This article is taken from Krētē: Monthly Publication of the Pancretan Association of America, November 1994, p. 35:
Shortly after the turn of the century, Cretan immigrants to the United States began to settle in Western Pennsylvania: Ambridge, Aliquippa, Burgettestown, Canonsburgh, Clairton, Francis Mine, Langleloth, Slovan, Pittsburgh—the big city—and its suburbs and many other. There they found work in local coal mines and steel mills. The entrepreneurs soon followed: bakers, restaurant owners, cobblers, tailors and more. They raised their families, built churches, and organized social clubs in an effort to preserve the customs and traditions of their homeland, Crete. Today, many of their offspring—sons, daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—still make their homes in Western Pennsylvania and many of them are now members of Arkadi-Maleme, the combined Men’s and Women’s Chapter of the Pancretan Association of America.
Recently, Arkadi-Maleme members were made aware of the tremendous pride exhibited by those first Cretans to arrive in this area. In a letter dated September 30, 1993 and addressed to the Cretan Society of Pittsburgh, PA, E.P. Christulides writes:
“A few months ago I was told by both Bishop Maximos and the Abbess of the Greek Orthodox Convent of Saxonburg (Pennsylvania) that the Parish council of the Holy Trinity Church at Ambridge, PA, decided to make a gift of one of the two bells they had removed from the old church when they sold it and then built a new one…I was asked if I could make arrangements to transport the bell.”
“I visited Ambridge twice before I made any transfer arrangements. But from the very first time I uncovered the bell, which was stored in a garage warehouse, I could not help seeing right in the front of the bell this inscription in big Greek letters: Thoria Kriton 1920…
“I made the arrangements and had the bell transported…It is a big bell and it has a very harmonious tone…It weighs around 1500 pounds…
“I believe with all my heart that you, the children and grandchildren of those Cretans who donated the bell in 1920…would like to get involved…The bell sits on an old deteriorated and broken base and it is dangerous to use…The bell may be damaged if the supports give way…
“I urge you to take this project seriously and build something which will remind your children and grandchildren of their parents, grandparents and their glorious roots…”
At a subsequent general meeting of Arkadi-Maleme, Mr. Christulides’ letter was read and the members agreed to fund the construction of a bell support or “cambanario.”
Above is a recent photograph of the bell atop the newly-constructed “cambanario.” The two young “palikaria” in the photo are Nicholas and Christos Semanderes, sons of Stavros and Eleni Semanderes. Stavro is the past-Treasurer and current Chairman of Task Force 2000 of the Pancretan Association of America. The “cambanario” was a personal donation of Mr. Semanderes.
The officers and members of Arkadi-Maleme wish to acknowledge and thank Stavro for his generosity.
People of all nationalities, races and creeds are invited to visit the Monastery at Saxonburg, PA, to view the bell, a proud memorial to those Cretans who left their homes in Crete to make their livelihoods in a foreign land, and who made tremendous contributions to the country in which they chose to make their new homes—and in which we, their sons, daughters and grandchildren now live. May their souls rest in eternal peace. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015079672146;view=1up;seq=67
Reprinted from the National Herald, Monday, June 5, 1989
“Not in accord with the Church and inappropriate. The presence of monk Ephraim from Mt. Athos in New York. The Patriarch advised him to get to his senses, otherwise, he will be defrocked. The role of Panaghia Glykofilousa.”
[Boston] A serious clerical problem has been created in our community and really with possible division in the Church because of activities of the monk Ephraim, the abbot of the Philotheou monastery at Mt. Athos together with the Christian brotherhood under the name “Panaghia Glykofilousa.” The above referenced individuals operated “not in accordance with the Church and inappropriately,” to a point that the Ecumenical Patriarchate would punish the monk Ephraim with defrocking. The situation is as follows:
How the Monk Ephraim First Appeared in the U.S.A.
