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Women on Mount Athos


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#41 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 05:58 PM

This is confirmed by the fact that in Russian a convent is called zhenskii monastir (женский монастырь) which means women's monastery.

In Christ- Fr Raphael


Yes, it's the same in Greek actually. There is only one word "monastery" for monasteries. We just say a woman's monastery or a man's monastery. Gyneceio or andriko monastery.

#42 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 06:02 PM

Sorry, I just read Olga's message in which she says the same things as I did in my above post. Never mind - just thought I would mention it as we can't delete messages we have already posted.

Effie

#43 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 06:04 PM

... and "monkettes" would sound ridiculous ;-) I suppose "Nuns" is a more convenient word now, rather than "female monastics", but I certainly think that calling convents "monasteries" is a necessary return to Orthodoxy.

---

Hello Carol, you wrote:



Many other posters have already given very good answers, but I feel I must respond because it is me you quoted and I don't want you to think I am ignoring you.

Andreas gave the best answer - it is a simple matter of obedience. However, given that you're an Episcopalian, telling you that the reason for not allowing women on Mt. Athos was because of obedience to an apparition of Mary the Mother of God might raise more questions than they answered! I hope I haven't prejudged you in that, Carol - but I do understand how non-Orthodox Christians feel about that. [edit - I have just read the Welcome Thread and see you were a catechumen for a number of years which will teach me to jump to conclusions. I apologize, and may I also add my prayers for your recovery)

And in any case, when I said there were good spiritual reasons for the rule, I truly wasn't thinking of that at all; I am weak in faith and so often feel the impulse to ask "But why?" when really I should accept what visibly good people tell me. The "why" of not allowing women onto Mt. Athos is, as others have said, so that the monks are not distracted from their prayer and contemplation. I think it was St. John of the Ladder who said that the prayers of the monastics (i.e. both monks and nuns) support the world. So we need their prayers, just as we all need each others' prayers. It's not that women, per se, are distracting, just that the opposite sex is nearly always distracting for people who have been called to celibacy. If any person has been called to a pure and chaste life, then there is one excellent way for the Devil to make this person fall - the opposite gender.

Monastic communities are ikons of the Hevenly Realm, of the community of believers who before God in Heaven give eternal praise and "are not given in marriage". This ideal vision is, on earth, tempered with pragmatism - and so although men and women living together but not living purely and chastely out of wedlock is the ideal, it's never going to work on earth; so male and female monastics are seperated, and in some cases, the opposite sex is not allowed even to visit. Michael C gave an example of where this is the case for female monasteries.

The holy monks of Mt Athos have accepted in humility that to fulfil their calling and be both a powerhouse of prayer and a divine ikon of the Kingdom to come they must seperate from the opposite gender completely. This is very much in the "if you right hand causes you to sin then cut it off" vain. It's extreme, but the Kingdom of Heaven must be taken by violence.

I think perhaps one reason people get the wrong idea is because, for whatever reason, there has never been a "Holy Mount" or "Holy Island" of Nuns (or has there??) If history had produced such a community of holy female monastics than no doubt a similar rule would have been applied barring post-pubescent lay-males from setting forth on the ground. I would not have any problem with this. We must sail the line between idealism and pragmatism, hoping for what is promised us, but keeping watchful over the realities of this fallen world.

I'm very sorry for the length of this post; it could've done with some editing down.


No, it was perfect. You explained everything very clearly.

Effie

#44 Anthony

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 01:58 PM

Even in the West, I think, "convent" used to refer to a particular kind or status of monastery, rather than one inhabited by women. I don't know when the modern usage crept in. But certainly I have never come across St Hilda's double monastery referred to as "a monastery tacked on to a convent".

I imagine the distinction between "monks" and "nuns" goes back a lot further though.


It is the same in Greek. Moni and monastiri applies to all monasteries, there is no linguistic distinction between male and female establishments, other than a male/female adjective qualifier of the type mentioned by Fr Raphael. The only differentiation is in referring to monastics according to gender, (monachos/monachi, and kalogeros/kalogria), which is grammatically necessary. English does not have grammatical genders.


