Orthodox monasticism


How does Orthodox monasticism differ from ours? It doesn’t seem like they have orders like we do, which raises the question of whether they’re all one big monastic group or each monastery is self-governing. Anyone know anything about this?
Also, is there a Catholic equivalent to Athos?


Hi Salibi,

Here’s my thoughts on your questions, though I’d say take it with a grain of salt as it’s more so my casual observation rather than any sort of authoritative knowledge…

There are no orders in Orthodox monasticism as in the Roman Catholic Church. Each monastery is self-governing - an abbot or abbess is in charge. Each monastery, though, is also under the authority of the local diocesan bishop (there are exceptions to that called “stavropegial” which are under the authority of the primatial bishop rather than the local bishop.).




Thanks for your response, Isaac.
I have another question, if you don’t mind. What about charisms? If an Orthodox monk wanted to lead a more prayer-oriented life rather than, say, working with an Orthodox charity, for example, how would he know which monastery to join?


That’s a question I don’t know the answer to. In general, Orthodox monasticism does seem to focus more on a quiet life of prayer rather than of service (charitable or otherwise) to the secular world. I also expect there are exceptions to that general rule. I just don’t have experience to say more than that.


Here’s a great book on the subject:

The Monks of Mount Athos: A Western Monks Extraordinary Spiritual Journey on Eastern Holy Ground by M. Basil Pennington OCSO



I see. Thanks for your input :pray:t2:.


Thank you. I will be looking for this.

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