OUR HISTORY IS FROM MT. ATHOS
CELTIC ORTHODOX BENEDICTINE FATHERS
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A Monastic Community founded in the 6th century, the Benedictine Community fell victim to the moral lapses of the world in which it found itself. The Abbots were usually from the wealthy families and were interested only in power, money and position. All forms of Religious pieties were conspicuous in their absence. While there were some who rose above the sin and depravity of the Monastery to become great Saints, the norm were Monks who had become victims to the world, the flesh and the devil.
In 836, the Council of Aix-La-Chapelle openly admitted that homosexuality and other forms of sin and vice was rampant in the Monasteries. Reforms were needed. The needed reforms came at a price, a political price.
Pope Sergius III Canonically established the Monastery at Cluny in 910. The Monastery brought many reforms to the Order and enhanced academics to the Monastery. In many ways, the Monastery was a much-needed remedy to the ills of the time. The price exacted was involvement in the political ambitions of Pope Sergius III. When the Pope established the Monastery, he made it exempt from interference by the local Bishops. They were responsible only to him and to him directly. The Pope appropriated to himself authority over other Patriarchs and attempted to establish an office higher than Bishop.
This was unacceptable to any who wished to retain the faith and praxis of Holy Orthodoxy. This caused the first split in the Order of St. Benedict. It was now a family divided. Those who rejected the political involvement, the arrogance of Sergio's III and the innovated theologies of the Vatican fled to the East. All that were left were under the suppression of the Pope.
Today there are many large, rich and impressive Monasteries and Churches that were established in their wealth by the sins of the founders and early inhabitants. Their goal was only to establish wealth, power and social position. Rather than being a temple to the glory of God, they are temples to the avarice and greed of the early Churchmen who built them. The Papal re-invented community continued calling itself Benedictine but had abandoned the Orthodox and Catholic faith of Benedict for the rewards and the temporal blessings that came from Rome. Under the Pope and with Vatican support they grew in power and worldly recognition.
The Monastery at Cluny lived up to the expectations of Rome in producing 5 Popes from their number. Notable among these is Hilderbrand, known as Pope Gregory VII. He wrote: The Dictates of the Pope:
"The Roman Pontiff alone can rightly be called Universal, He alone can depose or reinstate Bishops, in a Council the Papal Legate, even if a lower grade, is above all Bishops, and can pass sentence of deposition against them, All Princes shall kiss the feet of the Pope, It is permitted to him to depose Emperors, No Synod shall be called a general one without his order, No Chapter and no book shall be considered canonical without his authority, and He himself may be judged by no one. That the Roman Pontiff, if he has been canonically ordained, is undoubtedly made a saint by the merits of St. Peter. He who is not at peace with the Roman church shall not be considered catholic."
Also of note, from the Monastery at Cluny, was Pope Paschal II who used a forged letter attributed in error to St. Andrew that said any who did not agree with the See at Rome was a heretic.
THE FIGHT TO REMAIN ORTHODOX IN FAITH AND PRAXIS:
In 925 many Benedictine Monks who wished to remain faithful to Holy Orthodoxy left the West and went to MT. Athos in Greece while others went to Jerusalem. The Archabbot from Amalfi, Italy was among those who went to Jerusalem. Most of the Monks went to MT. Athos with whom they already had connections and friends. They were the Benedictine of Amalfi, Italy who served under Archabbot Gerard Tonque, O.S.B. This was a time when Rome was diminishing and Constantinople was ascending as the New Rome and center of the Empire.
THE MONKS AT MT. ATHOS:
At the urging of St. Athanasios of MT. Athos, many of the Benedictine from Amalfi founded the Monastery of the Virgin of the Amalfians near Morphonou, a small bay north of Great Lavra. The Monastery was supported by the inhabitants of the Amalfi quarter of Constantinople who had come from southern Italy. Before Venice began to extend its control into the Eastern Mediterranean, Amalfi had been the emporium of the Orient in the West. Ships from the rich port at Amalfi supplied goods for the Latin people in Constantinople and on MT. Athos. When they took refuge from the arrogance and innovated ecclesiology of Rome they were welcomed at MT. Athos because the Amalfians were already known and had friends at MT. Athos. Some of the Benedictine from Amalfi who wished to remain Orthodox in faith and praxis went to Jerusalem and in 1050 established the hostel for pilgrims, which was the starting point for the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem.
A Benedictine Monk from Amalfi and living at the Benedictine Monastery of the Virgin of the Amalfians at MT. Athos was a man named Leo who translated the famous MIRACULUM a S. MICHELE CHONIS PATRATUM, the legend of the oldest shrine to St. Michael in all of Christendom.
The translation was made from the writings of Patriarch Sisinnius of Constantinople (426-27). Leo also translated many Greek Novels. Bishop Anselm of Havelberg writes of the scholarly Benedictine monks and other scholarly Western Orthodox living In Constantinople. The report is contained in the second and third books of the "Dialogi" written around 1149.
MONKS FOUND SAFE HARBOR:
In 933, Patriarch Theophylactus of Constantinople established as a Parochial Entity the Benedictine who had fled from Amalfi, Italy and were then at MT. Athos, giving them the name Athonite Benedictine. They were a recognized and canonically established part of Orthodoxy under his personal Omophor.
SILENT VICTIM OF THE CRUSADES:
The Papal Crusades that ravaged and raped Constantinople and violated all Christian sensibilities created a hatred for anything from the West among many Orthodox in the East. For this reason the Athonite Benedictine Monks eventually had to leave the East. In the 14th century (1345) Patriarch John IV Kalecas established all Athonite Benedictine Monasteries as autocephalous (independent of any Patriarch).
THE BENEDICTINE MONKS LEAVE MT. ATHOS:
Some of the Monks went to Athens and remained known as the Athonite Benedictine Fathers, but most left for the Celtic lands. The Monks, for the most part, went to Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and England.
The Monks that went to Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and England became integrated into the Celtic Orthodox Church that was a catacomb church in resistance to the Papal onslaught on the Celtic Church that began actually in the 7th Century when the Celtic Bishops and Clergy were murdered and replaced with the Papal Bishops and Clergy over the dating of Pascha. The Monks who went to Ireland in 1345 became known as the Celtic Orthodox Benedictine Fathers as a result of their association with and membership in the Celtic Orthodox Church that was a church in resistance, a catacomb church.
HABIT OF THE CELTIC ORTHODOX BENEDICTINE:
The Habit of the Celtic Orthodox Benedictine consist of the black cassock with Roman Collar, black belt and the Pater Noster Beads upon which is prayed the Pater Noster Psalter.
Prayer beads are worn by all Orthodox Monks in every Jurisdiction and Monastery. For Eastern Orthodox Monks the beads are for the Jesus prayer. The Celtic Orthodox Benedictine Monks alone wear the Pater Noster Beads for the Pater Noster Psalter.
Picture of our Habit: http://www.celticorthodoxchurch.com/bpkennedy.jpg
The Celtic Orthodox Benedictine Fathers are a 'Mendicant' order. The word Mendicant means beggar so the Celtic Orthodox Benedictine Monks own nothing at all and receive no compensation for their Priestly and religious ministry. The Monks are supported by the love offerings of the people who wish to cooperate with the Monks in serving the poor and wish to help support the Monastery. Mendicant Monks never live better than the people they serve. We live and work in the poor areas where are found the people we serve. Our Motto is
“WITH THE POOR PEOPLE OF THIS EARTH WE CAST OUT FATE”
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