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Monastic missionaries

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#1 Guest_Augustine Martin

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 12:12 PM

Why are historically so many missionaries monks? Was it like an unwritten requirement?

#2 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 01:20 PM

I would say that this is connected to the character of Orthodox witness.

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#3 Kusanagi


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Posted 31 March 2012 - 02:35 PM

I think it is easier to send monks as a missionary, there is not so much a burden to live in a foreign country to learn everything and earn money but if there are family and children as well it is more difficult. St Innocent's whole family travelled with him to Alaska when he was still a priest and reading about their journey it was extremely long and toilsome one.

#4 Stephen Hayes

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 07:22 AM

Why are historically so many missionaries monks? Was it like an unwritten requirement?

It certainly wasn't a requirement.

To understand why so many missionaries were monks, one needs to study it historically, and see the places and periods in which monastic mission was the dominant form (but rarely, if ever, the exclusive form).

Some monks deliberately set out to be missionaries -- they went to live among people who were not Christians primarily in order to proclaim the gospel to them -- for example St Stephen of Perm.

Others became missionaries almost by accident (accident to them, but not to God). They sought solitude in order to pray, but rarely are desert places completely deserted, and local people, whether Christian or not, would come to the monastery for prayer, and sometimes for help with food when crops failed etc. and when they were helped, or sometimes healed as a result of the prayers of the monks, people came to settle near the monstery, and soon there would be village or a town there, and the monks would teach the people.

In many periods of history, life was harsh and insecure. Most people were peasant farmers who could barely scratch a living for themselves. Travel was often dangerous, and so most ordinary people would not think of going anywhere as missionaries. Monks were the only ones who were able to to so.

But where monks did go to a place as missionaries, and then people turned to Christ, much of the mission that followed was done by the ordinary people themselves, gossipping the gospel to their neighbours. Read the history of St Nicholas of Japan, for example. His first three converts were samurai, and when there was renewed persecution of Christians, he urged them to return to their home towns, where it would be safer for them. They did, but as they went (porefthendes, as they say in Greek) they gossiped the gospel to the people they met, and the church grew exponentially. So in Japan, most of the missionaries weren't monks, but enthusiastic newly-converted Japanese Christians.

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