Monday, February 23, 2009


Father James (who has a great Bible study podcast on Icon New Media Network) had an interesting post on his blog about a 170 foot cross erected by a Church in Houston.

As always the comments are interesting to follow.

I happened to be at St. Anthony's Monastery in Florence today working on the guest quarters. As I strolled through the grounds showing my helper around we came across this.

Is there really a difference?


November In My Soul said...

No, Brother, I don't think there is.

Fr. James Early said...

The only difference I see is the two extra bars. I'm still trying to figure out how I can sneak two more up onto the one here in Houston. Any ideas?

Also, s-p, thank you for the kind words about the podcast.

Anonymous said...

Um, about 150 feet? Is that a difference?

You have to go onto the grounds of the monastery to view their cross. It's not lighting up the night sky around Florence.

Be that as it may, I'm not that bent outta shape about the big electric cross in Houston.

But in your comments on the other blog, Steve, you mention the multi-millions that the monastery churches cost. I've seen the church being built at another of the Elder Ephraim monasteries, and it's jaw-dropping. I suppose more of these are being built at more of the monasteries. Steve, where does that money come from? I've been wondering this for a while.

Anonymous said...

ask the woman with the jar of perfume, that was worth a years wages, who anointed Jesus feet.

s-p said...

Anon Uno, Elder Ephraim's monasteries in America don't lack for money. I heard that someone donated over 2 million to build the Church of St. Elias on the top of the mountain by the monastery. They will hold one liturgy a year on Transfiguration in it from what I'm told. Someone else donated millions to double the size of one of the other Churches. Anything anyone says about why people give to his monasteries is subject to criticism, although even some of the monks will say that some of it is rich Greeks buying indulgences for their sins...
Because I do construction and am at the monasteries quite a lot in the background, I get to hang out with the monks and nuns that no one else gets to talk to so I see a side of the monastic life that few others get to see. They are people struggling for salvation just like all of us, and some do better and some do worse than some of us. The monasteries aren't magical places, they are ONE path to salvation, no more, no less pious or humble or intense than any other station and vocation in life if one takes the Christian life seriously.

Sophocles said...


Are you asking the question saracastically or allegorically?

I read your comments on Father James' post and it's sort of difficult to determine your stance where there you seem to be saying that as the cross in Houston is their statement and that it's "ok" becaues God reads their intention, so at St. Anthony's.

If sarcastically, then I cannot answer you.

If allegorically, then I can attempt.

I believe it to be accurate to be reading the Christian culture in America to be feeling under attack of late. I believe the cross there to be a reaction to this attack. The divide is growing wider and wider between those of faith and those of non faith and both sides take opportunities to impose themselves on the other.

I think I can appeal to your program on Our Life talking about "sacred space" within an Orthodox Church building and its necessity to foster, culture and preserve intact the ambience of the Holy.

What is at St. Anthony's and Orthodox monasteries as a whole is sacred space but established over a wider area for the same purpose to make present the Holy and to offer the pilgrim a wider sanctified area to wander in and be immersed in the sacred space.

Of course the amount of money will affect how much can and cannot be done in this regards.

I believe we should be grateful that something like this exists in America.

I would also like to point out that the cross in Houston is purposely visible to make their statement while St. Anthony's is purposely removed from the large population and the Cross there is tucked away within the monastery grouds for the edification of whichever pilgrim happens to com e across it.

s-p said...

Hi Sophocles, Thanks for the benefit of the doubt, but no I wasn't being sarcastic. I'm not criticizing St. Anthony's Cross or Churches, I'm acknowledging that the Protestants have their own versions of "icons, sacred space and confrontation of the culture" and however out of touch they are with the historical Church it IS about Christ and it is intended to glorify God. We may disagree with them dogmatically, but they are attempting to do basically the same thing St. Anthony's is doing to the faithful and the thousands of pilgrims that come there every year: offering up the Kingdom to the fallen world. My personal thinking is that we can at least be charitable toward their intentions and committment to Christ even if we wouldn't do the same thing in EXACTLY the same way.

Sophocles said...


Oops, "allegorically" was meant to be "rhetorically", (but you knew what I meant)

Thanks for the clarification and looking at it from your intent, my heart is with yours on this matter.

God bless you dear brother.

And a blessed Lent to you and all your readers.

In Christ,