The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Friday, August 25, 2006

Monasticism and the Church

There is a must-see post over at the Scrivener blogspot. Although I am not a big Schmemann fan, I agree with this excerpt from his journal a 100%. Scroll down to the bottom to see my own bitter rant about monasticism. I have wanted to get that off of my chest for a while now!


At 11:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I agree whole hearted with Schmemen's diagnosis of the domination of the Monastic 'party' in Orthodox, and its over emphasis on ritual, works righteousness -- works of the "new law," the typicon and the Rudder. Also, a great emphasis is placed on the occurence, even prevelance of miracles in some monestaries -- almost like Charismatic's or Prosperity Protestants proof of their election: See I have a Cadilac, or listen, I speak in tongues.

While Orthodox monasticism does have many pearls to offer to the church (explanation of the nature of spiritual warfare), unfortunately rigorous litrugical fasting, etc. are not among those jewels.

If anything, the matter was much worse for Cluny monks in the West, hence it is no surprse that finally a monk (Luther) ran from his cell screaming "Justification by Faith."

Well, my hope is help with the neo-Patristic dogmatic movement in Anglicanism because I think Prayer-Book Anglicanism has a better chance at acheiving a more balance praxis then Orthodox (and it is part of my cultural heritage). The key will be avoiding Secualrism, Pelagian Monasticism, Tridentinism (among some Anglo-Cathilics this is the precious Pelagian movement) and Protestantism.

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

I happen to like liturgical fasting, but I still understand your point. You can't fetishize these things. Even in the history of monasticism, you have monks who gorge themselves and break the fast on purpose, so that they will not get too attached to their own rightousness. St. Andrew the Fool for Christ had a barbeque on the steps of the Hagia Sophia during Holy Week and told the horrified and indignant spectators:

"What is worse: to eat meat on Good Friday or to judge a man for doing it?"

Nihil novum sub sole. It is very difficult to balance asceticism and the heart of the Gospel. It is something that I think must be done, but it is very, very difficult.

At 10:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, P.I. But I think that in the process of that balacning act, we must be given certain amout a freedeom and leeway for personal growth and idiosyncracy. What saves you may not save me, and isn't it too bad that we don't have a buch of authenitic gerontas wlaking about. Hence, I've never been much for abundant calendar fasting -- as it one-size fits all.
But if does happen to fit, then go with it by all means!

However, I do think emphasising and encouragin strict Ash Wednesday and Good Friday fasting is good, as well as Fish Fridays. A little liturgical fasting helps gets us started and builds community identity. The rest, however, needs to be in our own personal times of trial, etc.

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