 - 03:06 AM

Dear in Christ Peter,

When the Holy Fathers speak about fleeing temptations, they mean to flee temptations, of the flesh, the temptation to be proud or self-satisfied, and so on. When a person is first starting, it is all that he can do just to stay put in the monastery and be patient. When I first entered the monastery, the Father who was given to us as spiritual said in our first little meeting: "When you arrived here, and unpacked your bags, you unpacked the world; your past sins, your failings, your passions, and so on. Only after some time will you understand that you came for all the wrong reasons. Some of you imagine that you will be great ascetics, some of you want to be confessors of the Faith, some of you want to preach and to teach, perhaps once of you would like to be a Geat Martyr. I would say that most likely, none of you will be any of these. When you lived in the world, God in His Mercy covered your sins, even from you - but now, you must beg God to reveal to You your sins, your passions, and weakness, your pride, your arrogance, so that you begin to struggle! On the night before I was clothed as a novice he said to me: "Now you have entered the Arena ( referring to the book by St. Ignatius Briachaninov), and you will be surrounded by wild beasts and men who will wish to destroy you and your soul. The crowd that is watching is the world, and it will not give you support, but will urge the wild animals and evil men to finish you off. but you must cling to Christ your Savior, and He will save you!" I cannot tell you, Peter, how over the years, how many times I thought to myself, "What a mistake I made, to give all my fine things, my home, my friends, my family ,and my Freedom!" In order to learn about his sinfulness, the Lord sends to His monk many trials, slander, rebuke, loneliness, desire, depression, spirtual dryness, doubts, and illnes. But if he can cling on to Christ, slowly, slowly, it all starts to make sense. I think in one of my early posts, I said that this year will be my 28th, and it took the first 26 years to really come to understand and to fully want to live this life. Do not think that you can "purify" yourself in the world to prepare yourself for the monastic life; if you really want to become a monk, don't waste any more time. God bless you

#50 Guest_peter derick

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Posted 16 March 2003 - 09:38 AM

rev hieromonk a.. my beloved father tahnk you so much for that wonderfull email it enlightened my deep ignorance very much oh reverend when i read it i praised god much firstly for the internet access i have to speak to experianced good monks like your yourself and for this god inspiried email of yours offcourse speaking to other orthodox christians is a immeasurable blessing aswell i like to say thank you and allways to keep poor me in your good prayers god bless you father allways and all obediant orthodox christians god bless you`s allways


#51 Guest_Andonis

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Posted 17 March 2003 - 10:35 PM

hello Rev.Heiromonk...

i am extreemly pleased to read this post of yours. in previous discussions surrounding this area, there were some opinions floating around that suggested you have to reach some level of purity and spiritual wisdom and from there proceed to try monkhood. but i thought to myself how can this happen, when in the world, despite your best efforts your battles are not only spiritual, but also financial, familial, occupational etc. over recent times i have become a frequent camper. i like to go out and camp on my own, for a few days, live simply and just contemplate, pray and read. what is interesting is whilst camping, i do at times feel entirely focused on God, and growing in confidence that i can reach the level of purity that i seek. then on my return to the world, it only takes a glance at a pretty female, and all the piousness that i have built up, evaporates in an instant. this of course serves to remind me, that it is futile for me to contemplate monkhood whilst i remain so spiritually infantile....


#52 Fr Averky

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Posted 17 March 2003 - 11:26 PM

Dear in Christ Adonis

In the lives of the saints, we read how people like St. Seraphim of Sarov or St Sergius of Radonezh were not like other children, wanting to be by themselves, desiring to be in church all the time, and so on. I would say that such people are the rare exception, at least for quite some time now. While there are those who are by their nature seem almost "destined" to be monks, the vast majority of us came for many individual reasons. In 1974 I became very ill with hepatitis, and was very near death. My physician told me that I needed to prepare for my death, because I had perhaps three weeks, no more. I went home and asked God to spare me, for I knew that I had lived my life in a manner not befitting a good Christian. I promised God that if He would let me live, I would become a monk. Slowly, I began to get better. I did not forget my vow, and in 1975 I entered the monastery. I would have easily been voted "Least likely to succeed," because I at first just could not handle it. I was restive, nervous, noisy, and always trying to think of ways that I could get off monastic property. I smile when I think of it now: I rarely leave the monastery , except to serve, and I am in my cell most of the time. Years ago, people used to stop by all the time, and now, I rarely ask any to come to see me. In the early years I was filled with turmoil, asking myself what madness had made me make such a promise to God; He knows how worldly and weak I am! Now, after many years of struggle, I am very content and peaceful. Like any relationship, time is an important factor. Patience, above all is needed- patience with God, patience, with the brotherhood, and most of all patience with one's own self. Your experience while camping is indeed a chance to be closer to God in your heart, but that is because you had the possibility "to get away" from your worldly cares for a little while. In the monastic life, there is no getting away, just daily chipping away at the ego, pride, passions, anger, doubts, fears, and all in the face of dealing with many people with whom you do not have much in common except that you are all struggling for the the goal. We Westerners, especially Americans, find it very difficult to give up our will, and especially to come to grips with the idea that we have no "rights." If you wait to not be spiritually infantile, you might never make it. One has to put all his trust and faith in God, and just jump in! Please pray for me, Adonis, as I will for you.

