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Testing period for monks
  • For some reason the monastic process is different in America from Egypt. In America, coptic orthodox laymen who wish to become monks are to undergo a testing period in the monastery they are to join for three years. They are free to leave and go back to the world during that time if they wish. They can also be asked to leave. They wear white cassocks during this testing period until they are blessed and consecrated to join the community, if deemed fit by the abbot. In Egypt there is a testing period when white is worn, and another when blue is worn. Can someone explain the difference between the two? And the significance, if any? Much appreciated! Pray for me as I'm preparing to go on a monastery retreat this summer.
    Christ is Risen from the Dead!
  • Hi,

    So usually, when a novice first enters the monastery, they wear blue cassocks. Then after a period of time, they move to the white cassock. My understanding is that the blue cassock is representing their very early life as a novice, and the white cassock is when they are a more established novice in the monastery. They are both under the same rules and obligations as far as I know.

    I don't know if they do this at St. Moses abbey, but I have seen it done at St. Anthony Monastery in California. You're best bet would be to ask one of the brothers or monks as they would know more about the specifics at their monastery.

    May God guide you on your retreat.


  • +Christ is risen!

    Dear St. Pachom,

    (I feel like I'm writing to Saint Pachomius...but I guess he knows the rules already!) ;)

    There are no strict rules per se about the clothing during the novitiate. In some monasteries people wear blue first then white, in others it is brown then white, in some it is normal clothes and straight to white, in some monasteries it's straight to black but no kolonsowa(cowl)...it varies and it's not set in stone. Actually, one Bishop commented that the reason why Saint Pishoy's monastery started wearing blue was because novices were sent to their monastery at one point from another monastery because of the living conditions, and when they were ready were sent back to their initial monastery. To differentiate who was from what monastery, they made the 'guest novices' wear blue. This bishop was at the monastery during that time, so it's not something he heard as a rumor.

    The blue/brown or whatever color is simply worn to say that this person is formally committed to the monastery, or that he is a member (even if conditional) of the community. It differentiates him from someone who is simply visiting the monastery or staying for a retreat. That's all.

    The white, however, is like an engagement. You are formally inducted into the community, there is a blessing of the tunic, and in most monasteries, there's a change in name (though this is also not mandatory). In many monasteries, what you are named when wearing white will remain your name after being tonsured a monk.

    Hope this helps.

    pray for me,
    ap


  • Thanks aiernovi and antonypaul!
    @antonypaul rumor has it I am st pachom, they've just changed the rules since my day ;)
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