About ten years ago the monk Ephraim started visiting the U.S.A. and Canada with the excuse, in the beginning of getting therapy on his leg, and later, to hear confessions from people with whom “he had a spiritual union.” Most of the time, he was using the trick of receiving “permission after the fact” from Archbishop Iakovos, who as a matter of fact, even under these circumstances showed understanding and love and offered him the permission.
The following actually happened: The monk Ephraim would go first to Canada after having received “permission” of Bishop Sotirios and then he would come to the U.S.A. in the Astoria, New York area, by preference. He would then appear at the Archdiocese asking a blessing to stay from the Archbishop and finally, [Archbishop Iakovos] would act as a father and give him permission, but at the same time, making sure to tell Fr. Ephraim he omitted asking for permission ahead of time. Fr. Ephraim, who is considered by some who know him as a spiritual leader, started handling confessions at their homes and many times even performed liturgy, something that would reach the level of “outside the Church activities,” although he [Fr. Ephraim] would insist that this was done “for practical reasons.”
Around the year 1984 in Astoria, NY, a “Christian brotherhood” under the name “Panaghia Glykofilousa” was created with Mr. George Dimopoulos as the head of the organization which was established in the most part by “followers” of Fr. Ephraim. This brotherhood opened a store in Astoria selling religious items and, in a way, became the home base for Fr. Ephraim. Please note that similar situations have been established in other cities in the U.S.A. and Canada.
Fr. Ephraim’s visits started becoming more frequent to a point that he would spend more time here [U.S.A.] than in his monastery at Mt. Athos. Circumstantially, we say that he avoided performing the liturgy together with other clerics of the Archdiocese, sometimes offering excuses that would reach the limits of jokes, that is, that he does not like high profiled churches and big crowds, when in reality, he was trying to avoid including the Archdiocese in his universal movement. In spite of this, the Archdiocese faced him with love and tolerance. As a matter of fact, several discussions took place between bishops, Mr. Sotirios of Toronto, Mr. Iakovos of Chicago, and Mr. Maximos of Pittsburgh to use the monastic experience of Fr. Ephraim and start monasticism in the above referenced areas, which shows that the bishops embraced this with a spirit of love.
And Wealth Resulting from Property
Recently, though, the brotherhood “Panaghia Glykofilousa” of New York was not satisfied with just a bookstore and its “Christian activity” but bought a piece of property in the Poconos of Pennsylvania for $150,000 with future plans to establish a monastery, putting in charge Fr. Ephraim. We must underline, however, that construction-wise and administration-wise, it would belong to the brotherhood who then would only make a “typical report” to the Archdiocese. This way they would be appropriate and they would be fulfilling an obligation to the Church.
And a Green Card
Consequently, the brotherhood was able to provide Fr. Ephraim with a green card of permanent residence in the U.S.A., a fact that reveals many intentions and presents a lot of doubts. Without any doubt, this has legal implications because the questions as to why and under what occupation was he given a permanent residence, especially to an abbot of a monastery who promised at the time of his “tonsure” to remain in the monastery. Naturally, in this case, there are many serious theological reasons which we will cover in the future.
A Proper Stand of the Archbishop
As soon as Archbishop Iakovos was informed of the events, he informed by telegraph Mt. Athos (Holy Mountain) and ordered Fr. Ephraim to return there. As a matter of fact, at a meeting of the two at the Archdiocese, Archbishop Iakovos made clear the slip to Fr. Ephraim and called him to face his responsibilities before this case reached a level of no return for the Church and Fr. Ephraim personally. In the meantime, the other Brotherhood of Chicago “Panaghia Glykofilousa” had placed an agreement to purchase a piece of land with intent to build a monastery there, at the cost of $450,000. They had already paid a $20,000 deposit. Information has it that the contract was cancelled after the way things turned out.
Patriarchate: Pay Attention
Last week a committee of the brotherhoods of Fr. Ephraim, there exists 10 such brotherhoods, with George Dimopoulos in charge wanting to bypass Archbishop Iakovos, went to the Ecumenical Patriarchate hoping they will receive the blessing [of the Patriarchate] so they can proceed. However, the position of the heirarchy of the Church was ecclesiastically proper offering a serious order to Fr. Ephraim “to return immediately to the monastery where he was tonsured.”
