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Religion Library: Eastern Orthodoxy


Written by: Beth Davies-Stofka

The monasteries of Orthodoxy have contributed significantly to the development and continuity of Eastern Orthodox tradition. Many of the most revered Church Fathers emerged from the monasteries, including Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-395), Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 329-391), and Basil of Caesarea (c. 329-379). Orthodox monks took the gospel to the Slavs, and the Slavic influence gave Eastern Orthodoxy much of its more contemporary personality. The great spiritual traditions of the church have been preserved and given full expression in the monasteries, and they have played a vital role in the preservation and dissemination of the liturgies of the church. Many of the monasteries of the Eastern Orthodox Church are world-famous for their remote locations and their beauty, especially the monasteries of Mt. Athos in Greece and the monastery of Saint Catherine at Mt. Sinai. Mt. Athos, a peninsula in the Aegean Sea, is entirely devoted to monasteries. With twenty monasteries, a number of small houses, and hermits' caves, Mt. Athos has been at the heart of Orthodox monasticism since the 10th century. Many patriarchs and bishops have been elected from Mt. Athos, and many teachers and spiritual guides have emerged from its various communities.

Study Questions:
1.     Why could Pentecost be seen as the first missionary effort of Christianity? Why is this tradition important to Eastern Orthodoxy?
2.     What are the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Eastern Orthodox Church? Why are they called this?
3.     How have monasteries helped to develop the Eastern Orthodox tradition?


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