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Moderated Forums => Faith Issues => Topic started by: SolEX01 on September 27, 2008, 04:12:46 PM

Title: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 27, 2008, 04:12:46 PM
I'm sorry, I don't get what you are saying?

Father A., my apologies for obfuscation.  I'm not a big fan of the US/Canada based Elder Ephraim Monasteries, like St. Anthony's.  What I read into the sermon sounded more like cult thinking than Orthodox Christianity and the "sinister religious figures" were meant to be direct comparisons to cults whose "center of worship" was in the center of the compound, just as Father Peck proposed.

Are you saying that the guy is influenced by St Athony's, or, are you saying he wants to become the next "St Anthony's" but for converts? Or something entirely different?

Something entirely different - like the monasteries of the Elder Ephraim are now starting mission churches with no problems vs. the struggles of the 2 Churches mentioned in the Metropolis of NJ.  Note, Father A., that neither Church is physically in NJ.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Anastasios on September 27, 2008, 04:52:14 PM
I'm sorry, I don't get what you are saying?

Father A., my apologies for obfuscation.  I'm not a big fan of the US/Canada based Elder Ephraim Monasteries, like St. Anthony's.  What I read into the sermon sounded more like cult thinking than Orthodox Christianity and the "sinister religious figures" were meant to be direct comparisons to cults whose "center of worship" was in the center of the compound, just as Father Peck proposed.

Are you saying that the guy is influenced by St Athony's, or, are you saying he wants to become the next "St Anthony's" but for converts? Or something entirely different?

Something entirely different - like the monasteries of the Elder Ephraim are now starting mission churches with no problems vs. the struggles of the 2 Churches mentioned in the Metropolis of NJ.  Note, Father A., that neither Church is physically in NJ.

Oh I see. Well, I share some of your concerns.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Tzimis on September 27, 2008, 07:15:33 PM

 I'm not a big fan of the US/Canada based Elder Ephraim Monasteries, like St. Anthony's.  What I read into the sermon sounded more like cult thinking than Orthodox Christianity and the "sinister religious figures" were meant to be direct comparisons to cults whose "center of worship" was in the center of the compound, just as Father Peck proposed.


For those that don't know. Elder Ephraim was a disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast of Mount Athos.  Elder Ephraim is the first to establish an authentic Athonite monastery on American soil. I don't see why so many people are so critical about anything having to do with the Orthodox Monastic life.
Elder Ephraim has 17 monastery's in NA that are under his spiritual guidance. Along with many more on Mount Athos. From what I hear Elder Ephraim is a very humble man. I just don't see why he is so often criticized.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Alveus Lacuna on September 27, 2008, 08:36:29 PM
Why does everyone hate Mt. Athos so much?  I'm asking seriously.  People have talking about waiting for the monks up there to die, and I don't understand why.  Are the monks supposed to be the conscience of the Church?

What does everyone hate about these monasteries under the supervision of Athos?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Fr. David on September 27, 2008, 09:44:15 PM
Why does everyone hate Mt. Athos so much?  I'm asking seriously.

My personal opinion?  Because of what St. Paul predicted 2,000 years ago:

Quote from: St. Paul, 2 Timothy 4:3-4
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Anastasios on September 28, 2008, 12:11:55 AM

 I'm not a big fan of the US/Canada based Elder Ephraim Monasteries, like St. Anthony's.  What I read into the sermon sounded more like cult thinking than Orthodox Christianity and the "sinister religious figures" were meant to be direct comparisons to cults whose "center of worship" was in the center of the compound, just as Father Peck proposed.


For those that don't know. Elder Ephraim was a disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast of Mount Athos.  Elder Ephraim is the first to establish an authentic Athonite monastery on American soil. I don't see why so many people are so critical about anything having to do with the Orthodox Monastic life.
Elder Ephraim has 17 monastery's in NA that are under his spiritual guidance. Along with many more on Mount Athos. From what I hear Elder Ephraim is a very humble man. I just don't see why he is so often criticized.

I'm certainly very pro-monasticism. Just have some reservations about Fr Ephraim. Why are people who have reservations about Fr Ephraim automatically assumed to "have issues" with monasticism?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Anastasios on September 28, 2008, 12:14:17 AM
Why does everyone hate Mt. Athos so much?  I'm asking seriously.  People have talking about waiting for the monks up there to die, and I don't understand why.  Are the monks supposed to be the conscience of the Church?

What does everyone hate about these monasteries under the supervision of Athos?

Mt Athos is just like any other place: there are some good, and some bad. The careless promotion of any one type of Orthodox place as the "Mecca" of Orthodoxy leads people who go there and have bad experiences to feel very let down.  They then become bitter and often go to the other extreme. Much better is to have a balanced view going in: there are some very good things about Mt Athos and it certainly is a treasure of Orthodoxy. But it's not all there is about Orthodoxy, and it's not perfect.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 12:47:25 AM
For those that don't know. Elder Ephraim was a disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast of Mount Athos.  Elder Ephraim is the first to establish an authentic Athonite monastery on American soil.

Why did Elder Ephraim have to establish monasteries on American soil?  Didn't the other Orthodox Jurisdictions have their own monasteries?  Also note that Elder Ephraim founded his monasteries at a time when the GOA was $15 Million in debt and near bankruptcy in the mid 1990's.

I don't see why so many people are so critical about anything having to do with the Orthodox Monastic life.

I'm not critical about Orthodox monastic life; I'm critical about the Elder Ephraim's Monasteries and their "questionable" circumstances.

Elder Ephraim has 17 monastery's in NA that are under his spiritual guidance. Along with many more on Mount Athos. From what I hear Elder Ephraim is a very humble man. I just don't see why he is so often criticized.

Until you hear stories of cult brainwashing and deprogramming and see the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (http://www.religioustolerance.org/rajneesh.htm) drive a Rolls Royce down the middle of thousands of mud drenched devotees, you will then recognize that Orthodox Christianity has no room for those who espouse cultism.  Here's an excerpt of what he believed:

Quote
He taught a form of Monism, that God was in everything and everyone. There is no division between "God" and "not-God". People, even at their worse, are divine. He recognized Jesus Christ as having attained enlightenment, and believed that he survived his crucifixion and moved to India where he died at the age of 112. Osho was noted for reading very offensive jokes; some were anti-Semitic; others were anti-Roman Catholicism; others insulted just about every ethnic and religious group in the world. He explained that the purpose of these jokes was to shock people and to encourage them to examine their identification with and attachment to their ethnic or religious beliefs. His contention was that national, religious, gender and racial divisions are destructive.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 12:53:36 AM
Why does everyone hate Mt. Athos so much?  I'm asking seriously.

My personal opinion?  Because of what St. Paul predicted 2,000 years ago:

Quote from: St. Paul, 2 Timothy 4:3-4
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

I would add verse 5:

5  But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

The busloads of people who donate big money to the Elder Ephraim monasteries have suffered loss of family members and affliction.  Some people have relatives who are homosexual.  Others have fallen deeply into sin or suffer from chronic health issues.  A few endured messy divorces before biased Spiritual Courts.  Others have become jaded with conventional Orthodox Churches and seek escape and refuge.  My own relatives invite me to visit the Elder Ephraim Monasteries in White Haven, PA and Roscoe, NY.  I tell them that I would probably shake the dust off my shoes if I feel offended during the visit.   :(
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Tzimis on September 28, 2008, 01:01:48 AM

 I'm not a big fan of the US/Canada based Elder Ephraim Monasteries, like St. Anthony's.  What I read into the sermon sounded more like cult thinking than Orthodox Christianity and the "sinister religious figures" were meant to be direct comparisons to cults whose "center of worship" was in the center of the compound, just as Father Peck proposed.


