Posted by: oldbelieving | January 3, 2011

Elder Ephraim

 

Someone recently posted a site defending against the accusations against Elder Ephraim, and it reminded me of this paper that I wrote for my American Orthodoxy class at St. Tikhon’s, about Geronda Ephraim. Enjoy!

CATCH A FIRE

 

Elder Ephraim

Athonite Missionary to America

Jesse Dominick

HIS 6313

Spring ‘10

Dr. David Ford

In American Orthodoxy, rife with controversy as it is, one of the most controversial characters is Elder Ephraim, former abbot of Philotheou Monastery, who currently lives at St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery in Florence, AZ.  The mere mention of his name evokes strong emotions – people either love or revile him. It is not uncommon to hear him referred to as the holiest man alive, or conversely as a fanatical cult-leading guru. Either way, his establishment of seventeen monasteries in North America in a decade is certainly an impressive feat. It is said that the state of monasticism in a local Church is a microcosm of the state of that entire local Church, and thus America is undoubtedly in need of strong monasteries that can provide clear, Patristic guidance. Elder Ephraim came to America in response to the pleas of the faithful to provide this guidance, but in doing so many questions have been raised concerning the nature of Orthodox monasticism and teachings. To assess his role and importance for American Orthodoxy it is helpful to investigate his life and spiritual development, which will provide insight into him whom Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos says “’received fire,’ and . . . has imparted this fire . . . to the Church in America that has great need of it.”[1]

Elder Ephraim was born to a poor family in Volos, Greece in 1927, receiving the name John at baptism. He worked hard with his father to support the family[2], but was more inspired by the pious example of his “philomonastic mother” who later became the nun Theophano “of blessed memory.”[3] He quit school during the first years of the German Occupation to work, and it is then, around the age of fourteen, that his own yearning for monasticism began to blossom when a disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast came from the Holy Mountain to serve in an Old Calendar parish in Volos. This hieromonk soon became John’s (Ephraim’s) spiritual father and related many stories of Mount Athos, and especially of Elder Joseph, at which John would “burn with the ardent desire for the day [he] would meet him.”[4] He received a blessing five years later from his spiritual father to pursue monasticism, and in the meantime he “gave alms as much as [he] could, even though [he] was poor, so that God would help [him] achieve [his] goal.”[5]

On September 26, 1947 John boarded a boat to the dock of St. Anne’s on the Holy Mountain where he was met by Geronda Arsenios who announced that “The Honorable Forerunner appeared to Elder Joseph last night and said to him, ‘I am bringing you a little lamb. Put it in your sheepfold.’” While such news would lead to pride in most people, Elder Ephraim humbly writes that he was simply grateful for this care of St. John towards him. The rest of John’s life was mapped out that night in a small chapel of St. John the Baptist where he did a metanoia of obedience to Elder Joseph the Hesychast from whose side he would learn for the next twelve years until the venerable Elder’s repose in 1959.[6] John was tonsured as a monastic with the name Ephraim nine months later, and under obedience was soon ordained to the diaconate and subsequently the priesthood.

Of Elder Joseph, Elder Ephraim writes, “It was impossible for a person to come and stay with him and not be cured of his passions . . . as long as he was obedient to him,”[7] and it was in this atmosphere that he struggled for twelve years. Although Elder Ephraim does not write it of himself, as can be seen in his own writings, he himself is one who overcame his own passions by the guidance of Elder Joseph. As he describes it, his spiritual regimen included practice of Christ-like obedience, fasting, all-night vigils, extensive practice of the Jesus Prayer, silence, and endurance of verbal abuse.[8] While Elder Joseph allowed a little laxity concerning fasting, he was quite strict in every other aspect – for speaking two or three words on a trip Elder Ephraim received a first penance of 200 prostrations, and he relates to Constantine Cavarnos that six or seven continuous hours of the Jesus Prayer replaced Matins, and in the afternoon it also replaced Compline.[9]

