Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Yearning for a return to Holy Mount Athos [Dor de o întoarcere în Sfântul Munte Athos]

Billions of people living on earth may have never heard of this place, although they may owe their lives to the prayers rising without cease to the Lord from there.

Out of the much fewer people who are aware of Holy Mount Athos’ existence, many may have diverging opinions. They are far from understanding what it is.

At best, some found it fit to give it as an example of an unique cultural heritage of humanity and make it a topic of an international conference reaching its third edition in 2013.

Some see it merely as a historic relic, a monastic republic with a special autonomous status within Greece, which shouldn’t burden the country’s budget anymore.

Others see it as an outpost of gender segregation, as women have not been officially allowed on the peninsula since 1060. Actually, the ban was a few centuries old by then.

Anyway, not a human law, but the Most Holy Mother of God (Theotokos) was the one who forbade the entry of women in this spiritual oasis reserved to men.

Beyond truncated perspectives like the above, Holy Mount Athos is incomprehensibly more than just a physical place, it’s a trancendental reality, a gateway to the Kingdom of God.

Every day, and especially every night, mankind (not just the Orthodox believers) is kept alive by the prayers of the fewer than 2,000 monks living on this Holy Mountain.

It’s not the sort of comforting prayer for those who have already been striken by misfortunes, but the kind of prayer preventing bad things to happen to our gone mad world.

To our secular contemporaries this makes no sense. How could prayers – seen as nothing more than meaningless words sent to a hypotethical God – actually work, they ask?

For me, all three things that I had been told about the Holy Mountain before visiting it appear to have already come true or are in the process of turning into reality…

First: one visit is not enough to understand such a realm where the earth briges the sky; no matter how much you discovered, you’d still feel that there’s so much more to find out.

Second: equally true was the warning that, after having set foot there once, you’d be yearning for another visit. And another, and another, and another…

Third: implacably, as soon as you get there, you’re off for a life-changing experience. Although this change may not happen instantaneously, it will certainly come.

Even if it were to take years before fully sprouting in your heart – assuming you’re not totally heartless – you can’t avoid the feeling that change (hopefully for the better) is on the way…

[For all the posts on this blog go to/Pentru toate postările de pe acest blog mergi la: Contents/Cuprins]


MunteanUK said...

@ Any curious photoholics

This is a photo-essay, therefore I find it utterly irrelevant to add a specific photo legend...

God willing, I may publish other articles on Mount Athos and series of pictures taken there, providing precise descriptions.

Mariana said...

Foarte frumos, Bogdan!
Nu poţi să nu doreşti mereu Multele Athos, după ce te-ai adăpat din izvorul lui de har...

darul din inima noastra said...

Frumos titlu, frumoase imagini, fericit autorul. Multumim pentru invitatie.

Gregor said...

Christ is risen!

Wonderful photos. I am pleased that you enjoyed your time at Mount Athos.

From the photos it actually reminds me a bit of Eastern Scotland, but I'm sure the temperature was a bit higher!

MunteanUK said...

@ Mariana & darul din inima noastra

Thank you both for your kind thoughts; I'm always glad when readers like what I post! :-)


@ Gregor

Indeed He is risen!

Eastern Scotland (Aberdeenshire) is a part of your country that I'd love to visit, of course.

In late March/early April the weather is perfect in Greece (and Mount Athos in particular), as in May it can be already pretty hot.

Anonymous said...

Hristos a inviat!
Da slava lui Dumnezeu ca fiind barbat ai putut ajunge acolo. Mare bucurie... Ma bucur foarte mult pentru tine. Ai fost si la Panaguda? Ai poze si de pe unde a fost Cuv. Paisie Aghitorul?

MunteanUK said...

@ C.L.

Unfortunately, I haven't been to Fr Paisios the Athonite's cell this time. Maybe I will when The Mother of God allows me to get back to the Holy Mountain.

However, I went to Fr Paisios grave at Suroti Monastery - which is not on Mount Athos but near Salonika.

His tomb is always visited by many people, like Fr Arsenie Boca's.

Anonymous said...

Minunat, textul, minunate, fotografiile! Este adevarat ca mentalitatea omului postmodern nu poate intelege de ce unii dintre semenii nostri isi aleg sa vietuiasca la Muntele Athos, dupa cum monahismul in genere nu poate fi inteles in zilele noastre. Calugarii vor sa se inalte inca de pe pamant la cer, urmatori fiind Mantuitorului noastru, care S-a inaltat indumnezeind firea umana.
Felicitari! Asteptam cu interes alte articole!

MunteanUK said...

@ filiala

Christ is Ascended!

It's true that for most irreligious people monastic life is very hard to comprehend.

Sadly, even many lukewarm Orthodox Christians can't understand what monasteries are about.

Anyway, for those who really strive to live with Christ - either they live in the world or in a monastery - there is only one spiritual reality: the Lord can rest in anyone's heart.

It's not necessary to go to a monastery to find the Lord and - this is another sad reality - not all monks have their salvation 'guaranteed' or granted for free.


Since you have so kind words of praise for my post, it's pretty clear that you can understand English, thus please don't mind for my reminding you three little 'rules' of my blog:

- for posts written in English, readers are kindly asked to post comments in English;

- for posts written in Romanian, please comment in Romanian;

- for bilingual posts, you are free to choose any of the two languages.