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Fellowship and food

4 October 2010

We have had several visitors recently, and on Saturday I took two of them, Fr Ciprian Burlacioiu and Macrina Walker, to visit two of our monastery sites.

First we went to see Father Frumentius Taubata and Matushka Evgenia, who run an orphanage at Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, and Fr Frumentius came with us to the monastery of the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Gerardville, where they saw the tomb of Fr Nazarius (Pribojan), who founded the monastery with Fr Elias about 10 years ago. Though there are no monastics there now, the monastery and grounds are kept in good condition by the caretaker Nikhon.

Fr Ciprian, Nikhon, Fr Frumentius, Macrina - at the Monastery of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, 2 Oct 2010

We went on to visit the Monastery of St Nektarius and St Nicholas at Leeuwenkloof, which also no longer has any resident monastics since Deacon Nektarius (in the world Les Ritson) went to England for health reasons recently.

Macrina Walker,  who had become Orthodox a month earlier, was formerly a Cistercian nun in the Netherlands and has recently returned to South Africa to explore the possibility of getting a job in Cape Town. While there she visited Fr Zacharius (van Wyk) at Robertson, and we had quite a surprise when we met him at Vespers later in the evening at St Nicholas Church in Brixton, Johannesburg. We sang “Many Years” to Fr Ciprian, as it was his name day (St Cyprian of Carthage).

After Vespers Fr Athanasius, the parish priest of St Nicholas, joined us for dinner at a restaurant in Norwood, where he had a chance to get to know Fr Ciprian and Macrina better. Fr Athanasius, Fr Ciprian and I have research interests in common, and Fr Ciprian’s research project on Daniel William Alexander and the African Orthodox Church is likely to fill some important gaps in our knowledge of the history of Orthodoxy in Africa. The archival records of Daniel William Alexander are split between the USA and South Africa, and Fr Ciprian is one of the very few researchers who have been able to consult both sets. He is also hoping, on his way home to Germany, where he is based, to be able to consult additional sources in the Patriarchal Library in Alexandria.

Fr Athanasius Akunda, Deacon Stephen Hayes, Fr Ciprian Burlacioiu, Macrina Walker

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Carl permalink
    4 October 2010 10:56 am

    from Cistercian to Orthodox? Interesting. Any reason given?

    re Alexander, have you consulted John Baur’s ‘2000 years of Christianity in Africa’?

  2. 6 October 2010 8:41 pm

    Carl,

    I didn’t in the first instance change from being Cistercian to Orthodox, but from being Roman Catholic to being Orthodox – ceasing to be a Cistercian was more like a by-product (and in some ways an unfortunate by-product) of a more fundamental ecclesial change. As a Cistercian I followed the Rule of St Benedict (a document that originated when the West was still Orthodox) and which counsels one to prefer nothing to the love of Christ. My reasons for becoming Orthodox, while complex, are inseparable from the conviction that the Orthodox Church is the fullness of the Church and that, being convinced of that, I had no choice but to be reconciled to it, for we cannot have Christ without his Body.

  3. Carl permalink
    7 October 2010 10:03 am

    Thank you, Macrina.

    To what extent do you feel ‘released’ from Benedict’s rule?

    And, if it originated pre-Schism, is it shared to any extent by Orthodox?

  4. 7 October 2010 8:15 pm

    You’re welcome, Carl.

    I don’t think that I’d say that I feel “released” from the Rule of St Benedict, although I do find myself in another context. However, it is probably true to say that in an Orthodox context the emphasis is not so much on one tradition, or founder, or document, but on the monastic tradition more generally and so things like “rules” and specific traditions are more fluid. But then I always did tend to read St Benedict in the context of a broader monastic tradition, and that is what he instructs us to do himself, pointing his readers to the Fathers, and especially to St Basil and St John Cassian (in ch. 73).

    I’m not really qualified to comment on behalf of Orthodoxy, but to the best of my knowledge although the Rule of St Benedict is a western document, the monastic theology presented – such as the steps of humility in chapter 7 – is fundamentally the same as that found in the Eastern Fathers.

    As a said above, the emphasis in Orthodoxy is less on rules and founding figures. However, I’m vaguely aware that there are some Orthodox western-rite (i.e. Orthodox who follow a form of western liturgy) monks who follow it in the USA.

    • Chris Jones permalink
      10 October 2010 6:07 pm

      “there are some Orthodox western-rite (i.e. Orthodox who follow a form of western liturgy) monks who follow it in the USA”

      The community you are thinking of is Christ the Saviour Monastery in Hamilton, Ontario in Canada (not the USA) — though the monastery moved to Canada from the United States only a couple of years ago. It is a stavropegial monastery under the jurisdiction of the chief hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

      It is, as you say, a western-rite community, celebrating the Eucharist according to the liturgy of St Gregory and saying the divine office according to the Benedictine use. There is a small western-rite parish (Our Lady of Glastonbury) associated with the monastery.

      In addition, several of the American parishes in the Western Rite Vicariate of the Antiochian Archdiocese have active groups of Benedictine oblates.

      Christ the Saviour monastery has a web presence at http://www.christminster.org.

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