Elder Ephraim’s spiritual state and popularity seem to have grown rapidly.  There was much talk of him at least in Athens while his own Elder was still alive, as Cavarnos reports, and Elder Joseph would even send people to see his disciple for spiritual nourishment.[10] After Elder Joseph’s repose, Elder Ephraim became the head of a group of eight young monks, which grew to forty in less than a decade. In need of more space, he moved with twenty disciples to the abandoned Russian kelli of St. Artemios at Provata, a dependency of the Great Lavra.[11] In 1973, he was petitioned by the Council of the Holy Mountain to move his brotherhood to Philotheou monastery where he became abbot and quickly revived the spiritual life. Seeing his spiritual discernment and success, the Council also asked him to repopulate the Xeropotamou, Konstamonitou, and Karakallou monasteries. He was also asked to repopulate the Great Lavra, but declined.[12] He remains the spiritual guide of these Athonite monasteries, as well as eight women’s communities throughout Greece.[13] In 1979 he made a brief trip to North America where he met many Orthodox Christians who were hungry for spiritual counsels, and flooded him with pleas to return, and so he began to make annual trips to guide his growing flock here. Due to these extended absences, he resigned as abbot of Philotheou in 1990 and moved to America where he quickly founded seventeen thriving monasteries by the invitation of the local Greek Orthodox hierarchs and the fervent pleas of the faithful.[14] Today he labors as the spiritual father of thousands around the globe at St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery in Florence, AZ which was founded by six Athonite monks in 1995.

With this brief biographical information, it seems Elder Ephraim’s life could be straight out of the Synaxarion. The success of his communities and the Patristic ethos of his writings show him to be a well-rounded master of the spiritual life in our time. Of his words in Counsels From the Holy Mountain, Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos writes that they are “an outcome and a fruit of obedience and noetic hesychia, a result of divine ascents, and they are certainly words coming from a paternal heart, words that help a person be healed in the atmosphere of spiritual love . . . His words arouse the heart to prayer, precisely because they proceed from prayer.”[15] Constantine Cavarnos asks, “What accounts for Ephraim’s extraordinary success in attracting so many men[16] to monasticism, at a time when there are numerous anti-monastic forces operating in the world?” and he answers, “It is, above all, his purity and holiness. And this he owes in large measure to his elder Joseph.”[17] If these accolades be trusted, Elder Ephraim has innumerable gifts to offer to American Orthodoxy. To Americans, obsessed with monetary success and “intellectual” pursuits, he offers the true theology of a purified intellect – “not gained in universities, but rather by despising the world and by living in a quiet and peaceful place far from the world’s noise and turmoil, with a program of prayer and ascesis.”[18] He offers immense faith – faith “that has taken him, a frail, elderly little provincial, to sophisticated, postmodern North America, there to perform mighty works for the Lord he loves so much.”[19]

America’s generally Protestant inheritance has given us a severely weakened and increasingly secularized church experience. Those who profess faith in Christ are often driven by material and sensual desires and in no way stand apart from the popular culture. Faith is pushed further and further into the closet, and our proud tradition of “rugged individualism” has made us blind to the virtue of obedience. We are constantly on the move, uncomfortable with any down time or silence. These factors have led to a nation that is morally and psychologically sick. Elder Ephraim offers us an experience that is wholly other from American culture. He brings the unquenchable fountain of Athonite spiritual wisdom which is so vital for the life of the Church. As seen, his faith is anything but material, sensual, or secularized, and far from the closet, his faith is his life. Where we value innovation, Elder Ephraim calls us to enter the unchanging stream of Tradition. Where we fill our lives with noise, Elder Ephraim calls us to silent devotion to the name of Jesus. Where we are sick, he calls us to purity and healing. What Elder Ephraim offers to America now is exactly what he offered to Mount Athos fifty years ago. Of a conversation with the elder in 1965, Constantine Cavarnos writes, that he especially stressed the “need of a spiritual guide, and the value of praying mentally and heeding one’s conscience.”[20] This is precisely the “fire” of which Metropolitan Hierotheos writes, and Elder Ephraim has come to spread such zeal to America.