In case he refused to obey, the Patriarchate is determined to proceed with defrocking him, a fact that the Patriarch mentioned in a conversation with the committee. The Patriarch Mr. Demetrios is commonly known as a man of God, filled with forgiveness and truth, simple, wise and with a lot of love for everyone. For such a man to reach that point and speak about defrocking Fr. Ephraim means that he wanted to maintain the unity of the Omogenia # and not allow any type of “extra-religious activities.”
The Omogenia is not a Vineyard Without a Fence
Something that Fr. Ephraim and his followers did not take into account is that the Church and the Omogenia* has ecclesiastical limits. They are not a vineyard without a fence “activities exceeding the limits” unless they want to be equated with Peters, Paissiuses, Pangratioses, Panteleimones, and all the remaining “high-handed” bandits of the purely non-existent….
* Omogenia=native-born or fellow Greeks
NOTE: The Panagia Glykofilousa Brotherhood shut down in the early-2000s. Mr. Photios “the Cretan” rented a Uhaul truck, loaded it with all the bookstore’s books, and drove them up to St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY, where he donated them. The Abbot, Geronda Joseph, let his monks have first pick, then he took some to sell in the bookstore, and donated the rest of them to the Apostle Paul Bookstore in Toronto, Canada (via Mr. Tzimi).
Since the early years of the Christian era, Christians have been called by Christ Himself to life in the world without being of the world (John 17:13-16). They are distinct from the world, because of their special conduct and their exemplary ethical life. When, toward the middle of the second century of the Christian era, Christian life reached a low ebb, some Christians, both men and women, reacted to this by raising their own personal standards of austere Christian life. They practiced chastity, celibacy, poverty, prayer and fasting (Justin, I Apology 15.6; Athenagoras, Apology 33; and Galenus, De Sententiis Politiae Platonicae).
These people considered themselves Christians selected to live the life of angels (Matt. 33:30). They lived by themselves or in special houses as a community. At about the middle of the third century, they began fleeing the world and going to the desert, where they established permanent habitations, whether by themselves or in small groups. They are known as the “anchorites” (from anachoresis: departure, flight); the hermits (from eremos: desert); and the monastics (from monos: alone, for a monastic “lives in the presence of God alone”).
A good example of an anchorite monk is Saint Anthony the Great, who fled the world [c. 285] and established himself in the desert of Middle Egypt. Many people imitated his example; they went and lived close to him, thus “populating the desert” (Troparion of St. Anthony). These monks lived by themselves in huts and small houses to form a village called “lavra” (later the concept of “lavra” develops, as we will see). St. Anthony is considered the Father of Orthodox monasticism, for his kind of monasticism, that of “living alone with God as his only companion” remained the most cherished monastic ideal for the monks of the Eastern Orthodox Church throughout the ages.
The establishment of Christianity as a legal religion of the roman Empire by Constantine the Great, with the edict of Milan (313), led to a new decline in the ethical life of Christians. In reaction to this decline, many refused to accept any compromises and fled the world to become monastics. Monasticism thrived, especially in Egypt, with two important monastic centers, one in the desert of Nitria, by the Western Bank of the Nile, with Abba Ammoun (d. 356) as its founder, and one in the desert of Skete, south of Nitria, with Saint Makarios of Egypt (d. ca. Egypt 330) as its founder. These monks were anchorites, following the monastic ideal of St. Anthony. They lived by themselves, gathering together for common worship on Saturdays and Sundays only.
