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Welcome To Our Family Run Orthodox Giftshop Newsletter!

Easterngiftshop.com has been serving churches and our blessed clientele for over 15 years. We appreciate having you as a client and we've developed this newsletter as a way of communicating interesting stories, new products and special items that we think might interest you. This month, we turn our attention to the chaste and solitary life one chooses to become a Nun or a Monk.

Monks, Nuns and Modern Society

The commitment is all-encompassing, the road is long and the diversions are eliminated when one chooses to become a Monk or a Nun. These members of religious communities live under strict vows of chastity, obedience and poverty. The Eastern Orthodox Monks and Nuns feel that without these worldly distractions, they can achieve a complete relationship with God and perform the work of the church, free from the bonds of secular society.

Both Monks and Nuns follow an almost identical path as they shed all material things and only follow strict religious laws. This is not a path to be taken lightly and is a lifelong commitment.

Eastern Orthodox Monasticism

When discussing Eastern Orthodox Monks and Nuns it is important to be aware of several terms:

Tonsure- When part of a Monk's head is shaved. Though Tonsure is part of the ceremony when one makes the commitment to Monasticism (Monkhood), it is no longer required in the Catholic Church, but it is still widely practiced in the Eastern Orthodox religion.

Habit- This is the clothing worn by a Nun or Monk...normally as you progress through the various levels of Monkhood. Only the highest level Monk or Nun wears the full habit. Usually most elements of the Eastern Orthodox habits are black.

Novice (Level One)- This refers to anyone who makes the decision to enter the Monkhood. They are invited to live in the Monastery for no less than 3 days where they are given Novice clothing, and basically allowed to evaluate this life and be evaluated. After this evaluation period, they may make the decision to leave or be asked to leave if they don't exhibit or desire the traits required of this life.

Rassophore (Level Two)- Having evaluated this life for both themselves and displayed the desired aptitude for Monkhood, the Novice is now formally introduced to the Monastery in an official service where the Tonsure is performed and the Monk receives their habit. The black color signifies that they are now officially dead to the secular world and fully committed to God. There are no formal vows at this juncture, but the Monk is morally obligated to the monastery for the rest of his or her life. Many never evolve further and continue as Rassophores for life.

Stavrophore (Level Three)- Several years after the Rassophore ceremony and Tonsure, the Abbot may feel that a candidate has reached the next level of dedication to the Monastery and God. They will take formal vows of stability, chastity, obedience and poverty. They are given additional elements of the habit and another Tonsure as well as a wooden cross and beeswax candle. The cross will be kept in their icon corner. It will be placed in their hands at their burial. The candle will be burned at their funeral.

Great Schema (Final Stage)- This final stage varies from monastery to monastery. Most ceremonies are similar to Level Three, with additional habit articles, the Tonsure and restatement of vows. Some monasteries only bestow the Great Schema to Monks or Nuns on their deathbeds, while others incorporate this high level as part of their structure.

The path to becoming a Monk or Nun is a lifelong commitment and journey.

Interesting Facts About Middle Ages Monks

A monastery is a very private and mysterious place which has changed very little since the Middle Ages. Children who are curious about this may find the following facts interesting:

Each monastery has it's own set of rules. Some have a stricter set of rules than others.

During the Middle Ages, Monks and Nuns were of the few people who could read and write. They were also the most educated of the people in the land.
Most Monks spend their day in silence.
One of the most important contributions of the ancient Monks was their copying of ancient texts and music by hand in the days before type. A book like the Bible might take over a year for one writer (scribe) to copy.
Each monastery has an open courtyard in the middle. This is called a Cloister.
Many monasteries in ancient times owned great tracts of land and were funded by tithes (payments) from the local citizens.
We hope you've enjoyed this newsletter...we'd love your feedback...just hit reply and let us know what you think.

Hope you have a great week! Thanks for being our customers!

Ronda and Roy

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