To attain to such spiritual heights is a struggle against one’s fallen will and the fallen world. Without the luxury of a detailed biography it is hard to determine what specific weaknesses Elder Ephraim has overcome on his path to sanctity, but, as aforementioned, he does state that he received penances from his elder, and “in those twelve years that I lived with [Elder Joseph], rarely did I hear him call me by name. To call me or address me, he used all kinds of insults and appropriate adjectives.”[21] Thus he assures the reader that he had to struggle to align his will with God’s. The strictness of his life on Mount Athos could be endured only by unceasingly seeking the grace of God, and his spiritual warfare has surely reaped great reward. His most obvious “weakness” in the American context is his ignorance of the English language. Thousands flock to St. Anthony’s Monastery, but those who do not speak Greek can have but limited conversation with him. As the success of his monasteries attests, this has not prevented him from nourishing Orthodoxy in America, but he could perhaps have an even greater impact if he were able to speak in-depth with more seekers.

Beyond the issue of language, concerns have been raised about Elder Ephraim and his monasteries among some of the faithful, causing many to be wary of his counsels and of anyone associated with him. The internet is filled with accusations that he is anti-Semitic, anti-marriage, anti-parish, a cultish guru (expecting unhealthy obedience from his disciples), and a Gnostic (he teaches the aerial toll-houses). The websites “Pseudo-Prophet”[22] and “Greek Orthodox Monasteries Founded by Elder Ephraim”[23] both contain several pages that lay these and other accusations against him. There is even the Greek Orthodox Christians of Chicago for Truth and Reform, which has as its mission statement:

We Greek Orthodox Christians of the Metropolis of Chicago will no longer accept the conditions that have spread and caused irreparable harm to our Faith. We are of the opinion that our current Hierarchs of the Metropolis of Chicago are complicit in allowing a cancerous cult to permeate the theology of our church. Therefore, we will focus the efforts and attention of our members to expose inappropriate teachings, practices and customs as they concern our Faith.[24]

Its website also features articles entitled “What is an ‘Ephraimite’?” and “Learn to Speak ‘Ephraimitese’.” Most alarming is the link entitled “Report Ephraimite Activity” in which the organization encourages the faithful to provide: ” Names of any Greek Orthodox Priest who has presided over or participated in any sacrament at a monastery,” “Dates and Places of fundraising events held for the monasteries,” “Names and ages of monks, nuns or priests located at the monastery and ages when they entered the monasteries’” “Circumstances of spiritual abuse during confession,” and “Facts of excessive punishments attributed during confession,” among other things. Such alarming tactics are reminiscent of totalitarian regimes and serve only to illegitimize any valid concerns the group may have.

There is also concern about the source of funds for his monasteries. Orthodox theologian Bradley Nassif states, “If you look at a person like Billy Graham, where his reputation is sterling, there’s full, open and public disclosure of his funds and we should expect no less from the Orthodox church . . . I would encourage the bishop to be the bishop, stand up for the gospel, at all costs, and, if necessary, if they refuse to follow the gospel, they should do their duty and excommunicate them.”[25] With all these charges laid against him, the typical response would be for Elder Ephraim to speak out in his own defense, or even to malign those who malign him, but even in the midst of such controversy, Elder Ephraim has a lesson for us. In a newscast for Fox News KVOA TV 4 in Tucson which aired on February 9, 2006, reporter Kristi Tedesco asks, “Why can’t Father Ephraim speak on his own behalf?” and Fr. Anthony of the Greek parish in Tucson answers, “Because he is Father Ephraim. He’s not going to play those games, that people, they like to play.”[26] Just as Christ silently accepted the shame of the hatred of His own people, and finally of the Cross, so Elder Ephraim silently and humbly accepts the shame of such accusations, thus putting Himself in the path of Christ. Avoiding talk of scandals is certainly a timely lesson for American Orthodox who are daily fed on the mudslinging of ocanews.org![27] While it is possible that there are legitimate concerns about the actions of someone, somewhere affiliated with Elder Ephraim, they are unfortunately overshadowed by the obviously uninformed and biased accusations that abound, and most importantly, by the Elder’s evident sanctity[28] and devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Church.

