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Athos Mt. Simonos Petras as Golgothas.....monks:
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, both monks and nuns follow a similar ascetic discipline, and even their religious habit is the same (though nuns wear an extra veil, called the apostolnik). Unlike Roman Catholic monasticism, the Orthodox do not have separate religious orders, but there is one form of monasticism throughout the Orthodox Church. Monastics, male or female, live away from the world, in order to pray for the world. They do not normally run hospitals and orphanages, they do not consider teaching or caring for the sick a part of their vocation, though they are obligated by Christian charity to provide help when needed.

Monasteries vary from the very large to the very small. There are three types of monastic houses in the Orthodox Church:

* When monks live together, work together, and pray together, following the directions of an abbot and the elder monks, this is called a cenobium. The concept of the cenobitic life is that when many men (or women) live together in a monastic context, like rocks with sharp edges, their sharpness becomes worn away and they become smooth and polished. The largest monasteries can hold many thousands of monks and are called lavras. In the cenobium the daily office, work and meals are all done in common.
* Sketes are small monastic establishments which usually consist of one elder and 2 or 3 disciples. In the skete most prayer and work are done in private, coming together on Sundays and feast days. Thus, skete life has elements of both solitude and community, and for this reason is called the "middle way".
* The highest level of asceticism is practised by monks who do not live in monastic communities, but in solitude, as hermits.
One of the great centres of Orthodox monasticism is the Holy Mountain (also called Mt. Athos) in Greece, an isolated, self-governing peninsula approximately 20 miles (32 km) long and 5 miles (8.0 km) wide (similar to the Vatican, being a separate government), administered by the heads of the 20 major monasteries, and dotted with hundreds of smaller monasteries, sketes, and hesicaterons. Even today the population of the Holy Mountain numbers in the tens of thousands of monastics (men only) and cannot be visited except by men with special permission granted by both the Greek government and the government of the Holy Mountain itself.

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Additional Photos by Georgios Topas (TopGeo) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4033 W: 93 N: 8299] (38220)
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