Saint Petroc Monastery
A Western Rite Monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

A traditional Western Rite Orthodox church


Saint Petroc Monastery is a monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. As a canonical Orthodox monastery, it is in communion only with those missions, parishes, monasteries or ecclesial bodies approved by the Holy Synod of ROCOR Bishops.




Saint Petroc Monastery is named in honour of the famous Orthodox Abbot,  who was born circa A.D. 490 in Wales.  He became a monk, and among his disciples was Saint Coemgen (the patron saint of Dublin).  Travelling to Cornwall, he set up his Abbey at Padstow (derived from his name) where he was Abbot for over thirty years. He then left, setting up a hermitage near Rough Tor on Bodmin Moor. Saint Petroc reposed in A.D. 564.  Associated with him in the Monastery were Saint Croidan, Saint Medan and Saint Dagan.  The Feast of Saint Petroc is on the 17th of June.

The primary task assigned by the Archbishop to Saint Petroc Monastery is to identify and implement the means of bringing the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic people (the overwhelming percentage of the population) to return to the Orthodox heritage of the British Isles and western Europe.  For this task, Saint Petroc Monastery, its people and parishes are blessed to the Western Rite.

Saint Petroc Monastery is incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act as a non-profit organisation.
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Further information about the Monastery and its plans and activities can be obtained from:

E-Mail:   Contact Saint Petroc Monastery Here


About This Site ....
 
 

Restoring our Orthodox Heritage in the West

Saint Petroc Magazine of Western Rite Orthodoxy

The Roots of the Orthodox Liturgy of the West

The Divine Liturgies in Use Within Orthodoxy

Re-establishment of the Western Rite within canonical Orthodoxy

A Brief History of the Orthodox Church in the British Isles AD37-1066

Inside the Celtic-Anglo-Saxon Church circa AD 550-1000

Monastic Life

Links to Western Rite Sites

Links to Other Relevant Sites

Links to Other Orthodox Resources

Gallery


RESTORING OUR ORTHODOX HERITAGE IN THE WEST

Given our assignment of opening up Orthodox Christianity to westerners utilising the traditional worship and culture of the West, our task is nothing more nor less than the restoration of the Orthodox heritage of our forefathers to its rightful place within canonical Orthodoxy.  The Church in the West was fully Orthodox for the first thousand years of the Christian era.

Many people, former churchgoers, are subject to an overwhelming sense of dismay at the revolution and breakdown in western Christianity, the manifest apostasy (often amounting to a complete break with anything recognisable as Christianity) which has overtaken, and is still overtaking the Christian churches in the West.

Many people, not churchgoers, feeling the need of genuine Christian spiritual guidance, are in the position of wanting to follow the authentic teachings of Jesus Christ, and wanting to be a part of the authentic Church that He founded.

The Orthodox Church alone, has the complete historical, doctrinal and spiritual credentials demanded by anyone who has studied the Church of the New Testament, the Apostles and the Ecumenical Councils and who desires to join that Church.   It alone has the unbroken, unaltered teaching, authority and presence of that original Christian Church.

This site is set up to give hope and to urge people in the West to look to the reinstatement of what we know to be genuine right belief and right practice. If it is true to say that 'as I pray, so I believe', then we ought to reinstate the great history and tradition of Western Orthodox worship that is our rightful Orthodox inheritance.

The task ahead of us is to resolutely set about rebuilding on the foundations set up for us in the many centuries preceding the the Great Schism and the Norman Conquest, and which is now handed down to us.

As can be seen in the rest of this site, the task is underway.  With the inherited treasure-house of Orthodox Christianity built into our national culture, augmented with the theology held by the world-wide Orthodox tradition, the western Orthodox believer has a sound base, of which he has a right to be jealous, and from which he can begin the work of restoring his Orthodox heritage.

We begin where we stand, and we build from there.  We need to understand - as did the earliest Christians of the British Isles two thousand years ago, that a vast national Church institution is not going to be built in our lifetime.  They were surrounded by the Druidic religion and they sought to convert it to Christ.

We are surrounded by the wreckage of the western churches and we need to quietly build genuine Western Orthodox study groups and societies which will have the potential to become missions and parishes.  Using them, we can illustrate the true Christian Faith - by example - and spread the Right Belief in God the Holy Trinity among our people once again.

The Orthodox Church alone today can authorise our native expression of Christian worship, precisely because they are of Orthodox origin. The Orthodox Church alone today, has the truly conciliar, authoritative, traditional structure and ethos which we find most suitable to the true following of the Christian Way.

What - precisely - are we talking about?   As far as worship is concerned, see the Western Rite Liturgy pages.

What are we - not - talking about?   We are not talking about going to the nearest Greek/ Russian/Serbian/Antiochian Orthodox Priest and asking him if you can start a Western Rite group in his Parish.  Even if he wanted to, he does not have the authority - nor, probably, does his Bishop.

We start the Orthodox Study Groups, the Orthodox Societies and we familiarise ourselves through reading, with the teachings of the Orthodox Church.  We bring people in, we build and we make contact.
 

 EMAIL:Contact Saint Petroc Monastery Here
 



 

Saint Petroc Magazine

  A Magazine of Western Rite Orthodoxy


Vol. VII   No. 1                                                             Michaelmas 2004                                           Free of charge

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Quicktime Movie - Archbishop Hilarion's sermon at Michelmas 2004

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Activity in UK - Tasmania - Australia - New Zealand - USA



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THE DIVINE LITURGY
OF THE ORTHODOX WESTERN RITE


 
 
 
 

THE ROOTS OF THE ORTHODOX LITURGY OF THE WEST



From its borrowed liturgical beginnings circa AD37-45, by about A.D. 400-500, the Church in the British Isles, had evolved a distinct version of the Divine Liturgy, kown to it as the Liturgy of Saint John (the Divine).  Today we have a number of geographical versions of that Liturgy as it existed during the first Millennium.  All are local versions of the basic Liturgy, a Liturgy which was quite distinct from the Roman Liturgy and the Eastern Liturgies.

The indigenous Liturgy of the British Isles developed throughout the first millennium, driven by differing forces according to its location. By the middle of the millennium, it was, in the eastern part of Britain undoubtedly being affected by the incoming Angles, Saxons etc.  The "Celtic-Saxon" Church in the eastern and southern British Isles also evidenced changes in architecture and ways of doing things which carried over even after the papally inspired invasion by William of Normandy just after the Great Schism.

The result of the Synod of Whitby meant the somewhat patchy introduction of many Roman liturgical and ecclesiastical usages into southern England and the Midlands, These generally did not permeate so well to northern and western England, Cornwall, Scotland, Wales or Ireland.