Elder Ephraim offers an imperative message to the Church in America – the pure, unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ as preserved in the Orthodox Church, and especially in the spiritual deserts of Mount Athos. He reveals a life beyond “Vaticanized ecclesiology, academic and intellectualistic theology, Protestantizing sociology and ethicology, spiritually void and deluded meditation, atheistic social activism, etc,”[29] a life of joy that leads to eternal blessedness:

Theosis in the heavens, my child! There the Lord our God will remove every tear from our eyes, and do away with all sorrow and pain and sighing, for there the angelic way of life reigns, and the only work is to chant hymns and spiritual odes! An eternal Sabbath is prepared for us where we shall live in joy with our Father, God, Who is waiting for us to be ready so that He may call us to Him forever! There every saved soul will live in an ocean of love, sweetness, joy, amazement, and wonder![30]

He offers us a message of hope, but also of urgency as we journey through these latter times. He further teaches us by word and example how to be ready for the call of the Father—through obedience to an experienced spiritual guide, hesychia, and maintaining a pure conscience, as he emphasized to Constantine Cavarnos forty-five years ago. Elder Ephraim is a missionary to the American people, calling us away from our ailing culture and ever further into the saving enclosure of the Orthodox Church.  Elder Ephraim has “received fire.” Elder Ephraim is a spiritual fire. By the grace of God may America too catch a fire.

Works Cited

Archimandrite Ephraim. “Preface.” Elder Joseph the Hesychast. Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast. Florence, AZ: St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, 1998.

Cavarnos, Constantine. Anchored in God: Life, Art, and Thought on the Holy Mountain of Athos. Athens: Astir Publishing Company, 1959.

—. The Holy Mountain. Belmont, MA: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1973 (reprinted 2001).

Elder Ephraim. Counsels from the Holy Mountain: Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim. Florence, AZ: St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, 1999.

“Ephraim of Philotheou.” Orthodoxwiki. Orthodox Internet Services. 24 June 2009. Web. 24 April 2010. <http://orthodoxwiki.org/Ephraim_of_Philotheou&gt;.

Greek Orthodox Christians of Chicago for Truth and Reform. Greek Orthodox Christians of Chicago for Truth and Reform. 24 April 2010. <http://gotruthreform.org/&gt;.

Lillie, W. J. Rev. of Counsels from the Holy Mountain: Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim, by Elder Ephraim. Friends of Mount Athos Book Reviews, 1999. Bates College. 25 April 2010. <http://abacus.bates.edu/~rallison/friends/books/1999reviews/counsels_lillie1999.htm&gt;

Pseudo-Propet. 23 April 2010. <http://pseudo-prophet.tripod.com/&gt;. Ross, Rick. Greek Orthodox Monasteries Founded by Father Ephraim. 1999-2008. 24 April 2010. <http://www.rickross.com/groups/ephraim.html&gt;.

—. Mystery Monastery (Part two). 1999-2008. 24 April 2010. <http://www.rickross.com/reference/ephraim/ephraim14.html>.

“St. Anthony’s Monastery: Monastery Mystery Part 1.” 14 February 2009. You Tube. Web. 23 April 2010. < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UoQmFOa6QI&gt;.

“St. Anthony’s Monastery: Monastery Mystery Part 2.” 14 February 2009. You Tube. Web. 23 April 2010. < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-hLSXaf40U&gt;.

