Communal Life

The uniqueness of student life at the Institute of St John of Damascus is based on the parallel growth of the student in spiritual and scientific knowledge, ecclesiastical awareness, and the embodiment of the living faith. The academic theological curriculum, which is inseparable from the students' life in the academy, aims to create a spiritual and knowledgeable future generation.

The study of theology at Balamand is different from other academic branches at the university. It does not settle for only intellectual dialogue, but seeks to foster authenticity in people's relationships. The students reside in the Institute for a period of four to five years, representing a phase of spiritual, intellectual, applied, and practical preparation to those who are getting ready for a life of consecration, service, and instruction in the Church.

The person responsible for the internal life attends to, and supervises, all that is related to student life, and interaction with colleagues, in addition to the student’s spiritual life, with coordination with his spiritual father when necessary. He also plans activities that enrich the student’s experience in order to ensure that he is spending a constructive and enjoyable time in the Institute, and making friendships not only with his fellow colleagues but with friends of other backgrounds and fields.

The students of the Institute live together in a true partnership. Its main components are group prayers and the communal dining hall. Various student activities are based upon collaboration between professors and students in an effort to enrich daily life in the Institute by utilizing talents and finding spiritual, cultural, parochial, and recreational opportunities that will activate student life and impart to it a positive ambience of dialogue, broadmindedness, and creative interaction with the ecclesiastical, social, intellectual and environmental milieu.

Every student has his or her own room, and it is the place where they express their individuality at the Institute. Each student is entitled to arrange it as they please, so that it may mirror their own personality, be their praying cell, an atelier for their studies and a place of rest.

Perhaps the setting of daily liturgical prayers, which encompass life in the Institute, is the best field for student education and application of liturgical worship in our Church. Indeed, it is a crystal fountain from which they savor the sweetness of Orthodox liturgy, and the theology of prayer and worship.

The traditional celebrations that the Institute holds or participates in, such as the feast days of St John of Damascus and St Ignatius of Antioch, Holy Week and Holy Pascha, strengthen the joy of belonging to the family of the Church, and life under its auspices.

The choir of the Institute is famed for the beauty of its performances and its skilled mastery of the art of Eastern Byzantine chant. The choir comprises those students of the Institute who are fond of chanting. They dedicate a number of hours every week to practice towards a harmonious and thorough performance led by the choir master, who is often a talented student of the Institute. The choir does not only commit itself to the duty of liturgical worship in the Church of the Balamand monastery, but also, when the need arises, leads worship in other parts of the Antiochian community, or even to other Orthodox Patriarchates, giving recitals and participating in ceremonial services.

In Balamand, the student finds himself thrust into a focal ecclesiastical Orthodox center, that assembles the children of the Church, and the workers in it, who flock to it not only from all areas of our Patriarchate, but also from other churches in the Christian world. This provides the student with a unique opportunity to become closely acquainted with the message of the Church, its concerns, aspects of work in it, and the true meaning of service. The student also gets to meet eminent theologians, scholars, and workers servicing the Church in the global outreach of the Orthodox Church.