UFOMAMMUT "Idolum" // Doom-Acid-Rock-Psychedelic Music!!

THE MACHINE "Moons of Neptune"

ULTIMATE SPINACH "Ballad of The Hip Dead Goddess"


I'm reeeeeeally digging on this band now!

50 Psychedelic '60s Bands To Hear Before You Die!!!

Great list of awesome bands whom you may or may not have heard of. Get into it!

KAK "Lemonaide Kid" (1969 Psych-Rock)


The Culture of Life vs. The Culture of Death // Anti-Abortion Article--

[This is from a Catholic site I randomly stumbled across]

That Dark Hole called Enlightenment--

Since the French Revolution we have been spoon-fed the philosophy that extols science and reason while relegating Theology and Spirituality to the Dark Ages. Often the weapon is to look at the intransigence of the church to Copernicus or to remind everyone of the uncompelling views of Christian fundamentalism with respect to literal translations of the bible concerning creation. It is always to poke fun and derision and to ridicule the obvious protruding foreheads of people of Faith.

This purpose of this tome is not to challenge the right of anyone to present critical analysis of Christian thought and praxis. Lord knows, valid criticism always evidences the truth and power of Christ's message as well as the nobility of the human spirit we claim as the likeness of God. No indeed, Christianity can stand on its own strength.

What irks me is that challenge to reason is never made to our "enlightened culture" you know that culture we often like to call the "Culture of Death". We have no criticality because the truth of our culture is a floating, unanchored series of unchallenged assumptions that never undergo scrutiny. When they become indefensible the error is not recognized only forgotten. It happens in every area of Enlightenment attack.

Christian belief has been under steady assault from historical criticism groups like the Jesus Seminar and their every press conference receives blanket coverage. Scholarship, if this is indeed scholarship, must be subjected to its own criticism. The assumptions of the Jesus Seminar, the intellectual prowess of the group and the methods of critical analysis have been under siege by real scholars of the Bible for many years but their rebuttals of conclusions made by the seminar are never allowed to see the light of day. Instead the debate ends with points made to open discussion and nothing published about what happens after that discussion is engaged.

We are under assault by the great revelations of the Dead Sea scrolls. A never-ending litany of releases shows Gnostic thought and structure to a certain point. When it gets into its pagan sourcebook that portion does not see the light of day. Where one might question the theology it is never revealed because it would be immediately obvious that Gnostic Christianity is not original, it is not early in Christian development and it possesses a pantheon of Gods and Goddesses. Even Elaine Pagels (who should be read by everyone) acknowledges the assimilation of Christian beliefs into an earlier specialize religion. But Gnosticism is never challenged. It was always said that "the church" destroyed Gnostic writing for their own purposes but Irenaeus recorded them all as he rejected them. Some of the most insidious forms of worship are recorded for all to see and the Dead Sea scrolls support that statement. The Gnostic writings are interesting history but were never early Christianity.

Here is a news report presented last week on most networks:

A premature baby that doctors say spent less time in the womb than any other surviving infant is to be released from a Florida hospital Tuesday.
Amillia Sonja Taylor was just 9 1/2 inches long and weighed less than 10 ounces when she was born Oct. 24. She was delivered 21 weeks and six days after conception. Full-term births come after 37 to 40 weeks.
Neonatologists who cared for Amillia say she is the first baby known to survive after a gestation period of fewer than 23 weeks.

In our "Culture of Death" we expound a women's right to her body but never the child's rights to an environment in which to live. Fetus is the key neutral word here, demolishing humanity as it morphs the baby into a mere parasite living off the host. What say we of a child of 21 weeks? Doctors assure us that the baby is normal in every way and has been released to sleep at home in its own crib. What do we say of the aborted who will never get that privilege? They are not babies do you say? Oh! Another anomaly falls off the radar. And what of the unique embryo of stem cells that is capable of producing a one of a kind human that can never again be duplicated? What is the difference between 21 minutes and 21 weeks? Are not both unique and unduplicatable? Science please answer that question. Isn't unduplicatable the sign of personhood?

DRAGONFLY "Crazy Woman " (1968)

POWER OF ZEUS "In The Night"

Top 40 heavy psychedelic albums from the USA (#10-1)

ANDWELLA'S DREAM "Cocaine" (1969)

"You need cocaine on my brain!"  Actually, cocaine sucks big time, but this band doesn't! This is a laid back, yet rockin' forward song circa 1969.  So many great psychedelic rock bands went forgotten from this era.  Thanks to YouTube they are found again!!

MORGEN "Love" (1969)

Yes, the intro sounds like White Rabbit. 1960 psych-rock. It can't be beat.

AXE "The Child Dreams" (1969)

I can't listen to any psych-rock bands and not be reminded of my buddy Ben Vargas. Ben, where in the heck are you?!? I've been looking for him for nine years now, to no avail. Ben is an avid listener to all things 60's psych sounding. I'm glad him taste for great music rubbed off on me. Now get into it!

Carmelite Catholic Sisters Who Live in the Texan Desert

These women are simply amazing!  They have a bottomless love for God!  They are praying for all of us this very moment.  They are drawing closer to God with every breath they take.  If you take one step closer towards God, He will take two steps towards YOU.  Remember that God loves you so much & is waiting for you to begin your journey to him.

Carmelite Nuns of the Texan Desert. Pure Love, Pure Love

ODYSSEY "Angel Dust" (1969)

Great rock-n-roll!!! Almost a minimalist feel, but with some killer leads & solos!!! I am in heaven this night. Lord, please take me back to the electric 60's! I promise to be good & uphold your commandments.

He drank all his wiiiiiiiiiiiine!  This is the real deal.  I so wish I had a few years to run around with back in the late 1960's.  I wouldn't ever sleep, just walk around for five years, meeting people & hearing their stories.  At night I would escape into their stories, played backwards in my head.

THE GLASS OPENING "Does It Really Matter?" (1968)

THE BANSHEES "Project Blue" (1966)

THE LORDS "Death Bells at Dawn" (1966)

American psych-rock band from the 60's. Awesome, fun, inviting, warm, and magikal stuff!


Awesome New Hardcore Comp. to Stream for Free-

Lots of great hardcorepunk here for you to check out! Get into it! m//r



The Incredible Shrinking Holocaust™

Poland has cut its estimate of the number of people killed by the Nazis in the Auschwitz death camp from 4 million to just over 1 million.

The vast majority of the dead are now accepted to have been Jews, despite claims by the former Polish communist government that as many Poles perished in Hitler's largest concentration camp. . .

The new study could rekindle the controversy over the scale of Hitler's final solution."

Shevach Weiss, a death camp survivor and Labor Party member of the Israeli Parliament, expressed disbelief at the revised estimates, saying: "It sounds shocking and strange." . . .

Shmuel Krakowsky, head of research at Israel's Yad Vashem memorial for Jewish victims of the Holocaust, said the new Polish figures were correct.

"The 4 million figure was let slip by Capt. Rudolf Hoess, the death camp's Nazi commander. Some have bought it, but it was exaggerated." . . .

But the Polish authorities said accurate estimates of the number killed could only be made by studying German documents seized by the Soviet Union. But Moscow has refused to return the archives.
A most convenient excuse! In 1989 I organized a write-in campaign to persuade the then-Soviet Leader Gorbachev to release the Auschwitz Death Registers captured in 1945 when the Red Army took over the Auschwitz complex. A few months afterwards this actually happened. Gorbachev released these all-important documents to the Red Cross, which showed in minute detail why people had died in Auschwitz, the cause and time of death, their birth, address etc.

74,000 names of people who had died were listed, of which only approximately 30,000 were Jews, along with an almost equal number of Poles and members of other nationalities.

The incredibly shrinking Holocaust! The "millions" that we have heard about for half a century and that we hear and read about still today all started with the "testimony" beaten out of poor Hoess on that horrible night in defeated Germany.