For those that don't know. Elder Ephraim was a disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast of Mount Athos.  Elder Ephraim is the first to establish an authentic Athonite monastery on American soil. I don't see why so many people are so critical about anything having to do with the Orthodox Monastic life.
Elder Ephraim has 17 monastery's in NA that are under his spiritual guidance. Along with many more on Mount Athos. From what I hear Elder Ephraim is a very humble man. I just don't see why he is so often criticized.

I'm certainly very pro-monasticism. Just have some reservations about Fr Ephraim. Why are people who have reservations about Fr Ephraim automatically assumed to "have issues" with monasticism?

Maybe you can fill us in on those reservations. I'm not aware of anything negative with any of his monastery's. We are on the subject of North America and the Athonite monastery's. Correct? Not monasticism in general.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Alveus Lacuna on September 28, 2008, 01:04:05 AM
Until you hear stories of cult brainwashing and deprogramming and see the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (http://www.religioustolerance.org/rajneesh.htm) drive a Rolls Royce down the middle of thousands of mud drenched devotees, you will then recognize that Orthodox Christianity has no room for those who espouse cultism.

This guy wasn't even Orthodox, so what specifically are you referring to that has to do with these Orthodox monasteries?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 01:14:11 AM
This guy wasn't even Orthodox, so what specifically are you referring to that has to do with these Orthodox monasteries?

From a cult recipe 1/2: (http://www.apologeticsindex.org/c09a02.html)

Quote
Sects were recognized as offshoots that, for the most part, still held to the religious and cultural traditions from which they emerged. Cults, meanwhile, had a religious structure wholly alien to the prevalent religious communities. In a 1978 article written for the Annual Review of the Social Sciences of Religion, sociologist James T. Richardson explained that

a cult is usually defined as a small informal group lacking a definite authority structure, somewhat spontaneous in its development (although often possessing a somewhat charismatic leader or group of leaders), transitory, somewhat mystical and individualistically oriented, and deriving its inspiration and ideology from outside the predominant religious culture.

So, the Elder Ephraim monasteries are described as:

small informal groups lacking a definite authority structure, although they are under the Jurisdiction of the Metropolitans where said monastery is located.

somewhat spontaneous in their development, like they sprouted from the ground overnight.

possessing a somewhat charismatic leader or group of leaders.

somewhat mystical.

individualistically oriented

Finally, the Elder Ephraim monasteries derive their inspiration and ideology from outside the predominant religious culture (e.g. Mt. Athos in Greece, forbidden to women, etc.)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Heracleides on September 28, 2008, 01:23:11 AM
For those that don't know. Elder Ephraim was a disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast of Mount Athos.  Elder Ephraim is the first to establish an authentic Athonite monastery on American soil.

Why did Elder Ephraim have to establish monasteries on American soil?  Didn't the other Orthodox Jurisdictions have their own monasteries?  Also note that Elder Ephraim founded his monasteries at a time when the GOA was $15 Million in debt and near bankruptcy in the mid 1990's.

So, what, Elder Ephraim should have pulled GOA's fat out of the fire?  Pray tell - why? I hardly see how GOA fiscal mismanagement should have any bearing whatsoever on the founding of monastic communities.

I find that nearly all of those who criticize St. Anthony and the other Athonite monasteries in North America have never actually visited them as a guest.  When I lived in Arizona I dwelt less than 30 miles from St. Anthonys, visited on numerous occasions, and it was always a grace filled experience to join the brothers in worship.  It truly is a little bit of paradise on earth.

Quote
My own relatives invite me to visit the Elder Ephraim Monasteries in White Haven, PA and Roscoe, NY.  I tell them that I would probably shake the dust off my shoes if I feel offended during the visit.

Or you might actually be blessed and then have to repent of your slander and libel.  ::)   

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 01:30:12 AM
So, what, Elder Ephraim should have pulled GOA's fat out of the fire?  Pray tell - why? I hardly see how GOA fiscal mismanagement should have any bearing whatsoever on the founding of monastic communities.

People stop going to Church and take busses to monasteries like the ones in Greece.

I find that nearly all of those who criticize St. Anthony and the other Athonite monasteries in North America have never actually visited them as a guest.  When I lived in Arizona I dwelt less than 30 miles from St. Anthonys, visited on numerous occasions, and it was always a grace filled experience to join the brothers in worship.  It truly is a little bit of paradise on earth.

OK, review just one of the comments made by some individual below and tell me if this "disciple" of the Elder Ephraim has any idea what he's saying to Rick Ross, a known cult investigator.

Rick Ross' Hall of Flames (http://www.rickross.com/flames.html)

Quote
"Don't you dare call Geronta Ephraim a cult leader. If you do not understand our religion read the New Testament. The true messiah came, but Jews like you denied him. Father Ephraim is the cup of the Holy Spirit! May God's holy angels and Mary, Mother of God protect him from a Satan worshipper like you. Just as the Catholics have the Pope, we have our Geronta. By the way, I'm not brainwashed either. I could say the same thing about you and your Satanic Hebrew cult, which will be the end of all of us until Jesus comes back to save us from your tyranny! The New Testament says that the whole world is going to suffer because of the Jews. I believe it! I dare you to call me an 'anti-Semite.' I'll just call you the 'anti-Christ.' Do me a favor and go get an exorcism!"

One person already feels his Geronta is equal to the Pope; Is His Geronta Infalliable?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 01:34:36 AM
Or you might actually be blessed and then have to repent of your slander and libel.  ::)   

The Geronta is going to beat a confession out of me?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Heracleides on September 28, 2008, 01:36:56 AM
So, what, Elder Ephraim should have pulled GOA's fat out of the fire?  Pray tell - why? I hardly see how GOA fiscal mismanagement should have any bearing whatsoever on the founding of monastic communities.

People stop going to Church and take busses to monasteries like the ones in Greece.

So, let's see...

1) In Phoenix I can go to the GOA Cathedral and endure a 20 minute monologue on the glories of all things Greek, where Christ is mentioned once in passing during the entire homily. Or, 2) I can go to St. Anthony's monastery, worship in one of it's three churches, and hear Christ proclaimed to the heavens...

Truly a difficult choice.  ::)

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Heracleides on September 28, 2008, 01:39:02 AM
Or you might actually be blessed and then have to repent of your slander and libel.  ::)   

The Geronta is going to beat a confession out of me?

Actually visit one of the monasteries and then get back to me.  As it is, you're simply proclaiming your ignorance whilst spouting BS and know not whereof you speak.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 01:49:57 AM
So, let's see...

1) In Phoenix I can go to the GOA Cathedral and endure a 20 minute monologue on the glories of all things Greek, where Christ is mentioned once in passing during the entire homily.

I don't have that problem at my GOA Cathedral.  Maybe the Phoenix GOA Cathedral is trying too hard to compete against the monastery.   ;D

Or, 2) I can go to St. Anthony's monastery, worship in one of it's three churches, and hear Christ proclaimed to the heavens...

Truly a difficult choice.  ::)

3 Churches.  Why does a monastic complex need 3 Churches other than to serve the busloads of people from all over.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 01:52:45 AM
Actually visit one of the monasteries and then get back to me.  As it is, you're simply proclaiming your ignorance whilst spouting BS and know not whereof you speak.

I'm ignorant - I guess the Geronda can tell me that as well; hence, why bother going there?   ::)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Heracleides on September 28, 2008, 02:05:50 AM
Quote
I don't have that problem at my GOA Cathedral.  Maybe the Phoenix GOA Cathedral is trying too hard to compete against the monastery.   ;D

Or maybe it is simply an ethnic club masquerading as an Orthodox Cathedral. ;D

Quote
3 Churches.  Why does a monastic complex need 3 Churches other than to serve the busloads of people from all over.

Lol - You'd be hard pressed to gather all the Orthodox in Arizona and fill more than four or five buses. Would it do any good to tell you that during my many visits I never once spotted a bus in the monastery parking lot?  If you'd ever actually visited St. Anthony's, you'd know that it serves as a retreat center.  The churches were built to serve the brotherhood, the day visitors such as myself, and those staying for extended spiritual retreats.