Vlachos, Metropolitan Hierotheos. “Prologue.” Elder Ephraim. Counsels from the Holy Mountain: Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim. Florence, AZ: St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, 1999.


[1] Vlachos, Metropolitan Hierotheos. “Prologue.” Elder Ephraim. Counsels from the Holy Mountain: Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim. Florence, AZ: St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, 1999. xv.

[2] Lillie, W. J. Rev. of Counsels from the Holy Mountain: Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim, by Elder Ephraim. Friends of Mount Athos Book Reviews, 1999. Bates College. 25 April 2010. <http://abacus.bates.edu/~rallison/friends/books/1999reviews/counsels_lillie1999.htm&gt;

[3] Archimandrite Ephraim. “Preface.” Elder Joseph the Hesychast. Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast. Florence, AZ: St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, 1998. 19.

[4] Ibid., 19

[5] Elder Ephraim. Counsels from the Holy Mountain: Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim. Florence, AZ: St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, 1999. 88.

[6] Archimandrite Ephraim, “Preface.” 19-20.

[7] Ibid., 20

[8] Ibid., 20-24

[9] Cavarnos, Constantine. Anchored in God: Life, Art, and Thought on the Holy Mountain of Athos. Athens: Astir Publishing Company, 1959. 206-207.

[10] Ibid., 204, 206

[11] Cavarnos, Constantine. The Holy Mountain. Belmont, MA: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1973 (reprinted 2001).72, 125

[12] Lillie, W. J.

[13] Including the monastery of St. John the Forerunner in Serres, that of Panagia the Directress in Portaria (Volos), and that of the Archangel Michael, a formal metochion of Philotheou on the island of Thasos.

“Ephraim of Philotheou.” Orthodoxwiki. Orthodox Internet Services. 24 June 2009. Web. 24 April 2010. <http://orthodoxwiki.org/Ephraim_of_Philotheou&gt;.

 

[14] Lillie, W. J.

[15] Vlachos, “Prologue.” Xiv.

[16] and women!

[17] Cavarnos, The Holy Mountain. 125. Cavarnos continues: “For, as St. Gregory of Nyssa remarks (OnVirginity chapter 24), “the saintliness of a life is transmitted from him who has achieved it to those who come within his circle; for there is truth in the Prophet’s saying, that one who lives with a man who is holy and clean and elect will become such himself.’”

[18] Elder Ephraim. Counsels. 79.

[19] Lillie, W. J.

[20] Cavarnos. Anchored in God. 207-208

[21] Archimandrite Ephraim. “Preface.” 24. Emphasis added. He continues, “But the driving force behind all that masterful verbal abuse and insult was true paternal affection and a sincere interest in the cleansing of my soul. How grateful my soul is now for that paternal affection!

[22] Pseudo-Propet. 23 April 2010. <http://pseudo-prophet.tripod.com/&gt;.

[23] Ross, Rick. Greek Orthodox Monasteries Founded by Father Ephraim. 1999-2008. 24 April 2010. <http://www.rickross.com/groups/ephraim.html&gt;.

[24] Greek Orthodox Christians of Chicago for Truth and Reform. Greek Orthodox Christians of Chicago for Truth and Reform. 24 April 2010. <http://gotruthreform.org/&gt;.

[25] Ross, Rick. Mystery Monastery (Part two). 1999-2008. 24 April 2010. <http://www.rickross.com/reference/ ephraim/ephraim14.html>.

[26] The newscast can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UoQmFOa6QI and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-hLSXaf40U&feature=related .  The newscast features three sets of parents who are upset that their sons have joined St. Anthony’s Monastery, but it is rather obvious from their comments that they are woefully ignorant of Orthodox monasticism.

[27] I am not suggesting that scandalous actions continue to be overlooked, but that we should not relish in reporting and reading all the latest gossip.

[28] Stories of his miracles and holiness also abound, including by one St. Tikhon’s novice who previously lived at St. Anthony’s Monastery.