The Wisdom of the Desert

ST. MACARIUS THE GREAT   "Seek Not the Praises of Men"

This selection is from St. Macarius the Great, born around 300 A.D. A former camel driver and trader, he was one of the earliest pioneers of "Scetis," an area in the Egyptian desert near Alexandria that is renowned for the richness of its ascetic life. St. Macarius lived before monasteries were established and as with many monks of his time was a wanderer, not living in any particular place for very long. He visited St. Anthony the Great in the Red Sea Desert at least twice. St. Macarius died around 390 A.D.

BEGIN: A brother came to see Abba Macarius the Egyptian, and said to him, "Abba, give me a word, that I may be saved." So the old man said, "Go to the cemetery and abuse the dead." The brother went there, abused them and threw stones at them; then he returned and told the old man about it. The latter said to him, "Didn't they say anything to you?" He replied, "No."

The old man said, "Go back tomorrow and praise them." So the brother went away and praised them, calling them, "Apostles, saints, and righteous men." He returned to the old man and said to him, "Did they not answer you?" The brother said, "No."

The old man said to him, "You know how you insulted them and they did not reply, and how you praised them and they did not speak; so you too, if you wish to be saved, must do the same and become a dead man. Like the dead, take no account of either the scorn of men or their praises, and you can be saved." END

from "The Desert Christian," by Sr. Benedicta Ward, (New York: MacMillan, 1975), p. 132

ST. MARY OF EGYPT  An Example of Repentance for Today

Now that we are in the season of fasting (Great Lent), our thoughts are turned toward repentance and one of the best examples of repentance for us is that of St. Mary of Egypt.  In the usual versions of St. Mary's life, she is a repentant prostitute who spends most of her life in the desert, living alone in repentance.  There is another, lesser known, version of her life, though, which is also worth reading and was commonly known among the ancient Desert Fathers.  We will give both those versions, both instructive, which do not necessarily contradict each other.  First, the more commonly-known version:

BEGIN: In her youth, Mary chose to live a dissolute life in Alexandria until, one day, drawn by curiosity, she joined some pilgrims going by ship to Jerusalem.  On the way she seduced many of her companions, and continued to live in this way in Jerusalem.  On the day appointed for the veneration of the Holy Cross (September 14), Mary went with the others to the door of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where the relic of the True Cross was to be displayed.  She went forward to enter the church with the other pilgrims, but on the threshold an invisible force seemed to prevent her from entering.  At once sudden contrition filled her heart and she began to weep, praying to Mary the Mother of God to help her.  Next morning she found she could enter the church and venerate the cross.  At once she left the city and crossed over Jordan, taking only a little bread which she had bought with some coins a pilgrim had given her.  In the desert she lived for forty seven years until a priest, Zossima, found her by accident, heard her story, gave her communion and eventually returned in time to bury her, a lion helping him to dig her grave.  END

In the second version of her life, St. Mary did not immediately leave Jerusalem after consecrating herself to God, but instead stayed on at the Holy Sepulchre as a nun where she again fell into sin:

BEGIN: An anchorite told this story to the brothers: "When I was living in the desert on the slopes of Arnona, one day a weakness of soul came upon me and my thoughts said to me, "Go for a walk in the desert." I came to a dried up stream; it was an advanced hour in the evening and by the light of the moon I fixed my eyes on a distant object and I saw that it was sitting on a rock.  Then I reflected that even if it was indeed a lion, I ought not to be afraid but to entrust myself to the grace of Christ.  So I approached the rock, and by the side of it there was a narrow opening.  At once the being I had seen afar off hid itself in this cave.  When I reached the top of the rock, I found there a basket full of bread and a jar of water which showed me that it must be a human being.  I called to him, 'Servant of God, be so kind as to come out so that I may be blessed by you.'  He was silent but when I had renewed my appeal several times, he answered me thus: "Excuse me, father, but I cannot come out." When I asked why, he said, "You must know that I am a woman and that I am naked."  At these words I rolled up the cloak that I was carrying, and threw it into the opening in the rock, saying to her, ìHere, cover yourself and come out" and she did so.  When she had come out, we offered a prayer to God and we sat down.  Then I asked her, "My mother, of your kindness, tell me what has happened to you.  How long have you been here?  Why did you undertake this journey?  And how did you find this cave?"

She began to tell me about herself thus: "Once I was a consecrated virgin living in the Holy Sepulchre.  One of the monks who had his cell at the gate got to know me.  I used to meet him so often that it reached the point where we fell into sin.  I would go to his house and he would come to mine.  One day as I was was going to his cell as usual I heard him weeping before God and making his confession to Him.  I knocked on the door, but he, because of hwat he had done with me, did not open it to me at all.  He went on weeping and confessing.  Seeing this, I said to myself, 'He is repenting of his sins but I do not repent of mine.  He is lamenting his faults; shall I not also afflict myself?'  Re-entering my cell alone, I dressed myself poorly and filled this basket with loaves and this jar with water, and then I went into the Holy Sepulchre.  There I prayed asking that the great God, the wonderful, who came to save those who were lost and to raise up those that are fallen, He who hears all those who address themselves to Him in truth, that He would show mercy towards me, a sinful woman, and if He should find the repentance and transformation of my soul acceptable, that He would bless these loaves and this water so that they would last me to the end of my life, so that no necessity of the flesh or needs of hunger should give me a pretext for interrupting perpetual praise.  After that I went into Holy Golgotha where I offered the same prayer and touching the top of the Holy Stone, there I invoked the holy Name of God.  Then having reached Jericho and crossed over Jordan, I journeyed the length of the Dead Sea, for at that time the water was not very high.  I crossed the mountains and wandered in the desert and I had the good fortune to find this dried up stream.  When I climbed this rock, I found this cave here and when I went into it its narrowness pleased me greatly, for it made me think that the good God had offered it to me as a place of refuge.  I have been here thirty years without having seen anyone except yourself at this hour.  The basket of loaves and the jar of water have sufficed for my needs until now without failing me.  After a time my clothes wore out but my hair had grown and I was covered with it in such a way that neither heat nor cold made me suffer by the grace of Christ."

After these words she invited me to take some of the loaves, for she sensed that I was very hungry.  We ate and drank equally.  Once, I looked into the basket and saw that the loaves remained as they had been and also the water had not diminished and I praised God.  I wanted to leave her my old robe but she would not have it.  She said, ìYou will bring me new clothing,î which pleased me very much and I begged her to wait for me just there.  We offered a prayer to God and I went away, marking all the way my path for my return.  I went back to the church of the nearby village and old the priest about the matter.  He told the faithful that certain of the saints were living naked and that those who had too many clothes should offer them to them.  The friends of Christ gave many clothes diligently and I took what was necessary and went off joyously in the hope of seeing again this spiritual mother.  But I could not find the cave again although I wore myself out seeking it.  And when at last by chance I saw it, the  woman inspired by God was no longer to be found there; her absence affected me deeply.  Some days later some anchorites came to visit me, and they told this story:

"When we came to the edge of the sea, we saw by night in the desert an anchorite whose hair covered him; when we begged him to bless us, he fled quickly, entering a little cave which we found nearby.  We wanted to go in but he implored us, saying, 'Oh servants of Christ, do not disturb me!  Lo,
on top of the rock is a basket of loaves and a jar of water; please be good enough to serve yourselves.' He offered a prayer for us to God, and when we reached the top we found things as he had said.  We sat down and although we ate, the bread did not diminish, and although we drank of the water in the jar it remained the same.  For the rest of the night we were silent.  At dawn we got up to be blessed by the anchorite and we found him asleep in the Lord.  Also, we discovered that he was a woman who had been naked and who had covered herself with her hair.  We received a blessing from her body and rolled a stone to the entry, to the cave.  Then, having offered a prayer to God, we came away."

Then I understood that he spoke of the holy mother, the former consecrated virgin, and I told them what I had learned from her.  Together we glorified God to whom be glory to ages of ages.  Amen. END

from Sr. Benedicta Ward, "Harlots of the Desert,"(Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1987), pp. 27, 29 - 32.


