General Overview of the Eastern Rite Monasticism
The Holy Theotokos of Mercy Community is the spiritual Mother House for all the Eastern Rite Monastics within the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church. The Eastern Rite monastics do not live in community (in one house/monastery) but live where ever they choose to live. We are a monastery without walls if you want to give us some sort of a definition to work from. The Monastics do not receive any financial support from the Church. They are expected to provide for themselves completely.
If you have an interest in becoming a Eastern Rite Monastic, please read through all the information provided on this page. Then feel free to contact Schema-Archimandrite/Bishop Barbara Martzall using the "Further Information" link at the top.
The Eastern Rite of monasticism with the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church is basically built from the "accepted norm" of monasticism within the Eastern Orthodox Church. All monastics are members of the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church.
We have made some minor changes to the Eastern Orthodox Church's norms only in the vestments of each "rank" and in the titles and authority within the monastics. Monastics who are not clergy will be called Brother or Sister whereas those of the clergy ranks will use their appropriate clergy title. The monastic may choose to use the Eastern Orthodox Church's terms for their monastic rank. The monastics will not have any Order initials after their names since there are no Orders in the Eastern Rite.
The biggest change we did within the Eastern Rite Monastics was the changing of the authority of the Archimandrite. Here is how we have defined Archimandrite and his or her authority within the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church:
The title Archimandrite refers to a superior abbot Appointed by the Archbishop and confirmed by the Board of Directors/Synod of Bishops to supervise all "ordinary" abbots or abbess (hegumen), monasteries and monastics. It is a cleric ranking equal to a Bishop with authority limited to all functions within the Eastern Rite Monastics of the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church and is a consecrated rank within the Church. The rank of Archimandrite thus maintains the continuity of the Apostolic Succession of the Church along with other Bishops of the Church. The Archimandrite shall have the authority of any bishop within the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church with authority limited to the Eastern Rite of the Monastics. All Ordinations to the Clerical ranks shall have the approval of Archbishop and the Board of Directors/Synod of Bishops. The Archimandrite shall have the authority to accept religious professions, consecrate the Sacred Chrism and blessing of the Sacred Oils. To make appointments within the Eastern Rite of the Monastics. The Archimandrite is addressed as "The Right Reverend Archimandrite". The Archimandrite is allowed the use of a pastoral staff/crosier, a monastic mantle (mantiya) having four squares of embroidered cloth called "the tables of the law" and can include the cross (+) before his/her name in the manner of bishops. The Archimandrite answers directly to the Archbishop/Board of Directors of the Church.
Archimandrite will come from the monastic rank of hieroschemamonk. If there is not a hieroschemamonk, then the senior ranking Stavrophor priest monk will be raised to Schema with a minimum of 30 days before being consecrated an Archimandrite. The monastic title of the Archimandrite is: schema-archimandrite. (Source: Canons of the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church)
Acceptance as an Eastern Rite Monastic in the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church
- The individual desiring to be a monastic within the Church and the Eastern Rite Monastics must be 21 years of age at the time of application.
- The individual must complete the application provided to them by Schema-Archimandrite/Bishop Barbara Martzall of the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church.
- After Schema-Archimandrite/Bishop Barbara Martzall reviews the Application, it will be forwarded to the Chancery along with the check/money order for the background check.
- The Chancery will perform an in depth background check, which the applicant will be required to pay for. When the individual requests an application, they will be informed of the cost of the background check.
- The individual will provide with their application 2 passport size photos. Digital photos are preferred.
- The Archbishop and the Archimandrite/Bishop will then review the application and background check. If all the information is acceptable, then the person is presented to the Board of the Church for their determination. If the Board approves the applicant, then he/she may be accepted as a monastic and given the appropriate Church documents and assigned to their Monastic Abbot/Abbess.
- The individual will have 60 days from time of acceptance to complete the "Stewards of Children" course which is provided through the internet by the Darkness to Light Organization. A copy of the certificate will be provided to the Archbishop and the Archimandrite/Bishop at the time of completion of the course.