Nevertheless, in England the Church was still predominantly local in character and distinct from its Latin counterparts. The Liturgical customs of the Celtic-Anglo-Saxon Church were widely adhered to and in fact, conserved, particularly at Sherborne Abbey in the west of England. These liturgical customs were gathered into the local variant of the Liturgy and eventually became known as the "Sarum Liturgy" after the Latin name for Salisbury Cathedral where they were first expounded.  It is important to remember, when looking at the Sarum Liturgy that it is essentially a pre-Schism Liturgy which had continued to develop as the predominant Liturgy  beyond the Great Schism.  In the Western Church in the two centuries immediately prior to the council of Trent, Sarum had become influential beyond the bounds of its usage, and was regarded as the proper standard of ceremonial for anyone not using the pure Roman liturgical Use.

It was expected that the celebrating Priest and his ministers should sing Prime, the Vesting Chapel Office and carry out the preparation of the elements (in Sarum usage, called 'the Sacrifice' from this point onwards), then sing the Litany in Procession before beginning the Liturgy of the Altar proper at the end of which, in the course of the procession back to the Vestry Chapel, the Priest sang the Last Gospel, the Eulogion bread was blessed and then, with his ministers, he sang the final Divesting Office in the Vestry Chapel.  In a monastic church, they then returned immediately to sing the Office of Sext.

The Sarum church has a Rood Screen which is partly open, allowing the actions at the Altar to be seen (although in the great Sarum Cathedrals, the Screen was later usually fully closed in). A traditionally laid out church has the Rood Screen crossing the three aisles, forming a Vestry Chapel usually on the north side of the Altar and a Lady (Our Lady - or Preparation) Chapel on the south side of the Altar, thus creating three doors through the Screen.

The Sarum Liturgy has the Offertory Procession bringing the prepared elements solemnly from the Preparation Chapel to the Altar, the custom known in the East as the Antidoron is there in Sarum where it is called the Eulogion, and of course with bowing instead of the Roman genuflecting.

The Sarum Liturgy in its earliest form, is essentially the fully developed Use of the Church in the British Isles prior to the Great Schism and gathered in it the ceremonial traditions of the earlier versions of the local Liturgy which had evolved in the preceding nine hundred years of its existence. The Celtic (British Isles, western France and north western Spain) Church seems of a more eastern Empire origin than anything, given the differences of organisation, Liturgy, monasticism etc., which divided it from Rome. Galatia, Galicia, Gallican, Gaul, Gallic and Gaelic, names covering the crescent from modern Turkey through Poland, France, Spain, England to Scotland, Wales and Ireland, all mean Celtic.

It is true to say that the Sunday of Christianity is much debased today and even for those churchgoers who turn up, it seems to be a chore, to be got through in the most informal dress and as rapidly as possible in order that the rest of the day might be enjoyed with other matters.

To a large extent, for much of the first millennium, for one of the many genuine, devout Christians of all classes, the place to be of a Sunday, was the church where, for a brief period each week, they endeavoured to recreate as best they had means to, the worship of Heaven, here in earth.

That is precisely what the celebration of the Divine Liturgy is or ought to be.  We are doing that which Christ Himself directly instructed us to do.  Here, in the Divine Liturgy, we Orthodox Believers may lose ourselves in Christ.  We may lose ourselves in the entrance hall of God's Heavenly Kingdom.  Here, we may, as heirs, look at some hint of our inheritance to come.  Here, we may have a brief respite from the temptations which distract us from the character-formation that God requires of fallen man before we can be taken into union with Him.

Here we can savour the things to come and here, we can meet directly with the Master and be cleansed, strengthened and comforted by Him in preparation for the week of trial and temptation before us. Here we have joy in God. Without this, he who would be a genuine Orthodox Christian has a very difficult task ahead of him indeed.



 

THE DIVINE LITURGIES IN USE WITHIN ORTHODOXY
 

THE ENGLISH LITURGY ILLUSTRATED
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THE SARUM LITURGY ILLUSTRATED
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AN OUTLINE OF THE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WESTERN RITE WITHIN CANONICAL ORTHODOXY


1879: The Holy Synod of Russia authorised the corrected text of the Western Rite Liturgy (the Liturgy of Saint Gregory) to be used.  This was the text of the pre-Tridentine Roman Liturgy.

1904: Archbishop Tikhon (Belavin) petitioned the Holy Synod of Russia to permit the adaption of the services taken from from the Book of Common Prayer, for use by Orthodox people.

1907: The Commission of the Holy Synod of Russia (including Bishop Sergius (Stragorodsky)) reported in favour of adaption of the services taken from the Book of Common Prayer and set out the method of adaption.

1921: Archbishop Tikhon (Belavin) was elected Patriarch of Moscow (+1925).

1922: The Alcuin Club in England printed the Holy Synod's Commission report in English.

1923: The Polish Catholic National Church was received into Orthodoxy and permitted to continue using the Western Rite.

1929: The Russian Fraternity of Saint Irenee in France (headed by Vladimir Lossky and Eugraph Kovalevsky)  acting under metropolitical guidance, celebrated the Western Rite in a Parish church for the first time.

1936: Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) of Moscow issued letters patent setting up the Western Orthodox Church in France, headed by Fr. Eugraph (Kovalevsky).  A group of Old Roman Catholics formed the core of this national Church.

1944: Fr. Eugraph (Kovalevsky) completed a restoration of the ancient first millennium Gallican Liturgy - the Liturgy of Saint Germanus.

1958: Archbishop John (Maximovitch) of Paris took over direction of the Western Orthodox Church in France, (l'Eglise Catolique et Orthodoxe de France  - ECOF) setting up a Western Rite seminary and Ordaining clergy. He authorised the use of the Liturgy of Saint Germanus.

1958: The Patriarchate of Antioch adopted the provisions of the Russian Holy Synods of 1879 and 1907 and under the latter, produced the "Saint Tikhon" Liturgy, named in honour of the newly canonised Patriarch Tikhon (Belavin).

1961: The Western Rite Vicariate was created within the Metropolitanate of North America.  A group of Old Catholics headed by Fr. Alexander Turner were received and formed the first Parishes of the Vicariate.  Fr. Alexander became the first Dean of the Vicariate.

1965: Archbishop John (Maximovitch), having been translated to San Francisco, Consecrated Fr. Eugraph Kovalevsky as Bishop Jean-Nectaire, of the Diocese of Saint-Denys for the Orthodox Church of France, the first Western Rite Orthodox Bishop in eight hundred years.

1975: In the United States, Bishop Dositheus received the Monastery of Our Lady of Mount Royal and blessed it to continue using the Western Rite.

1993: Bishop Hilarion (Kapral) of Manhattan authorised the establishment of the Christ the Saviour Monastery in Providence Rhode Island and blessed it to the Western Rite.

1997: Archbishop Hilarion (Kapral) of Sydney blessed the Monastery of Saint Petroc in Tasmania to the Western Rite and directed it to act in a missionary role, setting up Monastery Parishes using the Western Rite.

