Urban Monks

Fr. Greg asked in one of his comments for my musings on urban monasticism. I want to thank Fr. Greg for getting me back on message.
Having monks in the Orthodox Church is a necessary part of who we are. However monasticism from the old world will not work here in the new world. We do not need monks who live out in the middle of nowhere we need monks to live in and about the people. We need monks that live in the bad parts of town and minister to the peoples needs. This is not a new idea, I only have to point to Dorothy Day and the early days of the Catholic Worker Movement in the US. This is what Orthodoxy needs we need urban monks.
I have this vision of a monastery in a three decker in the middle of the city where the monks will be advocates for new immigrants and teach English and help with citizenship classes and the like. We need monks who are not afraid to get their hands dirty. Who will see Jesus in the poor and the desolate, but who are also not afraid to pick up the phone and call politicians and advocate for justice for the poor and disadvantage. This is what I meant a few posts back about a preferential option for the poor.
How will these monks support themselves. Wait, here is a radical idea, they get jobs and work in the community. Perhaps teaching or hospital ministry would be part of this monastery also. We should not live off of the parishes and expect them to support us in our ministry. Monasteries should be able to support themselves.
Another thing that Orthodox monks could provide, but in a different place than the urban ones, would be retreat space. Our monasteries should be houses of hospitality. St. Benedict writes of this in his rule for monasteries.
These are just some random thoughts, and I look forward to your comments.

Walking on Water

Yesterday’s Gospel passage for the liturgy was from Matthew 14. In this passage we see Peter attempting to walk on water. I thought I would post some comments from my homily yesterday on this very passage. This is not a full text just some bullet points. To hear my whole homily, you have to come to St. Michaels.

– We all face storms in our life, and God never said it was going to be easy if we followed Him, after all, even Jesus had to face the cross.

– What God does promise is strength to face the storms we face in life. No matter how heavy the cross is that we have to bear he is there to help us.

– Peter took his eyes off of Jesus. Peter represents all who dare to take that first step as Christians in confidence, and then when the storm starts we take our eyes off Jesus and try to go it alone. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and not on what is going on around us.

– The more difficult the task or temptation, the more we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

– In the end, Jesus immediately grabbed Peter. Jesus was right where Peter needed him to be. He will always be where we need him to be even to the end of time. He is our ever present help. So as we run the race of life look to Jesus for help in faith.


When I started this blog, I thought I would be posting stuff about monasticism as that is one of my interests. Well it has not turned out that was. However, here are two sites of monasteries in the Romanian Archdiocese that might be interesting.

St. Dimitru in New York

Holy Cross Orthodox Monastery in Toronto

Both of these places are very small, but worth checking out.

The Need for a Social Doctrine

Several posts ago I began a discussion about the preferential option for the poor. This led to more reading on my part and a meeting yesterday with Sister Margaret Leonard of Project Hope in Boston. I interned at Project Hope as a seminarian and I have been fascinated by their work ever sense.

Well, through the discussion yesterday, I realized that before we can have any discussion about different social issues, the Orthodox Church needs a systematic study of Social Theory. The Roman Catholic Church has a large body of teaching in the area of Social Theory so I turned there to begin. Here is what I found. There are certain principles that we must adopt according to what we believe about God, the human person, and the community. Although different authors have different numbers of principles, 7-10 seems to be the agreed upon number. Some will differ only in how they include things or not. Here is the list;

The Principle of Human Dignity
The Principle of Respect for Human Life
The Principle of Association
The Principle of Participation
The Principle of Preferential Protection for the Poor and Vulnerable
The Principle of Solidarity
The Principle of Stewardship
The Principle of Subsidarity
The Principle of Human Equality
The Principle of the Common Good

Now this list comes in part from an essay in America Magazine by William Byron and also from a publication of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in the US, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching. So we have a place to start. I believe that much could be written on each one of those principles, and I hope to be able to fill some of them out myself. I invite comment and perhaps this could be a cyber project to build on this.


Today is the feast of the Transfiguration. It is a rare treat when one of the major feasts falls on a Sunday and more people are in church. I preached on the Transfiguring power of Christ and how we all need to have a closer, personal relationship with Him. The feast is more about Transfiguring our spiritual life than anything else. This seems like a good idea considering all that is going on in the Middle East. We need to pray for a resolution to this situation in the Middle East and a stop to all of this craziness. Let us continue to pray for all of those involved in this situation.

Heat Wave

Today the thermometer hit 92 in Southbridge. Man this is hot. I have been spending the day in A/C here at the parish house and watching old episodes of West Wing. Early this morning, Fr. Greg came by to help me move some chairs back into storage after our picnic. Thanks for coming and helping out it made the job much easier. Try and stay cool for the next few days. It is like a blast oven out there.

Record Church Attendance

Our church here in Southbridge is very small in comparison to some others. We have 75 members, that’s individuals not families. Yesterday, on what could be described as one of the hottest days here in Central Massachusetts we had 50 people in church. Now that may not seem like many to some people but for us that was big time! We average 35 on Sunday mornings when the temperature is not so high, it was 90 degrees in the church yesterday. It was so nice to see all of the seats with people in them, even the ones down front!


Since the tragic accident a few days ago my mind has turned toward revenge. At the coffee hour yesterday after the Liturgy people were talking about how they wanted to kill the person that threw the rock over the bridge. How tragic that would be also. I spoke with many of them about the difference between revenge and justice. Revenge is not ours to seek. Vengeance is mine says the Lord. The person responsible will have to answer for their actions some day. However, justice is another matter. We can seek justice and make the person pay. But how much should one pay for a crime such as this? Life in prison? Maybe hit them in the head with a rock. I know this is hard to grasp, and hard for me also, but we need to seek justice and learn to forgive. That is what Christ would want us to do. Not become door mats in any sense of the word, but forgiveness. In the Divine Liturgy we pray for those who love us and those who hate us. In the Lord’s prayer we pray to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Isn’t that what the Christian life is all about? Forgiveness? Well, something to ponder on this hot day.

Unnecessary violence

Today I went to the hospital to visit the son of one of my parishioners. He was driving to work the other night, and someone threw a rock off of the overpass and hit the windshield of the car. After that he went across the road and hit the guard rail. His skull is fractured in two places and his jaw is broken. The doctor is not sure if he will ever regain the sight in his right eye. I will never understand why people do the things they do.

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