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STATUTES FOR MONASTERIES OF
THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OUTSIDE OF RUSSIA

(Confirmed by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia,
October 30/November 12, 1959.)

1. Within the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, monasteries and convents may be established for persons of either sex who wish to lead a monastic life. These may be of two kinds:

a) ordinary ones, for prayer and work, as for example, the Sarov Hermitage; or

b) those dedicated to missionary and educational work, such as Lesna Convent.

Monastic life in them must be well grounded upon the steadfast foundation of the Word of God complemented by the teachings and examples of the Holy Fathers, since it is only on this foundation that the edifice of spiritual life and salvation can be built solidly and confidently.

2. Among other vows, persons entering monasteries and receiving monastic tonsure take the vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty. Those who take the vow of obedience and renunciation of their own will and reasoning must base it on the Lord's words: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mat. 12:24). Those taking the vow of chastity must heed Christ's words: “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it” (Mat. 19:12), and the Apostolic words: “He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord” (I Cor. 7:32). Those taking the vow of poverty must base it upon Christ's words: “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me” (Mat. 19:21).

3. Those who have entered a monastery or convent must constantly exhort themselves to the faithful and untiring fulfillment of these vows with Christ's words: “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God ” (Luke 9:62). Concerning the good of obedience, the need for spiritual guidance and the dangers of the urge to live according to their own will, they must admonish themselves with the words of the wise Solomon: “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14), and the Apostolic words: “Obey them that have rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch over your souls, as they must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable to you” (Heb. 13:17). From these cornerstones must come all the rules and instructions which must be followed which control the well-being of the monastic brethren as a whole and the behavior of each member of the brotherhood individually, covering both the spiritual-moral life and the conditions of the outer propriety and management.

4. Besides monasteries as such, the following may also be established:

a) sketes;

b) stavropigial monastic brotherhoods at episcopal residences;

c) podvoriya [branches] belonging to the Synod, the diocese or a monastery; and

d) women's monastic communities.

5. All such monasteries and communities are under the canonical supervision and jurisdiction of the Diocesan Bishop in whose diocesan territory and with whose knowledge and blessing they are opened, except such communities as are directly under the jurisdiction of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which are called “stavropigial.”

6. Each monastery, convent or monastic community may be established only with the blessing of the Ruling Bishop.

7. All the above monasteries, convents and monastic communities may be fully or semi-coenobitic [communal], depending on various circumstances of their establishment and existence. Coenobitic monasteries and communities provide full keep for their brotherhood or sisterhood: room and board, clothing, medical services, etc. The semi-coenobitic monasteries and convents provide only room and board (in full or in part); the other needs of the members of the community are provided for with a monthly stipend, depending on the means of the monastery or convent, and on the recipient's official standing.

8. All monasteries, convents and monastic communities must be guided in their inner life by the general monastic rules and statutes common to all monastics, by the present Statutes and by their own special rules, which must be confirmed by the Synod of Bishops.

9. At the head of each monastic community there must be a father or mother superior, who, at the Ruling Bishop's discretion, may be elevated to the rank of abbot or abbess, and father superiors of the most important or greatly populated monasteries to the rank of archimandrite. In dioceses where there are vicar bishops residing in monasteries, they may be superiors of these monasteries by decision of the Ruling Bishop and upon confirmation by the Synod of Bishops.

10. The fathers and mothers superior of monasteries and other monastic communities, in accordance with ancient monastic tradition, are elected by a general assembly of the brothers or sisters and upon the recommendation by the Diocesan Bishop confirmed in their office by the Synod of Bishops. In case of dissent among the brothers or sisters, and in other necessary cases, including in all missionary monasteries, the Diocesan Bishop himself appoints the superior, for the sake of the good of the Church, which is then confirmed by the Synod of Bishops.

11. Superiors of podvoriya are appointed directly by the Ruling Bishop, and reported to the Synod of Bishops.

12. In monasteries, convents and large communities, the superior's helpers in administration are: the prior, the dean, the confessor, the treasurer, the steward and the ecclesiarch [sacristan], who are elected by the assembly of brothers or sisters and confirmed by the Diocesan Bishop, or are directly appointed by the bishop. In some monasteries and convents the above persons comprise the special Spiritual Council of the monastery, convent or community. The Spiritual Council must assemble regularly, presided by the superior, to decide upon important current affairs. The members of the Spiritual Council are confirmed in their office by the Diocesan Bishop, upon recommendation of the superior.

13. Decisions of the Spiritual Council are reached by common consent of its members, or in case of dissent, by taking a vote; in case of a tie, the voice of the superior decides. If the superior of a missionary-educational monastery should find himself in the minority of the vote of the Spiritual Council, he may suspend the execution of the decision and refer the matter to the authority of the Diocesan Bishop.

