‘Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Monasteries’ Announced

atlas_of_monasteries_grandeI am very encouraged by today’s announcement of an important new work, an Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Monasteries.

I see this new publication as a sign of growing interest in Orthodox monasticism in North America, as well as the sort of book which will itself help grow that interest, especially by providing a handy and practical resource for pilgrims and seekers.

This is just the sort of complementary title which helps support the North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage Project, and I look forward to using this new Atlas as a resource in my upcoming travels. Continue reading “‘Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Monasteries’ Announced”

‘Fire in the Desert’ – The Radical Call of Monasticism

cross-follow Christ

Monastics are a sign to the world, and to the Church in particular, that there are persons, men and women, whose love for Christ and zeal for following His call is so extreme as to lead them to literally “deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him.”

This is the visible, radical, total response to the call of Christ.

Monastics who heed this call are a sign of the eschaton, the fulfillment of all things when Christ comes again in glory. They die to this world, that they may begin living even now in the heavenly kingdom. They wear black, that they might be filled with light. They deny themselves, yet provide solace, hospitality and healing to pilgrims. They wear themselves out through asceticism, yet are renewed daily by the Holy Spirit.

Continue reading “‘Fire in the Desert’ – The Radical Call of Monasticism”

What is a ‘Thebaid’?

What is a “thebaid”?  Per the Catholic Encyclopaedia,

The valley of the Nile, under Roman domination, was divided into four provinces: Lower and Upper Egypt, Lower and Upper Thebaid. The last two comprised the upper part of the valley. During the fourth to fifth centuries it was the chosen land of the monks, who by their sanctity and by the form they impressed on the monastic system greatly influenced the East and the West.



A thousand years after this initial flowering of Christian monasticism in the Egyptian Thebaid, there was already flourishing in Russia a “Northern Thebaid,” and in the mid-1970s, St Herman of Alaska Press of Platina, California, published a collection of the lives of many of the great Russian ascetics in a book bearing that title. The book’s description reads:

Continue reading “What is a ‘Thebaid’?”

St. Paisios of Mt. Athos: ‘Don’t sit at the crossroads. Choose a cross…’

afam-2TIn his edifying little patericon, ‘Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters’, Elder Paisios (who was officially entered into the calendar of saints a year ago, on January 13, 2015) presents “the lives of Athonite fathers who were vessels of divine grace and lived approximately in the period from 1840-1980. As a conclusion to the book, the author offers a distillation of his own experience and God’s wisdom, with the title: ‘Return to God from Earth to Heaven’.”

In his conclusion, the Elder provides some very simple spiritual counsel for those seeking to discern God’s will for their life:

“The years go by, and people grow old. So, don’t sit at the crossroads. Choose a cross relative to your philotimo, proceed to one of the two paths of our Church and follow Christ to the Crucifixion, if you want to rejoice in the Resurrection.” (p. 181)

One path is married life, the other is monasticism. (Of course, there are some who may find themselves living as a solitary in the world, but this is rare.)

We may have an idea of what the married life in the world may entail from parents, friends, relatives. But we cannot gain an appreciation of the monastic way without making some pilgrimages and testing the life.

Continue reading “St. Paisios of Mt. Athos: ‘Don’t sit at the crossroads. Choose a cross…’”