Truly, set your obvious bias aside and educate yourself by means other than internet sources.  ::)


Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Heracleides on September 28, 2008, 02:09:25 AM
Actually visit one of the monasteries and then get back to me.  As it is, you're simply proclaiming your ignorance whilst spouting BS and know not whereof you speak.

I'm ignorant - I guess the Geronda can tell me that as well; hence, why bother going there?   ::)

You are ignorant on this subject, and apparently take great pride in remaining so.  No need for him or any other monastic to point out the obvious. ::)

(I, on the other hand, am more than happy to do so.  ;D )
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on September 28, 2008, 03:05:33 AM
Quote
"Don't you dare call Geronta Ephraim a cult leader. If you do not understand our religion read the New Testament. The true messiah came, but Jews like you denied him. Father Ephraim is the cup of the Holy Spirit! May God's holy angels and Mary, Mother of God protect him from a Satan worshipper like you. Just as the Catholics have the Pope, we have our Geronta. By the way, I'm not brainwashed either. I could say the same thing about you and your Satanic Hebrew cult, which will be the end of all of us until Jesus comes back to save us from your tyranny! The New Testament says that the whole world is going to suffer because of the Jews. I believe it! I dare you to call me an 'anti-Semite.' I'll just call you the 'anti-Christ.' Do me a favor and go get an exorcism!"

One person already feels his Geronta is equal to the Pope; Is His Geronta Infalliable?
And, from the above quote of this person, one could conclude that he has other more serious problems than merely believing Geronta Ephraim to be equal to the Pope.  Should we conclude from this freak's idolization of Elder Ephraim that the elder condones such worship of his personality?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: zebu on September 28, 2008, 03:20:12 AM
I don't understand the criticisms about busloads of people coming or having multiple churches.  Most monasteries have more than one church. That's pretty standard.

As for the person who compared Elder Ephraim to the Pope, well yes, that is weird. From what I have heard though, the Elder basically spends most of his time hearing confessions and he really has no clue about what some people are saying about him, how there are a small number of people who revere him a bit too much, to say the least, and he would be apalled if he did know.  I have heard, though, from people who know him that he helped bring them to repentence and closer to Christ.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on September 28, 2008, 09:29:15 AM

 I'm not a big fan of the US/Canada based Elder Ephraim Monasteries, like St. Anthony's.  What I read into the sermon sounded more like cult thinking than Orthodox Christianity and the "sinister religious figures" were meant to be direct comparisons to cults whose "center of worship" was in the center of the compound, just as Father Peck proposed.


For those that don't know. Elder Ephraim was a disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast of Mount Athos.  Elder Ephraim is the first to establish an authentic Athonite monastery on American soil. I don't see why so many people are so critical about anything having to do with the Orthodox Monastic life.
Elder Ephraim has 17 monastery's in NA that are under his spiritual guidance. Along with many more on Mount Athos. From what I hear Elder Ephraim is a very humble man. I just don't see why he is so often criticized.
I met him once, and he struck me as very humble and kindly, a living saint.

I have heard a number of things about him, but I haven't heard confirmation, pro or con.

I do think that SOME of his enthusiasts are cult-like, but I got the impression that is more coming from themselves (they are Old Calendarist types).

Why does everyone hate Mt. Athos so much?  I'm asking seriously.  People have talking about waiting for the monks up there to die, and I don't understand why.  Are the monks supposed to be the conscience of the Church?

What does everyone hate about these monasteries under the supervision of Athos?

Some elements have the idea that Mt. Athos is THE Church, that Monasticism is THE (Only) Christian Life, etc.  It is very dangerous for monks to come into the world and tell people how they should live in the world.

For instance, the idea that the Pedalion is, next to the Gospel, the post imporant work of Christian literature (yes, I've seen people express that), putting the rule book ahead of the spirit of the Definitions of the Councils (elevating the canons above them).  The commentary in the Pedalion on married families, for instance, shows little or no pastoral concern.

Now there is a job for monks from Athos and elsewhere, as witnesses to the angelic life.  One such monk wrote a condensed horologion, with the express purpose that those in the world could take it an pray the hours for five minutes at work, knowing that those in the world can't do so for the hours it takes on Athos.

Why does everyone hate Mt. Athos so much?  I'm asking seriously.  People have talking about waiting for the monks up there to die, and I don't understand why.  Are the monks supposed to be the conscience of the Church?

What does everyone hate about these monasteries under the supervision of Athos?

Mt Athos is just like any other place: there are some good, and some bad. The careless promotion of any one type of Orthodox place as the "Mecca" of Orthodoxy leads people who go there and have bad experiences to feel very let down.  They then become bitter and often go to the other extreme. Much better is to have a balanced view going in: there are some very good things about Mt Athos and it certainly is a treasure of Orthodoxy. But it's not all there is about Orthodoxy, and it's not perfect.

I fully agree, and will just add that part of the problem is that many of its enthusiasts look at Athos like the adherents to the Vatican look at it, and look at you askance for expressing the view you just stated.

When I hear "Holy Mountain,"  I think of Sinai.

So, what, Elder Ephraim should have pulled GOA's fat out of the fire?  Pray tell - why? I hardly see how GOA fiscal mismanagement should have any bearing whatsoever on the founding of monastic communities.

People stop going to Church and take busses to monasteries like the ones in Greece.

So, let's see...

1) In Phoenix I can go to the GOA Cathedral and endure a 20 minute monologue on the glories of all things Greek, where Christ is mentioned once in passing during the entire homily. Or, 2) I can go to St. Anthony's monastery, worship in one of it's three churches, and hear Christ proclaimed to the heavens...

Truly a difficult choice.  ::)



LOL.  Yes.  I will say that the followers of Ephraim are very Greek, but NOT ethnocentric.

I don't understand the criticisms about busloads of people coming or having multiple churches.  Most monasteries have more than one church. That's pretty standard.

As for the person who compared Elder Ephraim to the Pope, well yes, that is weird. From what I have heard though, the Elder basically spends most of his time hearing confessions and he really has no clue about what some people are saying about him, how there are a small number of people who revere him a bit too much, to say the least, and he would be apalled if he did know.  I have heard, though, from people who know him that he helped bring them to repentence and closer to Christ.
Yes, I have to say the time I met him fully fits your description of the situation.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: prodromos on September 28, 2008, 09:38:54 AM
Why does everyone hate Mt. Athos so much?  I'm asking seriously.  People have talking about waiting for the monks up there to die, and I don't understand why.  Are the monks supposed to be the conscience of the Church?

What does everyone hate about these monasteries under the supervision of Athos?

Mt Athos is just like any other place: there are some good, and some bad. The careless promotion of any one type of Orthodox place as the "Mecca" of Orthodoxy leads people who go there and have bad experiences to feel very let down.  They then become bitter and often go to the other extreme. Much better is to have a balanced view going in: there are some very good things about Mt Athos and it certainly is a treasure of Orthodoxy. But it's not all there is about Orthodoxy, and it's not perfect.
Fr, have you been to Mt Athos?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on September 28, 2008, 09:52:48 AM
So, let's see...

1) In Phoenix I can go to the GOA Cathedral and endure a 20 minute monologue on the glories of all things Greek, where Christ is mentioned once in passing during the entire homily.

I don't have that problem at my GOA Cathedral.  Maybe the Phoenix GOA Cathedral is trying too hard to compete against the monastery.   ;D

It's telling what they do for advertising then.  Barbarians (oops, sorry, Barbaroi, oops, sorry, Varbari) need not apply.

Or, 2) I can go to St. Anthony's monastery, worship in one of it's three churches, and hear Christ proclaimed to the heavens...

Truly a difficult choice.  ::)

3 Churches.  Why does a monastic complex need 3 Churches other than to serve the busloads of people from all over.

The HORROR!  Busloads of people from all over going to Church! So much that they need THREE Churches.  And the Churches SERVE them.

