Typikon of Mount Athos

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Chapter I. The commitment

  • Anyone who wishes to join the monastic community of Mt. Athos must pledge himself to respect God and man,
    • to live according to the communal rule, that is, to seek God;
    • to do what is good and upright in His sight, in accordance with what He has commanded through Jesus Christ and the Holy Orthodox Faith;
    • to love all that He has chosen and hate all that He has rejected;
    • to keep far from evil and to cling to all good works;
    • to act truthfully and righteously and justly on earth and to walk no more in the stubbornness of a guilty heart and of lustful eyes, doing all manner of evil;
    • to bring into a bond of mutual love all who have declared their willingness to carry out the statutes of God;
    • to walk blamelessly before Him in conformity with all that has been revealed; and
    • to love all the children of God.
  • All who declare their willingness to serve God's truth must bring all of their mind, all of their strength, and all of their wealth into the monastic community, so that
    • their minds may be purified by the truth of His precepts,
    • their strength controlled by His perfect ways, and
    • their wealth disposed in accordance with His just design.
  • They must not deviate by a single step from carrying out the orders of God at the times appointed for them. They must neither advance the statutory times nor postpone the prescribed seasons. They must not turn aside from the ordinances of God's truth either to the right or to the left.

Chapter II. The examination of initiants

  • When a man enters the monastic community, minded to act in accordance with all the foregoing ordinances and formally to ally himself to the holy community, inquiry shall be made concerning his temper in human relations and his understanding and performance in matters of doctrine.
  • This inquiry shall be conducted by the hegumen and his council who have undertaken concertedly to uphold God's Law and to supervise the execution of all the ordinances which He has commanded.
  • Every man shall then be registered by the standard of his attitudes and his performance shall be reviewed, however, year by year, some being then commended by virtue of their improved understanding and the integrity of their conduct, and others reprimanded for their waywardness.

Chapter III. Initiation

  • Anyone who would join the ranks of a monastic community must enter into a monastery in the presence of God to do according to all that He has commanded and not to turn away from Him through any fear or terror or through any trial to which they may be subjected.
  • When he enters into that monastic community, the hegumen shall pronounce a blessing upon the God of salvation and upon all that He does to make known His truth;
    • and all that enter the monastic community are to say after them, “Amen, amen.”
  • Then the hegumen shall rehearse the bounteous acts of God as revealed in all His deeds of power, and he shall recite all His tender mercies towards His children.
    • And all who enter the monastic community are to make confession after them, saying, “We have acted perversely, we have transgressed, we have sinned, we have done wickedly in that we have gone counter to the truth. God has been right to bring His judgment upon us. Howbeit, always from ancient times He has also bestowed His mercies upon us all, and so will He do for all time to come.”
  • Then the hegumen shall invoke a blessing on all that have cast their lot with God, that walk blamelessly in all their ways;
    • and they are to say, “May He bless thee with all good and keep thee from all evil. And illumine thy heart with insight into the things of life, and grace thee with knowledge of things eternal, and lift up His gracious countenance towards thee to grant thee peace everlasting.”
    • And all that enter the monastic community shall say after them that bless, “Amen, amen.”

Chapter IV. Concerning novices

  • No man may seek entry into the monastic community before his twenty-fifth birthday.
  • Upon admission the hegumen shall examine him as to his intelligence and his actions and, if he then embark on a course of training, he shall have him enter into the monastery to return to the truth and turn away from all perversity. Then he shall appraise him of all the rules of the community.
  • When that man comes to present himself to the community, everyone shall be asked his opinion about him. and his admission to or rejection from the community shall be determined by general vote.
  • No candidate, however, shall be admitted to the monastic life enjoyed by the members of the community until, at the completion of a full year, his spiritual attitude and his performance have been duly reviewed.
  • No man may be refused entry into the monastic community for any physical deformity whatever, provided that he has the physical ability to live the life of monastic deprivation and to do the manual labor required.
  • After he has spent a full year in the midst of the community, the members shall jointly review his case, as to his understanding and performance in matters of doctrine. If it then be voted by the opinion of the priests and of a majority of the brothers to admit him to the community, they shall have him bring with him all his property and the tools of his profession. These shall be committed to the custody of the hegumen. They shall be entered by the accountant into an account, but he shall not disburse them for the general benefit.
  • Not until the completion of a second year among the members of the community is the candidate to be admitted to the common board.
  • When however, that second year has been completed, he shall be subjected to a further review by the community, and if it then be voted to admit him to the community, he shall be registered in the order of rank which he shall occupy among his brethren in all matters pertaining to doctrine, judicial procedure, degree of purity.

