Today we received a one-liner at our editorial email address:
Do monasteries still play a role in the Church, or are they a thing of the past?
We responded with a one-liner of our own:
Very much so.
Our correspondent then wrote back:
In what way? Don’t traditional Orthodox monasteries stand in the way of progress and reform?
On September 3, 2017—about two weeks after we launched Orthodoxy in Dialogue—we sent the following email to about a dozen men’s and women’s monasteries in the US, selected for the simple reason that they have an email address:
Dear Fathers, Mothers, Brothers, Sisters in holy monasticism:
I am reaching out to a few monasteries to invite you to write for our new online publication, Orthodoxy in Dialogue.
As you peruse the site you may find articles with which you disagree. I hope this doesn’t deter you from contributing something. The purpose of “dialogue,” of course, is to allow a variety of voices to be heard in an atmosphere of reciprocal charity and respect. My article “Benedict’s Option” serves as a small indicator of the high esteem in which we hold monasticism and its humble witness in today’s troubled world.
In just over two weeks since we started publishing, over 4,000 individuals from over 80 countries have visited our site over 7,000 times. Our audience is growing exponentially, considering that our three editors are virtually unknown compared to other academics working in Orthodox theology who command far greater name recognition. We will be happy to include a link to your monastery’s website in whatever article we accept for publication from you.
Ideally we are looking for articles authored by individual monastics who give their name, rather than “by Such-and-Such Monastery.” The bio at the end can be as brief as “Father So-and-So is the abbot of Such-and-Such Monastery in Town, State,” or as detailed as you wish.
Please remember us and our work in the service of Christ’s Church in your holy prayers.
Giacomo Sanfilippo, Editor
Orthodoxy in Dialogue
If anyone needs further evidence of our high regard for monasticism, we subsequently published “On Chastity: Two Letters to a Struggling Monk.”
We received two responses to September’s appeal: one from an abbot who stated that his monastery would have nothing to offer us, and the other from a young hieromonk eager to write for us—until his abbot (different monastery) forbade him.
Therefore in this public forum we reiterate our invitation to men’s and women’s Orthodox monasteries to write for our tens of thousands of readers around the world, most of whom are Orthodox but many of whom are not. In your own words, how do you see your role in the Church and in the world? What do you offer to those who come to join you, those who come to visit you, and those whose footstep will never cross your threshold? Help our readers to understand why the Orthodox Church without monasticism is simply inconceivable.
We look forward to the honour of working with you to share the monastic voice and witness as far and wide as possible.