ST. JOHN THE DWARF  Life and Teachings: Part I

Today we will begin a two-part study of the life and teachings of St. John the Dwarf who was born in Egypt about 339.  At the age of 18, he left for Scetis and was trained there by Abba Ammoes for twelve years.  One of the most vivid characters in the Egyptian Desert, he attracted many disciples and in order to preserve his own solitude, he dug himself a cave underground.  Abba John was later ordained priest and the number of his sayings that are recorded and preserved point to his importance among his disciples.  After 407, he went to Suez and the Mountain of St. Anthony.

BEGIN: It was said of Abba John the Dwarf that he withdrew and lived in the desert at Scetis with an old man of Thebes.  His abba, taking a piece of dry wood, planted it and said to him, "Water it every day with a bottle of water, until it bears fruit."  Now the water was so far away that he had to leave in the evening and return the following morning.  At the end of three years the wood came to life and bore fruit.  The old man took some of the fruit and carried it to the church saying to the brethren, "Take and eat the fruit of obedience."

It was said of Abba John the Dwarf, that one day he said to his elder brother, "I should like to be free of all care, like the angels who do not work, but ceaselessly offer worship to God."  So he took off his cloak and went away into the desert.  After a week he came back to his brother.  When he knocked on the door, he heard his brother say, before he opened it, "Who are you?"  He said, "I am John, your brother."  But he replied, "John has become an angel, and henceforth he is no longer among men."  Then the other begged him saying, "It is I."  However, his brother did not let him in, but left him there in distress until morning.  Then, opening the door, he said to him, "You are a man and you must once again work in order to eat."  Then John made a prostration before him, saying, "Forgive me." (NOTE: this story is, according to most sources, from Abba John's youth when he was still living with his family)

Abba John the Dwarf said, "If a king wanted to take possession of his enemy's city, he would begin by cutting off the water and the food and so his enemies, dying of hunger, would submit to him.  It is the same with the passions of the flesh; if a man goes about fasting and hungry the enemies of his soul grow weak."

Some old men were entertaining themselves at Scetis by having a meal together; amongst them was Abba John.  A venerable priest got up to offer drink, but nobody accepted any from him, except John the Dwarf.  They were surprised and said to him, "How is that you, the youngest, dared to let yourself be served by the priest?"  Then he said to them, "When I get up to offer drink, I am glad when everyone accepts it, since I am receiving my reward; that is the reason, then, that I accepted it, so that he also might gain his reward and not be grieved by seeing that no one would accept anything from him."  When they heard this, they were all filled with wonder and edification at his discretion.

The brethren used to tell how the brethren were sitting one day at an agape* and one brother at table began to laugh.  When he saw that, Abba John began to weep, saying, "What does this brother have in his heart, that he should laugh, when he ought to weep, because he is eating at an agape?"

Some brethren came one day to test him to see whether he would let his thoughts get dissipated and speak of the things of this world.  They said to him, "We give thanks to God that this year there has been much rain and the palm trees have been able to drink, and their shoots have grown, and the brethren have found manual work."  Abba John said to them, "So it is when the Holy Spirit descends into the hearts of men; they are renewed and they put forth leaves in the fear of God."

Abba John said, "I am like a man sitting under a great tree, who sees wild beasts and snakes coming against him in great numbers.  When he cannot withstand them any longer, he runs to climb the tree and is saved.  It is just the same with me; I sit in my cell and I am aware of evil thoughts coming against me, and when I have no more strength against them, I take refuge in God by prayer and I am saved from the enemy."

Abba Poemen said of Abba John the Dwarf that he had prayed God to take his passions away from him so that he might become free from care.  He went and told an old man this: "I find myself in peace, without an enemy," he said.  The old man said to him, "Go, beseech God to stir up warfare so that you may regain the affliction and humility that you used to have, for it is by warfare that the soul makes progress."  So he besought God and when warfare came, he no longer prayed that it might be taken away, but said, "Lord, give me strength for the fight."

The old man also said this to a certain brother about the soul which wishes to be converted, "There was in a city a courtesan who had many lovers.  One of the governors approached her, saying, "Promise me you will be good, and I will marry you."  She promised this and he took her and brought her to his house.  Her lovers, seeking her again, said to one another, "That lord has taken her with him to his house, so if we go to his house and he learns of it, he will condemn us.  But let us go to the back, and whistle to her.  Then, when she recognizes the sound of the whistle she will come down to us; as for us, we shall be unassailable."  When she heard the whistle, the woman stopped her ears and withdrew to the inner chamber and shut the doors."  The old man said that this courtesan is our soul, that her lovers are the passions and other men; that the lord is Christ; that the inner chamber is the eternal dwelling; those who whistle are the evil demons, but the soul always takes refuge in the Lord.

One day when Abba John was going up to Scetis with some other brothers, their guide lost his way for it was night time.  So the brothers said to Abba John, "What shall we do, Abba, in order not to die wandering about, for the brother has lost the way?"  The old man said to them, "If we speak to him, he will be filled with grief and shame.  But look here, I will pretend to be ill and say I cannot walk any more; then we can stay here till the dawn."  This he did.  The others said, "We will not go on either, but we will stay with you."  They sat there until the dawn, and in this way they did not upset the brother.  END

*agape: the primary meaning of this Greek word is "love." Here, it refers to the common meal taken by the fathers after the celebration of the Liturgy.  It can also refer to the Liturgy itself.

from Sr. Benedicta Ward, "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 85-89


ST. JOHN THE DWARF   Life and Teachings: Part II

Today we will continue our two-part study of the life and teachings of St. John the Dwarf who was born in Egypt about 339.  At the age of 18, he left for Scetis and was trained there by Abba Ammoes for twelve years.  One of the most vivid characters in the Egyptian Desert, he attracted many disciples and in order to preserve his own solitude, he dug himself a cave underground.  Abba John was later ordained priest and the number of his sayings that are recorded and preserved point to his importance among his disciples.  After 407, he went to Suez and the Mountain of St. Anthony.

BEGIN: There was an old man at Scetis, very austere of body, but not very clear in his thoughts.  He went to see Abba John to ask him about forgetfulness.  Having received a word from him, he returned to his cell and forgot what Abba John had said to him.  He went off again to ask him and having heard the same word from him, he returned with it.  As he got near his cell, he forgot it again.  This he did many times; he went there, but while he was returning he was overcome by forgetfulness.  Later, meeting the old man he said to him, "Do you know, Abba, that I have forgotten again what you said to me?  But I did not want to overburden you, so I did not come back."  Abba John said to him, "Go and light a lamp."  He lit it.  He said to him, "Bring some more lamps, and light them from the first."  He did so.  Then Abba John said to the old man, "Has that lamp suffered any loss from the fact that other lamps have been lit from it?"  He said, "No."  The old man continued, "So it is with John; even if the whole of Scetis came to see me, they would not separate me from the love of Christ.  Consequently, whenever you want to, come to me without hesitation."  So, thanks to the endurance of these two men, God took forgetfulness away from the old man.  Such was the work of the monks of Scetis; they inspire fervor in those who are in the conflict and do violence to themselves to win others to do good.

Abba John said, "Who sold Joseph"  A brother replied saying, "It was his brethren."  The old man said to him, "No, it was his humility which sold him, because he could have said, "I am their brother" and have objected, but, because he kept silence, he sold himself by his humility.  It is also his humility which set him up as chief in Egypt."

He also said, "Humility and the fear of God are above all virtues."

It was said of Abba John that when he went to church at Scetis, he heard some brethren arguing, so he returned to his cell.  He went round it three times and then went in.  Some brethren who had seen him, wondered why he had done this, and they went to ask him.  He said to them, "My ears were full of that argument, so I circled round in order to purify them, and thus I entered my cell with my mind at rest."

On day a brother came to Abba John's cell.  It was late and he was in a hurry to leave. While they were speaking of the virtues, dawn came without their noticing it.  Abba John came out with him to see him off, and they went on talking until the sixth hour.  Then he made him go in again after they had eaten, he sent him away.  (EDITOR: Isn't this a wonderful story?!  How these Holy Men loved to talk about the spiritual life!)