Chapter V. The stages of monasticism

  • The way of the monk is three-fold and proceeds slowly, as the monastic vows entail a life-long commitment to God and are not to be entered into lightly.
  • Symbolic of this life-long commitment is the monastic habit which is bestowed piece by piece as the aspirant grows in his spirituality.
  • At a time determined by the hegumen the aspirant shall be accepted as a novice into the monastery. He shall be tonsured by the hegumen, that is, four locks of his hair are cut off in a cruciform pattern. He shall be clothed in the novice’s habit, which consists of a gray eisorasson (inner tunic), a black leather belt, and the black skoufos (soft monastic hat).
  • At a time determined by the hegumen the novice shall be invited to join the monastery. If he agrees, he shall be clothed in the first degree of monasticism. He may, rather, choose to remain a novice the whole of his monastic life.
  • The novice shall be asked to affirm his commitment to persevere in the monastic life.
    • If he so affirms, he shall once again receive the tonsure, be clothed in a black eisorasson and be given the black rasson (outer tunic).
    • He shall also be given the black kamilavkion (cylindrical brimless hat) and detachable epanokamelavkion (black veil). He is given a new name and is now known as a rassophore. Thenceforth his counsel and his judgment are to be at the disposal of the community.
  • Upon acquiring a certain level of discipline, dedication and humility, and at a time determined by the hegumen, the rassophore shall be asked if he wishes to advance in the monastic life.
    • If he so affirms, he shall make the formal vows of stability of place, poverty, chastity and obedience.
    • Once again he shall be tonsured and shall add to his habit the paramandyas (a piece of square cloth worn on the back, embroidered with the instruments of the Passion, and connected by ties to a wooden cross worn over the heart). Because of this addition he shall be known as a stavrophore.
    • He shall also be given a wooden hand cross which he should keep in his icon corner, and a beeswax candle, symbolic of monastic vigilance the sacrificing of himself for God.
    • After the ceremony, the newly-tonsured stavrophore shall remain in vigil in the church for five days, refraining from all work, except spiritual reading.
    • The hegumen shall now increase the stavrophore’s prayer rule, allow a more strict personal ascetic practice, and give the monk more responsibility.
  • Monks whose hegumen feels they have reached a high level of spiritual excellence have reached the final stage, the Great Schema.
    • The tonsure of a schemamonk shall follow the same format as that of a stavrophore.
    • He makes the same vows and is tonsured in the same manner.
    • In addition to all the garments worn by the stavrophore, he shall be given the analavos which is the article of monastic vesture emblematic of the Great Schema. It drapes over the shoulders and hangs down in front and in back, with the front portion somewhat longer, and is embroidered with the instruments of the Passion and the Trisagion.
    • He shall also be given the polystavrion (a cord with a number of small crosses plaited into it). The polystavrion forms a yoke around the monk, serves to hold the analavos in place, and reminds the monk that he is bound to Christ and that his arms are no longer fit for worldly activities. Rather he must labor only for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Chapter VI. The annual review

  • The following procedure shall be followed year by year.
  • The priests are first to be reviewed in due order, one after another, in respect of the state of their spirits.
  • After them, the brothers shall be similarly reviewed.
  • The object is that every monk in the monastic community may be made aware of his status in the community of God in the sense of the ideal, eternal society, and that none may be abased below his status nor exalted above his allotted place.
  • All of them will thus be members of a community founded at once upon true values and upon a becoming sense of humility, upon charity and mutual fairness, members of a society truly hallowed, partners in an everlasting communion.