2001: The Saint Dunstan Psalter produced by the Lancelot Andrewes Press became available for use.

2002: The Saint Ambrose Hymnal produced by the AWRV was authorised for use.

2003:  The Saint Colman Prayer Book produced by Saint Petroc Monastery was authorised for use.


 


A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN THE BRITISH ISLES
 

AS IT EXISTED FROM CIRCA A.D. 37 TO THE GREAT SCHISM OF A.D. 1054
THE CHURCH OF WALES, ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, CORNWALL, BRITTANY AND IRELAND IN THE FIRST MILLENNIUM OF CHRISTIANITY





When our Lord Jesus Christ founded the Church, He commanded His Disciples to take the Gospel to the very ends of the earth.  Within just a few decades the Church had spread to the British Isles and was soon formally established amongst the peoples of Britain.

THE FIRST THREE THOUSAND YEARS

We now know that the British Isles have been regularly populated by an relatively advanced, organised society for between six and seven thousand years.  The archaeological evidence of sites such as Cadbury Castle in Somerset shows continuous occupation by advanced, settled people from around 3250BC to AD1060.  At the beginning of the period, the land was inhabited by a race often erroneously referred to in earlier text books as the ”Iberians”.  These people had an organised religion, which they held in common with their contemporaries in ancient Gaul.  Their religion caused them to be considerable builders, yielding such massive structures as Avebury and the lesser Stonehenge built around 4700BC, as well as many others.

The later Celts apparently migrated in two fairly distinct waves, possibly beginning about 700-500BC, apparently absorbing rather than conquering the earlier inhabitants in the process.  The first wave was the Goidels (Gaels), who were followed by the Britons.

The incoming Celts appear to have held the religion of the native people, which was druidism.  Druidism taught an eternal life after death, the transmigration of souls, a supreme (trinitarian) god and a pantheon of lesser gods.  The Celts of the British Isles were at the western end of the "Celtic Crescent" which arched above the Roman Empire from the British Isles (Britain) in the west, through Britony-Galicia in Spain, Bretagne-Gaul in France up to Galicia in southern Poland right across to the last Celtic expansion around 300BC of Galatia in Asia Minor.

ROMAN BRITAIN

The original Roman invasion of Britain began with the arrival of Julius Caesar in 55BC.  After ninety years of peace, the Britons again caused trouble and Claudius Caesar sent an army under Plautius to conquer the newly troublesome British in AD43.  The Romans never fully conquered the British Isles, it was never really their intention to do so, but merely to secure Gaul.  The later part of the Roman rule in Britain can perhaps be characterised as largely peaceful, with Roman and Romano-Briton civilians and retired military sharing the administration as a settled and highly civilised middle-upper class.  While the administration was carried out in Latin, the Celtic language remained predominant throughout the country.

THE COMING OF CHRISTIANITY TO THE BRITISH ISLES

In the tradition of the Church, Christianity was brought by people from the region of Ephesus and established in the British Isles by AD45.  This is somewhat bolstered by the fact that the Church in the British Isles maintained that its original Liturgy was that of Saint John, who is known to have lived in Ephesus in his later years.  Saint Gildas the Wise (a Welsh monk, pupil of St. Illtyd. + AD512) maintained in his History, that Christianity came to Britain in the last year of Tiberius Caesar i.e: AD37.

It is interesting to note that the antiquity of British Church, was unequivocally affirmed by five Papal councils: The council of Pisa (1409), the council of Constance (1417), the council of Sens (1418), the council of Sienna (1424), and the council of Basle (1434).  These five councils ruled that the Church in the British Isles is the oldest Church in the gentile world - this despite the fact it would have been politically advantageous for the popes to have ignored the fact, given the possibility of thereby offending France and Spain which were at the time, far more powerful than England.  It seems reasonable therefore, to assume that the documentary evidence in favour of the antiquity of the Church in the British Isles must have been overwhelming.  Sadly, much of that evidence is now lost, destroyed during Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries and the dispersion/destruction of their libraries then, and during the Civil War.

Saint Aristibule (Aristobulus, one of the Seventy Apostles mentioned in the Gospel of Saint Luke 10:1) who died circa AD90, as Bishop of Britain, was one of the early organisers of Christianity among the Celts in Britony and Britain, according to Saint Dorotheus of Tyre.  The Orthodox Church regards him as the “Apostle of Britain” and accords him that title.  It is to him (and others with him) that we attribute the beginnings of The Church in the British Isles circa AD 37-45.

Recent archaeology suggests the oldest church building remains so far positively identified as such in Britain, as dating from approximately AD140.  We also know of domestic Christian remains of earlier date in the south of Britain.  Later we have the record of the ruler of part of south Wales-Western England, Saint Lucan bringing Saint Dyfan (often Latinised as Damian) and Saint Fagan (often Latinised as Fugatius) to his area circa AD160-180.  Then we have Saint Mydwyn and the Bishop, Saint Elvan, both of whom were Britons, of exactly the same period.  Bishop Elvan reputedly died at Glastonbury circa AD195.

The Roman historian Tertullian, in a tract written circa AD208 mentions the Church in Britain as having reached parts as yet unconquered by the Roman Army, which tells us that the Church had moved beyond the Roman pale and was certainly indigenised, as the actions of Saint Lucan clearly show.  Origen, writing thirty years later, also records the Church in Britain.

Saint Dyfan (+AD190c) is regarded as the first Christian Martyr of the British Isles (and hence the name of the town of Merthyr Dyfan just south of Cardiff in Wales).  The first recorded Christian Martyrs in England were the layman Saint Alban, Bishop Stephen of London, Bishop Socrates of York, Bishop Argulius of London, Bishop Amphibalus of LLandaff, Bishop Nicolas of Penrhyn, Bishop Melior of Carlisle, and others during the period AD300-304.

Constantine, the son of Constantius I (Chlorus) and Flavius Helena (said by Saint Ambrose to have been an innkeeper and by Chesterton and later historians to have possibly been a Briton) accompanied his father from Boulogne to York. There, in AD306 his father died and Constantine was proclaimed Augustus - ruler of the Roman Empire - at York.  Eventually he was to become known to posterity as the Emperor Constantine the Great.  Constantine together with Licenius issued the so-called Edict of Milan recognising Christianity.

In 314 the Bishop of Eborius (York), Bishop Restitutus of London and Bishop Adelfius of Caerleon and a large retinue attended the Council of Arles.

Saint Athanasius specifically states that the British Church recorded her agreement to the decisions of the First Ecumenical Council held at Nicaea in 325.

Again, in 359, British Bishops attended the Council of Rimini.  The archaeological evidence of this period points to the chapels at Lullingstone and Silchester as dating from about 345.