By all means, we have to put a stop to this! :police:
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Anastasios on September 28, 2008, 11:46:43 AM
ke, but I got the impression that is more coming from themselves (they are Old Calendarist types).


Please. Elder Ephraim is too liberal for us  8)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Anastasios on September 28, 2008, 12:12:09 PM

I'm certainly very pro-monasticism. Just have some reservations about Fr Ephraim. Why are people who have reservations about Fr Ephraim automatically assumed to "have issues" with monasticism?

Maybe you can fill us in on those reservations. I'm not aware of anything negative with any of his monastery's. We are on the subject of North America and the Athonite monastery's. Correct? Not monasticism in general.

1) A friend of mine lived in Arizona and was involved in the monasteries for 2 years.  He was, during high school, given a prayer rule that was almost 2 hours a night. Attempts to ask for reductions were met with accusations that he was giving in to Satan.  This friend was not baptized on his reception to the GOA, so Fr Paisius arranged for him to be baptized on Mt Athos.  While I think all converts should be baptized, that is not the policy of the bishop over St Anthony's monastery. So when my friend went over to Athos, they arranged for him to get baptized. When he came back, they told him to go back to the parish he came from (!) and pretend like nothing happened--and told him to *lie* if anyone asked him what happened!  They later constructed a chapel off site to do their secret baptisms.

2) Another friend of mine went there about two months ago and was told that he should not even hold a girl's hand before marriage because that was sinful....(ok.....right)

3) One of our Old Calendarist priests was a disciple of Fr Ephraim and was with him when he announced that the Theotokos had appeared to him and told him to go to the ROCOR. Then, a month later, he told him that well, the "mafia" had "approached him" and "thrown him in a car" and threatened to "kill all his spiritual Children" if he did not go back to the GOA, so he did; but he told our priest "you can stay in ROCOR, they won't care about you, you are American." But he told others the Theotokos had told him to go back. So was the Theotokos confused? Or was he lying? Or did the mafia want him for some reason (and if so, why?)

Those are a few of my *reservations* with Fr Ephraim, Fr Paisius, and their circle. Note, however, that I am not *against* Fr Ephraim. It's quite possible that a lot of the nuttiness comes from the people, not from the Elder. However, it is incumbent on spiritual leaders to disabuse their people of these attachments.

To sum it up, my objections are:

1) Promoting disobedience to the local bishops
2) Overstrictness on issues of relations with members of the opposite sex (not as big of an objection as I have with #1)
3) Using alleged visions to back up jurisdictional changes.
4) Creating a para-parish situation in some monasteries.


I must say I am highly impressed with the fact that Fr Ephraim has been able to start all these monasteries and I believe they are having a good impact on the GOA. However, I would like to see greater integration between his monasteries and the regular GOA structure, which I believe would help to alleviate some of these concerns.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 01:32:20 PM
It's telling what they do for advertising then.  Barbarians (oops, sorry, Barbaroi, oops, sorry, Varbari) need not apply.

In other words, the Orthodox in Phoenix, AZ are divided between GOA "Varbari" and St. Anthony's.  In other words, there is an us (St. Anthony's) against them (GOA Churches in Phoenix) mentality which suits a cult perfectly.   

The HORROR!  Busloads of people from all over going to Church! So much that they need THREE Churches.  And the Churches SERVE them.

By all means, we have to put a stop to this! :police:

We need to put a stop to cultism in the Orthodox Church because to me, cultism breeds things like sex abuse, pederasty and other non-Orthodox practices.  We are all sinners except that I don't pretend to be a charismatic religious leader.

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 01:41:08 PM
And, from the above quote of this person, one could conclude that he has other more serious problems than merely believing Geronta Ephraim to be equal to the Pope.  Should we conclude from this freak's idolization of Elder Ephraim that the elder condones such worship of his personality?

Who knows?  Like I cited in an earlier example, thousands frolicked in the mud to worship the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

Just because the Elders & Abbesses at the monasteries don't have Rolls Royces doesn't mean that the GOA is not benefiting from the generosity of those who visit said monasteries.  From a logical perspective, if Greek-Americans can't travel to Athos, bring Athos to the Americas.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 01:42:47 PM
You are ignorant on this subject, and apparently take great pride in remaining so.  No need for him or any other monastic to point out the obvious. ::)

(I, on the other hand, am more than happy to do so.  ;D )

The subject of my priest's homily today: God is love.   ;)

Love doesn't mean getting beat up by a Geronda.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Heracleides on September 28, 2008, 01:50:27 PM
In other words, the Orthodox in Phoenix, AZ are divided between GOA "Varbari" and St. Anthony's.  In other words, there is an us (St. Anthony's) against them (GOA Churches in Phoenix) mentality which suits a cult perfectly.

Hardly, but hey, if it suits your unfounded slander against a community of monks whom you have no firsthand knowledge of, go for it.  ::)  

We need to put a stop to cultism in the Orthodox Church because to me, cultism breeds things like sex abuse, pederasty and other non-Orthodox practices.  We are all sinners except that I don't pretend to be a charismatic religious leader.

Perhaps because you are in fact not a charismatic religious leader?  Always wise to acknowledge ones limitations.  ;)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 01:50:52 PM
Or maybe it is simply an ethnic club masquerading as an Orthodox Cathedral. ;D

Father John Peck's sermon was directed at people who express the above sentiments.  I'm not such people.

Lol - You'd be hard pressed to gather all the Orthodox in Arizona and fill more than four or five buses. Would it do any good to tell you that during my many visits I never once spotted a bus in the monastery parking lot?

You weren't there 24x7.   :D
I think their website has recommended days and times where buses can visit. 

If you'd ever actually visited St. Anthony's, you'd know that it serves as a retreat center.  The churches were built to serve the brotherhood, the day visitors such as myself, and those staying for extended spiritual retreats.

I've never been to the Taj Mahal in India....  Edited out comments comparing Taj Mahal to St. Anthony's

Truly, set your obvious bias aside and educate yourself by means other than internet sources.  ::)

I cried the day David Koresh's compound went up in smoke and he had as much right to exist as the Elder Ephraim Monasteries.  The difference is that David Koresh's beliefs were well known while I don't know what the Elder Ephraim added and/or subtracted from the Orthodox faith.  Both you and ialmstry can argue that the monasteries are benign and I argue that they are dangerous.  Only God can reveal the truth to us rather than us hashing it out on this forum.   :)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 01:54:03 PM
Hardly, but hey, if it suits your unfounded slander against a community of monks whom you have no firsthand knowledge of, go for it.  ::)

Another defense typical for a cult - accuse others of unfounded slander.
 
Perhaps because you are in fact not a charismatic religious leader?  Always wise to acknowledge ones limitations.  ;)

I'm not .... Edited out questionable comments regarding slicing tomatoes and receiving beatings.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Heracleides on September 28, 2008, 01:56:36 PM
And, from the above quote of this person, one could conclude that he has other more serious problems than merely believing Geronta Ephraim to be equal to the Pope.  Should we conclude from this freak's idolization of Elder Ephraim that the elder condones such worship of his personality?

Who knows?  Like I cited in an earlier example, thousands frolicked in the mud to worship the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

Just because the Elders & Abbesses at the monasteries don't have Rolls Royces doesn't mean that the GOA is not benefiting from the generosity of those who visit said monasteries.  From a logical perspective, if Greek-Americans can't travel to Athos, bring Athos to the Americas.

So in actuality, your real beef with the Athonite monasteries in North America boils down to what you perceive as a loss of dollars donated by pilgrims to the monasteries which could instead be used to fill GOA coffers?  What's the matter, those GreekFest carnivals.. er, fundraisers not raking in enough cash?  Excuse me while I weep for GOA's tragic loss.  ::)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 02:12:10 PM
So in actuality, your real beef with the Athonite monasteries in North America boils down to what you perceive as a loss of dollars donated by pilgrims to the monasteries which could instead be used to fill GOA coffers?
 