One day a brother came to Abba John to take away some baskets.  He came out and said to him, "What do you want, brother?"  He said, "Baskets, Abba."  Going inside to bring them to him, he forgot them, and sat down to weave.  Again the brother knocked.  When Abba John came out, the brother said, "Bring me the baskets, Abba."  The old man went in once more and sat down to weave.  Once more the brother knocked and, coming out, Abba John said, "What do you want brother?"  He replied, "The baskets, Abba."  Then, taking him by the hand, Abba John led him inside, saying, "If you want the baskets, take them and go away, because really, I have no time for such things."

A camel driver came one day to pick up some goods and take them elsewhere.  Going inside to bring him what he had woven, Abba John forgot about it because his spirit was fixed in God.  So once more the camel driver disturbed him by knocking on the door and once more Abba John went in and forgot.  The camel driver knocked a third time and Abba John went in saying, "Weaving - camel; weaving - camel."  He said this so that he would not forget again.

An old man came to Abba John's cell and found him asleep, with an angel standing above him, fanning him.  Seeing this, he withdrew.  When Abba John got up, he said to his disciple, "Did anyone come in while I was asleep?"  He said, "Yes, an old man."  Then Abba John knew that this old man was his equal, and that he had seen the angel.

Abba John said, "I think it best that a man should have a little bit of all the virtues.  Therefore, get up early every day and acquire the beginning of every virtue and every commandment of God.  Use great patience, with fear and long-suffering, in the love of God, with all the fervour of your soul and body.  Exercise great humility, bear with interior distress; be vigilant and pray often with reverence and groaning, with purity of speech and control of your eyes.  When you are despised do not get angry; be at peace, and do not render evil for evil.  Do not pay attention to the faults of others, and do not try to compare yourself with others, knowing you are less than every created thing.  Renounce everything material and that which is of the flesh.  Live by the cross, in warfare, in poverty of spirit, in voluntary spiritual asceticism, in fasting, penitence and tears, in discernment, in purity of soul, taking hold of that which is good.  Do your work in peace.  Persevere in keeping vigil, in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness, and in sufferings.  Shut yourself in a tomb as though you were already dead, so that at all times you will think death is near."

One of the fathers asked Abba John the Dwarf, "What is a monk?"  He said, "He is toil.  The monk toils at all he does.  That is what a monk is."

Abba John the Dwarf said, "A house is not built by beginning at the top and working down.  You must begin with the foundations in order to reach the top."  They said to him, "What does this saying mean?"  He said, "The foundation is our neighbor, whom we must win, and that is the place to begin.  For all the commandments of Christ depend on this one."

Abba John said to his brother, "Even if we are entirely despised in the eyes of men, let us rejoice that we are honored in the sight of God."

Abba Poemen said that Abba John said that the saints are like a group of trees, each bearing different fruit, but watered from the same source.  The practices of one saint differ from those of another, but it is the same Spirit that works in all of them.  END

from Sr. Benedicta Ward, "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 89-95


POPE SHENOUDA III  A Short History of Coptic Monasticism

Transcript of a Speech of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, 
Patriarch of Alexandria and the See of St. Mark

Delivered at the Opening of the Exhibit by photographer Michael McClellan, "A Still, Small Voice: Sixteen Centuries of Egyptian Monasticism," at the Washington National Cathedral, March 15, 1992.

I want to tell you now about Coptic monasticism. Egypt is considered the motherland of monasticism. The first monk in the whole world was St. Anthony, a Copt from Upper Egypt. He was born in the year 251 and departed in the year 356; he lived 105 years. During this period he established monasticism and all the leaders of monasticism in the whole world were his disciples or the disciples of his disciples.

Also, the first abbot in the world who established monasteries was St. Bakhum (Pachomius), also a Copt from Upper Egypt. He lived in the fourth century and at the end of the third century. When we say that St. Anthony was born in the year 251, that he became a monk when he was about twenty years old or less, and then spent the first thirty years in complete solitude, that means monasticism began in Egypt at the end of the third century or the beginning of the fourth century -- more than sixteen centuries.

Monasticism began in Egypt as a life of complete solitude, a life of solitude and contemplation. No one of our monks in the fourth century or the fifth century served the church in the world. They wanted to forget the whole world and to be forgotten by the world and to have only our Lord God in their thinking, in their emotions, to fill all their hearts and all their lives.

So, when monasticism began it did not begin in monasteries, it began in caves scattered through the mountains, and holes in the ground, and some dwelling places. But afterwards, they began to build monasteries. Monasteries were built in the midst of the fourth century, or perhaps some years before. The monasteries of Upper Egypt, of St. Bakhum, had many monks living in them, living together a life called in the Greek language, "kenobium," which means "life together." And that was a characteristic of the monasteries of Upper Egypt of St. Bakhum and St. Shenouda.

But in Wadi Natrun, the monasteries had a special characteristic. The monasteries were built in the most ancient places and had churches and the refectory. The monks used to go to the church once every week on Saturday evening to have a kind of spiritual teaching by the elders, with any question or problem being said by the monks -- who were called brothers at that time -- with the answers being given by the elders. They used to celebrate the Holy Communion on Sunday morning and then eat together in the refectory; then each monk would leave the monastery to live his own life of solitude until the next week. That means they used to gather together only once, one day every week, and live the rest of their lives in complete solitude. Why? They wanted to purify their minds from anything of worldly thinking, not to think of the world any longer, not to have news from the world, not to have letters from the world, not to read newspapers, even not to receive visitors.

But at last, this light of monasticism could not be hidden. Many people came from abroad to hear a word of benefit from those monks and these monks, the Coptic monks, the Egyptian monks, did not write about themselves, but the visitors who came wrote about them. One of the most famous was the Lausiac History by Palladius. It was called Lausiac History because it was written to a certain noble man named Lausius. This Lausiac History was translated into the English language with the title of "Paradise of the Fathers." This "Paradise of the Fathers" was known in the Arabic language as "Bustan al-Ruhaban." Another famous work was that of Rufinus about the desert fathers; another was by John Cassian who published two books, one called the "Institutes" and the other called "Conferences." In his book, "Institutes," he had twelve chapters, the first four about the history of Coptic monasticism, the life of monks and their way of life, and the other eight chapters about spiritual warfares which may attack monks; for example, pride, vainglory, anger, and so on.

He said the traveler who passed from Alexandria to Luxor had, on all the journey, the sound of hymns in his ears from Alexandria to Luxor. That means all along the River Nile; but he was speaking about the western desert. In the eastern desert of the Nile Valley, we have two famous monasteries, the Monastery of St. Anthony and the Monastery of St. Paul the Hermit. Those hermits were also called, in monastic life, anchorites. Anchorites. In the Arabic language, they were called "as-Sawah." They always used to live in caves very far from any monastery. When we read the story by St. Paphnutius who wrote for us the history or life of Abba Nofer, it was a trip of nearly thirty days in what was called the "inner wilderness." They lived in a place quite unknown to anybody.

For example, St. Paul the hermit lived about eighty years in monasticism and did not see the face of any human being. Many other hermits -- for example St. Caras -- lived about 60 years in monasticism without seeing the face of any human being. They forgot all about the world, they had nothing in their memory about the world or its news. Their senses could not collect any worldly matter, they had only God and His Love in their memory, in their mind, in their hearts, and in their emotions. They could fulfill the biblical verse which was written in Deuteronomy 6, and also was said by our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 21, "to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all they soul, and with all thy power." How can a person give the whole of his mind to the Lord God? How? How to give the whole of your heart? We may love God through loving human beings, but those hermits, those anchorites, had only God in their minds. They could not think about any other matter.