In short, the Church was not only quite well established over much of the British Isles by this time, but we have Saint John Chrysostom himself, testifying that it was fully Orthodox in its doctrine. (Chrysostomi Orat.’O Qeos Cristos)

Very soon after the importation of monasticism from Egypt to the Eastern Empire, it appeared in the British Church and quickly became extremely popular.  In fact, the British Church in the fifth century and thereafter, was organised on heavily monastic lines, to a far greater extent perhaps than other parts of the Church.  Hundreds of monasteries and hermitages, great and small, spread out across the British Isles.  The monastic life appealed to the mystical bent of the Celtic mind.

THE DEPARTURE OF ROME

During the fourth century, eastern Britain began to be subjected to raids from Saxon pirates.  Rome found herself defending Gaul and the centre of the Roman Empire from northern invaders.  She could no longer attend to the provinces of Britain, and when Alaric sacked Rome in AD410, the flow of soldiers and administrators to Britain ceased entirely.  The majority of Britain now devolved to regional government very much according to the particular Clan Chief or “King”.

THE THREE DUKES

This brings us to a period that might conveniently be described as the period of the Three Dukes (Dux Bellorum), or Generals (who may have held the Celtic title of Pendragon) who led the armies of various combinations of Celtic Clans.  The first of these was Vortigern who operated from central Wales and Gloucester from about 425 until 457.  Duke Vortigern was followed by Duke Emrys.  The chronicler Saint Gildas records that he led the armies from 460 to the mid 480s.  Arthur appears to have taken the position around the mid-late 480s.  The chronicler-Priest Nennus records that Arthur wore an Icon of Saint Mary at the Battle of Bassas and an Icon of the Crucifixion for the whole of the three days of the Battle of Mount Badon (Liddington Castle) in 516.

During the period of the Three Dukes, the Church benefited enormously from the relative civil security.  In Emrys’ time, Saint Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre visited Britain twice, advising the British Bishops in setting up schools for Ordinands, and securing the banishment of the few remaining Pelagian heretics.  He led a Christian army in an apparently bloodless victory against the combined Picts and Saxons in the north in 431c.  He is recorded as preaching very effectively at Glastonbury during his second visit in 447.  From this time the monasteries largely ran the government of the Church.

THE MONASTIC CHURCH

In 397 Saint Ninian founded the monastery at Whitehorn in Galloway and began preaching among the Picts and the Scots.  This, together with numerous smaller cells of hermits and semi-coenobitic monastics, marked the beginnings of a renewal in the life of the Church in the British Isles.

During this period, the Church government was largely carried out from rural monasteries, where the Abbot ruled the Church.  He might (in a great monastery) have several choir-bishops, consecrated because of recognition of their sanctity of life.  The Bishop Ordained, Chrismated and Consecrated, while the Abbot administered.  Fairly soon, the positions of Abbot and Ruling Bishop began to be combined.  Overall the prevailing atmosphere was that of the sanctity of numerous monastic bishops, abbots and hermits.  The monasteries were the administrative, educational and missionary centres of the Church.  It was from these great monastic centres that the Church in the British Isles later in the first millennium, sent out her renowned monks as far as Germany, Kiev and Scandinavia.  Some idea of the calibre of the Church leaders  at this time may be gained from the following few representatives.

Around the year 400, the Deacon Calporans of (modern) Cumberland, himself the son of a Priest, had a son, Patrick.  About 410, Patrick was kidnapped by raiding Irish pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave.  After some six years, he escaped to Gaul where he entered a monastery and was trained to the priesthood.  He returned to his family near the Solway of Firth around 426 and was Consecrated Bishop in 432 when he took up residence in Ireland.  Saint Patrick ruled as monk-Bishop of Armagh for the next thirty years, founding many monasteries and building up the Church in Ireland until the time of his death in 464.

By AD450-500 there were some great 1,000-1,500 member monasteries in Wales and the west.  The Church in the British Isles at this time tended to look to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem as the centre of the Church, as it was largely cut off from the Roman Church (insofar as it was ever connected).  While the doctrine of the British Church is well attested to as being entirely Orthodox (The Pelagian heresy never gained more than a passing popularity in Britain and was apparently completely eradicated by the 420s-430s) the system of Church government and general atmosphere differed considerably from that of the Roman Church.

Born just after the turn of the century, Illtyd became a courtier and minister in Wales.  He abandoned that life and joined the monastery at Llancarvan under the guidance of its abbot, Saint Cadoc.  Later Saint Illtyd left Llancarvan and went to lead the great monastery of Llantwit (Llanilltyd) known subsequently as the house of saints because it produced so many leaders of the Church.  Saint Illtyd reposed in 470 and is commemorated on the 6th of November.

Saint David (Dewi Sant) was born early in the fifth century, educated at Hen Vynyw and trained for the Priesthood for ten years under Paulinus the scribe.  He founded the extremely ascetic monastery of Menevia.  Saint David as Abbot was noted for his works of mercy, extreme asceticism and habit of numerous prostrations.  The Synod of Brevi elected him Archbishop and his see was set at Menevia (St. David’s).

History tells us that some of the most powerful leaders of the British Church (Saint David, Archbishop of Menevia, Saint Padarn, Bishop of Avranches and Saint Teilo later Archbishop of Menevia) did obeisance to the Patriarch of Jerusalem in apparently deliberate preference to any other Church leader. It is possible that some were actually consecrated by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. To the Celtic mind, the centre of the Church was the place where Jesus had actually ministered.  Saint David is said to have travelled to other Celtic lands and we have records of his presence in Cornwall and in Brittany in 547-48 - he was enormously influential throughout the British Isles and was responsible for much consolidation of the Church and for holding both the clergy and laity to tight discipline.  Saint David reposed in 601, his feast is the national day of Wales, the first of March.

Saint Columcille was born in 521 at Gartan.  He travelled with some monks to Iona in Scotland where he founded the famous monastery at Iona on an island off the Atlantic coast.  There he lived, alternating between the hermit’s cell and  ruling the Abbey; sending out his monks to preach among the people.  From his successor Abbot, Saint Adamnan, we have a biography which tells graphically of a tall man of very forceful  personality, who performed miracles during his lifetime.

Columcille built the Monastery of Iona and set up subsidiary monasteries in Hinba, Maglunge and Diuni.  Three surviving poems are ascribed to him including Altus Prosator which concerns the after-life and final judgement.  He took great care with the training of the monks, some of whom were converts from among the Anglo-Saxon invaders of eastern Britain.  He converted Bude, king of the Picts, and  in 574, he crowned King Aiden of Dalriada.  Columcille was a Bishop of great influence in Scotland and Ireland as well as the whole north of England until his death in the church just before Mattins on the 9th of June, 597.