False.  My beef is the taking advantage of vulnerable people by charismatic religious leaders which can happen in a Church, at a Monastery or anywhere else. 

What's the matter, those GreekFest carnivals.. er, fundraisers not raking in enough cash?  Excuse me while I weep for GOA's tragic loss.  ::)

The law of diminishing returns will eventually shut down every Greekfest as people will conclude that the money is well spent elsewhere.  If anything, a Greekfest can be seen as forced stewardship from most people who have nothing to do with the Church.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Heracleides on September 28, 2008, 03:08:30 PM
I cried the day David Koresh's compound went up in smoke and he had as much right to exist as the Elder Ephraim Monasteries.  The difference is that David Koresh's beliefs were well known while I don't know what the Elder Ephraim added and/or subtracted from the Orthodox faith.  Both you and ialmstry can argue that the monasteries are benign and I argue that they are dangerous.  Only God can reveal the truth to us rather than us hashing it out on this forum.   :)

Exactly - you DON'T know and have amply demonstrated your lack of knowledge.  Educate yourself and then come back and share with us your informed thoughts - rather than your current unfounded speculations and outright slander.

P.S. Your editing out several extremely offensive comments in a few of your posts above is a good start.  ;)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 03:18:42 PM
Exactly - you DON'T know and have amply demonstrated your lack of knowledge.  Educate yourself and then come back and share with us your informed thoughts - rather than your current unfounded speculations and outright slander.

I've educated myself enough.  I'm sad that we don't see things the same way.   :'(
I don't see what authority you have in saying that I've made unfounded speculations and outright slander; I reserve such authority for the Mods.

P.S. Your editing out of your extremely offensive comments in a few of your posts above is a good start.  ;)

I moderated myself after seeing how I went over the top on some of those posts except I feel that the rest of the posts are OK unless informed otherwise.   :)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on September 28, 2008, 04:19:07 PM
It's telling what they do for advertising then.  Barbarians (oops, sorry, Barbaroi, oops, sorry, Varbari) need not apply.

In other words, the Orthodox in Phoenix, AZ are divided between GOA "Varbari" and St. Anthony's.  In other words, there is an us (St. Anthony's) against them (GOA Churches in Phoenix) mentality which suits a cult perfectly.

Hmmm.  I note that "them" is the GOA Churches, and Heracleidas jurisdiction designation says: Antiochian.

There seems to be some confusion between Greek and Orthodox here.

Quote
The HORROR!  Busloads of people from all over going to Church! So much that they need THREE Churches.  And the Churches SERVE them.

By all means, we have to put a stop to this! :police:

We need to put a stop to cultism in the Orthodox Church because to me, cultism breeds things like sex abuse, pederasty and other non-Orthodox practices.  We are all sinners except that I don't pretend to be a charismatic religious leader.

And phyletism leads where? (and I'm not sure that the sermon that Herakleidas quoted even qualifies as phyletist: it would have to be more Christian).

Or maybe it is simply an ethnic club masquerading as an Orthodox Cathedral. ;D

Father John Peck's sermon was directed at people who express the above sentiments.  I'm not such people.

Lol - You'd be hard pressed to gather all the Orthodox in Arizona and fill more than four or five buses. Would it do any good to tell you that during my many visits I never once spotted a bus in the monastery parking lot?

You weren't there 24x7.   :D
I think their website has recommended days and times where buses can visit. 

If you'd ever actually visited St. Anthony's, you'd know that it serves as a retreat center.  The churches were built to serve the brotherhood, the day visitors such as myself, and those staying for extended spiritual retreats.

I've never been to the Taj Mahal in India....  Edited out comments comparing Taj Mahal to St. Anthony's

Truly, set your obvious bias aside and educate yourself by means other than internet sources.  ::)

I cried the day David Koresh's compound went up in smoke and he had as much right to exist as the Elder Ephraim Monasteries.  The difference is that David Koresh's beliefs were well known while I don't know what the Elder Ephraim added and/or subtracted from the Orthodox faith.  Both you and ialmstry can argue that the monasteries are benign and I argue that they are dangerous.  Only God can reveal the truth to us rather than us hashing it out on this forum.   :)

I'm all open for proof.

But I have no time for slander.

Hardly, but hey, if it suits your unfounded slander against a community of monks whom you have no firsthand knowledge of, go for it.  ::)

Another defense typical for a cult - accuse others of unfounded slander.
Then find, it and found it.
Off the wall accusations about the guru and David Koresh, without any documented comparison of the Geronta with either doesn't cut it.


Fixed quote tags  -PtA
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on September 28, 2008, 04:29:51 PM

I'm certainly very pro-monasticism. Just have some reservations about Fr Ephraim. Why are people who have reservations about Fr Ephraim automatically assumed to "have issues" with monasticism?

Maybe you can fill us in on those reservations. I'm not aware of anything negative with any of his monastery's. We are on the subject of North America and the Athonite monastery's. Correct? Not monasticism in general.

1) A friend of mine lived in Arizona and was involved in the monasteries for 2 years.  He was, during high school, given a prayer rule that was almost 2 hours a night. Attempts to ask for reductions were met with accusations that he was giving in to Satan.  This friend was not baptized on his reception to the GOA, so Fr Paisius arranged for him to be baptized on Mt Athos.  While I think all converts should be baptized, that is not the policy of the bishop over St Anthony's monastery. So when my friend went over to Athos, they arranged for him to get baptized. When he came back, they told him to go back to the parish he came from (!) and pretend like nothing happened--and told him to *lie* if anyone asked him what happened!  They later constructed a chapel off site to do their secret baptisms.

2) Another friend of mine went there about two months ago and was told that he should not even hold a girl's hand before marriage because that was sinful....(ok.....right)

3) One of our Old Calendarist priests was a disciple of Fr Ephraim and was with him when he announced that the Theotokos had appeared to him and told him to go to the ROCOR. Then, a month later, he told him that well, the "mafia" had "approached him" and "thrown him in a car" and threatened to "kill all his spiritual Children" if he did not go back to the GOA, so he did; but he told our priest "you can stay in ROCOR, they won't care about you, you are American." But he told others the Theotokos had told him to go back. So was the Theotokos confused? Or was he lying? Or did the mafia want him for some reason (and if so, why?)

Those are a few of my *reservations* with Fr Ephraim, Fr Paisius, and their circle. Note, however, that I am not *against* Fr Ephraim. It's quite possible that a lot of the nuttiness comes from the people, not from the Elder. However, it is incumbent on spiritual leaders to disabuse their people of these attachments.
To sum it up, my objections are:

1) Promoting disobedience to the local bishops
2) Overstrictness on issues of relations with members of the opposite sex (not as big of an objection as I have with #1)
3) Using alleged visions to back up jurisdictional changes.
4) Creating a para-parish situation in some monasteries.


I must say I am highly impressed with the fact that Fr Ephraim has been able to start all these monasteries and I believe they are having a good impact on the GOA. However, I would like to see greater integration between his monasteries and the regular GOA structure, which I believe would help to alleviate some of these concerns.
Fr. do you have any documented sources about the allegations against Fr. Ephraim.  I've heard some things, but it's all rather whispered. As I said, I only met with him once, and I saw no substance to the charges, although I do see something in a number of his followers.  As you said, a geronta should address that.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: jnorm888 on September 28, 2008, 04:55:58 PM
Solexo1,


The whole cult vs noncult thing is a product of America. It started in the 1970's, so why are you putting much weight in what was started some 30 years ago?

Why are you judging this form of Monasticism in light of a 30 year old American concept?

Being in a cult isn't always bad. There are alot of normal and smart people in cults. Also just because some Orthodox may use some of the same methods as non Orthodox cultic leaders doesn't mean that the method in and of itself is bad.

A method is a method, and it can be used for both good and evil. I don't see a problem with being brainwashed. If you are a willing participant then what's the problem?


