AN EXPLORATION OF TRUE MONASTICISM

By dogcatcher on February 25th, 2012

 

 

St. Herman and St. Herman’s House of Hospitality of Cleveland, Ohio:

An Exploration of True Monasticism

Over the life of the website gotruthreform.org, the editors have received numerous accusatory emails suggesting that those who created the website are “anti-monastic”. As a coalition of faith-abiding Greek Orthodox Christians, we can collectively say that this suggestion could not be any further from the truth. Monasticism is an integral part of the Orthodox Faith and is a necessary aspect of the full Christian life. We at http://gotruthreform.org have not ignored the role that ascetics and monasteries maintain within the Church. Our members have visited, financially supported, and volunteered at countless monasteries, both in the United States and abroad. In fact, without monastics, Orthodoxy would not be present in its current form. Many of our Forefathers enriched their lives and the Faith with the monastic tradition. The well-known Desert Fathers, including St. Anthony the Great, laid the groundwork for modern monasticism. They are regarded as one of the major influences provided by the Church Fathers. From the solid foundations built by these men, a great history of asceticism has arisen, producing many of our Saints.

A prominent and modern example of this important aspect of the Church is our venerable father St. Herman of Alaska. Born in 1756, St. Herman was called to enter the monastic life at the age of 16 when he entered the Trinity-Sergius Hermitage near St. Petersburg in Russia. Eventually, he entered the Valaam Monastery. At the time, Russian merchants and traders in far Eastern Serbia had taken an interest in the land across the Bering Sea, in what is now known as Alaska. The new world also drew the attention of Orthodox Christian missionaries. St. Herman, with nine other monks, made the first official journey to illuminate the natives of the Aleutian Islands with the Holy Gospel. Father Herman made the islands his home, taking root on Spruce Island, where he would live and work for 40 years. During his time, he developed a great love for the native Aleuts. With his compassion, he built a school for Aleutian children. Here, he taught them music and scripture. He was also a fierce defender of the natives when they faced oppression at the hands of Russian traders. Through his obvious godliness and passion, he brought many into the Orthodox Faith. St. Herman of Alaska is a true example of the fullness of Orthodoxy and serves as a shining illustration of service to one’s fellow man.

In the present day, many have looked upon the holy life of Father Herman and have taken up their own calling of service. The aptly named St. Herman’s House of Hospitality, an Orthodox monastery in Cleveland, Ohio is a house of service. The monastery is run under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the United States. At any one point in time, there are over 2000 homeless people in the Cleveland area, with many more people facing homelessness over the course of one year (records of the Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services). St. Herman’s House of Hospitality exists to serve the homeless among this population. In their humble, converted house on the west side of the city, they house men in need of shelter, food, and a hot shower. According to their data, they provide housing for “over 11,800 men per year”. They provide “200-300 meals a day” and, in total, “about 70,000 meals each year”. Through their services, they have brought many into the faith, and serve the religious needs of “50 souls a day” http://www.sainthermans.com/services.html. Through their works, they save lives, families, and have helped many achieve sobriety and a new life in Christ. The monks of St. Herman’s House of Hospitality perform a true service to their neighbors in need and are a blessing to the Orthodox Faith.

Both St. Herman and St. Herman’s House in Cleveland illustrate the true nature of Orthodoxy and monasticism: love, faith, and service to Christ and each other. We at gotruthreform.org feel that it is necessary to highlight the wonderful works that truly faith inspired monasteries provide over the course of history. There are many truly excellent monasteries in the United States, such as St. Herman’s. Gotruthreform.org invites you to visit, volunteer at, and support the following monasteries:

• St. Herman’s House of Hospitality, 4410 Franklin Blvd, Cleveland, OH

• Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, 2805 South Forest St., Denver, CO

• St. Mary of Egypt Orthodox Mission and Monastery, P.O. Box 771025, Cleveland, OH, http://www.saintmaryofegypt.org.

• Saint Theodore Monastic House, 449 Portland Way, Galion, OH

• St. Gregory Palamas Monastery, 934 County Road 2256, Perrysville, OH

• Holy Convent of Paracletos, 790 Gin House Rd, Abbeville, SC

• Nativity of the Mother of God Serbian Orthodox Patriarchal Monastery, New Carlisle, IN

• St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Monastery, 32377 North Illinois Route 21, Libertyville, IL

• Most Holy Mother of God Monastery, PO Box 496, Grayslake, IL

• Dormition of the Mother of God Monastery, 3389 Rives Eaton Road, Rives Junction, MI

We will continue to feature articles on worthy monasteries who service our communities.

The monasteries listed below are Ephraimite Monasteries or claim to be affiliated or closely aligned with the theology of Elder Ephraim. These monasteries need to be approached with caution and awareness of their underlying philosophy.

• Holy Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos, 121 St. Elias Lane, Saxonburg, PA

• Holy Monastery of St. Kosmas Aitolos, 14155 Caledon King Town, Line Rd. South, Bolton, Ontario, Canada

• Holy Monastery of Panagia Parigoritissa, 827 Chemin de la Carriere, Brownsburg (Chatham), Quebec, Canada

• Holy Monastery of St. John Chrysostomos, 4600 93rd Street, Pleasant Prairie, WI

• Holy Protection Monastery, 1 St. Joseph’s Way, White Haven, PA

• Holy Monastery of the Theotokos, the Life-Giving Spring, 38532 Dunlap Rod (St. Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center), Dunlap, CA

• Holy Monastery of St. John the Forerunner, 5 Timmer Lane, Goldendale, WA

• Holy Monastery of St. Anthony, 4784 N. St. Joseph’s Way, Florence, AZ
• Holy Archangels’ Monastery, P.O. Box 422, Kendalia, TX

• Holy Monastery of Panagia Vlahernon, 12600 West Hwy. 318, Williston, FL

• Annunciation Monastery, 13486 N.W. Hwy. 225, Reddick, FL

• Holy Trinity Monastery, 125 Sturdevant Rd., Smith Creek, MI

• Holy Monastery of Panagia Prousiotissa, 404 Warner Road, Troy, NC

• Panagia Pammakaristou, 1631 Creasey Rd., Lawsonville, NC

• Holy Monastery of St. Nektarios, 100 Lake Anawanda Rd., Roscoe, NY

• Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 17906 Rt. 173, Harvard, IL

• Holy Monastery of St. Paraskevi, 6855 Little York Lane, Washington, TX

• Saint Herman of Alaska Serbian Orthodox Monastery, 10 Beegum Gorge Road, P.O. Box 70, Platina, CA

• St. Paisius Serbian Orthodox Monastery, Sky Blue Road, Safford, AZ
To learn more about the issues generated by Ephraimite monasteries, go to http://www.gotruthreform.org and click on the link “Article Archive” and go to the article entitled “Ephraimite Fallacies (Part One)”. The article also discusses why Ephraimite monasteries do not truly embody “Athonite Monasticism”.