Rhythm of Monastic Life
- Morning Prayer
- Evening Prayer
- Spiritual Readings
- Scriptural Readings of the day
- Reading of the Psalms
- Sundays/Feast days attending/celebrating Liturgy or have private communion
- Frequent prayer periods within the day using the Jesus Prayer and other prayers they feel called to use
- Riasaphor (Promises to live their life as a monastic. Vows are not taken)
- Stavrophor (Vows are taken and cannot be undone)
- Great/Angelic Schema (Vows are taken and cannot be undone)
Training is through the close work with the Monastic Abbot/Abbess and Archimandrite to develop the monastic's spiritual understanding and life. This will include at least: the Jesus Prayer, directed Spiritual Readings, learning to set aside a period of silence each day, and setting up one's daily prayer routine. As the monastic progresses, they will have more control over their Rhythm of Monastic Life and will add more pieces to it in order to increase their spirituality. Exploration of different spirituality under the guidance of the Abbot/Abbess and Archimandrite/Bishop is allowed and even encouraged.
Authority and Leadership
- The Archimandrite/Bishop is appointed by the Archbishop with the confirmation of the Board of the Church. Please note that within the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church, the Archimandrite/Bishop must be a schema monk. Also Archimandrite/Bishop is a cleric ranking equal to a Bishop with authority limited to all functions within the Eastern Rite Monastics of the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church and is a consecrated rank within the Church.
- The Monastic Abbot/Abbess is appointed by the Archimandrite.
- The Lay and Clerical monastics will answer directly to the Monastic Abbot/Abbess and Archimandrite/Bishop. Following the norms of the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church and in communion with the Archbishop.
- Only in the case of dispute, the Monastic (lay or clerical) has recourse to the Archbishop/Board of Directors only when a dispute between the Monastic and the Archimandrite/Bishop cannot come to terms. In most cases, a decision of the Archbishop/Board of Directors will only decide if the decision of the Archimandrite was in line with the Canons and Laws of the Church only. If such decision is within Cannons and Laws of the Church, then the decision of the Archimandrite will be upheld as valid.
- All monastics will have spiritual direction on an individual basis through their Monastic Abbot/Abbess and Archimandrite/Bishop.
- All monastics will communicate at least once a month with their Monastic Abbot/Abbess and Archimandrite/Bishop. More frequent communications will be required while in training as a new monastic.
Monastic Habits are not required of the monastics, but are recommended especially for the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church's functions. It is up to each individual to provide his or her own monastic habit. Contact the Archimandrite/Bishop for places to purchase the habit pieces necessary. The Archimandrite/Bishop will teach each monastic the correct pieces of the habit needed for their monastic rank.
Monastic Promotion of Rank
It must be made very clear to the person before they enter into a monastic life that they will be seen by God as monastic the rest of their life. That if they should leave, they are only given dispensation from their monastic discipline but never their monastic vows. The vows were made to God thus are life long.
It is better to hold off promotions to the next rank to be sure the person is really ready for that level of monasticism. Time lines are thus not set in stone but are for guidance only. Is very flexible
As the monastic feels "ready" for the next rank, will talk with their Monastic Abbot/Abbess and the Archimandrite. A mutual decision will then be made.
- Riasaphor -- minimum time in rank will be 3 years before being considered for the next rank
- Stavrophor -- minimum time in rank will be 22 years before being considered for the next rank
- Great/Angelic Schema -- most have been a monastic of good standing for at least 25 years, or at the discretion of the Archimandrite/Bishop with consultation with the Archbishop.
Many monastics do not seek out the next rank and that is really okay!
The Great/Angelic Schema should be limited to a monastic that has had lived their lives as a Stavrophor for a great many years. This rank involves an intensity of life that most are not called to live, but it can be done.
- Deacons, Priest, Bishops will use their Clergy Title (Deacon, Father/Mother, Bishop) or the Eastern Orthodox Church's monastic ranks.
- Laity will use -- Brother/Sister
- All monks/nuns will be called/known as monastics within the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church.
- Cathedra is set every two year during the Synod of Clergy and then approved by the Board of Directors of the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church.
- Cathedra is used to support the work of the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church. This work includes but not limited to, Bishop's Episcopal travels (transportation, meals, housing), printings, mailings, cell phone, Web Site server, communion hosts and sacramental wine, supplies to make the holy oils and distribute them, internet service, Corporation fees, PO Box rental, clergy/monastic ID cards, church certificates, etc.
- Cathedra is expected to be paid by all lay monastics and clerical monastics as part of your commitment to the Ohio Orthodox Catholic Church. If there is an issue about affordability, that must be brought to the attention of the Archimandrite who will then talk with the Archbishop for a decision of what to do for that particular monastic.
- Cathedra shows your commitment to the church as a whole.