Some cults offer discipline. And believe it or not, some people actually want discipline in their lives. It's just like the Armed forces in some ways. As long as they are not trying to kill you then I really don't see a problem with it.






JNORM888
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 08:14:55 PM
Hmmm.  I note that "them" is the GOA Churches, and Heracleidas jurisdiction designation says: Antiochian.

There seems to be some confusion between Greek and Orthodox here.

Athos used to be populated by other Orthodox Jurisdictions until Communism reduced and/or eliminated their numbers.  As a consequence, ethnic Greeks dominated Athos; Hence, the emphasis on Greek even though the idea of Greek got thrown out the window in Father John Peck's sermon where this entire thread was started.

I'm all open for proof.

But I have no time for slander.

I drew a comparison between a known cult leader and the monasteries and I did not slander anyone or anything.  Slander is an oral utterance according to dictionary.com.

Then find, it and found it.
Off the wall accusations about the guru and David Koresh, without any documented comparison of the Geronta with either doesn't cut it.

Again, there is a difference between making a comparison and slander.  The monasteries went on their best behavior after the Dioceses were elevated to Metropolitans in 2002.  Greek-Americans are no different when it comes to bottling up emotions when experiencing shame and guilt especially if something unfortunate happens to them.   :(
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 08:23:54 PM
Solexo1,
The whole cult vs noncult thing is a product of America. It started in the 1970's, so why are you putting much weight in what was started some 30 years ago?

Mostly to protect others.

Why are you judging this form of Monasticism in light of a 30 year old American concept?

Do you remember Jim Jones and the Kool-Aid (http://www.religioustolerance.org/dc_jones.htm)?

Being in a cult isn't always bad. There are alot of normal and smart people in cults.

I haven't heard of one good cult.  What is an example of a "good" cult?

Also just because some Orthodox may use some of the same methods as non Orthodox cultic leaders doesn't mean that the method in and of itself is bad.

I'm starting to think you're playing Devil's Advocate.   ;)

A method is a method, and it can be used for both good and evil. I don't see a problem with being brainwashed. If you are a willing participant then what's the problem?

"Good" brainwashing?

Some cults offer discipline. And believe it or not, some people actually want discipline in their lives. It's just like the Armed forces in some ways. As long as they are not trying to kill you then I really don't see a problem with it.

I repeat my statement about Jim Jones and the Kool-Aid....

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: zebu on September 28, 2008, 08:41:03 PM
Solex01, why are you just fundamentally opposed to monasteries? Because that's what it seems like to me...As someone who has spent four months in a monastery, I don't understand why someone would be opposed to them.  I think monasteries are beautiful places of healing and repentance.

If you are reading about monasteries online on certain gossip-oriented websites, do be aware of two things:
1) It is very easy to make a monastery SOUND like a cult. I could easily describe my own experiences in the Monastery as being extremely cult-like, if I so chose, but it isn't a cult.  You can make almost anyone or anything sound bad without lying if you just phrase it right.
 2) There are a lot of odd people who visit monasteries, and a lot of people who have a lot of problems. This can mean that they come away from it with a lot of very strange ideas, but normally, these ideas are their own and not those of the monastery or the abbot or anything. 
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Tzimis on September 28, 2008, 08:44:40 PM
I haven't heard of one good cult.  What is an example of a "good" cult?

Show an average American the inside of an Orthodox Church and their you have it. ;)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 08:53:46 PM
Solex01, why are you just fundamentally opposed to monasteries?

Let me repeat that I'm NOT fundamentally opposed to monasticism and monasteries.  I am concerned about the Monasteries operated by one Elder Ephraim in the United States and Canada.  I'm also concerned when priests affiliated with the monastery preach that the ethnic Orthodoxy is on life support.

If you are reading about monasteries online on certain gossip-oriented websites, do be aware of two things:
1) It is very easy to make a monastery SOUND like a cult. I could easily describe my own experiences in the Monastery as being extremely cult-like, if I so chose, but it isn't a cult.  You can make almost anyone or anything sound bad without lying if you just phrase it right.
 2) There are a lot of odd people who visit monasteries, and a lot of people who have a lot of problems. This can mean that they come away from it with a lot of very strange ideas, but normally, these ideas are their own and not those of the monastery or the abbot or anything.

Well, I still think cults in general are nothing but bad news regardless of Jurisdiction.  I've only been to a monastery once in my life back in Greece almost 3 decades ago.  I guess the Greek saying is accurate, "Believe and don't inquire."   :(
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 08:55:42 PM
Show an average American the inside of an Orthodox Church and their you have it. ;)

Do we really think of ourselves as cult followers?  Can we even think of Christ as our cult leader?   ;)
Lord, Have Mercy.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Tzimis on September 28, 2008, 08:59:23 PM

 It's quite possible that a lot of the nuttiness comes from the people, not from the Elder.
Now your talking. ;D
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Tzimis on September 28, 2008, 09:04:37 PM
Show an average American the inside of an Orthodox Church and their you have it. ;)

Do we really think of ourselves as cult followers?  Can we even think of Christ as our cult leader?   ;)
Lord, Have Mercy.
I introduced a Protestant too the inside of our church during our Greek Festival. He saw the all seeing eye and said that we follow Satan. :o Sounds like a cult to me.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 09:08:31 PM
I introduced a Protestant too the inside of our church during our Greek Festival. He saw the all seeing eye and said that we follow Satan. :o Sounds like a cult to me.

Was the Protestant referring to the Pantakrator icon or the little "mati" amulets?   :)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Tzimis on September 28, 2008, 09:50:10 PM
I introducjavascript:void(0);ed a Protestant too the inside of our church during our Greek Festival. He saw the all seeing eye and said that we follow Satan. :o Sounds like a cult to me.

Was the Protestant referring to the Pantakrator icon or the little "mati" amulets?   :)

(http://)

It is similar to this eye.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Tamara on September 28, 2008, 11:23:04 PM
If you are a member of the Antiochian Diocese of Los Angeles and all the West, Bishop JOSEPH has written a directive about Holy Confession in order to protect you from spiritual guides who can be abusive. There have been problems in our diocese with members who have been given penances by monastics in other jurisdictions so our Bishop wrote what I have copied below. If you wish to read the whole article on Holy Confession click this link:

http://www.antiochianladiocese.org/Chancery/bishop_speeches/confession.htm


Some of you may desire to receive spiritual guidance from Clergy or Monastics outside the Antiochian Archdiocese. In such cases, people run the risk of choosing a spiritual guide who is not under appropriate discipline or who may hold to policies that conflict with our Archdiocese’s pastoral standards. To prevent such problems, Clergy and Laity who seek out Confessors outside the Archdiocese must first seek permission either from one’s Pastor or the local Dean. Once permission is given, Laity are expected to inform their Pastors each time they make Confession, so the Pastors know that the flock is being ministered to.
 
Clergy who are not licensed marital counselors or psychologists ought not to engage in these fields during Confession. Confession is not psychology, and deep problems in these areas ought to be handled by professionals who are trained in these areas. I expect Pastors to locate mental health professionals in their areas to whom they may refer parishioners. Such professionals, if not Orthodox Christians, should at least be ‘friendly’ towards our Faith. Those professionals who espouse ‘values free’ counseling are to be strictly avoided.
 
I pray that all of you have a fruitful Advent Fast, so that we may all greet the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ with great joy and cleansed hearts. Let us endeavor to make our Confessions in an honest manner, so that we may fully receive the benefits of Absolution. May our Merciful Lord have mercy on us and forgive us!
 
Your Father in Christ,
 
+ JOSEPH
Bishop of Los Angeles and the West
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 28, 2008, 11:54:16 PM
It is similar to this eye.

Where is the Canonical Justification for such an image, although that may have been discussed elsewhere....
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Alveus Lacuna on September 29, 2008, 12:01:28 AM
Why is thee an eye like that in the church?  Leftovers from the Egyptian sun worship?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: username! on September 29, 2008, 01:34:36 AM
Why is thee an eye like that in the church?  Leftovers from the Egyptian sun worship?