THE RETREAT OF THE CELTS AND RISE OF THE SAXON EAST

After the Battle of Mount Badon, the Britons could no longer hold their ground.  The Saxons increasingly migrated from Europe, filling the Saxon Shore and pressing westward.  They established a number of heathen kingdoms in the south-east, east and north-east of what is now England.

THE ROMAN MISSION

In AD597 the Patriarchate of Rome decided to mount what can only be described as an ecclesiastical invasion of the British Isles.  This came in the form of an uninvited “mission” established by Saint Augustine at Canterbury in spite of the fact that he found Bishop Liuthard and the church of Saint Martin already there at Canterbury.  Bishop Liuthard was close to the court of King Ethelbert who was not himself a Christian, but Queen Bertha was.  Undaunted by the existence of the long-established Church in the British Isles, Augustine proceeded to work among the non-Christian Saxon invaders living in Kent.

Claims that Augustine was Primate of Britain are spurious, given that the Church in the British Isles already had its own Primate - the the successor to Saint David, (who had died some 20 years before Augustine's arrival).  The Church in the British Isles had approximately 120 bishops and many thousands of priests, monks and nuns.  Augustine tried to assert Pope Gregory the Great's authority, but his efforts were not in any great degree successful beyond the south-eastern corner of the island where he worked to convert the invader Saxons.

To resolve some differences between the Church in the British Isles and the invading Roman mission, a council was held in 664 at Whitby in Yorkshire, resulting in the Celtic Church and the Roman “mission” being formally amalgamated into one Church, albeit the Celtic party resumed their own customs in their part of Britain.  Because this joining was concurrent with the large-scale conversion of the Anglo- Saxon invaders of eastern England, this continuing Church was Celtic-Anglo-Saxon in makeup and began to take on a character of both races.  It was an integral part of the Orthodox Catholic Church, and, since the Papacy at that time had hardly begun to develop in the sense that we now know it,  this Church of the British Isles remained a Local Church within the world wide Orthodox Catholic Church.

In the year 666, Saint Theodore of Tarsus, a Greek monk was appointed to the See of Canterbury.  He arrived in 669 at the age of 67 and began a twenty year episcopate of trying to persuade the British Bishops to accept him as Archbishop.  Theodore was opposed by Rome in some of his decisions, most obviously in his disputes with Saint Wilfrid.  In the end, while he did much to organise the Church in the British Isles, so divided by the Synod of Whitby, his power extended really only to the Anglo-Saxon part of the country.  Theodore initiated the series of Holy Synods, starting with Hertford in 672 at which the famous ten decrees were passed, paralleling the canons of the Council of Chalcedon.  The second Synod at Hatfield produced a statement of orthodoxy regarding the monothelite controversy.

At the end of the Seventh Century, (Saint) Wilfrid, now the Bishop of York, asked the Patriarch of Rome to intervene in his quarrel with (Saint) Theodore, the Archbishop of Canterbury.  When the matter came up before the Witenagamot - the Royal Parliament, the members - Aldermen, Thegnes and Bishops - rejected the Pope's adjudication. The Witenagamot said, in effect, "Who is this Pope and what are his decrees?  What have they to do with us, or we with them?"  By way of an answer they burned the Papal parchment and put Wilfrid in prison for having the temerity appeal to an outsider.

In A.D. 747, the principle was reasserted again - and just as pointedly.  It was proposed at the Witenagamot to refer difficult questions to the Bishop of Rome - as primus inter pares, first among equals.  The Witenagamot, however, declared it would submit only to the jurisdiction of the British Archbishop.

THE HEPTARCHY AND BEYOND

The period of the so-called “Heptarchy” extended roughly from 600 to around 850 and owes its name to the prominence of the new Saxon kingdoms of Kent, Wessex, Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex and Sussex of what is now England.  This was not a politically stable period, with the continuation of a struggle for supremacy between these kingdoms aided by whatever allies they could marshal.  At the outset of the period, Kent was overlord of Essex and Sussex and arguably the most powerful kingdom in Britain.  However, during the sixth century, Northumbria began to take the lead.  Northumbria consisted of two parts including most of modern Yorkshire.  Under King Edwin, it incorporated the Saxon kingdom of Berenice, which started out not being Christian.  However it was soon converted.  At its northern edge Edwin built Edwin’s Burgh on the Firth of Forth (Edinburgh).

Edwin was killed in battle with the combined armies of the heathen kingdom of Mercia and the Christian Kingdom of Wales in 632.  The brothers Oswald and Oswy had, during Edwin’s rule, lived in the Monastery at Iona.  Upon Edwin’s death, Oswald led an army of Northumbria against the Anglo-Saxons and became King of Northumbria.  In 634 Saint Aidan, at King Oswald’s invitation, came from the Monastery at Iona, to set up his See at Lindisfarne, as Bishop of all of Northumbria.  Here he founded his monastery, staffed by a group of monks who had accompanied him from Iona.  Oswald was killed in battle 642 and was subsequently canonised by the Church.

THE BEGINNINGS OF NATIONAL UNITY OF ENGLAND

Before his death, King Penda admitted Saint Aidan’s missionary monks to Mercia, thus paving the way for the conversion of this Saxon kingdom.  His son was Baptised and married a Christian Princess.  For most of the next century the Kingdom of Mercia, with its territory running south from the Humber to the Thames and from the Welsh Borders to the Wash was in the ascendant.  Mercia’s supremacy culminated in the reign of his cousin, King Offa (757-96).

King Offa is regarded as the first King to be termed King of all England.  He dealt with his younger European contemporary, the Emperor Charlemagne as an equal, signing a commercial treaty with him in 796, while Charlemagne is recorded as having regarded him as an outstanding ruler.

In 850-851 the heathen Danish raiders, who had for some time contented themselves with summer raids, decided to winter on the Isle of Thanet.  This was in effect the beginning of the terrible Danish invasion which was to provide the Church with so many martyrs, especially in the year 870.

King Alfred eventually defeated the Danes and consolidated his rule, maintaining peace until the Danes attacked from France again in 892.  He finally directed their defeat in 896-7.

Both Offa and Alfred were law-makers, scholars in their own right, Christian Kings, who built a school system and generally encouraged learning and the extension of the Church.

The Orthodoxy of the Church in the British Isles  ceased with the introduction of papal bishops after the Battle of Hastings in October of 1066 at which the Norman Duke William, funded by the newly schismatic papacy invaded Britain.


INSIDE THE CELTIC-ANGLO-SAXON CHURCH CIRCA 550-1000

Perhaps more than is usually the case, this was definitely a period of transition, however it must be borne in mind that the transition was phased over four hundred years.  Much more obvious to the people of the British Isles were the savage raids by Danish pirates and invaders which periodic-ally burst upon their shores.  In order to gain an impression of the Church in this latter half of the first millennium, we can look at some aspects of its life.

