Meteora and Monasticism

Over the course of the last week I have been immersed in monastic history. One of the documents I’ve had the opportunity to read again is The Rule of St. Benedict. Basically, the work is handbook of discipline for those involved in early monastic life and society. Yet, the work is much more than that. Despite the continual string of prooftexts, The Rule is a call to scriptural holiness (at least as Benedict understood holiness). I have the feeling though, that most evangelicals would raise their noses at all of the “rules” and undoubtedly dub Benedict as “legalistic” and claim that he is “impinging on my freedom.” And while there is truth to such claims, one thing that The Rule might accomplish for today’s evangelical is to give them a reminder that the Christian walk is one that should be shrouded in holiness. Indeed, believers are to be “unspotted from this world.”

Of course, some evangelicals might argue: “When you’re locked away in a commune or monastery, holy living is not so tough.” Yet, while the tendency might be to make such statements, most Protestants probably don’t realize how mission-oriented the early monks were and that it was the monks who carried on the faith and ultimately formed the bridge between the first few centuries of Christianity and what would later be referred to as the Age of Reform (The Reformation). Without a doubt, all of Christendom is indebted to them. Indeed, much of the list of Church history’s greatest thinkers is composed of monks.

However, most Protestants—myself included—are largely ignorant of monastic history and because of this, there is a tendency to speak of these “hermits” in hurtful ways. While I cannot say that I agree with the lifestyle or all of the theology, there is much that modern believers can learn from it. Honestly, I need to be more educated on it. A few months ago when I was in Greece, my wife and I along with some others made a journey to Meteora, a small town that is so quaint that it almost seems like it fell off the pages of a heart-warming children’s book. This place is incredible. Honestly, I cannot really describe it but the reason for bringing it up is because while we there, we visited the 7 monasteries situated on the tops of the meteor-looking mountains—they are a sight to see!

Though many visitors pass through the monasteries every day (and every year), they never see the monks; they keep themselves hidden. In fact, if you ask any of the guides or townspeople, nobody even knows how many monks live there; they all give a different number (their own best guesses I imagine). Some said 5 lived there and others said hundreds. Part of the problem is that, according to the monks, they not only count those dwelling there now but also include all who have ever lived there. The monks believe that the souls of those who have passed still inhabit that place. Indeed, as one of the pictures below shows, their bodies are definitely still there.

The place is so shrouded in secrecy and mystery (as far as the monks go), that nobody really knows anything about them. However, it is a highly interesting place and a very educational place to tour. If nothing else, the breathtaking views and the meticulous iconography are worth the visit! If you’re ever in Greece, you should visit Meteora (if I remember correctly, it’s only an hour or two from Athens). Some pictures below for your viewing:

No comments:

Post a Comment