14. In monasteries and communities in which a bishop is superior, he may, in case of dissent between himself and the Spiritual Council, decide the matter according to his own judgment, for the sake of the good of the Church, upon receiving the blessing and confirmation of the Diocesan Bishop or of the Synod of Bishops (in the case of a stavropigial monastery).

15. The assets of a monastery, convent or community are its property and registered in its name, for which purpose each monastery, convent and community must obtain the rights of a legal entity. The possessions of Synod, diocese or monastery are, correspondingly, the property of the Synod, diocese or monastery, just as the possessions of the stavropigial monastic brotherhoods are the property of the corresponding hierarchal residences.

16. The articles of incorporation of the monastery, convent or community must make it clear that it will always be in the jurisdiction of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and that, in case of its closing or liquidation, its possessions will be handed over to the diocese subject to the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, or directly to the Synod of Bishops.

17. In all monasteries and convents now in existence and those that may be newly established, the head of the plenipotentiary administration registered with the civil authorities as a judicial entity possessing the right to own property (called “trustees” in the USA, Canada and Australia), is by regulation the Diocesan Bishop.

18. The acquisition and liquidation of the real estate of a monastery, convent or community is executed only with the consent and confirmation of the Diocesan Bishop.

19. All inhabitants of a monastery or convent, beginning with the father or mother superior, must obey the rules confirmed for the monastery or community by the Diocesan Bishop, and these rules must conform to the present Statutes, which are binding for all monasteries and convents of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

20. No previous lifestyle can prevent a Christian from becoming a monastic (43rd Canon of the VI Ecumenical Council), therefore anyone who desires it may be accepted by a monastery or convent, upon a decision taken jointly by the superior and the Spiritual Council. The person must express the desire to enter either orally or by written petition, describing his life and the circumstances leading him decide to take the monastic vows.

21. It is also permissible to accept into monasteries or communities so-called trudniki [laborers], for a time or for life: persons who wish to work for the monastery or community without taking monastic vows. Trudniki , while they are in the monastery, are required to obey the monastery rules together with the rest of the brethren as long as they stay in the monastery or community.

22. All who join a monastery or community, while under the supervision and direction of the superior and of the officials under the latter, in all that pertains to duties and monastery discipline, must also be entrusted to the special spiritual direction of an elder or eldress: a monk or nun who has experienced a sufficient number of years of monastic life in the monastery, to whom they must frequently reveal their spiritual state, occupations, perplexities, difficulties, troubles, temptations, sins, incidental poor relations with others, and receive clarification of doubts, correction of errors, and directions towards perfection of their spiritual life.

23. For some, none other than the superior may be the elder, for others, the confessor of the monastery or community who is carefully chosen for this duty based on his moral qualities and spiritual experience; for others, other members of the brethren who are able to edify by word and through the example of their personal life.

24. Brothers or sisters should not undertake anything from their own thought and will, but do everything with the blessing of the superior, confessor or elder, so that no self-indulgence, conceit or vanity should intrude upon a deed conceived by their own will.

25. All brothers or sisters of a monastery or community must observe absolute obedience to their superior and others in authority and must submit to their orders. Only such orders as are manifestly contrary to faith and morality may not be obeyed, but this must be immediately reported to the next higher authority in the hierarchy. All must carefully and zealously fulfill their monastic obediences, remembering that they work for God and not for men.

26. Every monastery or community must have a permanent common confessor, to whom all the brethren absolutely must go to confession no less than four times a year, in all fast seasons, and hieromonks more often, preferably every time they take their turn of officiating.

27. Except for those appointed confessors of the monastery or community, no hieromonk may receive for confession any members of the brethren, much less any laymen who visit the monastery, without the superior's blessing.

28. No one may be tonsured into monasticism without a due preliminary novitiate period to make certain of his reliability concerning a worthy monastic life. The novitiate, according to canon law (5th Canon of the Double Council) must last at minimum three years, and only in special cases may it be shortened to a six-month period.

29. No brother or sister may leave the monastery or community without the blessing of the superior.

30. All monastics and novices are unconditionally forbidden, in or out of the monastery, to smoke, eat meat and use hard liquor.

31. Women are forbidden to enter the cells in monasteries, and men to enter the cells of the sisters in convents.

32. Being the head and representative of the monastery, the superior has a special need to receive visitors, pilgrims and benefactors of the monastery, and is guided in this by his own good judgment. As for other brothers and sisters, they must not receive laymen often, and in no way without the knowledge and blessing of the superior or his prior, and at that receive in their cells only men in monasteries and women in convents.

33. Brothers and sisters may visit one another in their cells, the former in monasteries, the latter in contents, but not for wasting time in idle talk, but only for mutual help in cell chores, especially to visit and serve the sick and the elderly, and for mutual edification and teaching. The superior or his prior has the right and the duty to inspect all cells at any time, visiting them in the presence or absence of the brothers.