Whereas Saint Anthony the Great is the founder of anchorite monasticism, Saint Pachomios of Egypt (d. 346) is the founder of the so-called “cenobitic” (from Koinos bios: communal life) monasticism. Pachomios started as an anchorite himself in the Thebaid, Upper Egypt. Later in that same place, he founded the first “monastery” in the modern sense of the term. St. Anthony’s lavra was a village of anchorites who lived by themselves in their own huts and had a life in common, practiced common daily prayer evening and morning, worked in common, had common revenues and expenditures, and common meals, and wore the same identical monastic garb. This garb consisted of a linen tunic or robe and belt, a white goat skin or sheep skin coat and belt, a cone-shaped head-cover or hood (koukoulion) and a linen scarf (maforion or pallium). At this stage, monks were identified with lay people seeking Christian perfection. No religious ceremony was required, and no monastic vows. Monks were prohibited from becoming clergy.
Anchorite monasticism existed in other places besides Egypt. However, “organized monasticism,” that is, of the “cenobitic” type, spread to Sinai, Palestine and Syria from Egypt. Two monks from Egypt, St. Ilarion (d. 371) and St. Epiphanios, later bishop of Salamis in Cyprus (d. 403), brought organized monasticism to Palestine.
Monasticism at this time was identified with the “charismatics” of the ancient church. This identification of monasticism with the “enthusiastic element” in the church led to some abuses, of which those around Eustathios of Sebastia (d. 380) are good example. Eustathios introduced monasticism into Asia Minor from Egypt. His followers became overzealous; they taught that marriage and meat-eating made salvation impossible; they were, in fact, advocating monasticism for all Christians. The Council of Gangra (343) condemned these over-enthusiastic practices. Another heresy that affected monasticism during this same time was “Messalianism,” which appeared in Mesopotamia (c. 350 AD.). Messalians were ascetics who practiced poverty, celibacy and fasting. They rejected the sacramental life of the church and pretended to see God with their physical eyes. They spread in Syria and Asia Minor; they finally were anathematized by the Third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus . Under the influence of the Messalians, the non-sleepers or Vigilant (Akoimetoi) type of monasticism was developed in the area of Constantinople (mid-fifth century). The most famous instance was the Studion monastery, renowned for its polemic against the Iconoclasts. St. Symeon of Antioch [ca. 460] also developed the Stylite type of monasticism, living himself on a pole (stylos) for over 36 years.
Monasticism became a strong movement in the life of the church. The church not only condemned anti-church groups and tendencies within monasticism, but also guided and directed the monastic movement to meet its own needs. One of the ways through which this occurred was through a convergence of monasticism and clergy: monks were now ordained in a special religious service at which they subscribed to special monastic vows, thus becoming a special class of Christians standing between the clergy and the laity. This development was mostly due to the efforts of Saint Basil, Archbishop of Caesaria in Cappadocia.
Basil the Great and the Constitution of Orthodox Monasticism.
Eustathios of Sebastia introduced monasticism to Asia Minor; he influenced St. Basil, who borrowed whatever was good in his innovations, including the monastic garments, monastic vows, and the special religious service (tonsure) that indicated the special status of a monk, superior to that of lay people, and subordinate to the clergy.
Among the many ascetical works of St. Basil, two are the most significant in terms of regulating the life of monasticism: the “Great Rules” (Oroi Kata Platos), and the “Brief Rules” (Oroi Kat’ Epitomen). These rules regulate the life in the cenobitic monasteries: they extol the monastic life in common as the ideal Christian life, the “life of perfection,” while at the same time indicating the dangers of the solitary anchoretic life. St. Basil’s Rules became the Magna Carta of Monasticism, both in the East and in the West, throughout the monastic tradition. The difference is that while in the Christian East the anchorite spirit of St. Anthony continues to persist as the original monastic ideal, thus at times reacting against the organized monasticism of a Pachomian, cenobitic type promulgated by Saint Basil in the Rules, the Christian West, after the modifications to the Basilian Rules by St. Benedict, remains faithful to the cenobitic spirit of organized monasticism.