Now, for example, when we speak to youth classes, we say to youth that bad thoughts are thoughts of any kind of sin; but for these monks, bad thoughts were thoughts of any matter besides God. For this reason, they were called "earthly angels," or "angelic human beings." They lived as angels on the earth, but as you know from biblical studies, we have two kinds of angels. (The first kind is) angels who live all their time praising God: for example, the seraphim. Those angels of the seraphim are mentioned only in Isaiah 6; they always were singing "agios, agios" or "holy, holy, holy" praising the Lord. But we have another kind of angel which was mentioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 1, verse 14. They are ministering spirits sent to those who are called for salvation. We can call the pastors of the church, the ministers of the church, angels sent to the world to serve the world of salvation; for example, the pastors of the seven churches in Asia were also called angels -- the angel of Ephesus, the angel of Smyrna, the angel of Pergamos, and so on. But, the angels who devoted all their time praising the Lord as the seraphim were the symbol of holy life put in front of those monks.

St. Athanasius of Alexandria was chosen to be the 20th Pope of the See of St. Mark in the year 328 or 329, while he was only a deacon. At that time St. Anthony was living and was his spiritual father. But St. Anthony was not chosen to be the pope or patriarch; instead, they chose the deacon Athanasius. Through the flourishing era of monasticism of the fourth century, the fifth century, and the first half of the sixth century, they did not choose these monks to be bishops or patriarchs because those monks preferred to have a life of solitude, a life of prayer, a life of contemplation. They preferred to live with God, not with human beings. They preferred to be remembered only by God, not by human beings. Why? Because sometimes if they permitted visits they could lose their life of solitude and prayer, their prayers would be interrupted, and their meditation of God would be interrupted.

A story that was mentioned in the "Paradise of the Fathers" was that a certain monk was walking in the wilderness and two angels came beside him. He did not look to the right or to the left, but said, "I do not want even angels interrupting my meditation of God," remembering what was in the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 8 (verses 38 and 39).

At last, the Church was in need of those people and then bishops were taken from among monks of the deserts and then patriarchs and then the great need of the Church was for some of them to work as priests, as pastors. Then the life of complete solitude became a minority in our monasteries. . . . Remember two verses in the Bible; I do not know how you comment on these verses. The verse in St. Luke's gospel, chapter 18, verse 1 ("And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint."), and also another verse, "Pray without ceasing," in the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 17. Pray without ceasing, without interruption. How can we fulfill these verses?

We have to fulfill the symbol of Mary, not the symbol of Martha. The symbol of Martha is working for the service of God Himself; but for Mary, it is to be only looking at God, contemplation, prayer, to be at His own feet, listening to His words, and contemplating His words. So at least we should have a small number of these monks representing that life of the past and to be a blessing for the world and to bless the world. When our Lord God wanted to burn Sodom . . . He said even if I find only ten pure persons in the city, I will not burn the city. To have these persons only existing. He did not say if ten persons pray for this city -- only that if there are only ten persons I will not burn the city. Those monks were a kind of blessing to the world representing pure life, the purest life in the whole world, resembling persons who don't love anything in the world -- even themselves -- but only God to be kept in mind.

Now in Egypt we are trying to let monastic life return to many deserted monasteries. We had hundreds of monasteries in the past. We are now working in the White Monastery of St. Shenouda, in the Red Monastery in front of this white one, and in about four monasteries in the mountain of Akhmim, trying to send monks to this area to let monastic life return. . . . If you come (to visit our monasteries), you will be deeply welcomed and you will see something about the ancient monastic life and the expansion of monasticism today. I myself, in only the single monastery of Anba Bishoi, ordained about 150 monks, new monks. For this reason, we had to build many new cells in the monasteries to receive those new novices who want to prepare themselves for monasticism. Also, in every monastery now we have a retreat house for those youth who want to come to the monastery to spend some days of spiritual experience under spiritual guidance. Some of them like monastic life and become monks.

We have great work in Sunday schools. In Sunday schools we prepare the children from the very beginning of their lives to live a spiritual life, to live in the Lord, some of these children join the seminary, some become Sunday school teachers, and some of those Sunday school teachers join the seminary. And when they graduate from the university and the seminary and Sunday school, they go to the monasteries to become monks -- some of them -- and some of them become parish priests. So, through the revival of Sunday schools we prepare a great number of persons to be monks. To live a spiritual life for their own benefit is all right; if the church needs some of them to serve, that is all right.

We don't oblige any monk to lead a certain life. For he who wants to live in the monastery as part of the congregation, that is all right. If he wants to lead a life of solitude inside the monastery, that is all right. If he wants a cell of solitude outside the monastery or on the near hills, that will be all right. He who wants to live in a cave will have the permission to live in a cave. We have all kinds of monasticism.


St. Pachomius~

A worthwhile read, lifted from an Eastern Orthodox monastic blog (not sure of the blog's name or whereabouts).

The Desert Fathers: Monks and Monasteries of the Egyptian Desert

ST. PACHOMIUS  "Place" as a Factor in Salvation 

People love reading & learning about the teachings of the ancient Desert Fathers and Mothers, those holy men and women who forsook earthly life for a life of hardship and struggle so they could focus their entire beings on God and seek to become one with God.  Although many of these men and women lived in monasteries, many of them did not.  From the beginning of their spiritual struggles, they were truly alone in the world with no spiritual guides; if they were lucky, they had their Bible and perhaps a couple of writings from earlier saints.  Usually they did not have even this.

In many ways, we are like those holy men and women of the Early Church.  In today’s world, people who seek the spiritual life are often alone in their quest with no spiritual guides except books or other writings they may have been blessed to collect.  We often wonder how we can find salvation where we are.  St. Pachomius addressed this issue and assures us that, indeed, one’s “place” does not determine one’s salvation.

St. Pachomius lived from 292 to 346, but his relatively brief life had a profound impact on the development of monasticism.  Although Pachomius was a contemporary of St. Anthony the Great, the two apparently never met.  A pagan boy born in the present-day Egyptian city of Esneh, he was drafted into the army to fight in a war at the age of twenty.  In a camp for conscripts near Luxor, Pachomius was visited one night by local Christians who came to the camp to give food and water to the conscripts since life in the camps was very miserable.  After a fruitful conversation with one of the visitors, Pachomius prayed to God that He would deliver him from his plight, he would dedicate his life to serving Him.  Within a few months, the war was over and Pachomius returned to Luxor where he was baptised.  It was in this region of Upper Egypt that Pachomius was to establish the idea of cenobitic monasticism, a sort of “half way point” between living in the world and being a recluse.  Over the ensuing years, thousands of men and women would embrace the monastic life in communities scattered up and down the Nile Valley.

Let us look then at the letters of Pachomius to his disciples and ponder on his teachings of the importance of “place” in the spiritual life.

BEGIN:  Become guileless and be like the guileless sheep whose wool is sheared off without their saying a word.  Do not go from one place to another saying, “I will find God here or there.”  God has said, “I fill the earth, I fill the heavens” (Jeremiah 23:24).  And again, “If you cross over water, I am with you” (Isaiah 43:2); and again, “The waves will not swallow you up” (Isaiah 43:2).  My son, be aware that God is within you, so that you may dwell in his law and commandments.  Behold, the thief was on the cross, and he entered Paradise; but behold Judas was among the Apostles and he betrayed his Lord.  Behold, Rahab was in prostitution, and she was numbered among the saints; but behold, Eve was in Paradise, and she was deceived.  Behold, Job was on the dung heap, and he was compared with his Lord; but behold, Adam was in Paradise, and he fell away from the commandment.

