New Galleries coming soon… Here’s an advance peek!

The North American Thebaid Pilgrimage is in full swing! I’m about halfway through photo editing from my recent stay at Archangel Michael Monastery in Cañones, New Mexico, and am also preparing photos from a brief visit at St Paisius in Safford AZ.

Today I head on to St Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery in Florence AZ, one of the most significant Orthodox monasteries in North America. From there it’s on to California and several monasteries in succession…

If you haven’t yet pre-ordered the North American Thebaid book, please keep in mind that this is our main fundraising method. Your support keeps the car (and me!) fueled  up and pressing on towards the goal! Follow this link to learn about the different levels of rewards we offer our supporters, and to contribute. Thank you for your consideration!

Here are a few images from Archangel Michael Monastery in the meantime (captions will follow in the full gallery!):

 

The Fragrance of the Desert, Pt. 1 – Protection of the Virgin, in the Colorado Rockies

New Photo Gallery now posted from Protection of the Virgin Mary Monastery, Lake George CO. Dozens of images plus info on the monastery, and my reflections on this haven of stillness in the Rockies.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
Approaching the entrance…

There is a certain ‘Fragrance of the Desert’ in the more remote monasteries, which goes beyond the heady blend of flora one catches whiffs of on the breeze, and exerts a calming and centering effect on one’s soul. Participating in the cycle of services and the rhythm of life at the monasteries leads to the dual effect of feeling both grounded and prayerful, centered on Christ.

With no internet or cell phone service, one soon begins to feel… healthy! Yes, and sane! These are the fruits and virtues one hopes to bring back after making a monastery pilgrimage.

During my visit, I had some insightful conversations about the monastic life with the Superior, Mother Cassiana, whose counsel for novices might be summed up as, “Persevere, and vow never to leave the monastery, no matter what!”

I hope you get a sense of the ‘fragrance of the desert’ from this new photo gallery. More galleries are coming soon as I continue my great western pilgrimage…

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
The little chapel feels ‘prayed in’.

NEW GALLERY: Monasteries of Our Lady and St Laurence, in the Colorado Rockies

I just posted an extensive gallery of images from my week at The Monasteries of Our Lady and St Laurence in the mountains above Cañon City, Colorado, and invite you to view them!

The stunning vistas and beautiful church, monastic dwellings, and rustic retreat lodge make for an inviting experience, and hospitality is certainly one of the monastics’ primary aims…

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage

This has been my first direct experience with the Orthodox Western Rite, so I have written a little also about this somewhat lesser known (and often misunderstood) Orthodox tradition, and have included several links for further reading.

Stay tuned for more blog posts and photos, God willing on a weekly basis, as I have two more monasteries scheduled for the next couple of weeks (see the schedule on the right hand panel), and more to add very soon!

Here are a few more images before you proceed to the Gallery…

 

The Western Pilgrimage Begins…

Parish visits and a special encounter with a monastic writer and abbot, plus great travel weather, have ‘put the wind in my sails’ for this major leg of my American Thebaid Pilgrimage.

Sorry for the spotty posting lately, but my limited multitasking capabilities have been limited to a variety of deadline-driven tasks. Now that I’m actually on the road towards my next monastery destination, I wanted to take a moment and share with you some recent experiences.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
Fr Damascene of Platina and Fr Gregory Schultz of St Michael the Archangel (Serbian Archdiocese), celebrate Vespers during the annual Parish Retreat in Huntsville AL, June 1.

After leaving Birmingham AL on Thursday last (May 31), I headed ‘just up the road’ to Huntsville, where Fr Damascene, abbot of St Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina CA, was giving a series of talks for the annual parish retreat of St Michael the Archangel (Serbian Archdiocese – English language).

St Herman’s was, as most of you know, co-founded in the late 1960s by Fr Seraphim Rose of Blessed Memory (†1982) and Abbot Herman (Podmoshensky), who reposed just a couple of years ago. Fr Damascene was one of the last spiritual sons of Fr Seraphim Rose, and is the author or editor of three remarkable and essential books: Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works, Christ the Eternal Tao, and Genesis, Creation and Early Man – The Orthodox Christian Vision (by Fr Seraphim Rose, edited by Fr Damascene).

This retreat was a wonderful experience, both for Fr Damascene’s talks on Creation, Salvation, and Deification (deeply immersed in the words of the Holy Fathers of the Church), and for the experience of camping out at Monte Sano State Park with the St Michael’s parish community.

Continue reading “The Western Pilgrimage Begins…”

First Photographs from Dormition Monastery

I’ve been at Dormition Monastery in Rives Jct, Michigan, for a little less than a week now, and am very pleased with several images I’ve made so far. Of course, I’ll post a full gallery after I finish my visit, but I didn’t want to wait that long to share these with you.

IMG_3651
The main church at Dormition Monastery transports you to the heavenlies the moment you enter…

So, I hope you enjoy this small selection of my first photographs in 2018 for the Thebaid book! Scroll down for the slide show…

This visit to Dormition Monastery marks a great start to 2018 for the Thebaid Project. With 15-20 monasteries still to be visited on my pilgrimage, we’re on track with our original plan to finish the photography by early Summer, and have the book printed and in distribution by early Autumn 2018. By pre-ordering the book, you are helping to support a unique photographic pilgrimage to dozens of Orthodox Christian monasteries across the USA and Canada, providing a compelling glimpse into the beautiful, prayerful realm of these monks and nuns, who support the world through their ceaseless prayers.

You can view hundreds of photographs from over a dozen monasteries (so far!) on the Thebaid Project Galleries page. Learn more about the Thebaid Project here.

