Monday, January 11, 2016

What is a Cenobiarch?

On any given day the Orthodox Church commemorates a number of saints. Today, among others, the Church commemorates Theodosius the Cenobiarch. You can find a bit more about him here, but it occurred to me that the Church uses terms that many hear or read without understanding. When the term goes undefined for us, the beauty of understanding can be totally lost. The Church uses terms to help us, not hinder us, so I decided to very briefly define the term. Sure, if you go to the link for Saint Theodosius, you will find the same information, but you may not, so here it is...

A cenobiarch is the leader of a cenobitic monastery. That doesn’t help much. I was taught as a little boy that you were not allowed to use the word in its own definition. So was is a cenobitic monastic? Cenobitic monasticism is communal by definition. It was what most of us think of when we think monastery. A group of monastics living together, working together, praying and worshiping together, separated from the daily life of the world, so they can commune with God. Cenobitic monasticism is different from other forms such as hermitages which are lone monastics that only come together for communal worship, and then only at certain times.

When a saint bears the title Cenobiarch, that means they were a leader of a cenobitic monastery or group of monasteries, so the title also teaches us that the saint was respected and trusted by others to help them find Christ.

The more we know about terms, the more we understand what the Church is trying to teach us, so now you know a bit more about why Saint Theodosius should be studied and trusted. Every bit helps. By the way....Saint Theodosius the Cenobiarch is “important enough” a Saint to be included in the Proskomede Prayers (Prayers of Preparation) for Holy Communion, offered before every Divine Liturgy. 

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