This Church in the British Isles had an indigenous Liturgy, which is still well known to us today.  It was separate from the Liturgy of the Roman Church and from the Eastern Church (from which it had come at a very early date) although it had elements in common with both.   Two excerpts from that Liturgy, (of Saint John the Divine) give us something of its flavour:
 

Be mindful, O Lord, we pray Thee, of Thy servants departed this life with the sign of faith, now resting in peace,    here the names of the departed are mentioned  together with all them throughout the world that offer Sacrifice in spirit unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; our Elder, the Priest ______ with the holy and venerable Priests, offers for himself, for his own, and for all the rest of the Catholic Church assembled; and for the commemoration of the struggles of the Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles and Martyrs, and of all Thy Saints, that they may be pleased to entreat the Lord our God for us:  List of Saints  together with all those reposed who pray for us in the Lord's peace, from Adam unto this day, whose names God hath pronounced and renewed.  Unto them O Lord and to all who rest in Christ, we entreat Thee to grant a place of Thy rest, Thy light, and Thy peace.

The Priest, Deacon and Sub-Deacon, standing abreast before the Altar then take THREE STEPS BACKWARD, then THREE STEPS FORWARD. in remembrance of the sins of thought, word and deed and of the thoughts, words and deeds which return us to grace.

And to us sinners who are Thy servants, grant confidence in the multitude of Thy mercies, and some lot and part with Thy Holy Apostles and Martyrs, Paul, Peter, Patrick, John, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius...
 

And then at the invitation to the people to receive Communion:
He then turns to the people, holding the  Paten and says:

Come Forth ye blessed of My Father, Alleluia.  Inherit of the kingdom, prepared for you from the foundation of the world,  Alleluia.  Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.  Come ye forth!  As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end.  Amen.  Come ye forth!


It can also help if we recall a description given by Saint Bede of the building and decoration of the church of Saint Peter at Wearmouth in 682-84:

Abbot Benedict brought “masons to build a church...and glaziers for the windows in the body of the church, the chapels and the clere-story” (Those glaziers set up a stained glass school, the remains of which have been uncovered by archaeologists recently) “an abundant supply of relics of the blessed Apostles and Christian Martyrs which were to prove a benefit to many churches...and many holy pictures of the saints...an icon of the Mother of God, the Blessed Mary, ever-Virgin, and one each of the twelve Apostles, which he had across the central arch on a wooden frame reaching from side to side (a Rood Screen) ...icons of incidents in the Gospels with which he decorated the south wall and scenes from Saint John’s vision of the Apocalypse for the north wall...and...the Last Judgement” (above the arch).

The Anglo-Saxons learned their Christianity from the Church which pre-dated their arrival.  Consequently the layout of the “typical” late Anglo-Saxon church is not all that different from that of a Celtic Church.  The difference mainly lies in the details of decoration.  A fairly typical stone church spanning the first millennium was a “two-box” - building as at Saint Laurence Church, Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire.  The larger "box" being the nave and the smaller, the chancel-sanctuary.

In small churches, they were separated by a stone wall having a single round arch in it.  The walls were often plastered internally and some-times externally as well.  The arch would be filled with something similar to the screen described by Saint Bede above, except that in some cases the arch was extremely small.

Medium-larger churches might have a third “box” as a narthex and two chapels, one on either side of the main sanctuary which could be apsidal as in All Saints church, Wing, Buckinghamshire.  One of the chapels would be used for vesting in and the other for the preparation of the Bread and Wine before the Liturgy, both chapels and the sanctuary would have doors or arches through to the nave.  The church of Ss Peter and Paul at Canterbury was typical of this medium size of church.

Because people tithed their worldly goods and felt that their temple of worship ought to reflect the glory of God, the large churches and minsters were very richly decorated and furnished.  A great abbey would have many crosses of gold, silver, decorated with semi-precious stones, silver tower reliquaries and shrines, icons, many chalices of gold and of silver set with stones and intricately worked, large “discos” style patens and small flat patens, thuribles etc.  Particularly of the later period, not only were there independent icons, but also painted frescoes and murals on the walls of the churches.  Altar books and Gospels were frequently covered with metal icon-bearing covers.

Regarding vestments of the period, perhaps the best example to cite is the set which have survived intact from Durham Cathedral.  The stole bears an embroidered inscription which states that the set was made at the order of Queen Elflaed who died in 916, for Bishop Frithstan who held the See of Winchester from 909 to 931.  The stole has embroidered on it the figures of sixteen prophets, with Saint Thomas and Saint James at either end, the whole very richly decorated.  The matching maniple has the figures of Saint Gregory the Great, Sixtus II Saint Lawrence and Saint Peter, with Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Divine at either end.

Saint Cuthbert wore an equal-armed gold pectoral Cross decorated with garnet rectangles and a central circular garnet.  It had no figure, a feature which is extremely common among pectoral Crosses of the period.  The T headed crozier was used by bishops of the first millennium as well as the crook-headed crozier.  There  is reason to believe that secular as well as the numerous monastic Celtic Priests wore plain, equal-armed pectoral Crosses although whether this was universal or by rank is uncertain.  Monks of the early period are believed to have worn plain, unbleached, heavy, coarse woven woollen habits with a full hood and leather belt.  They seem to have habitually carried a staff.  Secular clergy are believed to have worn black or dark blue cassocks.  Later monks wore a darker habit and retained the staff.

Despite a “Latinising” party in the newly combined Church, the indigenous Liturgy continued in use in the British Isles for another five hundred years albeit influenced by Roman and Gallican practices.

For the next four hundred years, the Church in the British Isles developed, suffering setbacks with the successive attacks and invasions from Denmark and Norway until late in the ninth century.  It recovered and reclaimed the lost territories by converting the invaders, as it had done many times in the past.

The Church continued as a distinctively monastic church, with distinctive customs, Liturgy and government.  Successive Roman and Protestant historians (starting with Bede) have attempted to re-write the history of the Church in the British Isles in order to show a supposed complete subservience to the Papacy.  Such was never the case, for while the nominal control of the British Isles may have been claimed by the Popes, their supposed rule was neither certain nor necessarily enforceable, certainly not much beyond south-eastern England.

At about the turn of the millennium, the indigenous Liturgy had developed considerably, with cross-borrowings from the related Church in Brittany and even from Rome.  Sherborne Abbey in the west of England had set itself the task of conserving the old customs of the Celtic-Anglo-Saxon Church.  It was to this store, that the liturgists turned when the time came to regularise the regional practices throughout the British Isles.  Thus came about the beginning of the codification of the British Liturgy which culminated in what became known later as the Sarum Liturgy after the Cathedral at Salisbury.

