I am very pleased to announce an extensive gallery of images (over three dozen!) from my recent pilgrimage to New Skete (OCA), in Upstate New York, near the Vermont border.
This new collection provides glimpses of the divine services, the grounds, and the daily life and work of the monks and nuns of New Skete, who just recently celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the community’s founding in 1966.
Also, this collection takes advantage of a new gallery feature, presenting the images in a tiled mosaic. Click on any image to enlarge and enter an attractive lightbox-style slideshow, with arrows to navigate. I am applying this new layout to all existing galleries, and to all future ones.
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.
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.
—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.
After a couple of months of nearly continuous travel, I am getting caught up on photo editing, and just posted a new gallery of images, these from St Paul Skete (Antiochian, women’s) in Grand Junction, Tennessee, about an hour outside of Memphis.
Please proceed over to the St Paul Gallery to see a selection of images, both of the skete chapels and grounds, and glimpses of the services…
When I visited the Hermitage of the Holy Cross last October, I was only able to stay for a couple of days due to a last minute schedule change. For this return visit, I was able to stay for several days, which led to several unique images, as I settled more into the rhythm of life.
It was good to renew my acquaintances with some of the monks I first met last year, and the obvious signs of continued growth, including the completion of St Herman’s House and the new candle workshop, made this an eventful and fruitful visit.
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.
Yesterday, October 12, I was at the OCA Diocese of the Midwest Assembly at St Michael’s Orthodox Church in Broadview Heights, south of Cleveland, where I set up my full Thebaid display, and was able to meet and discuss the project with numerous clergy and lay representatives from several states.
I have found that when I meet people and describe the Thebaid Project in person, there is a much more vivid grasp of the inspiration and purpose of the project, and a corresponding affirmation of it. I arrived during the morning registration check-in and breakfast, and had great conversations through the entire day.
Fr John Memorich, the host priest of St Michael’s, asked me if I was going to photograph any dendrites, and I had to admit I was not familiar with the term, so he explained that referred to monastics who lived either in the hollows of trees or in their branches, like St David of Thessalonica, or St Tikhon of Kaluga (see icon at right). So, all you dendrite, tree-dwelling hermits of North America, be on the alert, as I hope to find you and make some photographs of your ascetical, transfigured life (preserving your cherished anonymity and privacy of course!). (Of course, I doubt there are any hermits, living in trees or elsewhere, who are on the internet to read this, so there is a real sense of irony in this musing!)
The weekend of September 16-17 found me at St Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church (ROCOR) in Roswell GA, where I had been invited by Fr John Townsend to give my presentation on the History of Orthodox Monasticism, and the North American Thebaid Project.
The warm hospitality of the entire parish, the beauty of the church and iconography, and the vivid sense of the nearness of the heavenly kingdom and the saints (especially accentuated by the two reliquaries flanking the nave) embraces one upon entering, and made my experience of Saturday’s Vigil and Sunday’s Divine Liturgy quite lofty and edifying.
As I typically do when visiting parishes, I made some photographs during the Liturgy to gift St Mary’s as a “Thank You”, and wanted to share a few highlights with you.
My heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Fr John and the parish, and I look forward to return visits in God’s timing.
If you are interested in scheduling me for a parish presentation, I’d love to make that happen! Please contact me at [zosimas at thebaid dot org], and also check out this page which may answer many of your questions.
Although I had to leave early due to Hurricane Irma, I was able to make some photographs and provide some glimpses of the incredible beautify of this sacred monastery. You can view the entire gallery here.
I am very excited to share with you some images from my recent visit to the Monastery of the Glorious Ascension in Resaca GA.
The rugged beauty of the forested grounds, nestled in the mountains of northwest Georgia, and the luminous chapel and monastery building, stir the heart and evoke a deep yearning for God, for the Living God.
Summer travel and photography continues for the North American Thebaid Project with my first visit to the Monastery of the Glorious Ascension (ROCOR) in northwest Georgia, and pilgrimages to two of Elder Ephraim’s monasteries in Florida: Panagia Vlahernon and Holy Annunciation (GOA).
Each of these have informative and attractive websites (see links below) where you can learn about their way of life and how to schedule a pilgrimage. I am most eager to be back on the road and in the holy confines and sacred grounds with the monks and nuns.
In addition, I will be giving a presentation at St Mary of Egypt Church (ROCOR) in Roswell GA on Sunday, September 17, during coffee hour following the Divine Liturgy. If you are in the Greater Atlanta and Marietta area, please join us!
And, looking ahead to October, I am planning on attending the OCA Diocese of the Midwest Annual Assembly as an exhibitor, with a full display for the Thebaid Project including a continuous digital slide show, handouts, and more. I hope to see some of you there; please stop by my display so we can get acquainted!