In English

We are all Athonite monks!

31 Οκτωβρίου 2009

We are all Athonite monks!


The website of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Dalmatia offers on its English page a translation of an interview with Abbot Ephraim of Vatopedi monastery. The translation is a little rough around the edges but interesting to read nonetheless. The abbot gives brief answers to a variety of questions. For instance, in his reply to a question about Russian chant he says: 

“Contemporary Russian chant is not ancient. Old unison Russian chant is more prayerful. Byzantine chant is more pleasant and spiritual. But, chant is of secondary importance; the most important is – a clean heart.”

Or when asked about the conflicts between the Greek and Russian monks on Mt. Athos:

“Because of man’s infirmity, some conflicts really did occur. There are some silly Greeks, and silly Russians. As Father Ephraim said, that kind of people collide, but there is love among Russian, Serbian, Greek people and all inhabitants of Mount Athos. There is real life in Christ also.”

In that same manner, he gives a simple answer to the occurrence of miracles on Mt. Athos:

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. Some time ago a miracle has occurred in a Bulgarian monastery Zograf. Namely, an icon was miraculously taken by St. Martyr George to one of the monastery churches. But the greatest miracle is – the Church with Her Holy Mysteries.”

Regarding prayers before Holy Communion he says:

“There are some monks that confess every day. Monks receive Communion four times a week – on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. On other days, there is a strict fast – food is prepared without oil; and on Saturdays food is prepared with oil. In our monastery, sometimes even ten liturgies are served every day and every monk knows when he can receive Holy Communion. In Greece, Holy Communion has nothing to do with Confession. If a man did not commit any mortal sins which cannot be absolved, then he can receive Holy Communion. The Holy Communion comes from love of the heart; it is straining of one’s heart. A prayer before Holy Communion is a CANON before the Holy Communion. Indeed, canons do exist, but their fulfillment must not be taken as a law. As for the preparation before Holy Communion, there must be no constraint. The same can be said for fasting. A man is obliged to fast according to the fasting period prescribed by the Church; there is no special fasting rule for the receiving of Holy Communion.”

But I think my favorite was when he was asked about St. Ignatius Brianchaninov:

“In monastery Vatopedi, the works of St. Ignatius Brianchaninov are read. St. Ignatius is a man of prayer, soberness; in a word, he is a ”complete Athonite monk”. We can say that, because Mount Athos is not a place; it is a way of life. Therefore, everyone can be called an “Athonite monk”.

Full article here