THE GREAT SCHISM AND ITS AFTERMATH

Arbitrarily dated in the year 1054, there occurred the disastrous 'Great Schism' between Eastern and Western Christendom.  Twelve years later, Duke William of Normandy invaded England and, after the Battle of Hastings took possession of both Church and State.  He immediately installed his own bishops who were loyal to the Pope in place of the Celtic and Saxon Bishops.  As a consequence, the schismatic papacy gained immediate theoretical control and eventually full control of the Church in the Norman area of British Isles a little over a century later.  In 1171, the papal bishops finally suppressed the indigenous Liturgy of the old Church of the British Isles, as they also finally gained control of the outlying areas of Wales and Scotland which had remained beyond their reach for a hundred years after the Great Schism.  The Norman Conquest, encouraged and partly financed by the papacy in order that it should procure ecclesiastical control of the British Church, succeeded only in gaining control of the government of England in 1066, and it is doubtful that Rome could enforce her will in Wales, Scotland or all of Ireland until 1150 at best.  It hardly seems necessary to suppress a liturgy as late as 1171 which has supposedly (by later historians) not been used for four hundred years unless it was in fact, then in use.  The indigenous Liturgy probably continued in Wales and Scotland at least until that time.  This means that there is a reasonable argument for the case that the division brought about by the Great Schism was not a reality in those countries until a hundred years after the 1054 Schism, since Papal power could not be enforced there.

THE CHURCH AND COUNTRY IN THE FIRST MILLENNIUM

We have seen Christianity come to the British Isles right at the beginning of the Christian era, pretty well at the same time as it spread to Greece and Rome and well before it spread to the Slavic countries.  It has been said that it succeeded because the Druidic religion was in many respects, similar to the Christian - trinitarian god, one person of which is said to have had the name "Yesu" - and some precepts similar to those of the Old Testament.  The Druids however, had their own problems, since they were viewed with some disfavour by the Roman authorities in those parts of Britain that Rome ruled.

The Church in the British Isles developed a truly local flavour, while steadfastly adhering to the faith taught by the Apostles as i attested by great Fathers of the Church at the time.  It certainly built strongly on the marked spiritual nature inherent in the people of the British Isles.  Some reading amongst the Christian works remaining from the Celtic first millennium will immediately impress upon the reader the remarkable flavour of the Church in the British Isles.  This Church had to withstand constant invasions, massive reverses and return to reclaim lost ground.
 

If the Church in the British Isles had and retained a peculiarly not-of-this-world quality, it was because of its strong attachment to the "other world" the feeling of having one foot already there which permeated its writings and liturgical worship.  With this faith it endured.
 

The Church of the western Celtic lands (the British Isles, Brittany and part of northern Spain) is in effect indivisible when talking of the first millennium of Christianity. The island of Britain for instance, was divided up into a number of kingdoms and the concept of the "national Church" was really somewhat alien to Christians at that time.  It may however be fairly
accurate regarding the first two or three centuries of Christianity, to speak of the Church of the Greeks, the Church of the Romans, the Church of North Africa and (among others) the Church of the British Isles (or the Church of the Celts perhaps), but such a regional flavour really belongs to a somewhat later period.  Nevertheless, the Church in the British Isles (and parts of western and southern France/northern Spain), if only because of its relative isolation, seems to have initially developed somewhat separately from the geographical Western Church.

By the midst of the first millennium, the Church in the British Isles boasted a chain of hundreds of monasteries great and small , anchorite cells etc., spread all over the islands. The most famous ranged from the Whithorn Abbey founded by Saint Ninian in A.D. 395, Iona Abbey (A.D. 563) established by Saint Columba, famous for the outstanding asceticism and sanctity of its monks as well as for its persistent missionary effort, and Melrose Abbey - all in Scotland.

In Northumbria there was the great double of Wearmouth (A.D. 674) and Jarrow (A.D. 682), twin monasteries, famous for the scholarship of their monks, Bardsey (A.D. 500s) and Whitby and also Lindisfarne founded by Saint Aidan in A.D. 635 and famous for its school and missionary activities. Hexham Abbey, founded by Saint Wilfrid in A.D. 674. Croyland (A.D. 716) with its anchorites, built on the site of Saint Guthlac's hermitage in Cambridgeshire. Evesham (Worcestershire), Ely founded in A.D. 673 by Saint Etheldreda as a double monastery.

In Wales, Caldey was founded in the 450s, and Bangor Iscoed was founded by Saint Deiniol around A.D. 500. Llanelwy (Saint Asaph's), was founded by Saint Kentigern in A.D. 500, and had over 1,000 monks by A.D. 570. Llancarvan, known as the house of saints, was founded by St. Cadoc in the early 500s and Llandaff was founded by St. Tielo circa A.D. 530. Llanfechell in Anglesey, one of the most important of the 8th century, was founded by St. Machudd in the 6th century. Llantwit was one of the most famous, monasteries and one of the most active. It was founded by St. Illtyd about A.D. 478 and reached in excess of 1,000 monks within its first half century.

In Cornwall, Devon and the west country, there were notable Abbeys at Bath, Padstow, Bodmin, Braunton, Exeter, Falmouth &c and there were many hermits and small houses in Cornwall & Devon.

In central and east England, there was Malmsbury Abbey in Wiltshire, founded by St. Maildulph in A.D. 635, Polesworth Abbey, the famous Glastonbury Abbey, Canterbury (A.D. 598), and so the list goes on with many more great and famous abbeys.

In the  British Church, in the very early period, the Diocese was often administered by the Abbot using the monks as rotated Parish clergy, with the ministration of a Choir Bishop from the Abbey when necessary. Later the Diocese was typically centred on the monastery in which the Abbot-Bishop lived and from which he ruled his Diocese, still using monastic clergy to service the closer Parishes.

In later Anglo-Saxon times this principle of a centre of clergy administering Parishes by turn, was extended to groups of secular clergy living communally and serving very large Parishes (known as Old Minsters) having distant dependent churches with resident married Priests.

In fact, the decision at Whitby meant little in practical terms if only because enforcing it on a partly unwilling and unconvinced Church was next to impossible given that the Church was spread over a number of kingdoms other than King Oswy's. The traditions did not ever completely die out. Neither did the Patriarch of Rome gain real the control of the Church of the British Isles until around the twelfth century. Liturgically and doctrinally, the Church maintained much of its own way for most of the next three to four centuries. The Church of the English and the Britons remained throughout the first millennium, a peculiarly monastic Church with married secular clergy and maintained its own Orthodox Liturgy and Uses.

THE ROLE OF MONASTICISM OF THE CHURCH IN BRITAIN

The first recorded monastery in the British Church is that set up by Saint Ninian in A.D. 395 and, given such an early date, it was right at the forefront of the monastic spread from the Egyptian Desert Fathers in that century. The first monasteries in Britain would have been primitive by later standards, little better than simple groups of monks, as was the case with Saint Ninian in Whitehorn. Since this was at least 150 years prior to either the Celtic Saint Columbanus' Rule or the Italian Saint Benedict's rule, it could be assumed that the early Rule of St. Basil may have been in use, although whether it had penetrated as far as Britain by that time is open to question. By the time of the setting up of Iona, it seems that the Rule of Saint Columbanus may have been used there.