34. The superior of the monastery or convent has the right and the duty to be informed of all the interactions of the brothers with laymen. It must not be concealed from him who of the brothers writes to whom or from whom he receives letters. Depending on the circumstances, he may require that all letters be presented to him for reading, and should he find the correspondence superfluous or useless, he may order it to cease.

35. The superior must be well disposed to, and take good care of, all members of the brotherhood; but those of especially good conduct, who are faithful in the discharge of prescribed rules and endeavor to progress in spiritual life should naturally enjoy his good favor, care, trust and respect. This must be a means of strengthening them in their good ways, and as a means of setting a useful and edifying example for others.

36. Since those who falter in good conduct need corrective measures, the superior has the right and the duty to apply such without anger, after careful consideration of the guilt, with true justice and in meekness, without irritation. For various offenses, the superior and, with his knowledge and permission, other persons in authority may impose penances upon the offenders: prostrations in the cell or in church, removal from the common meals (while standing during them) for one or several days, temporary prohibition of wearing the cassock, rassa or mantle. For especially flagrant offenses, the superior may forbid the offender Holy Communion for no more than six months. In monasteries, the superior may forbid a hieromonk to celebrate services, immediately reporting this to the Diocesan Bishop, who pronounces the final ruling. The ultimate penalty is removal from the monastery or convent, which is only used in case of frequent breaches of monastery rules, stubborn refusal to obey one's superiors in spite of admonition, and for great, mortal and unrepented sins.

37) Novices are removed from the monastery or community by the superior's authority after unsuccessful admonitions to amend their conduct. Rassophore monks are removed by decision of the Spiritual Council (where there is no Spiritual Council, by decision of the Superior ), after having been thrice admonished by the confessor, superior and the whole Council to no avail. Action concerning the removal of a rassophore or mantled monk is presented for consideration to the Diocesan Bishop, who transfers the offender to a stricter monastery, or gives orders to defrock him. In the case of a mantled monk, the Spiritual Council may petition the Diocesan Bishop to impose suitable sanctions upon him.

38. Trudniki and novices as well as rassophore monks preserve the right to own and dispose of real estate and movable property. If they should leave the monastery or community, they may receive back their monetary donations to the monastery or community, provided such an agreement was specifically made in writing when the donation was made. If not, the donation remains with the monastery or community. Trudniki , novices or rassophore monks who leave a monastery or community have no right to claim any compensation for the work performed at that monastery. This paragraph must be read to everyone entering a monastery, and be signed by that person.

39. Before tonsure into mantle, the tonsured brother or sister must transfer to the monastery or community in which they accept tonsure, or to whomever they wish, all real and movable property, (6th Canon of the Double Council), for as they take the monastic vow of poverty they lose the right to own and dispose of property. Donations they have made earlier to the monastery or community cannot be taken back and given to other persons. However, a monk or nun tonsured into the mantle may own and dispose of such necessaries for cell life as clothes, icons, books, and, in the case of hieromonks, vestments and sacred vessels, either received as gifts or acquired with the blessing of the superior and the confessor.

40. All those entering the monastic path must know and remember that the main occupation of a true monk or nun is prayer, both in the cell and in church. Church service must therefore be the main focus of the monastery administration, and the object of zeal of the brothers and sisters.

41. Daily services must be held in all monasteries and communities, and the complete cycle as far as is possible. Certain abridgments are permissible only in small communities, in case of a limited number of hieromonks. Thus, lacking a sufficient number of hieromonks, the Typica, instead of the full liturgy, may be said on weekdays. Attendance at Divine Liturgy and all other services is compulsory for all brothers and sisters, except those occupied with urgent obediences with the blessing of the superior.

42. Services in monasteries and communities must be held with proper decorum and according to rules. Everything in it must edify, and not to scandalize participants and worshipers. The church, vessels and vestments must be clean and in proper order, as required by the sanctity of a place dedicated to God. The clergy must prepare for approaching services zealously and celebrate with complete attention and reverence. The altar must have a sexton for assistance. Reading and singing on the kliros must be clear and precise, without any special effects and artificial theatrics, but intelligible, so as to reach the mind and conscience of the congregation.

43. Ancient chanting must be especially preserved in monasteries and communities, to the exclusion of all innovations, which are incompatible with the simplicity and penetration which are especially proper for monastic services. The use of compositions by lay composers which imbue the service with a worldly spirit is inadmissible. It is desirable to reestablish, as far as possible, the ancient tradition of antiphonal chanting by two kliroses, with canonarchs.

44. Half an hour before the beginning of the morning service, a specially appointed brother makes the round of all cells, with prayer, in order to wake the brothers in sufficient time. No one may miss the services without asking the superior's blessing, in case of good cause. No one may leave the church before the end of the service, except in case of urgent need, with account to be made before one's superiors.

