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Greeks in the Holy Land


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#1 Algernon

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 10:48 AM

Last year during Lent, our parish made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and we all noticed that every single men's monastery that we encountered--and there were a LOT--was populated almost exclusively by Greeks. And all the monastics in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem were Greek. As well as those at the Church of the Seven Apostles in Galilee, and the Church of the Marriage Feast in Cana. And, of course the Patriarch of Jerusalem himself, whom we met, was also Greek. 

 

Our question then and my question now is: Why no Arabs? Why are these monasteries and churches importing Greeks rather than recruiting local Arab Christians? I know part of the answer is that the Arab Christian population is dwindling. But wouldn't having a stronger Arab presence help to stop or slow the hemorrhaging of Arab Christians from the Holy Land? Certainly having an Arab rather than a Greek on the patriarchal throne wouldn't hurt.

 

(We saw four women's monasteries: three were Russian, one was Romanian. Still no Arabs.)



#2 Lakis Papas

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:54 PM

This is a fair question.

 

The answer is that a mixture of political, cultural, ethnic and economic interests are intertwined and result to a prevailing nationalist identity based on longstanding rivalries between local (and non local) ethnic churches and synods.


Edited by Lakis Papas, 24 February 2013 - 12:55 PM.


#3 Father David Moser

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 11:52 PM

(We saw four women's monasteries: three were Russian, one was Romanian. Still no Arabs.)

Are you sure?  Did you visit the Mount of Olive Ascension Convent (Russian) or Gethsemene Convent, the Church of St Mary Magdalene, or perhaps the school in Bethany (a dependency of Gethsemene)?  These are Russian (women's) monasteries however they all have Arab sisters in residence - especially Gethsemene.

 

Fr David



#4 Algernon

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 01:18 AM

Are you sure?  Did you visit the Mount of Olive Ascension Convent (Russian) or Gethsemene Convent, the Church of St Mary Magdalene, or perhaps the school in Bethany (a dependency of Gethsemene)?  These are Russian (women's) monasteries however they all have Arab sisters in residence - especially Gethsemene.

 

Fr David

Father,

We visited Ascension, St Mary Magdalene, and a convent on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, all Russian, as well as a Romanian convent in Jericho. If there were any Arabs present we were not aware of them. What about local Arab men who wish to become monastics? Do they have to go to Syria, or are there Arab monks in Israel and Palestine as well? If there are, their presence in slight.



#5 Father David Moser

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 01:44 AM

Father,

We visited Ascension, St Mary Magdalene, and a convent on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, all Russian, as well as a Romanian convent in Jericho. If there were any Arabs present we were not aware of them. What about local Arab men who wish to become monastics? Do they have to go to Syria, or are there Arab monks in Israel and Palestine as well? If there are, their presence in slight.

 

The Arab women monastics are there, whether or not you saw them.  Keep in mind that monastics are not always "on display" and that only those who have reason to interact with the public will be noticed.  Also, at Gethsemene and Ascension, the primary language of communication is Russian and so the Arabic nuns will usually speak Russian or maybe a little English if you speak to them in that language.

 

The monastery on the sea of Galillee, was it the hospitality house at Migdal?  That is not a convent and the women there, while addressed as sister, are not nuns - they are lay workers (Just like the caretakers at the Judgement gate and Russian excavations).  They dress in a uniform that looks like it could be monastic - but in reality is closer to the traditional garb of nursing sisters.  They do serve wonderful fish there and the Church (indeed the whole grounds) is beautiful.

 

Did you visit the Shepherd's field?  There is a large community of Arabic Christians there and I think that if an Arabic man wished to pursue monastic life that the monastery there would be a primary choice.  It is connected with St Sabbas monastery and so there may be some Arabic monks there - however again, you won't see them unless they have an obedience that involves interacting with the pubic.

 

 

Fr David



#6 Owen Jones

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 03:32 AM

I think it has been quite a while since Antioch focused on monasticism. 



#7 Ilaria

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 05:35 PM

This is a fair question.

 

The answer is that a mixture of political, cultural, ethnic and economic interests are intertwined and result to a prevailing nationalist identity based on longstanding rivalries between local (and non local) ethnic churches and synods.

 

sad but true... 



#8 Kosta

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 09:55 PM

It's amazing how Lakis was able to sum up the situation in one sentence where others would require writing volumes on the subject.

#9 Owen Jones

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 05:21 PM

Some rivalry may be healthy.  It's not all bad.  What do we want, a Roman model?






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