Help the Byzantine monks to burn the mortgage!

Help the Byzantine monks to burn the mortgage! August 17, 2016

Moses and the burning bush. Loca sancta icon from the 12th (13th?) century. 92 x 64 cm, Saint Catherine's Monastery, Sinai (Egypt) / K. Weitzmann: "Die Ikone" - PD-Art, via Wikimedia Commons
Moses and the burning bush. Loca sancta icon from the 12th (13th?) century. 92 x 64 cm, Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai (Egypt) / K. Weitzmann: “Die Ikone” – PD-Art, via Wikimedia Commons

On Byzantine internet, there is an appeal that is going around that is well worth supporting whether or not you are Byzantine. It’s a fundraising appeal from some monks at Holy Resurrection Monastery in St Nazianz, Wisconsin.

The long and short of it is that they’d like to – once and for all – burn their mortgage, and because of that, you should give something to them.

I got in touch with Abouna Moses, the chef at Holy Resurrection Monastery, to ask him whether I could share this appeal on my blog. He responded with an enthusiastic yes.

And then I got around to thinking – who on earth needs to know about this from my blog if it’s already been shared all across the Byzantine interwebz?

Upon reflection, I am not sharing this here because it needs to be shared across cyber-Byzantium, either Byzantine Catholic or Orthodox. After all, most of Byzantine internet not only already knows about this already, but more importantly, as one of my astute readers has pointed out, anyone who is anything on Byzantine internet knows Byzantine news (and Byzantine stuff more generally) probably better than the frazzly neophyte. But as one of my kinder supporters also said recently, ‘Justin, don’t stop writing. Keep writing about Eastern Catholics. World need to know about Eastern Catholics, otherwise too many ignorants out there. Great job!’

The world needs to know about Eastern Catholics. This is probably closer to my mandate, then, because as a neophyte, I really have no new insights or breaking news to share to the Eastern Catholic world. But I do get to write as a person who happens to be Eastern Catholic for readers who may or may not be Byzantine (or Coptic or Syriac or Ethiopian or Armenian or Chaldean – hazards indeed of using the word Eastern with ‘Catholic’).

Because of this, the world needs to know that some Byzantine monks want to burn their mortgage!

But why on earth would Byzantine monks even have a mortgage to burn? For this, I encourage you to look at the appeal itself, which even has a short YouTube video that explains what the monks at Holy Resurrection Monastery do all day.

Abouna Moses also told me a few more details, which are more likely tidbits that Byzantine internet already knows about which the world needs to know. Holy Resurrection Monastery began in 1995, and they sought to find a bishop at the time. They were accepted by the Ruthenian bishop (in the United States, the Ruthenians are known as the ‘Byzantine Catholic Church in America‘) of Van Nuys, California. However, the bishop who succeeded the one who accepted them wasn’t as interested in keeping monasteries, so Rome had Holy Resurrection Monastery transferred to the Romanian Greek Catholic Church. From their first house in the Mojave Desert in California, they moved to Wisconsin in 2011.

The reality that land in the United States tends to be owned – which means that it must be purchased – means that Holy Resurrection Monastery is subject to the same realities regarding property as everyone else. To get that land in Wisconsin, they had to take out two bank loans, and one of those loans (as you’ll see in the appeal) is getting refinanced in October.

But the reality of monasticism is that monks are supposed to live in poverty, which means that without help from the world, there’s no way they can live on land, which is a problem, because life happens on real space, which is usually on land. As a result, they rely on generous donations; otherwise, they initially had $10 between the two monks who were moving to Wisconsin. They also have a PayPal function that allows people to donate $3 a month.

Meanwhile, Holy Resurrection Monastery is growing. They now have six men who are discerning a call to the monastic life. They welcome people of all backgrounds, not just Byzantines, to visit them.

To do this, they have to be able to own the land on which they are living; the last thing that anyone wants is for monks worried about money to not be able to be monks. Because of this, they are asking for help to burn their mortgage.

The reason I’m posting this here, then, is because while this blog is certainly not where Byzantines are getting their news (at least I sure hope they are not!), my hope is that my readers who are not Byzantine will see the value in this. As Holy Resurrection Monastery emphasizes, it is a space that is open to the world, a place where everyone can come and pray. Because of this, everyone should be giving to make sure this monastery gets to do what it does best: being monastic!

POSTSCRIPT: For an entertaining story about how Abouna Moses got to keep ‘Abouna Moses’ as his Facebook profile name, read this.

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