Chapter VII. Those who are to be excluded

  • Anyone who refuses to abide by the monastic rule and persists in walking in the stubbornness of his heart shall not be admitted to this community of God's truth.
  • For inasmuch as his soul has revolted at the discipline entailed in a knowledge of God's righteous judgments, he has shown no real strength in amending his way of life, and therefore cannot be reckoned with the upright, for
    • only through the spiritual apprehension of God's truth can man's ways be properly directed,
    • only through the Holy Spirit can he achieve union with God's truth and be purged of all his iniquities,
    • only by a spirit of uprightness and humility can his sin be atoned, and
    • only thus can he really direct his steps to walk blamelessly through all the vicissitudes of his destiny in all the ways of God in the manner which He has commanded, without turning either to the right or to the left and without overstepping any of God's words.
  • Then indeed will he be acceptable before God like an atonement-offering which meets with His pleasure, and then indeed will he be admitted to the monastic community for ever.

Chapter VIII. The virtue of stability

  • This is the rule for all members of the monastic community with regard to stability.
    • They shall not transfer from one monastery to another, but shall remain in the monastery of their initiation.
    • They shall not leave the grounds of their monastery without the express permission of their hegumen.
    • If a monastery suffer from a lack of monks, petition shall be made to the Holy Synod for volunteers to transfer from other monasteries to make up for the dearth of monks.

Chapter IX. Social relations

  • This is the rule for all members of the monastic community, that is, for such as have declared their readiness to turn away from all evil and to adhere to all that God in His good pleasure has commanded.
    • They shall keep apart from the company of the froward.
    • They shall belong to the monastic community in both a doctrinal and an economic sense.
    • They shall abide by the decisions of their hegumen and of the majority of the community that stand firm in them. It is by the vote of such that all matters economic and judicial shall be determined.
    • They shall concertedly and in all their pursuits practice truth, humility, righteousness, justice, chastity and decency, with no one walking in the stubbornness of his own heart or going astray after his heart or his eyes or his fallible human mind.
    • They shall concertedly remove the impurity of their human mold and likewise all stiffneckedness.
    • They shall establish in the monastic community a solid basis of truth.
    • They shall unite in a bond indissoluble for ever.
    • They shall extend forgiveness to all among their brothers that have freely enlisted in the cause of holiness, and to all among the laity that have done so in the cause of truth, and likewise to all that have associated themselves with them.
    • They shall separate themselves completely from family and friends.
    • They shall not form a spiritual bond with any lay person.
    • They shall regard as miscreants all that transgress the law.

Chapter X. The obligation of holiness

  • This is the way in which all these ordinances are to be applied on a collective basis.
    • Everyone who is admitted into the monastic community shall enter into a covenant of God in the presence of all the brothers in the cause and commit himself by a binding oath to return with all his heart and soul to the commandments of God, as those commandments are revealed to the Holy Orthodox Faith.
    • He that so commits himself shall keep apart from all froward men that walk in the path of wickedness; for such men are not to be reckoned in the monastic community inasmuch as they have never sought nor studied God's ordinances in order to find out on what more arcane points they may guiltily have gone astray, while in regard to the things which stand patently revealed they have acted high-handedly.
    • All that are not reckoned in the monastic community shall be put aside, and likewise all that they posses. A holy man shall not rely on works of vanity, and vanity is what all of them are that have not recognized God's covenant.

