Sunday, January 6, 2013

Monastic Orders

The following text is taken from “The Journal of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius”, No. 6, September 1929, written by George Arseniev.

The Orthodox Church does not have Monastic Orders in the same way or sense as the Roman Church has them. In the Orthodox Church the monks and monasteries are usually under the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop (except for the so-called “stauropygial monasteries” which are under the direct control of the central authority of the autocephalous Church). The monks do not occupy and particular place in the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church. There are simple monks (not belonging to the clergy) as well as deacons, priests and bishops (the Russian Orthodox Bishops are generally monks, but exception has been made sometimes for widowed priest). The entrance into monastic orders therefore, is not to be confused with hierarchical ordination. From the laity monks only differ as persons who have resigned the world in order to vow themselves completely to the service of God. Religious obedience is the foundation of every monastic community, being a school of humility. Exterior resignation of the world is not sufficient without an inner resignation of one’s own ‘ego’, of one’s selfishness and individualism. The Superior is not only a spiritual guide and adviser whose authority is confined to helping souls, but he also has administrative and disciplinary powers over his monks, according to the statutes of the monastic communities. 

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