Behold, the angels were in heaven, and they were hurled into the abyss; but behold Elijah and Enoch who were raised into the kingdom of heaven.  “In every place, then, seek out God; at every moment seek out his strength” (Psalms 105:4). Seek Him out like Abraham, who obeyed God, who called Him “my friend.”  Seek Him out like Joseph, who did battle against impurity, so that he was made ruler over his enemies.  Seek him out like Moses, who followed his Lord, and He made him lawgiver and let him come to know His likeness.  Daniel sought Him out, and He taught him great mysteries; He saved him from the lion’s gullet.  The three saints sought Him out, and found Him in the fiery furnace.  Job took refuge with Him and He cured him of his sores.  Susanna sought Him out, and He saved her from the hands of the wicked.  Judith sought Him out, and found Him in the tent of Holofernes.  All these sought Him out and he delivered them; and he delivered others also.  END

Theodore of Studium

Medieval Sourcebook:
Theodore of Studium: Reform Rules [d.826]

St. Theodore of Studium is the major monastic figure of early ninth century Byzantium. He was an important writer, especially on the issue of Iconoclasm, as well as a monastic reformer. The ruins of his monastery of St. John of Studium still stand in south-east Constantinople [Istanbul]. The reform rules here are not a formal rule, but the contents of a letter Theodore sent to his protegee Nicolas when he became abbot of another monastery. The interest of such documents is often not in the rules themselves, but in the witness they give to common transgressions. This particular document is also interesting in its discussion of gender and sexuality issues.
There is a veritable horror of femininity, to the extent that, as is still the case on Mt. Athos, female animals are to be excluded from the monastery. Women are seen as tempting, and there is some real fear that any given monk might fall.
Of some interest, following the recent and highly controversial argument of John Boswell that same sex marriages were celebrated in Byzantium, is Theodore's prohibition [para 2 below] of such ceremonies between monks and lay men on the grounds that the monks have "fled from the world and from marriage". Whether or not this relates to homosexual relationships or not is very debateable. In para. 3, however, Theodore makes a clear reference to homosexual attraction when he forbids the abbot from taking a youth alone into his cell.

Since, by the good pleasure of God, you have been promoted, my spiritual child Nicolas, to the dignity of abbot, it is needful for you to keep all the injunctions in this letter. Do not alter without necessity the type and rule that you have received front your spiritual home, the monastery. Do not acquire any of this world's goods, nor hoard up privately for yourself to the value of one piece of silver. Be without distraction in heart and soul and your thought for those in your care who have been entrusted to on by God, and have become your spiritual sons and brothers;- and do not look aside to those formerly belonging to you according to the flesh, whether kinsfolk, or friends, or companions. Do not spend the property of your monastery, in life or death, by way of gift or of legacy, to any such kinsfolk or friends. For you are not of this world, neither have you part in the world. Except that if any of your people come out of ordinary life to join our rule, you must care for them according to the example of the Holy Fathers. Do not obtain any slave nor use in your private service or in that of the monastery over which you preside, or in the fields, man who was made in the image of God. For such an indulgence is only for those who live in the world. For you should yourself be as a servant to the brethren like-minded with you, at least in intention, even if in outward appearance you are reckoned to be master and teacher. Have no animal of the female sex in domestic use, seeing that you have renounced the female sex altogether, whether in house or fields, since none of the Holy Fathers had such, not- does nature require them. Do not be driven by horses and mules without necessity, but go on foot in imitation of Christ. But if there is need, let your beast be the foal of an ass.
Use all care that all things in the brotherhood be common and not distributed, and let nothing, not even a needle, belong to any one in particular. Let your body and your spirit, to say nothing of your goods, be ever divided in equality of love among all your spiritual children and brethren. Use no authority over the two brothers of yours who are my sons. Do nothing, by way of commnad or of ordination, beyond the injunctions of the Fathers. Do not join in brotherhood [adelphopoiia] or close relation with secular persons, seeing that you have fled from the world and from marriage. Such relations are not found in the Fathers, or but here and there, and not according to rule. Do not sit at a feast with women, except with your mother according to the to the flesh, and your sister, or possibly with others in case of necessity, as the Holy Fathers enjoin. Do not go out often, nor range around, leaving your fold without necessity. For even if you remain always there, it is hard to keep safe your human sheep, so apt are they to stray and wander.
By all means keep to the instruction three times a week in the evening, since that is traditional and salutary. Do not give what they call the little habit [of novice or postulant?] and then, some time later, another as the larger,. For there is one habit, as there is one baptism, and this is the practice of the Holy Fathers. Depart not from the rules and canons of the Fathers, especially of the Holy Father Basil; but whatever you do or say, be as one who has his witness in the 'Holy Scriptures, or in the custom of the Fathers, so as not to transgress the commandments of God. Do not leave your fold or remove to another, or ascend to any higher dignity, except by the paternal decision. Do not make friends with any canoness, not- enter any women's monastery, nor have any private conversation with a nun, or with a secular woman, except in case of necessity; and then let it be so that two are present on either- side. For one, as they say, is cause of offense. Do Hot open the door of the sheepfold to any manner of, woman, without great necessity; if it is possible to receive such in silence, it is all the better. Do not procure a lodging for yourself, or a secular house for your spiritual children, in which there are women, for that were to run great risks; but provide yourself with what is necessary for journeys and other occasions from men of piety. Do not take as pupil into your cell a youth for whom you have a fancy; but use the services of some one above suspicion, and of various brothers.
Do not have any choice or costly garment, except for priestly functions. But follow the Fathers in being shod and clad in humility. Be not delicate in food, in private expenditure, or in hospitality; for this belongs to the portion of those who take their joy in the present life. Do not lay up money in your monastery; but things of all kinds, beyond what is needed, give to the pool- at the entrance of' your court; for so did the Holy Fathers. Do not keep a safe place, nor have a care for wealth. But let all your care be the guardianship of souls. As to the money, and various necessaries, entrust them to the steward, the cellarer, or to whosesoever charge it falls; but so that you keep for yourself the whole authority, and change offices among persons from time to time as you see fit, receiving account as you may demand, of the tasks entrusted to each. Do nothing, carry out nothing, according to your own judgment, in any matter whatever, in journeying, buying or selling, receiving or rejecting a brothers or in any change of officer in anything material, or in regard to spiritual failings, without the counsel of those who stand first in knowledge and in piety, one, two, three or more, according to circumstances, as the Fathers have directed. These commands, and all others that you have received, keep and maintain, that it may be well with you, and that you may have prosperity in the Lord all the davs of your life. But let anything to the contrary be far front you in speech and in thought.

trans A. Gardner, Theodore of Studium: His Life and Times, (London: Edward Arnold, 1905), pp. 71-74