Chapter XI. Communal duties

  • This is the procedure which all members of the community shall follow in all dealings with one another, wherever they dwell.
    • Everyone shall obey his superior in rank in all matters of work and money. **All shall dine together, worship together and take counsel together.
    • When they set the table for a meal or prepare wine to drink, the priest shall first put forth his hand to invoke a blessing on the first portion of the bread and wine.
    • The monks shall divide their day into religious services, private devotions (of which the paramount is the study of Holy Scripture) and work.
    • The daily activities of the monks shall be regulated by the sounding of the semantron.
    • The most important duty of the monk is the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at which all will communicate. No one is excused from this duty, unless he be dispensed by the hegumen because of the nature of his work.
    • Paramount also is the chanting of the psalms from which no monk may be absent.
    • A schedule shall be followed such that the entire Psalter is chanted every week. Matins and Lauds may be chanted by the monk in his cell at the discretion of the hegumen.
    • As a mortification of the flesh and as a means whereby to support the community, manual labor shall be required of all monks.
    • Depending on the needs of the monastery and the talents and abilities of the monk, manual labor may take place in the monk’s cell, in the common work areas, or on the grounds outside.
    • All manual labor shall be performed with tools that are the common property of the monastery.
    • No manual labor shall be done on the Day of the Lord or on the Great Feasts. There may be exceptions in case of emergencies to be determined by the hegumen.
    • Errands outside the monastery and, indeed, off the Holy Mountain, shall be assigned at the discretion of the hegumen. These errands shall never be assigned to novices.
    • These errands shall always be accomplished by two monks traveling together.
    • Those providing transportation, room and board, and other expenses shall be reimbursed by the monastery when a receipt is presented by the monks to the monastery’s treasurer.

Chapter XII. The general council

  • This is the rule covering public sessions.
    • The priests shall occupy the first place; the brothers shall come second. This order shall obtain alike when they seek a judicial ruling, when they meet for common counsel, or when any matter arises of general concern.
    • Everyone shall have an opportunity of rendering his opinion in the common council. No one, however, shall interrupt while his neighbour is speaking, or speak until the latter has finished. Furthermore, no one shall speak in advance of his prescribed rank. Everyone shall speak in turn, as he is called upon.
    • In public sessions, no one shall speak on any subject that is not of concern to or to the liking of the company as a whole.
    • If the hegumen or anyone who is not of the same rank as the person who happens to be raising a question for the consideration of the community, has something to say to the company, he shall stand up and declare: “I have something to say to the company”; and only if they so bid him, shall he speak.

Chapter XIII. Death to life in this world

  • Entry into the monastic life is a death to life in this world and rebirth into a life cleansed of sin.
  • The monk should grieve for his sins rather than teach, contemplate or perform miracles.
  • It is required that the monk find a confessor from among the priests of the monastery whom he shall regard as his spiritual father and he shall confess his sins regularly and frequently.

Chapter XIV. Physical health

  • When everyone is healthy, the monk should be grateful for the Provider of health, each one on behalf of the others rather than on his own behalf. But if one of you is ill, then you all should be sympathetically disposed to his illness and share in his suffering, just as the other limbs of the body suffer, if one is in pain.
  • The monk should do everything and exert himself to see the brother cured of his illness.
    • Several monks shall be trained in the rudiments of basic health care and in emergency medical procedures.
    • Every monastery shall have an area available for the use of helicopters to transport the ill to medical facilities.
    • Personal hygiene is of the utmost importance and shall be attended to conscientiously by the monk.
    • Every monastery shall have a bath house where the monks may bathe modestly.
    • The monk shall bathe at least once a week and shall trim his beard and have his hair cut as needed.
    • Failure to keep one’s self clean is cause for disciplinary action by the hegumen.

Chapter XV. Diet

  • As the Apostle said, “All things in moderation.” Moderate eating shows a care for bodily health. However, in order to practice mortification of the flesh, the monk imposes on himself dietary restrictions.
    • All monks shall observe perpetual abstinence from all animal flesh. Only with the permission of the hegumen may a monk who is ill consume animal flesh.
    • Eggs and cheese may be eaten on the Day of the Lord and on the Great Feasts.
    • The monks’ diet shall consist of grains, pulses, legumes, fruit and vegetables.
    • Each monk shall be alloted a portion of food for his daily sustenance.
    • Each monk shall be alloted a daily portion of wine and all the water he needs.

Chapter XVI. The virtue of silence

  • These are the rules to be followed in the interpretation of the law regarding forms of speech.
    • Silence shall be maintained throughout the day and night in the ordinary course of events.
    • That speech is permitted which is necessary for the well-being of the other or for the accomplishment of a common task.