45. At the end of the morning and evening services, after venerating the holy icons, all brothers approach the superior, who stands at his place, to receive his blessing.

46. After Divine Service, the communal meal is usually served, of which all must partake. Except for the sick and the very elderly, no one may avoid communal meals and eat separately, much less in one's own cell. Reverent silence should be observed in the refectory as if in church, and the meal itself, according to ancient monastic tradition, is considered to be the continuation of the Divine Service, which is why the refectory is furnished in the likeness of a church, with many icons and burning oil lamps. Idle conversation is not allowed in the refectory. The brothers partake of food while listening to the reading of Lives of Saints or teachings of the Holy Fathers, a common prayer being said or sung at the beginning and the end of the meal, with the blessing of the superior or of his prior.

47. Late arrival to, or departure from, the meal before its end, without a special, valid excuse is considered disorderly and an account must be given for it.

48. No one must bring or keep food in their cell except those who receive the superior's special permission, as being unable to attend common meals because of sickness, extreme old age or other good reason.

49. Such time as remains free from church and community obediences must be spent by the brothers in their cells and be used according to the Apostolic admonition: “redeeming the time” (Eph. 5:16), endeavoring to obtain spiritual benefit from their stay in the cell. Cell occupations that “redeem the time” include:

a) the cell prayer according to the Rule, with the disposition and the blessing of the elder;

b) reading of edifying books, under the guidance of the elder or of the superior;

c) exercises in church reading and simple chanting, in preparation to church services;

d) such occupations as are assigned by the superior and carried out as a matter of obedience;

e) handiwork to the benefit of the monastery or for one's own needs.

50. Required cell reading is, firstly, the Holy Scriptures, secondly, the writings of the Holy Fathers and the Lives of Saints. It is not forbidden to read such books of human wisdom as history or scientific works on nature, since they help us to see God's Wisdom, Providence and Judgment in God's creation and in world events. Any other books or documents may be read only with the superior's blessing.

51. One very suitable occupation for monastic brotherhoods is iconography, which must follow ancient examples. Should conditions be favorable, it is desirable to establish at the monastery or community an iconographic workshop or school in support of the ancient iconographic traditions.

52. Within cells and among cell items, cleanliness, order and decency combined with simplicity should be observed. Unnecessary things, refined ornaments and luxury items should not be allowed.

53. The brethren should keep their clothing clean and simple, avoiding both luxury and sloppiness. In general, the brothers' clothing should be as uniform as possible. Manual work may be done in specially designed short cassocks, but not in civil clothes.

54. All brothers must take care of monastery property, preserving it from waste or damage. All property must be listed in inventory books. Any income or expense must be immediately recorded with due receipts made for all transactions. Monastery funds must be kept in a safe place, and large sums must be deposited in a bank account, whence they may be withdrawn in case of need against the signature of only two persons: the superior and the treasurer. All large expenses, building or alterations, may be undertaken only upon decision of the Spiritual Council, approved and confirmed by the Diocesan Bishop.

55. All household matters in a monastery or community must be managed only according to the decisions of the Spiritual Council, which considers its prudence and usefulness for the monastery. Stores of provisions should be laid up in a timely manner and with prudence by the treasurer and the steward, under the supervision of the superior, or of his substitute, with the help of knowledgeable brothers.

56. If possible, and under favorable circumstances, monasteries and communities may found charitable and educational establishments, such as old people's homes, orphanages, theological schools; also, hospitals and clinics, upon decision of the Spiritual Council and with the approval and confirmation of the Diocesan Bishop and of the Synod of Bishops.

57. These Statutes should be known not only to the monastery administration but to everyone joining the monastic brotherhood or sisterhood, who signs the pledge to carefully keep the rules of monastic life it prescribes. At the superior's discretion, it is to be periodically read aloud during meals for everyone to hear.

58. Depending on their importance, any matters that may arise and are unforeseen in these Statutes are resolved according to Church canons and general monastic rules by the superiors of monasteries and communities, by the Diocesan Bishops and, in the final instance, by the Synod of Bishops.

59. In monasteries possessing print shops, the publication of church service books and prayers books is subject to the preliminary blessing of the Synod of Bishops. Other religious and apologetic books and pamphlets, as well as religious periodicals, are published with the blessing of the Diocesan Bishop.

Note: The following were used as bases for these Statutes: “Regulations for Monastic Brotherhoods,” compiled by His Eminence Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, approved by the decision of the Holy Synod, February 13-18, 1853, No. 183, and also “Instructions to the Dean of Monasteries,” an addendum to Article 643 of the “Compendium of Enacted and Guiding Ecclesiastical and Ecclesio-Civil Decrees of the Department of the Orthodox Faith.”