St. Basil set Christian perfectionism as the goal of monastic life. The monks were to practice Christian virtues together, especially love; to practice obedience to a spiritual father; to practice chastity and poverty, and share the common goods of the monastery. After they achieved Christian perfection, they were allowed to come back to the world and help others to achieve Christian perfection. Thus, the monks had the mission of “social workers” as well. St. Basil’s institutions, especially his Basileias, which was at the same time an orphanage, a “kitchen for the poor,” and a school for the illiterate was in practice run by monks. This was St. Basil’s way of utilizing the monastic movement to benefit the mission of the Church in the world.
Following St. Basil’s example, the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451), in its canonical legislation, placed the monastics in a given Diocese under the direct jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop. Only this bishop can allow the foundation of new monasteries in his diocese (Canons 4 and 8). Thus in the Orthodox Church the possibility of the creation of monastic “Orders,” as we see them developing in the West during the Middle Ages, was once and for all eliminated.
Monasticism also spread in the West. Its origins go back to St. Athanasios of Alexandria, who was exiled to the West (399). His Life of St. Anthony was translated into Latin by Evagrios of Antioch (380). Two Latin monks, Rufinus and St. Jerome, who lived in Palestine, brought monasticism to the West when they returned, during the second half of the 4th century. St. Ambrose of Milan (d. 395) introduced monasticism in Northern Italy, and St. Augustine (d. 430) in Northern Africa, whence monasticism was transplanted to Spain. St. . Martin of Tours (370) introduced monasticism into Northern France (Gaul), and St. Honoratus of Arles into the South. St. John Cassian founded two monasteries near Marseilles (415); he had become acquainted with monasticism in Egypt and Palestine, and was ordained a deacon by St. John Chrysostom in Constantinople. At. St. John’s deposition, John Cassian returned to Gaul to establish monasticism there.
The Role of Monasticism in the Byzantine and the Ottoman States.
With the development of Monasticism during the fourth century and thereafter, many monastics became involved with the various heresies, especially those concerning the Christological dogma. Most of the monastics were the defenders of the Orthodox faith. Still, Eutyches, an archimandrite from Constantinople, headed the heresy of monophysitism. On the Orthodox side, St. Maximos the Confessor (c. 580-662) played an important role in defeating the heresies of monothelitism and monoenergism. The Sixth Ecumenical Council (680) condemned monothelitism and reestablished the doctrine of Chalcedon. During the time of the iconoclastic controversy, the Studite monks, led by St. Theodore the Studite (759-826), played a very important role. In addition to organizing his monastery, the Studion, on the basis of the cenobitic principles of St. Pachomios and St. Basil, St. Theodore also wrote his three Antirrhetics against iconoclasm.
After the condemnation of the iconoclasts, monasticism thrived even more. Many representatives of the Byzantine aristocracy became monks. Monks were men of letters; clergy received their education in the monasteries. Bishops, metropolitans, and patriarchs were taken from their ranks; monks were involved with the church affairs, at times for the good of the church, at times creating trouble. Monasteries existed in almost every diocese, with the Bishop as their head, planting a cross in their foundations. Since 879, the right was given to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople of planting a cross in monasteries that were under the jurisdiction of other dioceses throughout the empire. They were called “Patriarchal Stavropighiac Monasteries.” This right exists to our days.
With the Arab conquest of Syria, Palestine and Egypt (during the 7th century), new centers for monasteries were sought and founded, among which were Mount Olympus in Bithynia and the Holy Mount Athos.
During the entire Byzantine period, the monks took an active part in the life of the Church in general. Still, spirituality was their strength. Concerning this tension in Christian anthropology, two schools of thought were represented; that of Evagrios ponticus (d. 399), who followed a Platonic and Origenistic doctrine pertaining to the “mind,” thus de-emphasizing the importance of the human body and becoming dualistic, and St. Makarios of Egypt (or, better, the writings attributed to him), present a more Christian, holistic anthropology; for in this theology man is a psycho-physical entity, and, as such, being a destined to deification. “Prayer of the mind,” in the Evagrian spirituality, becomes “prayer of the heart” in the Macarian spirituality. The two schools of thought with the two different anthropologies continue to find representatives throughout the history of the Church.