[29] Vlachos,”Prologue.” xv.

[30] Elder Ephraim. Counsels. 2.


Responses

  1. From my son’s mouth to my ears, the elder is a charalatan and the GOA is a cult.

  2. i believe your son is incorrect.

    • I’m not incorrect. The monastery is a cult, and the Elder is a charlatan.

      • Your incorrect and the words you have said are all wrong. I hope you realize before it’s to late

  3. well, Elder Ephraim is the spiritual father of 4 or 5 monasteries on Mt. Athos, which he repopulated by the request of the Sacred Community of Mt. Athos, 8 women’s monasteries throughout Greece, and 18 monasteries in America and Canada, as well as 1000s of individual Orthodox Christians. He is obviously greatly loved in Greece, on Mt. Athos, and in Serbia, as I witnessed when I visited those places this summer. The weight of the Church is on his side.

  4. That’s not entirely true. He wasn’t my spiritual father, and I don’t know for sure that he has any spiritual children. You’d be surprised. You can’t say that the weight of the church is on his side just because he gives guidance to monasteries; however, let’s say that’s all true; all that means is that he’s a big liar. He isn’t holy; he’s evil. The fire from the holy mountain is actually the fire of hell. He’s a deceiver.

  5. well, there’s no point in arguing with you. I hope you find peace. Lord have mercy!

  6. Great paper. On my recent pilgrimage to several monasteries on the east coat several monks from different monasteries were warning us that there are difficult times ahead for believers since the spirit of worldliness not only in the world, but entered even the church. I was shocked that Elder Ephraim became controversial among church members (and these are not some unbelievers, but church members!!!!) for being too strict: “prohibiting the church fellowship hall to be used for social events deemed inappropriate, such as bingo, fashion shows and Halloween parties.” What?! No Halloween in the church! He is such a fundamentalist! :) I am not surprised that some people say bad things about him. Christ himself was accused of being evil. Christ is evil?!?! Sad, but that is the world you live in.

    • thank God, I’m glad you like it. I recognize you from your email address. I’m the one from St. Tikhon’s that was supposed to email you about the non-Chalcedonians, after we talked to Fr. Peter Heers. Did you get the email I sent on that? And yes, it is a real shame that people do not appreciate the blessing we have been given in the person of Elder Ephraim. He has done so much for monasticism and Orthodoxy in general in America. And hey, even the Serbian bishops outlawed bingo at their parishes! God bless.

  7. [...] more here Share this:FacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like [...]

  8. Hi! I hope you don’t mind that I linked to this on my blog!
    Very nice paper.
    Ευλογείτε!

    • I don’t mind at all. Hopefully more will get to know about Elder Ephraim through your blog as well!

      • Thanks!

  9. Your wrong! If you only knew the truth that he isn’t evil or bad he is a live saint and I hope nothing comes and bites you in the ass for talking bad about him like you do

    • Ephraim is in prelest, and the people who follow him are under mind control or something. No true Elder would be in the Greek Archdiocese, the fountain of Ecumenism.

      • is this Joanna H. of Starting on the Royal Path? just curious.

  10. If you knew geronda efriam you wouldn’t be talking like that about him. Geronda efriam is a saint he has many spiritual kids u should be ashamed about talking like that of him. You better do lots of prayers

    • Are you people serious? Why do you worship this man? You know that only Jesus and God are to be worshipped? You people should get your heads checked. Seriously this is a cult. Plain and simple.

      • im not aware of anyone who worships him.

      • He is worshiped. There have been instances where women followers have washed his feet and finished a cup of his water…to feel his holiness. As well, when confessing their sins, the monk asked about their sexual episodes with their husbands. Highly irregular if I must say.

      • yes, well those are nice stories. can you validate them?

        and recognizing that someone is holy does not mean worshiping them … even if someone were to fall into strange practices like you mention, it does not mean they believe he is God.