Good article on monastics & monasteries

Why the Church Needs Monasteries

At times when things become frightening, when we are anxious and afraid, we are comforted to know that prayers are always being said in the Orthodox monasteries, the Rt. Rev. John Abdalah, spiritual advisor to the North American Board of Antiochian Women, told the group at their last meeting.
“It is a blessing to know that we have men and women in the Church who have dedicated themselves to a life of prayer and worship.” As a result, the Church around the world at every hour of the day is praying without ceasing (1Thessalonians 5:17), even when you and I cannot, wrote Fr. Steven Salaris, presbyter of All Saints of North America Antiochian Orthodox Mission in Maryland Heights, Missouri (“Monasticism: The Angelic Evangelic Life,” The WORD, March 2010).
The most important work of the monastery is to pray. “Our entire life and our day-to-day activities are all scheduled around the daily cycle of services,” said Mother Abbess Gabriella of the Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery, founded in 1987 in Rives Junction, Michigan. Joy Corey of Antiochian Women of St. John the Baptist Antiochian Orthodox Church in Post Falls, Idaho, and speaker at the first Midwest Antiochian Women’s retreat held in 2006 at the Monastery, discussed prayer in her book, The Tools of Spiritual Warfare:
Prayer is to the Christian what food is to the hungry. Without prayer our spirits die. We become carnal and spiritually dead without nourishment for our soul. Without prayer, we belong to the earth instead of heaven; we lose not only our communication but also our communion with God. Prayer begins when we open our hearts to God and proceeds into silence, the language of heaven. It is in silence that we learn to hear and know God. God is not far away that we need to strain to hear or know Him. God lives within our heart of hearts or the spirit within the spirit, what the Church fathers call the nous. Only with a quiet mind and a quiet heart can one begin to hear the ‘still, small voice’ of God.
“The first major activity of the monastery after prayer is hospitality,” Mother Gabriella said. St. Paul says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unknowingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:2). The monastery is a haven of spiritual retreat from the stress of the secular world, a place for spiritual guidance and growth.
For the past five years the Midwest Antiochian Women of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest have sponsored a weekend retreat at the Dormition monastery. About fifty women attend. At a retreat, one of the women reminded us of a story that was in the news: a woman was held against her will for many years by her father. She had given birth to his children and recently she had escaped. The woman at the retreat pointed out that in Church we had been praying for her while she was locked up, because we pray for “captives and their salvation.”
Typically, some of the Midwest Antiochian women arrive at the monastery on Friday evening and attend evening prayer services. On Saturday morning they attend services beginning at 6:30 a.m. and continue through Divine Liturgy, which starts at 9 a.m. There is brunch with Mother Gabriella and the other nuns, followed by a featured speaker who presents a program from noon to 4 p.m. At 6 p.m. they attend the Vigil, combined Vespers and Matins, and on Sunday morning they attend 10 a.m. Divine Liturgy. The retreat is our time to pray without ceasing with the nuns and with other Antiochian Women. It is an opportunity for spiritual renewal, as our life for a few days will be scheduled around the daily cycle of services.
Mother Abbess Christophora of the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, founded in 1967 in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, said that “living in a monastery, we have an ongoing opportunity to witness pilgrims coming to pray; seekers coming to observe and question; wealthy, poor, sick and healthy entering our doors to offer their prayers to Almighty God. Others phone or write with requests for prayers, comfort or assistance. In each of these moments Christ is present giving His peace, His hope, His love... What a miracle that monasteries continue to exist in our modern, busy and secular world.”
Antiochian Women are happy to support the new Antiochian monastery, the Convent of Saint Thekla at Antiochian Village, and Mother Abbess Alexandra. The building of St. Thekla was the annual project of the Women in 2010 and is still its project for 2011. The parish chapters each raise funds; individuals may also donate. The other Antiochian Orthodox monastic presence in the United States is St. Paul’s Skete located outside Memphis, Tennessee, where Mother Nektaria lives.
It has been said that monasticism is indispensable for the healthy nourishing of an Orthodox Church. The Monastery of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk was the Church’s first monastery in the United States, founded in 1905 in the village of New Caanan, in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. St. Tikhon’s was established in conjunction with a home for the orphaned children of Russians in America. It was also founded as a “mother house” for the monastics who were serving as clergy in the Orthodox Church.
Hieromonk Arseny (Chagovtsev, the future Archbishop Arseny of Winnipeg) felt that the monks serving in the Orthodox North American mission needed a monastery in which to be “acclimatized” to the American situation and where they could return periodically for spiritual renewal. Others not only endorsed the proposal, but also brought up the idea of starting an Orthodox theological seminary next to the monastery. It became known as St. Tikhon’s Seminary and was officially established in 1938.
In recent years many Orthodox monasteries have been started in this country. In all, there are 99 monasteries in the United States and 11 monasteries in Canada, according to the Orthodox Monasteries Worldwide Directory, found online.
Mother Abbess Alexandra of the Convent of St. Thekla wrote in The WORD in September 2009, shortly after the convent was established: “Like other monastic houses in the world we hope that the Convent of Saint Thekla will be an oasis for the faithful to divest themselves of their busy lives and concerns and immerse themselves in the refreshing basics of Orthodox life – remembrance of God – in prayer and work. This focus is gradually acquired through asceticism, or spiritual training... When as a monastic we pray, ‘Lord, have mercy on me,’ we pray not only for our own salvation but for the salvation of all.”

Monasticism: The Angelic Evangelic Life

Monasticism: The Angelic Evangelic Life

Almighty God has gifted Orthodox Christianity with monasticism. It is the “alternative lifestyle” of Orthodoxy to which some, but not all, are called. Many sources state that the monastic life is the angelic life. Going one step further, some sources even state that God has replaced the angelic ranks that fell with Satan with the men and women who have been called to the angelic (that is, monastic) life.
When we think of monasticism, several images and ideas come to mind – such as monasteries, the prayer life, and asceticism. But what about evangelism? Does the angelic life have a connection with the evangelical life that we Orthodox Christians are supposed to be living daily (especially those of us in the “front lines” – in our parishes and in the secular world)?
If we turn to the hymnography of the feastday of the Synaxis of the Angels (November 8), in particular to the stichera on “Lord, I call …” at Great Vespers, we get some surprising insights about the angelic life worthy of consideration and application in the monastic life.
The angelic life is one of worship. Stichera 6 states:
As thou hast been manifested standing all resplendent, before the triluminary Godhead, O Michael, leader of hosts, thou dost shout rejoicing with the powers on high, “Holy Father! Holy Coeternal Word! Holy, Holy Spirit! One Glory and Sovereignty, one Nature, one Godhead, and one Power.”
We all share in the angelic life when we gather together and engage in the liturgical worship of the Church. Those of us who have not been called to the monastic life are kept busy with the everyday activities of work, school, and family. It is a blessing to know that we have men and women in the Church who have dedicated themselves to a life of prayer and worship. As a result, the Church around the world at every hour of the day is praying ceaselessly (I Thess. 5:17), even when you and I cannot. How uplifting it is to know that, included in the ceaseless prayer life of our monastics, are prayers for the welfare and growth of the Orthodox Church.
The angelic life is one of obedience to God’s commands. Stichera 5 says:
Thou art of fiery appearance and of wondrous beauty, O Archangel Michael, traversing the spaces with thine immortal nature, fulfilling the commands of the All-creator, and known as powerful by thy might. Verily, thou hast made thy temple a fount of healing, honoured by thy sanctified call.
Jesus Christ, our Creator, gave every one of us (monastic or not) an important commandment that we are all to obey. After His resurrection, He gathered His eleven disciples and spoke to them saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). All Christians know that commandment as the Great Commission. It is the call to evangelism given to the Apostolic Church that all Orthodox Christians should strive to fulfi ll every day. If the angelic life is fulfi lling the commands of the Creator, then one component of the angelic life should be active involvement in the evangelical life of the Church. Monks are to be evangelists!
Continuing that same thought, Stichera 3 also speaks of the evangelical life:
Verily, the Intelligence before the ages hath appointed thee, by divine partaking, a second light lighting the whole universe, and revealing to us the truly divine mystery, which is from eternity, namely that the Bodiless shall be incarnate in a virgin womb and become Man to save man.
We see that God has appointed those living the angelic life to proclaim the mystery of the Incarnation and all that God has done in order to save man. Monastics are called to be lights; they are to illumine the whole universe with the good news of salvation. The angelic life should proclaim not just the incarnation, but all those things that have come to pass for us – the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and the second and glorious coming. Imagine monastic communities in this country with the evangelical spirit of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, St. Kosmas of Aitolia, and St. Herman of Alaska, who themselves were dedicated to venturing out amongst the people to bring them to the true faith.
The angelic life involves safeguarding the Church. Stichera 1 of the feast admonishes:
Demolish, O Gabriel, leader of hosts, the attacks of heretics, rising constantly against thy fold. Heal the division of thy Church; still the tempest of countless temptations, and deliver from hard-ships and calamities those who eagerly celebrate thy memory, who hasten to the shadow of thy protection, O intercessor for our souls.
Too often we forget that Orthodoxy and Orthodox monasticism is lived out in the time and culture in which it finds itself. There is no “golden age” of Orthodoxy, nor is there any particular culture to which Orthodoxy aspires. The angelic life requires one to be responsible for knowing the Truth and striving to preserve it unblemished so that it is worthy to pass on to all generations and all cultures. This requires monasticism (and Orthodoxy in general) to be free of fundamentalist tendencies and bizarre heretical teachings. These kinds of things do nothing but turn people away from the Orthodox faith and create scandal and division amongst the faithful. A Church divided against itself cannot bear witness to the unity of the faith, and thus cannot properly evangelize. Monasticism should be a defense against heresy and division, not a contributor to them. Monasticism should also be in the forefront of our struggle for Orthodox unity in this country – both administratively and theologically – so that with one voice and one mind we may proclaim the Gospel.
Lastly, there are many other things that the “angelic life” of monasticism in America could do to benefit the spread of Orthodoxy in this country. Through iconography, skilled American monastics could produce affordable, high-quality iconography so that, as the faith grows, we can adorn homes, missions, and churches with “windows to heaven.” Through metallurgy, skilled American monastics could produce much-needed chalices and patens, candlesticks, baptismal fonts, and more, so that we would not have to rely on pricey imports. By making vestments, skilled American monastics could produce affordable, quality vestments for a growing population of clergy needed to fill the ranks of a growing Church. Through translation, monastics could commit themselves to translating into English the vast numbers of patristic writings that still exist only in Greek, Latin, and Syriac. What a blessing to all of us this would be! Additionally, through woodworking, candle-making, teaching, scholarly works, liturgical texts, and other things too numerous to elaborate, we can see how much monasticism has to offer to the evangelical life of the Church in America.
In conclusion, we see that the angelic life – monasticism – can and should be an important component of the evangelical life of the Orthodox Christian faith everywhere. Likewise, we see also that evangelism is a necessary component (among many) of the monastic life. We realize the importance of monasticism for the Church in America in promoting, guarding, and providing for the apostolic faith,. All of us should be praying for authentic monasticism in this country – praying for dedicated men and women who will adhere to the genuine teachings of the Orthodox faith, be obedient to and supportive of our hierarchs, work harmoniously with our priests, and be dedicated to the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ, in accordance with the angelic evangelic life.