Then on the other hand there is also Georgian, another Orthodox language, which has even less grammatical gender than English:

monk : beri
nun : monazoni

(Open to correction, but that is what I was told by a Georgian friend)

#45 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 02:04 PM

I wonder if there is a relationship between the word convent and the word conventicle.

Since in Latin and old English conventicle meant a meeting or assembly perhaps the word convent originally had at one time less of a gender connotation?

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#46 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 03:11 PM

The word 'convent' has the same etymology as 'convene', 'convention', and so forth. The roots are the Latin 'conventum' and 'convenire' (con=together, venio=to come). It meant any assembly where people came together. In Med. English, it was usually spelt, 'covent' as in 'Covent Garden'. The word 'conventicle' is interesting. In classical Latin, 'conventiculum' originally had no diminutive or depreciatory meaning. Roman Christians used the word for their house churches. An edict of Galerius in 311 AD used the word in granting licence to rebuild such places of Christian worship. A century later, the word had acquired its derisive or contemptuous meaning and was used to refer to the meetings of heretics ('conventicula hereticorum' as the 4th Council of Carthage (419) has it). In English, the word 'conventicle' retained its neutral classical Latin meaning until the reign of Henry VIII (of course!) when it began to be used to describe unlawful, clandestine religious meetings.

There is no historical justification for using the word 'convent' only for a women's monastery - the word 'nunnery' served that purpose. (We may recall Hamlet's saying to Ophelia, 'get thee to a nunnery'.) The word 'nun' comes from late Latin 'nonna', Greek 'nanne' (aunt) and Sanskrit 'nana' (child's word for mother). Modern usage however has claimed 'convent' for a nunnery.
(Main source: OED.)

#47 Christopher

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 12:47 AM

The Most Holy Lady Theotokos & Ever-virgin Mary, is the only Lady and Women/Mother allowed on Mount Athos - still !

Monastery . . . male or female = monastics

Forgive me.

Fr. Christopher

#48 Nina

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 03:15 PM

The Most Holy Lady Theotokos & Ever-virgin Mary, is the only Lady and Women/Mother allowed on Mount Athos - still !

Fr. Christopher


Yes!

P.S Also when I moved to USA I was referring to monasteries as monasteries and my Orthodox friends from here were asking 'Was it a convent, or a monastery?'. I thought I was wrong and tried to adjust and thanks to Herman and all who affirmed that I should just keep referring to them as monasteries.

#49 Christopher

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 06:56 PM

P.S Also when I moved to USA I was referring to monasteries as monasteries and my Orthodox friends from here were asking 'Was it a convent, or a monastery?'.

Fr. Peter Alban Heers, in his English Preface to: Patristic Theology-The University Lectures of Protopresbyter John S. Romanides,
says the following:

[...] For many pious readers raised on the vestiges of 'Western' Christian expressions, the words of Father John will undoubtedly be new and even unbelievable, and may even come as a shock. The Faith of the Church herein presented is not conformed to this world (Rom. 12:2), is not the product of scholastic study, but is born of God and overcometh the world, for this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our Faith. (I John 5:4). It is precisely this otherworldly faith which most who call themselves Christians today, including not a few Orthodox, have yet to encounter. . . .

Nina, I would have to agree with Fr. Peter's words here, not only on the things +Protopresbyter John Romanides was speaking of, yet also, on 'terms' that the 'American ethos' has 'identified' with it's 'own' conceptual lexicon of experience. Naive Realism says, "what I see IS reality!" ... Rather than understanding, our perception is an interpretation of 'reality' [Solipsism aside]. This being one of the foundational aspects of accepting the collective (everywhere, always and all) experience of The Faith, based on the experience of the Prophets', Apostles', and Saints'.

Keep saying 'Monastery' ... to mean collectively = monastics, whether male or female. I do. :)

Please forgive me.

In Christ,
Fr. Christopher

#50 Mary

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 08:09 PM

Personally, I am very, very thankful, that both places can be called monasteries, because to me, a 'convent' sounds like another name for prison, and a 'nunnery' sounds like a place were fish are bred.

(Don't ask. I have very strange sensory nerves!) =)

In Christ,
Mary.

