Beloved, you are faithful in all you do for the brothers and sisters, especially for strangers; they have testified to your love before the Church. Please help them in a way worthy of God to continue their journey. For they have set out for the sake of the Name and are accepting nothing from the pagans. Therefore, we ought to support such persons, so that we may be co-workers in the truth.
III John 5-8
St John the Evangelist and Apostle is reminding his readers that missionaries and traveling clergy were relying on the gifts of the faithful so as not to be begging from the pagans. It makes us look bad when we can’t take care of our own.
So let me tell you about two Orthodox monasteries to which I have been (emotionally) attached – as well as two more I am familiar with. I don’t know what it’s like in other churches, but at least in the OCA & AOCANA there seems to be no support system. Both monasteries relied on the state for medical care and one, at least, relied on the state for food assistance as well. To varying degrees, I have heard this is true of at least two more Orthodox monasteries.
This is also true of some clergy in parishes: in addition to being underpaid they have to rely on federal or state aid for some portion of their support.
My brothers and sisters, this must not be.
Are there no Orthodox Doctors who can help – by which I mean for free? Does no one living near a monastery assist with food? Is there no one who can make sure your priest is not relying on Medicaid?
Yes: I know those programs are there and we all pay for them. That’s not the point. A) We should be taking care of our own. B) One day our clergy and monastics will (very rightly) be compared to welfare leeches and our churches compared (very rightly) to Walmart sending their employees to the state for benefits they, themselves, are too cheap to buy.
If you’re near a monastery find out what you can do. If you’re not near a monastery, find one online! Call your Bishop. Ask your priest. Yes, this will be a financial commitment. But, not to put too fine a point on it, WTF is it happening like this? WTF are we not taking care of our own?
I suggest setting up a managed fund for American Clergy & Monastics, that would include providing healthcare and other support to monastics.
I’ll stop there.