Saint Symeon, the New Theologian (949-1022), marks an important development in monastic spirituality. A disciple of a Studite monk, he left the Studion to join the small monastery of St. Mamas in Constantinople, were he was ordained a priest and became the abbot. He wrote several works, among which are the fifty-eight hymns of “Divine Love,” in which he stresses that the Christian faith is a conscious experience of God. St. Symeon is the exponent of an intensive sacramental life, which leads to this personal conscious experience, as we can see in his Hymns. In this he is a predecessor of Hesychasm, which also shares this personal experience of God in conjunction with intensive sacramental life.
Finally, the spirituality of Hesychasm, as enunciated in the theology of St. Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), is of paramount importance not only in the life of monasticism, but also in the life of the entire Church. An Anthonite monk, St. Gregory took it upon himself to defend the holy Hesychasts of the Holy Mountain in their ways of praying and experiencing the presence of God the “uncreated light” that they contemplated. Barlaam the Calabrian had led the attack against the pious monks and their psycho physical method of prayer, and accused them of “gross materialism,” Messalianism, calling them “navel-souls” (omphalopsychoi) and “navel-watchers” (omphaloskopoi).
The hesychastic method of prayer consists of regulating one’s breathing with the recitation of the “Jesus prayer”: “O Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The prayer is repeated constantly until it descends from the lips and minds into one’s heart. At the end of the process, the peace of Christ is poured into the heart of the worshipper, and the light itself of Christ shines upon him and around him. This light, as that of the Holy Transfiguration of Christ, may also be seen by our physical eyes.
Saint Gregory established that the experience of the Holy Hesychastsa was an authentic one, for it is similar to that of the disciples on Mount Tabor. Theologically it is justified by the distinction between essence and energies in God, this light being the “uncreated light,” or the “uncreated energy” of God, that “can descend toward us,” whereas the essence of God “remains unapproachable” (St. Basil).
After the fall of Constantinople, the number of idiorrythmic monasteries continued to grow, a fact which brought a further decline to monastic life. The 16th century was the lowest ebb. In reaction to this problem, many of the monks themselves, especially on the Holy Mountain, left the main monasteries and turned to idiorrhythmic ones, establishing Sketai (dependencies) of the main monasteries, with a more rigorous typikon (order). Also, Patriarchs Jeremy II of Constantinople, Silvester of Alexandria, and Sophronios of Jerusalem led the attack against idiorrhythmic monasticism, thus managing to counteract its spread. Cenobitic monasticism prevailed for a while, but the tide soon went in its original direction. Many monasteries of the Holy Mountain, including the mother monastery, the Great Lavra, became idiorrhythmic. Today an idiorrhythmic monastery may become cenobitic but not the other way round. Hopefully, this will guarantee that organized monastic life will finally prevail, according to the Basilian ideal of monasticism.
Monasticism played an important role under the Ottoman Empire, as well. The monks not only kept the faith alive, but they also kept the Greek culture and literature alive. Not only did the education of clergy continue at the monasteries, but the monasteries became the “clandestine school” (Krypho Scholeio) for all the Greeks under Turkish occupation. The monks thus prevented the Christian nations under Turkish occupation from being assimilated to them, and thereby became the natural leaders of national (“ethnic”) resistance against the oppressors. It is no accident that the Greek Revolution started in 1821 at a monastery in the Peloponnesos, Aghia Lavra, with Metropolitan Germanos of Old Patras raising the banner of revolution and blessing the arms of the Greek freedom fighters.
The Monastic Community of the Holy Mount Athos.
Monasticism existed on the Mountain even before the tenth century. Many anchorites were living on Mt. Athos, especially in the area of Ierissos. The anchorites lived in the cells (kellia), and were organized according to the general pattern, selecting a “leader” (protos) from among themselves to keep a semblance of order. Some of those cells were built for many anchorites to live in, and some of these joint habitations were called “monasteries.” Two of these were in existence on the Mount before the tenth century: Zogrophou and Xeropotamou.
