Angelic Path: Addendum

The Angelic Path

The Romualdian Addendum


No Orthodox “Orders”

In Part 1 of the article The Angelic Path: An Introduction to Orthodox Monasticism we read, “Separate monastic “orders” or “congregations” as found in the Roman monastic tradition, are unknown in the Orthodox Church. Quite simply, all those who live in the monastic life are accepted as members of the great Brotherhood of Ascetics, and the same rule is used and the same habit is worn by both men and women, forming an integral and inseparable part of the Church’s Body.” 

This is true for those observing Western Orthodox monastic Typikon such as St Benedict’s or St Romuald’s. But what is meant by “orders”?  The 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say, “A religious order is characterized by an authority structure where a superior general has jurisdiction over the order’s dependent communities. An exception is the Order of St Benedict which is not a religious order in this technical sense, because it has a system of “independent houses”, meaning that each abbey is autonomous.[i]

 In the East, there are several variations and alterations of both the rules of St. Pachomius and that belonging to Basil the Great.  Yet we do not say each of these are distinct “orders”.  All remain united by the True Faith and goal of the Angelic Path.  In Orthodoxy too, we have heard such references as the Athonite Fathers, Cappadocian Fathers, the Kollyvades Fathers.  These are all genuine monastics being identified by the location of their dwelling or the spiritual movement they belonged. We are then to understand “The Romualdian Fathers” as of a particular charism of Orthodox monasticism, not separate from it.

Model of St Romuald

Also, in Part 1 we read about The Cenobitic Life, The Eremitic Life, and The Semi-Eremitic Life.  If God were to bless us at The Hermitage of St Archangel Michael with its own property, The Hermitage then would be allowed to model itself on the reform of our ancient founder St Romuald of Ravenna.  He had “reformed, or rather strengthened the observance of the Rule, at many Benedictine monasteries in Orthodox Europe then established at most of these cenobitic communities (of monks) a hermitage for the eremitic life (of hermits).  This dual community is what we should be with adequate space of our own.  In the meantime, and presently, The Hermitage is, out of necessity, a semi-Eremitic or idiorhythmic lifestyle of one or two monks.

The Monastic Daily Life

Seven times a day do I praise Thee because
of Thy righteous judgments.

 (Ps. 1 19:64)

The daily cycle of prayers recited in monasteries of all types is referred to as the Divine Office.  At some monasteries, depending upon their numbers and the health of their members, observe an abbreviated version of the seven hours of the Divine Office.  At The Hermitage our Horarium or prayer schedule looks something as follows:

Horarium Sample

Ninth Hour, Vespers 6:00 p.m.

Grand Silence begins following Vespers

Compline 9:00 p.m.
Night Prayers & Cell Rule (privately) 9:30 p.m.
Rest then Arise at 6:00 a.m.
Morning Prayers, First Hour & Cell Rule 6:30 a.m.
Third & Sixth Hours 8:00 a.m.

Grand Silence concludes following the 6th Hour
Holy Typica or Divine Liturgy follows immediately

Labors 11:00 a.m.
Trapeza / Refectory 5:00 p.m.

A more General Horarium may be seen here

The Stages of Monastic Life

Also, in Part 2, we have read of the preparation and progression of a monastic, regardless of gender, from Novice to Great Schema hermits.

According to the Romualdian Customary of The Hermitage, the stages differ only slightly. 1. Inquirer, 2. Postulancy (6 months), 3. Novitiate (2 years),
4. Oblation (undetermined), 5. Lay Monk (undetermined), 6. Monastic-Hermit or small schema (perpetual) and 7. Hermit or great schema (perpetual).  Added is the Oblation stage. Due to the deterioration and disorientation of society there are increasingly less number of quality candidates and an increasing number of lost souls seeking to find the Way.  Oblation stage allows one to commit themselves to living in the monastery while emulating the monastic life side-by-side those who are monks.  If at anytime one chooses to leave the monastery he or she may without ecclesiastical consequences.  One may remain an Oblate associate with their monastery now as they live their life in the world.

Since the Romualdian Model possesses a dual-life (coenobitic & eremitic) within the same community we view the coenobitic to include postulants, novices, Oblates and Lay-Monks (rasaphore). Among the eremitic are all those in Great Schema. Those in Lesser Schema (stavrophore) are a part of the coenobitic with more time spent in eremitic contemplation.  All those ordained to Holy Priesthood are tonsured into, at least, the Lesser Schema.

 Do Monks Have Good Habits?

We have seen the monastic garb is also referred to as “habit”.  Among the Romualdian Congregation, the monastic habits are very similar to that of the Eastern Monks.  In fact, it is based upon that which was revealed to St Pachimos by the Angel.  Black is taken from wealthier Benedictine monasteries capable of  affording dye.  The gray is a variant taken from our Romualdian ancestors prior to 1072 a.d.

1. Inquirer, No habit applied. Expected to dress piously.

2. Postulancy, No habit applied. Expected to dress piously.

3. Novitiate, given a black Greek-style cassock.

4. Oblation, upon the black cassock is wore a waist- length gray scapular.

5. Lay Monk (rasaphore), added to the intern-Oblate habit is a black belt and gray “skoufos”.

6. Monastic-Hermit (small schema), wears a black or gray under robe, cross and paraman, a black robe, gray scapular, all bound together by a black belt, gray skoufos (casual head covering), black round-top klobuk (formal head covering). Plus, the black pleated mantya. Only a Priest-Monk wears a chain & cross in view of all indicating he has been ordained a Hieromonk.

7. Hermit (great schema). Added to the stavrophore habit: black with gray embroidered analovos, koukoulion (replaces the stavrophore’s klobuk). An alternative to the koukoulion and mantya (only warn during Divine Services) is a gray cuculla. A large robe that pulls over the head with wide sleeves and wide girth and a hood attached with a red cross in front.

As has been stated, “The distinctive color of the monastic raiment is black which symbolizes that the second Baptism is more laborious than the first, whose symbolic color is white, for the second is a baptism of repentance, which will end only with the end of this present deceitful life.”  The Romualdian gray is symbolic of the monk’s temporal and spiritual poverty.  It reminds the monk-hermit that their life is supposed to be a kenotic existence; as the black is a reminder of their unceasing state of metanoia.

The Rule of the Game.

Finally, “The Rule or “Typicon” governing Orthodox monastic life is based upon that of” for us, both, Saint Benedict of Norcia and Saint Romuald of Ravenna.

Benedict’s rule is complex and encompassing for the administration and ongoing formation of the members in coenobitism.  Added is Romuald’s rule; it is very brief and composed specifically for the eremitic monks.


[i] Wikipedia contributors. (2018, July 22). Catholic religious order. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:32, August 12, 2018, from