♥♥♥ Life of St. Thekla ♥♥♥

♥♥♥Life of St. Thekla♥♥♥

The Life of St. Thekla, (also spelled Thecla) a disciple and companion of the Apostle Paul in 1st century. She is given the title "Equal-to-the-Apostles" because she accompanied St. Paul in founding churches because her witness converted so many others to Christ, and she was the first woman martyr for the Christian Faith.
Life of
According to ancient Syrian and Greek manuscripts, Saint Thekla was born into a prosperous pagan family in the Lycaonian city of Iconium (present-day Konya in south-central Turkey) in A.D. 16. When she was 18 years old and betrothed to a young man named Thamyris, Saint Paul the Apostle and Saint Barnabas arrived in Iconium from Antioch (Acts 14). Thekla’s mother Theokleia prohibited her from joining the crowds which gathered to hear Paul preach. But Thekla found that if she sat near her bedroom window she could hear his every word. Thekla sat there for three days and three nights listening to Paul preach the word of God. She was parti­cularly touched by his call to chastity. As it became apparent that Thekla was becoming interested in the new Faith, Theokleia and Thamyris went to the governor of the city and complained about Paul and his preaching. To pacify them and the other outraged citizens of Iconium, the governor had Paul imprisoned to await trial.
When Thekla learned of Paul’s arrest she secretly went to the prison, and using her golden bracelets to bribe the guard, gained admittance to his cell. When she saw the Apostle she knelt before him and kissed the chains which bound his hands and feet. She remained there a long time listening to his message of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Being concerned at Thekla’s prolonged absence, Theokleia and Thamy­ris asked her servant if she knew where she was. The servant said that Thekla had gone to visit an imprisoned stranger. Theokleia and Thamyris knew at once that she was with Paul. They decided to go again to the governor, this time demanding immediate judgement for the Apostle. After the governor chastened Paul for the disturbances he had caused in the city, he had him stoned and expelled from Iconium. The governor then admon­ished Thekla for her foolishness and commanded her to return home with her mother and fiancé. When Thekla announced that she had vowed to remain a virgin for the sake of Christ, her mother became enraged and asked the governor to threaten Thekla with severe punishment. The gov­ernor complied with this wish and ruled that Thekla was to be burned at the stake unless she renounced her faith in Christ.
When Thekla refused to renounce her Heavenly Bridegroom, she was taken to the arena for punishment. As she was tied to the stake she saw a vision of Jesus Christ which gave her strength to face the flames. The fire was lit, but as the flames came near Thekla a thunderstorm suddenly arose and a great torrent of rain and hail came down from heaven and extinguished the flames. Embarrassed because his plan had failed, the angry governor released Thekla but commanded that she must leave Iconium at once.
Upon her release, Thekla went to the outskirts of the city where she rejoined Paul. She told him of her trial and miraculous escape from punish­ment and asked for baptism. Paul refused to baptize Thekla, saying that this would be accomplished in God’s own way and time. Paul and Thekla then departed from the region of Iconium and traveled to Antioch in Syria. As they were entering the city a young nobleman named Alexander saw Thekla. Being entranced by her beauty he rushed forward and tried to seduce her, but Thekla fought him off, thus disgracing him in front of his crowd of friends. Alexander went to the governor of Antioch and complained that this wandering girl had disgraced him, a nobleman, in public. He demanded that she be punished with death. The governor complied and ruled that Thekla would face the wild beasts in the arena. Thekla’s only reply was that she be allowed to preserve her virginity unto death. Her wish was granted and she was given into the care of the noblewoman Tryphaena, a relative of Caesar, until the time of punishment.
When Thekla was taken to the arena, a lioness was set free to attack her. But to the astonishment of the crowd, the lioness approached the Saint and sat tamely at her feet. A bear was then released, but as it came close to Thekla the lioness rose up to defend her and killed the bear. A large lion was then released. The lioness again came to Thekla’s defense killing the lion, but losing her own life also. Then all the cages were opened and a large number of wild animals charged at the defenseless Thekla. After crossing herself and praying for courage, the Saint noticed a large tank of water which was nearby, containing the aquatic animals. She climbed into the water, asking that she might be baptized by Christ as she did so. Seeing that the beasts were unable to harm Thekla, Alexander asked that the Saint be given over to him for punishment. He tied her to two large bulls in the hopes that they would pull her asunder. But when the bulls charged off in opposite directions, the ropes which held Thekla to them were miracu­lously loosened and she was spared. Seeing that no harm could be done to Thekla, the authorities released her. She went to the home of Tryphaena where she remained for eight days preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ and converting Tryphaena and her entire household. When she departed from Antioch, Tryphaena gave her a treasure in gold and precious jewels.
After she left Antioch, Thekla journeyed to Myra where she rejoined Paul. She informed him of all that had occurred, including her baptism and asked that she might be permitted to spend the remainder of her life as an ascetic. Paul gave her his blessing and she departed, leaving with Paul all the gold and jewels that Tryphaena had given her so that he might distribute them among the poor and needy.
Thekla then traveled again to Syria where she went up into the moun­tains for a life of prayer and solitude. Many years later a young pagan found her praying in an isolated canyon and resolved to harass her and spoil her virginity. As he approached her and blocked her only exit to safety, she prayed that her Bridegroom would protect her as He had so many times in the past. At that moment the canyon wall was miraculously split allowing her to escape through a narrow crack in the rock.
Saint Thekla continued her life of asceticism and then peacefully fell asleep in Christ at the age of 90. Shortly after her death a community of virgins went to live in her mountain cell, building a small chapel to en­shrine her body. This Convent of Saint Thekla still exists today near the village of Ma‘loula, Syria.
Because of her many sufferings for the Faith the Church counts her as a “Protomartyr”. And because she converted so many people to Christ­ianity she is also know as an “Equal-to-the-Apostles”.
Holy Saint Thekla, pray unto God for us!
O Glorious Thekla, companion of Paul the divine, thou wast inflamed with the love of thy Creator. By the teaching of the divine Preacher thou didst despise the passing earthly pleasures and offered thyself to God as an acceptable and pleasing sacrifice, disregarding all suffering. Intercede with Christ, thy Bridegroom, to grant us his great mercy.
Commemorated on September 24
Troparion (Tone 4) –
You were enlightened by the words of Paul, O Bride of God, Thekla,
And your faith was confirmed by Peter, O Chosen One of God.
You became the first sufferer and martyr among women,
By entering into the flames as into a place of gladness.
For when you accepted the Cross of Christ,
The demonic powers were frightened away.
O all-praised One, intercede before Christ God that our souls may be saved.
Kontakion (Tone 8) -
O glorious Thekla, virginity was your splendor,
The crown of martyrdom your adornment and the faith you trust!
You turned a burning fire into refreshing dew,
And with your prayers appeased pagan fury, O First Woman Martyr!