However, cenobitic monasticism, which is considered to be the beginning of the Great Republic of Monks on the Holy Mountain, only started in 963 when monk Athanasios the Athonite built the cenobitic monastery of Meghisti Lavra, with the help of the Emperor Nicephoros Phokas and the continued support of Emperor John Tsimiskis. The community soon became a “pan-Orthodox” community: Iberians (Georgians), Russians, Serbians, Bulgarians and Romanians joined the Greeks to form the pan-Orthodox community, a “Republic of Monks.”
Each of the monasteries had its own abbot; one, chosen leader as Protos, was installed by the emperor himself. Following the example of Lavra, which was given an autonomous status, all the monasteries were considered royal monasteries, without any ecclesiastical dependence. This was changed by Emperor Alexios Comnenos (1081-1118), who gave the Patriarch the right to supervise the monasteries (Novella 37); all the monasteries thus became “Stavropighiac” and Patriarchal. The Patriarch appointed the Bishop of Ierissos to be his representative at the Holy Mountain.
The multiplication of idiorrythmic monasteries under the Turkish occupation affected the Holy Mountain; they dismissed their abbots and even the Protos in the course of the seventeenth century. The abbot was replaced by two or three “trustees” chosen yearly by the monks; the Protos was replaced by four supervisors (Epistatai) who changed every year. One of them chosen as chief supervisor (Protepistatis), as a “first among equals.” The Republic, consisting of twenty monasteries, is still represented in the Synaxis by as many representatives that meet twice a year, or as necessary. The representative of Lavra presides over the Synaxis. This typikon, established in 1783 by Patriarch Gabriel IV of Constantinople, still regulates the life of the Anthonite republic of monks.
Orthodox Monasticism Today.
With the conversion of the Slavs in the ninth and tenth century, monasticism spread to the Slavic countries as well, where it continues to thrive up to our day, in spite of communist oppression. Important monasteries in Russia – Zagorsk, Optimo, and Valamo – continue the hesychastic tradition. Great monks and spiritual fathers were exponents of this tradition, including St. Nilus (1433 1508), St. Seraphim of Sarov (1759-1833), and Father John of Kronstadt (1829-1908), a married priest. Monasticism thrives today in Romania, Serbia, and even Bulgaria.
On the Holy Mountain itself, there is an impressive monastic renewal: several monasteries, inactive in the recent past, were recently populated by young, educated, enthusiastic monks, who give new life and a new spirituality, more in conformity with that of St. Basil, to the Holy Mountain. The monastery of Stavronikita is an example. Under the guidance of important spiritual fathers on the Holy Mountain today – among them ore Father Ephraim, abbot of Philotheou; Father Aimilianos, abbot of Simonos Petra; and abbot Vassilios of Stavronikita – monasticism is thriving on the Holy Mountain, both spiritually and intellectually. The pattern of cenobitic life prevails at present, and continues to gain ground.
In our day, there is a monastic renewal, as a reaction to the materialist spirit in our society, in almost every Orthodox land. Longovarda Monastery, Nea Makri, and St. John’s Monastery on Patmos are some of the active monasteries in Greece outside Mount Athos. As for the States, the major Holy Places, monasteries and shrines connected with them, are under the jurisdiction of the Synodal Church outside Russia. Among these monasteries are: Saint Tikhon’s, near South Canaan, Pennsylvania (OCA); Novo-Diveyevo convent, near Spring Valley, New York; Holy Transfiguration Monastery and Convent in Boston, Convent of the Vladimir Mother of God, San Francisco, California, Holy Dormition Monastery, Northville, Alberta, New Skete Monastery, near Cambridge, New York and Holy Annunciation Monastery (Carpatho Russian Diocese), Tuxedo Park, New York.
Suggestions for Further Reading:
H. Waddell, The Desert Fathers, London 1936.
N.F. Robinson, Monasticism in the Orthodox Churches, London, 1916.