The peculiar monastic-based strength of the British Church should be seen in the context of the times. It is in some ways, very similar to the Russian monastic-led Church of a thousand years later, with individual hermits and small groups setting up on the very edges of the wilderness. Iona being a good example. In those times when the Hebridean Islands - and
northern Britain in general were sparsely populated or unpopulated, Saint Aidan and his monks went to a wild, isolated open sea island and in this desert experience, almost on the edge of the known world, had faith enough to presume to set out from that to evangelise. Wales, Cornwall and Scotland were the scenes of many individual hermits and small groups creating the basis of the later mighty monasteries in the wilderness, in the most primitive of circumstances. It was really from these holiness-wilderness monastic settings that the Church of Britain was built.

As pointed out, monasticism in Britain, developed its own way of running the Church, with the Bishops being part of monasticism and monasticism providing all of the administrative and much of the pastoral needs of the expanding Church in the early period. It was probably only in response to the growing settlement and wide-spreading of the Church, that the old problem common in the rest of the Church, of the outlying hamlets and villages, too far from the main churches, meant that secular, married clergy became necessary, usually earning a living as farmers in their own villages. Such "livings" sometimes later became associated with or dependent on the local feudal lords. The monasteries also developed daughter houses often also grange-based groups - all able to minister to local populations.

As the monasteries grew, particularly in the west of England and Wales, the movement took on a new significance. With great monasteries such as the famous Llantwit increasing to well in excess of a thousand monks by the 480s and having to subdivide, the monasteries were a powerful force in the land. As monasteries such as Jarrow developed reputations for
learning and as the repositories of knowledge, they became simultaneously the repositories of the culture, as was later exemplified in the monastic writing of the various books known as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and the conservation at Sherborne of the English liturgical and other ecclesiastical traditions. Throughout this period, in the histories, we have great and powerful personalities of great holiness. Some were great abbots, others became famous as elders of the Church, advisers alike of kings, prelates and people. In this the Church of Britain was very well served with wisdom and holiness of a very high grade.



 
 

MONASTIC LIFE

                                                                                            __________

    "Prayer is the daughter of the fulfilment of the Gospel commandments and the mother of all virtues".

Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov.
The external purpose of an Orthodox Monastery is primarily the work of prayer on behalf of the Church, the internal purpose is the sanctification of the members of the Monastery. Monasteries have historically (since the desert Fathers of the middle east in the third and fourth centuries A.D.) been the "powerhouses" of the Church, the places where the Church "back-room" prayer-work is done.
 
 

"Be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove the good, acceptable and perfect will of God."

Saint Paul, Epistle to the Romans 12:2.
Christians, who understand the teaching of the Church regarding the Holy Scriptures, realise that as Christians, they must see the world with spiritual eyes and not worldly eyes. This means willing oneself towards alignment with the will of God.  Such alignment will mean that one is led to carrying out the work which God wants and not being misled into the apparently "good" works which are popularly seen as "good". These popular works are undoubtedly beneficial to the recipients in that they are thereby fed, clothed, housed etc., and such works are certainly the business of the Christian, but may not necessarily be the best work of the monastic, although there are some which require the peculiarly spiritual approach of the monastic. Such cases must be carefully looked at, so that the monastic's involvement does not carry him into a purely worldly environment and neutralise his spiritual value - as satan will deliberately lead him that way if he can. Satan is not afraid of good works - he
often uses them to distract us from concentration on God and His intentions for us.

"It is impossible to draw near to God otherwise than by unceasing prayer."

Saint Isaac the Syrian.
Monastics therefore, pray, and in doing so, they realise that prayer is ultimately the only good work. It may lead us to us to consequent action. That action may be more prayer, it may be a quiet word to someone, it may be to persuade someone to do more active works in the community, it may be to counsel those in need, it may be to care for those in dire spiritual need (hospice work, prison & hospital visiting, family arbitration, confessions etc.)

The monastic must see with spiritual eyes and he must be aligned with God's will. His work therefore will mean an approach which is only rarely recognised by the world as beneficial and he must never be swayed by the popular conception of what is a "good work" any more than the Church should be swayed by the popular conception of what is "Christian".

"He who does not train himself to frequent prayer will never receive unceasing prayer. Unceasing prayer is a gift of God....Unceasing prayer is a sign of God's mercy towards a man; it is a sign that all the powers of his soul are bent to God."

Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov.
The monastic has several important aspects to his daily life. Outwardly it is ruled by the formal worship of God in the form of the Liturgy and the Offices (Hours) in the Chapel and inwardly by study of the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers and repentance. The Liturgy is the daily remembrance of God's sacrifice and the Communion of the community of the people of God, with God. The Offices are corporate prayer services largely based on the Psalms, Bible readings and Prayer. Traditionally they are spread evenly throughout the twenty-four hours of the day although they may sometimes be gathered closer to allow for work activities.

Apart from the Hours, there are periods of individual intercessory and other prayer in the Chapel. Monastics aim their lives at the achievement of a state of continuous prayer as exhorted by Christ (Luke 18:7) and St. Paul and the Apostles (Rom 12:12, Col. 4:2, Acts 6:4). The other aspect of the monastic life is the Obediences (domestic, artistic or administrative work which is involved in the upkeep and daily functioning of the Monastery) and any outreach or income-earning work that it does.

"Those who have acquired a true, spiritual understanding of repentance, include it in all their work, prayer and fasting, and consider it a day lost on which they have not wept over their sins."

Saint John Climacus.


 
 

LINKS TO WESTERN RITE ORTHODOX SITES

British Orthodox Christian Heritage Resurgence:  http://www.orthodoxresurgence.co.uk/index.htm

Western Orthodox.com: 
http://www.westernorthodox.com/index.htm

The St. Dunstan Psalter - Lancelot Andrewes Press: http://www.andrewespress.com/dunstan.html

Western Orthodox Saints:  
http://www.orthodoxengland.btinternet.co.uk/saintsa.htm

 
 

LINKS TO OTHER ORTHODOX SOURCES

Russian Orthodox Archdiocese of Sydney:                    http://www.rocor.org.au

Orthodox Web TV - video talks and interviews:              http://www.orthodox.tv/

Bishop Alexander of Buenos Aires - resource material:    http://www.fatheralexander.org

Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies:                     http://www.iocs.cam.ac.uk/

Online Orthodox Theology Degree Course:  http://tkk.joenuu.fi/avoin/orthod

 This page was created by Saint Petroc Monastery, it was last updated 25th of October, 2004.  It is  published using the resources of Tasonline. You are directed to a disclaimer for the Tasonline service.

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