That would make a good new thread, asking what the all-seeing eye is etc...
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Alveus Lacuna on September 29, 2008, 01:44:24 AM
Off to start a new thread!
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on September 29, 2008, 02:36:45 AM
Honestly, SolEX01, I would like to see some of the sources you've read that led you to be concerned that Elder Ephraim's monasteries may be too cultlike.  So far, I haven't seen anything from you that looks like anything other than your own opinions.  I think it good for this discussion if you can give us some evidence from outside yourself.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 29, 2008, 11:18:20 AM
Honestly, SolEX01, I would like to see some of the sources you've read that led you to be concerned that Elder Ephraim's monasteries may be too cultlike.  So far, I haven't seen anything from you that looks like anything other than your own opinions.  I think it good for this discussion if you can give us some evidence from outside yourself.

OK, here's the primary source (Cult tracker Rick Ross) of all my concerns regarding Elder Ephraim's monasteries.  The same source provided the one comment a poster made about Elder Ephraim.  The top two articles are the most recent, dating back to 2006 from a Tucson, AZ reporter.  I apologize for any trouble I caused.   :-[

Rick Ross' Elder Ephraim website: (http://www.rickross.com/groups/ephraim.html)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Anastasios on September 29, 2008, 11:34:45 AM

Fr. do you have any documented sources about the allegations against Fr. Ephraim.  I've heard some things, but it's all rather whispered. As I said, I only met with him once, and I saw no substance to the charges, although I do see something in a number of his followers.  As you said, a geronta should address that.

I am only relating what three people whom I am close to and trust told me based on their personal experiences. No one has written anything down.

I think it is possible that Fr Ephraim is oblivious to some of his followers' more extreme positions, but at the same time, is he totally oblivious that there might be a problem? Not sure on that one. Let's hope that better and continued integration of the monasteries into the Archdiocesan structure will bear positive fruit.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: zebu on September 29, 2008, 12:13:15 PM

OK, here's the primary source (Cult tracker Rick Ross) of all my concerns regarding Elder Ephraim's monasteries.  The same source provided the one comment a poster made about Elder Ephraim.  The top two articles are the most recent, dating back to 2006 from a Tucson, AZ reporter.  I apologize for any trouble I caused.   :-[

Rick Ross' Elder Ephraim website: (http://www.rickross.com/groups/ephraim.html)
Rick Cross isn't even Orthodox and most of his concerns about Elder Ephraim are really concerns about Orthodox monasticism in general.  If you are going to agree with his criticisms, then you would have to say the entirety of the Orthodox monasticism is cultic. 


I am only relating what three people whom I am close to and trust told me based on their personal experiences. No one has written anything down.

I think it is possible that Fr Ephraim is oblivious to some of his followers' more extreme positions, but at the same time, is he totally oblivious that there might be a problem? Not sure on that one. Let's hope that better and continued integration of the monasteries into the Archdiocesan structure will bear positive fruit.

Don't be so quick to believe stories people tell you! As I said before, you can very easily twist a story without even lying!  I could even make my own spiritual father/experiences at his monastery sound cultic, and you know that my spiritual father is not a cult leader, Fr Anastasios! 

I have met Elder Ephraim crazies though.  He has very little to do with them. There are generally a few crazy people who hang around monasteries, and the monks let them come in hope that maybe they will be impacted by the life and change, because these people are normally in a lot of pain and need help.  Generally, these people latch onto one or two things that the spiritual father says, take them out of context, build their lives around those things, and so on.  And what can the spiritual father really do when it's not normally his spiritual children who are like this, but people who come and see him once or twice and then just go out into the world with their insane interpretations of what he said?  The people who go crazy as a result of monasteries normally also lack any sense of accountability, they are not the ones who will come back and keep the spiritual father updated on their lives or who will build a relationship with him. There's not a lot he can do in that kind of situation.  Really, I think a lot of the crazies are crazy because they have some psychological issues, and I don't say this to be mean but because it seems to be true.  I once met someone who after spending FOUR DAYS in a monastery went home, stopped showering, covered up all his windows with cardboard, said thousands of Jesus prayers a day, limited greatly how much food and water he had in a day, stopped talking to his friends, gave away most of his posessions, and dressed all in black.  I can tell you it had nothing to do with anything that would have been told to him in the monastery. 

At the same time though, Elder Ephraim is in a very different context from the average American, and so it would be especially easy to misunderstand him, since Americans normally won't take the time to understand the monastic/Greek context in which his advice is given. 
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Thomas on September 29, 2008, 12:56:38 PM
It is strange to see both Hieromonk Seraphim Rose and Archbishop Lazar Puhalo agree but they both do when it comes topeople making Gurus out of Gerondas. This seems to be a major issue with many new converts, myself included.

Fr. Alexey Young, a spiritual child of Hieromonk Seraphim Rose of blessed memory noted that “Father Seraphim … warned against what he called ‘guru-ism,’ which is the temptation to treat certain people in authority as gurus or startsi (elders). This danger frightened him very much, for he saw a basic flaw in the American character: a flaw which leads some individuals…to seek out false elders, giving their free will and control over even the most basic details of their lives to them. Fr. Seraphim repeatedly pointed out that real elders are extremely rare, that we do not deserve such spiritual guides and would not know how to treat them even if we did have them in our midst.” Fr. Alexey Young, "The Royal Path of the Righteous Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina," Orthodox America, no. 167 2002, p. 12.
Many converts seek such a controlling director as they seek in their pride to become the “perfect convert”. Fr. Alexey in explaining how a spiritual father guides a child cites his experience with Father Seraphim, “One of the most striking aspects of Fr. Seraphim’s guidance was, first of all, his utter disinterest in controlling me or anyone else. Unlike some others, he did not play guru or give orders ---he had spiritual children, not disciples. I asked for his opinion and he gave it—frankly—but always he left the final decision up to me. This meant that I was bound to make mistakes, but he knew that I would learn from the consequences of those mistakes. Also, whenever he felt the need to criticize something, he always balanced it with something positive, so that one did not feel somehow destroyed or discouraged about one’s work. This is an indication of spiritual health as opposed to the cult-like behavior of those who always think they know better.”  Fr. Alexey Young, Letters from Fr. Seraphim, p. 35

I have experienced a spiritual “guru” that sought to separate me as the spiritual child from my parish home by encouraging me to pray the hours of the church alone, away from the parish church, to attend only monastic services rather than attend parish services. This is very different from a good spiritual director who will not seek to divide his spiritual child from their parish church but rather will seek to help them integrate within the parish.  The good spiritual director will provide assistance through suggested prayer rules, patristic readings, and encouragement that will help the spiritual child to become enfolded with in the love that the parish community has to offer them.

My first word of concern is that any spiritual father who seeks to seperate you from the local body of Christ is probably on shaky ground.  Those who seek to make you a lay monastic in the community are even more to be wary of as they seek to bind you into the monastic community and keep you away from the local body of Christ. In reading the historical  Gerondas or Starets, I find they tended to point their  spiritual children to the local parish for day to day sustinance. If that is not happening  you probably need to flee from that spritual father who seeks to seperate you from your parish and local church, something is not right.