Asking your prayers and support

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Thebaid Pilgrimage Resumes – Dormition Monastery, Rives Jct MI

After several weeks working behind the scenes on photo editing, writing and such, I am more than eager to get back on the road and resume my pilgrimage to Orthodox Christian monasteries  across the USA and Canada.

DormitionMonastery-aerial
Aerial view of the new monastery church and main courtyard, from the Dormition Monastery website.

This week I will be at Dormition Monastery in Rives Jct , Michigan, a growing women’s monastery in the Romanian tradition, which has established a strong spiritual presence since its founding three decades ago in 1987.

Watch for more posts and photographs coming soon!

 

Thebaid Presentation at St. Mary of Egypt (OCA), Norcross GA

My heartfelt thanks to Hieromonk Cyprian (DuRant, rector)  and the parish of St Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church (OCA), in Norcross GA, for hosting me this past Sunday.

The Divine Liturgy was beautiful in this handsome wood-timbered church, itself reminiscent of churches in the Russian north. In spite of the epic snowfall two days before, the church was nearly full, a testimony to this vibrant parish. I gave my presentation during the fellowship meal in the church hall, where I quickly discovered many of the parishioners have strong ties and make pilgrimages to several monasteries in the region.

I am truly grateful to Fr Cyprian for his gracious invitation, Reader Thomas for organizing the event, and to all the faithful, who helped refill the Thebaid Project gas tank with a generous collection.

If you’re ever in the Greater Atlanta area, be sure to search out this parish, a strong and inspiring example of Orthodoxy thriving in the midst of (and in spite of!) our post-modern and post-Christian world. I look forward to scheduling a return visit, with the express purpose of making some photographs for the parish in thanks for their support of the Thebaid Project.

Visit the St Mary of Egypt website here…

Learn more about hosting a Thebaid presentation for your parish here.

Mini Gallery: St John the Theologian Skete, Hiram Ohio

I was able to make a quick “get acquainted visit” at St John’s Skete on November 20, on my way south from New Skete in New York.

This historic men’s skete was initially an OCA monastery, but the property was transferred to the Russian Church Abroad (ROCOR) after the original community was invited to retire to a monastery in Ukraine.

The Skete of St John the Theologian is a dependency of the Hermitage of the Holy Cross, and supports their small community through the sale of liturgical goods.

It was a joy to be able to have a brief visit here, and I hope to return to make some high quality photographs, but these images from my iPhone aren’t too bad at all!

Click any image below to enlarge and enter slide show…

Please consider contributing to the North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage. We are not funded by the Church, but rely on your support to put gas in the tank! Thank you!

 

When do Tourists become Pilgrims?

Here is a very insightful article/interview on monastery tourists versus true pilgrims. Though coming from a European perspective, the principles for welcoming the curious and showing them the warmth and welcome of Christ’s love are especially applicable to American monasteries.

 

When do Tourists become Pilgrims?

Pravoslavie, October 31, 2017:

There is nothing bad about cameras, provided somebody wants to take pictures of holy sites so that he and his descendants could hold on to memories of that visit. That is very good, but one should remember one important thing.

A pilgrimage is not a mere visit to a geographic location; it is a spiritual exercise which involves physical strain, prayer, meditation, repentance for sins, taking Holy Communion and being with the Lord alone.

Igumen Daniel (Irbits), Abbot of the Monastery of St. George in Götschendorf (Germany), analyzes the characteristics of Christian pilgrimage, and when it has a good effect and when a harmful effect on the human soul.

Abbot Daniel, Burgomaster of Milmersdorf, and Prince Eduard von Anhalt.

—Fr. Daniel, is there such a problem as “spiritual tourism”? If it does exist, then how, in your opinion, does it manifest itself? What are its negative effects on both “spiritual tourists” and monasteries?

—I will speak on the basis of our local experience in Germany, still a modest experience of our small monastery in Götschendorf.

At our St. George’s Monastery we are faced with the phenomenon of “spiritual tourism”, as you call it.

Our monastery is often visited by groups of Germans. These are local Evangelicals and Roman Catholics, representatives of federal and regional authorities of Germany, and public figures. Among our visitors was Eduard, Prince von Anhalt, head of the Ducal House of Saxony. I cannot call all these visits “pilgrimages”. But thanks to encounters like these Germans can know the Russian Orthodox Church and our Russian culture better. And that is of great importance for us, for through such meetings we can bring the light of our faith to the German society and elsewhere.

Let me be quite frank: in many cases people after their acquaintance with Orthodox Christianity in the German lands, German have with time embraced the Orthodox faith. For example, last year the first baptism was performed at our monastery—a young German woman was received into the Orthodox Church.

We live in a non-Orthodox country; to be more precise, we live in the state of Brandenburg—in its predominantly Protestant area—and for native residents (Protestants and atheists alike) the very presence of a Russian Orthodox monastery in the region is something extraordinary; and believe me, it evokes great interest. In my opinion, it is very important that we answer to their interest not with pharisaical arrogance but with our benevolence and willingness to help them get to know Christ.

Continue reading “When do Tourists become Pilgrims?”

New Gallery Posted! Holy Archangel Michael & All Angels Skete

I’ve just uploaded the new gallery of almost two-dozen photographs from my recent stay at Holy Archangel Michael & All Angels Skete in northwest Missouri. Included are some excerpts from the skete’s website, and additional links and information.

Proceed to the new Gallery…

I’m finally getting caught up on photo editing after three weeks of continuous travel, and plan to post more galleries in the days ahead, so stay tuned!

As always, thank you for your support and prayers!