      • Why should I validate it? I am not the only one who has stated that. O have no reason to make up stories. To each his own. I will never follow this man, but I cannot dictate what others do. Good luck to you then. Maybe one day you will find out the truth. God bless you.

  11. To all those who say they KNOW who our geronta efraim is,
    I hope they speak from absolute personal experience. Heresay is the same as an old woman gossiping, it’s ignorance talking or fear of maybe,just maybe if they truly opened their hearts to learn about geronta personally they might sing a different tune. We teach our children to be open minded around new people and places through having first hand experience and knowledge. I grew up with geronta as my spiritual father and not once has he brainwashed or abused my will in any way!! These people are exactly what one of our great orthodox theologians, Demetrius panagopoulos, calls Christians in name not in practice. Learn your faith first otherwise keep your incoherent babblings to yourselves. May God grant you all the wisdom to seek the truth and seek falsehood upon diligent and thorough investigation. Now get to work!

  12. See this video about Father Ephraim and the Saint Anthony’s Monastery. David Smith and the critics have no idea what they are talking about.

  13. […] (SOURCE) […]

  14. I am troubled by these accusations as a Greek Orthodox Christian.

    I can say that, to the uninitiated, as to those new in faith or especially those who are not originally from abroad, certain aspects of our Faith may seem cult like or even sacrilegious (even as to the veneration of icons and saints, and yes, even Angels).

    However, we do not worship people in the true sense, only the Holy Trinity is deserving of that level of respect. To some however, it may look like we worship them since we hold the door and kiss them and sometimes may even bow to them, etc. These are signs of respect for someone that has given up their personal freedoms wants and desires to benefit mankind as a whole (we musn’t forget that these monastics pray unceasingly not just for themselves, but for all men and mankind.

    So you better believe if someone looks out for me the way all monks are supposed to, that I,as a Believer, will show them a great amount of respect and be thankful top them for their sacrifice, in much the same way that I am thankful to Jesus for his ultimate sacrifice for all mankind.

    I think that, given that the degree of disparity between the two viewpoints is so extreme, there must be some misunderstanding by well meaning but perhaps misguided persons who seem to aggressively vilify this Monastic with great emotion and vigor.

    Monasticism is not for everyone, it never has been. It is extreme beyond belief to the average Westerner (what? No cable tv or internet ? Isn’t that cruel and inhumane punishment?).

    In fact 99.990 percent of people can’t handle it, is very much like self imposed solitary confinement.

    But is the way that things have been done for around 2,000 or so years, so, you might want to wonder, maybe they actually do know a thing or two.

    Since I have an open mind but am not easily swayed by public sentiment and unsubstantiated rumors, I intend to go and see for myself.

    Actually I have wanted to go for some time and recent research yielded these disturbing comments, so no time like the present!

    Sincere best wishes to everyone,
    (I wouldn’t want to be the unfortunate outspoken critic who picks the wrong “Team”, if you know what I mean, that is hard to refute later on)
    Manny

  15. June 11, 2012 Scott Nevins took his own life after having spent six years at the Monastery of St. Anthony in Florence Arizona

    • may his memory be eternal!

  16. There has been much written about Elder Ephraim and his monasteries on http://remnantrocor.blogspot.com/search?q=ephraim. I find it very disturbing that the owner of this blog will only accept comments of opposition to the Elder and will not show anything else’s opinion or experience. I ask her not to pass judgement about his appearance and beg her to hear the other side of the stories but she does not want to relent.. I asked her to go to the monasteries and ask them about the things she writes about but she does not want to speak to those whom she judges. I have been going to the monasteries for 15 years and I do not see the things people accuse them of. Are the nuns and monks perfect? Are the people that go there perfect? We are all working out our salvation. I ask you, before you pass judgement, to do much prayer and fasting as the monastics do. Any blog / website that will only entertain a comment to their belief is very questionable and I would caution people to ignore this one-sidednes.


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