Chapter XVII. Accusations and grudges

  • When anyone has a charge against his neighbour, he shall prosecute it truthfully, humbly and humanely.
    • He shall not speak to him angrily or querulously or arrogantly or in any wicked mood.
    • He shall not bear hatred towards him in the inner recesses of his heart. **When he has a charge against him, he shall proffer it then and there on the selfsame day and not render himself liable to penalty by nursing a grudge.
    • Furthermore, no man shall bring a charge publicly against his neighbour except he prove it by witness.

Chapter XVIII. False, impudent and blasphemous speech

  • If there be found in the community a monk who consciously lies in the matter of his wealth, he shall be regarded as outside the state of purity entailed by membership, and shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for one month.
  • If a monk answers his neighbour defiantly or speaks brusquely so as to undermine the composure of his brother, and in so doing flout the orders of one who is registered as his superior, he shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for one month.
  • If a monk, in speaking about anything, mentions that Name which is honored above all names, or if, in a moment of sudden stress or for some other personal reason, he curses the Lector or Presider, he shall be expelled, never to return to membership in the community.
  • If a monk speaks in anger against one of the brothers, he shall be placed in isolation for one month, during which time he shall be fed solely on bread and water, and regarded as outside the state of purity entailed in membership in the community.
    • If, however, he spoke unintentionally, he shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for only three months.
  • If a monk defames his neighbour unjustly, and does so deliberately, he shall deprived of one fourth of his food ration for six months.

Chapter XIX. Fraud

  • If a monk speaks to his neighbour in guile or consciously practices deceit upon him, he shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for six months. If however, he practices the deceit unintentionally, he shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for only three months.
  • If a monk defrauds the community, causing a deficit in its funds, he shall make good that deficit. If he lacks means to do so, he shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for sixty days.

Chapter XX. Vindictiveness

  • If a monk harbors a grudge against his neighbor without legitimate cause, he shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for six months.
  • The same shall apply also to a monk who takes personal revenge on his neighbor in any respect.

Chapter XXI. Improper speech

  • A monk who indulges in indecent talk shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for three months.

Chapter XXII. Misconduct at public sessions

  • A monk who interrupts his brother in a public session shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for ten days.
  • A monk who lies down and goes to sleep at a public session shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for one month.
  • A monk who leaves a public session gratuitously and without reason for as many as three times during one sitting shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for ten days.

Chapter XXIII. Indecorous acts

  • If, except he be under duress, a monk walks naked before his brother, he shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for six months.
  • If a monk spits into the midst of a public session, he shall be placed on bread and water for one month.
  • If a monk brings out his hand from under his cloak, to expose himself so that his private parts become visible, he shall be placed on bread and water for one month and deprived of one fourth of his food ration for a second month.
  • If a monk indulges in raucous, inane laughter, he shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for two weeks.

Chapter XXIV. Slander and incrimination

  • If a monk slander his brother, he shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for one year. But if he slanders the entire community, he shall be expelled, never to return.
  • If a monk complains against the whole community, he shall be expelled irrevocably.
  • If a monk complains against his brother without legitimate cause, he shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for one month.

Chapter XXV. Defection

  • If a monk's spirit waver so far from the community that he betrays the truth and walks in stubbornness of his own heart, but if he subsequently repent, he shall be deprived of one fourth of his food ration for one year. At the completion of the year, the community shall hold an inquiry about him. If it then be decided to readmit him, he shall again be registered with his newly assigned rank and thereafter he too shall be called upon to render his opinion in deliberations concerning the rules.
  • If a monk has been a formal member of the community for a full ten years, but then, through spiritual relapse, betrays the laws of the community and quits the general body in order to walk in the stubbornness of his own heart, he is never to return to membership in the community.
  • If a monk be converted from the Holy Orthodox Faith to the faith of one of the non-Orthodox faiths on the Holy Mountain, he may not remain on the Holy Mountain, although he may retain his citizenship and live in the Lowland and the Isles, if he find gainful employment.
  • Nor may a monk of a non-Orthodox faith, who is converted to the Holy Orthodox Faith, remain on the Holy Mountain, although he may retain his citizenship and live in the Lowland and the Isles, if he find gainful employment.
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