#53 Guest_Sandra June Hofstead

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Posted 17 March 2003 - 11:39 PM

Brother in Christ Andonis,

Please do not take offense, but this woman (myself) felt that I needed to reply to your post. This very past week the readings at Vespers remind us that God created women to be beautiful and attractive to men.God did not create man to be alone. When Adam saw the woman he said "Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh". Attraction! Something God given in you said the same when you saw that beautiful woman. But if God wills you to be a monk then the attraction will be fleeting as the desire for celibacy in the Lord will be stronger. I would venture to say that the same principle applies to women called to serve the Lord in celibacy. Hunger, thirst, sexual attraction are not evil or sinful, but our disordered way of satisfying them. May God preserve you.

#54 Guest_Andonis

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 12:01 AM

Hi Sandra,

i do not take offence, in fact i am extreemly appreciative of you highlighting this very important truth. the problem for me, in the secular modern city that i live in, is that i do seek to satisfy these normal desires in a disordered sinful way. i like to use excuses such as too busy no time, one more transgression won't kill me etc etc. i have had girlfreinds in the past, whom not one did i consider marrying. i guess what i stuggle with is how unavailable i find the path whereby one can satiate these natural desires, in accordance with the law of God. it is at times agonising. although this could once again be satan misleading me...

#55 Fr Averky

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 03:21 AM

Dear Sandra,

Welcome to the community! I don't think that Adonis [ an interesting self-description] meant to demean women. Forgive me if am wrong, Adonis. He was simply saying that how easy it is for anyone to have a desire to give themselves to Christ in that manner known as monasticism when they are alone in the woods, or on the shore, only to be drawn again to the world and all of its attractions. Women are not the issue, but simply the distractions of the world. When a man is tonsured a monk, God does not give him a special gift of no longer having the desires of the flesh; the monk, or nun, must deal with them as they come along, putting foremost in his mind that he has given himself to Christ. As to desires being "fleeting," it really depends on the individual. Some monastics have to struggle against desires of the flesh all their lives, some have other passions to deal with. I used to do buying for my monastery, and one time I went to the local city with another hieromonk. After I had paid for my purchases and we were walking ou the door, he asked me "Did you see how very red that woman's hair was? I told him that I had not. He said "How could you not see her - she was standing right next to you!" To which I reeplied, "Father, I have to go out of the monastery very often to purchase things for the monastery. I had to teach myself a long time ago to keep my mind and attention on the business of the day, for if I did not, I would bring all kinds of sights, sounds, impressions, and feelings home with me, sometimes bringing back a flood of memories of the world and I do believe that God helps me in that."God bless yuou, Sandra!

#56 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 12:39 PM

Dear Andonis,

Perhaps you can take some encouragement from the fact that the apothegmata are filled with sayings of Desert Fathers who, despite long years in the desert and obvious spiritual maturity and development, still were tempted by (and sometimes fell prey to) carnal lusts. And these are among the calendared saints of the Church.

It is neither the presence of temptation nor the 'natural' inclination towards entering into it, which stems from the fallen being of the cosmos, that the Fathers lament; but rather what we do in the face of each.

INXC, Matthew


#57 Guest_Andonis

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 09:44 PM

hello M.C Steenberg,

could you name any of the fathers that fell prey to carnal lusts for me. what kind of sins did they commit ie fornication? didn't falling prey to carnal lusts after years of asceticism just plunge them back to the level of a common man whom knows nothing of ascetisism? i would think that a priest, a monk, a saint would have to give account for falling prey to carnal lusts, much dearer than any lay man...


#58 Guest_sinjin smithe

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 10:43 PM

Andonis here is one such story.

SAINT JAMES THE FASTER

He lived in the sixth century. He was so perfected in pleasing God that Jamescured the most gravely ill through his prayers. But the enemy of mankind lured him into great temptations. At one time, an immoral woman was sent to him by some scoffers. She misrepresented herself to James, pretending to be crying yet all the while luring him into sin. Seeing that he was going to yield to sin, James placed his left hand into the fire and held it there for some time until it was scorched. Seeing this, the woman was filled with fear and terror, repented and amended her life. On another occasion, James did not flee from his temptation, but rather he succumbs to a maiden, who was brought as alunatic by her parents to be cured of her insanity. He, indeed, healed her and after that, sinned with her. Then in order to conceal his sin he killed her and threw her into a river. As is common, the steps from adultery to murder are not too distant. James lived for ten years after that as a penitent in an open grave. At thattime there was a great drought which caused both people and live-stock to suffer. As a result of his prayers, rain fell; James knew that God had forgiven him. Here is an example, similar to that of David, of how twisted is the demon of evil; how by God's permission, the greatest spiritual giants can be overthrown, and through sincere and contrite penance, God, according to His mercy, forgives even the greatest sins and does not punish those when they punish themselves.

#59 Guest_Andonis

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 11:23 PM

interesting story, in fact almost unbeleivable. it appears Saint James took an incredible gamble. the sin's he ended up committing are definitely in the category of the more grotesque, and hard to be redeemed from. i wonder what his motivation was? did he actually allow himself to be lured so that he would have to greive and repent at a more intense level, thereby gaining salvation. i know there is no scientific explanation for why he would have allowed himself to be lured in such sin. such is the mystery of orthodoxy i guess. certainly such a gamble is reserved for the spiritually robust. for many, to committ murder would mean instant spiritual death.


#60 Fr Averky

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Posted 19 March 2003 - 02:48 AM

Matthew,

I have a general question. How many Orthodox monasteries are there in England? I am hoping to visit England next year on my way to Istanbul in the Fall, and if time permits, I would like to visit a few of them. Do you know what Orthodox churches there are in London? Thank you




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