#51 Misha

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 09:39 PM

Women are already present in Mt Athos through newspapers,magazines,telephones,television and recently,internet connection.

#52 Paul Cowan

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 10:03 PM

Women are already present in Mt Athos through newspapers,magazines,telephones,television and recently,internet connection.


Yes, buts its the difference of being AT the olympics and just SEEING the olympics from your living room. Sure you get a better view from the couch, but you do not get the experience of being there. (this one goes to the ladies)

#53 John Litster

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 07:19 AM

Personally, I am very, very thankful, that both places can be called monasteries, because to me, a 'convent' sounds like another name for prison, and a 'nunnery' sounds like a place were fish are bred.

(Don't ask. I have very strange sensory nerves!) =)

In Christ,
Mary.


I always found it a shame that (in the West, at least) the bland and institutional "convent," replaced the delightfully quaint and oddly matter-of-fact sounding "nunnery." Even if it does bring to mind some sort of breeding area :)

Just my overly-nostalgic take on things...

#54 Misha

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 08:40 AM

Yes, buts its the difference of being AT the olympics and just SEEING the olympics from your living room. Sure you get a better view from the couch, but you do not get the experience of being there. (this one goes to the ladies)


If we talk about the spiritual struggle,then watching the Olympics or whatever on TV is far more "dangerous" for a monastic life.
Immagination (logismoi) is the worst enemy of a monk and TV brings thousands of well looking persons and bodies in the "living room".
Then,the "avaton" becomes just a christian folklore.

#55 Alice

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 09:26 AM

If we talk about the spiritual struggle,then watching the Olympics or whatever on TV is far more "dangerous" for a monastic life.
Immagination (logismoi) is the worst enemy of a monk and TV brings thousands of well looking persons and bodies in the "living room".
Then,the "avaton" becomes just a christian folklore.


Dear Misha,

Forgive my ignorance, but what does 'avaton' mean?

I agree with you about images...they are very threatening to the soul of the monk...and logismoi are something which we all struggle with...atleast if one's mind is not assaulted by images and situations of the world, the monk, and the layman as well, can claim some control over them.

Isn't this the reason the monk retreats? Why should the world be imposed on him in his retreat?

Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner!

In Christ,
Alice

#56 John Wilson

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 10:12 AM

The Most Holy Lady Theotokos & Ever-virgin Mary, is the only Lady and Women/Mother allowed on Mount Athos - still !

Actually, her mother has been seen sweeping the courtyard of St Anne's Skete on occasions.

John

#57 Misha

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 11:17 AM

It's from a/non and "veno"/entry or go
means non entrance,not allowed.

#58 Paul Cowan

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 09:40 PM

If we talk about the spiritual struggle,then watching the Olympics or whatever on TV is far more "dangerous" for a monastic life.
Immagination (logismoi) is the worst enemy of a monk and TV brings thousands of well looking persons and bodies in the "living room".
Then,the "avaton" becomes just a christian folklore.


I'm sorry Misha,

I don't see the connection from what I wrote and your response. I was not talking about watching tv. I was saying you can "see" more online than you can by going there briefly.

#59 Janice Chadwick

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 03:53 AM

There are also many monasteries for women (in Greece and other Orthodox countries) that are forbidden to men. Panagia Voithia (All Holy Theotokos the Helper) in Chios is one of them. Although I remember when I was very young the nuns let me in to venerate the tomb of St. Anthimos of Chios. At least I think that's the grave I venerated, I was too young to remember, and at the time I didn't know about St. Anthimos.


Except men are allowed in women's monasteries, since priests come to serve liturgy and give the sacraments. So you must admit that the other sex is allowed in women's monasteries. However, that doesn't mean that I think women should be allowed on Mt. Athos.

#60 Paul Cowan

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 04:27 AM

Except men are allowed in women's monasteries, since priests come to serve liturgy and give the sacraments. So you must admit that the other sex is allowed in women's monasteries. However, that doesn't mean that I think women should be allowed on Mt. Athos.


Sorry Janice.

This is not the same as men in general trapsing around the women's monestaries as would happen if the Mountain were opened up to the public. Priests are different from the general male population you must admit when it comes to them serving.




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