Thomas

Please note my experience was not with one of Elder Ephraim's monasteries but with another one that has since been closed down. My visits to Elder Ephriam's monasteries have been pleasant , however as a result of my previous experiences I am using my local pastor as my spiritual father, not a monastic father.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: recent convert on September 29, 2008, 12:58:20 PM
Never realized there was so much controversy re the Ephraimites. Did visit Holy Protection Monastery in White Haven, Pa. (USA), about 20 miles from where I live, a couple of timesafter Divine Liturgy at our parish. We met the abbess (& told her some us were Antiochian), venerated icons in the church and a chapel, were invited to lunch, purchased books, had conversations with a couple of nuns. Everyone seemed most pleasant and of sound mind. Just my 2 cents of a casual experience & not necessarily contending w/ any views expressed.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on September 29, 2008, 01:14:18 PM
OK, here's the primary source (Cult tracker Rick Ross) of all my concerns regarding Elder Ephraim's monasteries.  The same source provided the one comment a poster made about Elder Ephraim.  The top two articles are the most recent, dating back to 2006 from a Tucson, AZ reporter.  I apologize for any trouble I caused.   :-[

Rick Ross' Elder Ephraim website: (http://www.rickross.com/groups/ephraim.html)
Having no in-depth knowledge of the various threads of Orthodox monastic tradition, the Rick Ross Institute can only compare what they see and hear to the models they understand, which appear to come primarily from Protestant Western culture.  To me, this renders whatever they have to say about Orthodox monastic movements in North America mostly not credible.  I would trust Rick Ross much more if they actually had the experience to see Elder Ephraim from within the Orthodox perspective.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Heracleides on September 29, 2008, 02:29:55 PM
When relying on antedotal testimony of critics (or for that matter, partisans) of the Athonite Monasteries in North America, one should take into consideration the mental state and/or motives of those offering up their tales.  This is amply borne out in a careful viewing of the videos of a former novice monk from St. Anthony's - Mushroom Jesus.  MJ has produced a four-part account of his sojourn at and eventual expulsion from St. Anthony's and placed it on Youtube.  View the videos in the links that follow and you will see that this individual is a rather sad fellow who is very likely suffering from mental issues. As always, consider the source.

Pt. 1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MmUevzpCBI (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MmUevzpCBI)
Pt. 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsV97iSuxYE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsV97iSuxYE)
Pt. 3 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLOn1JJ-3ds (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLOn1JJ-3ds)
Pt. 4 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEQAOsq7nDw (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEQAOsq7nDw)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 29, 2008, 06:14:58 PM
Having no in-depth knowledge of the various threads of Orthodox monastic tradition, the Rick Ross Institute can only compare what they see and hear to the models they understand, which appear to come primarily from Protestant Western culture.  To me, this renders whatever they have to say about Orthodox monastic movements in North America mostly not credible.

So, if a Tucson TV station does a 2 part broadcast on events at St. Anthony's, they are not credible?  Not everything on Rick Ross' website is authored by Rick Ross; He reports only what people report to him.

I would trust Rick Ross much more if they actually had the experience to see Elder Ephraim from within the Orthodox perspective.

There is no clear consensus on what is the Orthodox perspective which is evidennt on this thread.   8)

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on September 29, 2008, 06:41:23 PM
Having no in-depth knowledge of the various threads of Orthodox monastic tradition, the Rick Ross Institute can only compare what they see and hear to the models they understand, which appear to come primarily from Protestant Western culture.  To me, this renders whatever they have to say about Orthodox monastic movements in North America mostly not credible.

So, if a Tucson TV station does a 2 part broadcast on events at St. Anthony's, they are not credible?  Not everything on Rick Ross' website is authored by Rick Ross; He reports only what people report to him.
And yet RRI's inclusion of Elder Ephraim's monasteries on their list of potentially dangerous cultic organizations is itself a judgment beyond what is merely reported to them.

Quote
I would trust Rick Ross much more if they actually had the experience to see Elder Ephraim from within the Orthodox perspective.

There is no clear consensus on what is the Orthodox perspective which is evidennt on this thread.   8)
Circular reasoning, since much of that "lack of consensus" on this thread is based on your speaking from Rick Ross's un-Orthodox perspective.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 29, 2008, 09:22:47 PM
And yet RRI's inclusion of Elder Ephraim's monasteries on their list of potentially dangerous cultic organizations is itself a judgment beyond what is merely reported to them.

So, has Rick Ross judged every cult out there from Scientology to Heaven's Gate?  Is the bigger problem the comparison between Elder Ephraim and Scientology (bear with me for using Scientology since Scientology is merely an example of the many cults listed on the Rick Ross site) just because both are listed on the same website?  Can we trivialize, ignore or minimize the presence of Elder Ephraim on a cult website - is there no outrage or simply another sign of "persecution" of the Orthodox faithful by heathens as expressed by the handful of people posting on the "Flames" portion of Rick Ross' site? 

Circular reasoning, since much of that "lack of consensus" on this thread is based on your speaking from Rick Ross's un-Orthodox perspective.

Very few from the Orthodox perspective have said much about the Elder Ephraim Monasteries.  I just found what Father John Peck said in his sermon very disturbing which triggered this entire thread.  In addition to Rick Ross, I read a lot of info from the Pseudo Prophet (http://pseudo-prophet.tripod.com/) website except it's not clear to me who's behind the site other than saying he was a married disciple of St. Anthony's Monastery.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Marc1152 on September 29, 2008, 09:55:06 PM
I spent some time with a Monk from the Great Lavra on Athos. He thinks Elder Ephriam is the real deal. On that advice my Godfather started traveling to one of his monasteries on a regular basis to receive some spiritual guidance. He also says the place is solidly Orthodox.

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Heracleides on September 29, 2008, 10:00:35 PM
Very few from the Orthodox perspective have said much about the Elder Ephraim Monasteries.  I just found what Father John Peck said in his sermon very disturbing which triggered this entire thread.  In addition to Rick Ross, I read a lot of info from the Pseudo Prophet (http://pseudo-prophet.tripod.com/) website except it's not clear to me who's behind the site other than saying he was a married disciple of St. Anthony's Monastery.

As stated earlier - lose your internet sources (  ::) ) and actually go visit one of these Orthodox monasteries - you just might be pleasantly surprised.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on September 29, 2008, 10:54:17 PM
So, has Rick Ross judged every cult out there from Scientology to Heaven's Gate?  Is the bigger problem the comparison between Elder Ephraim and Scientology (bear with me for using Scientology since Scientology is merely an example of the many cults listed on the Rick Ross site) just because both are listed on the same website?  Can we trivialize, ignore or minimize the presence of Elder Ephraim on a cult website - is there no outrage or simply another sign of "persecution" of the Orthodox faithful by heathens as expressed by the handful of people posting on the "Flames" portion of Rick Ross' site?
Is this supposed to make any sense?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 30, 2008, 12:28:24 AM
Is this supposed to make any sense?

To an extent, yes.

Well, if I won't join Scientology and embrace Dianetics, why would I want to go to a place listed on a cult website just because it's affiliated with the Greek Orthdox Church?  That's my whole point.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 30, 2008, 12:30:21 AM
As stated earlier - lose your internet sources (  ::) ) and actually go visit one of these Orthodox monasteries - you just might be pleasantly surprised.

I know you meant well in this entire discussion.  Forgive me.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on September 30, 2008, 12:53:27 AM
Is this supposed to make any sense?

To an extent, yes.

Well, if I won't join Scientology and embrace Dianetics, why would I want to go to a place listed on a cult website just because it's affiliated with the Greek Orthdox Church?  That's my whole point.
And why would you refuse to go to a place that's affiliated with the Greek Orthodox Church just because it's listed on a cult website?  Why do you even trust that website?  That's my whole point.


FWIW, I never needed to read Rick Ross's website to know that Scientology is a cult, but if it weren't for you citing that site, I never would have thought that Elder Ephraim's monasteries could possibly also be a cult.  Why is this, I wonder.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: DanM on September 30, 2008, 01:07:11 AM
Having no in-depth knowledge of the various threads of Orthodox monastic tradition, the Rick Ross Institute can only compare what they see and hear to the models they understand, which appear to come primarily from Protestant Western culture.  To me, this renders whatever they have to say about Orthodox monastic movements in North America mostly not credible.

A possible Orthodox source critical of the Arizona folks may be http://www.pokrov.org/.
I once asked a priest involved with them about Elder Ephraim's position on marriage.  He intimated that children were a blessing from the Lord, but did not commit him to a position on marriage per se.  I thought I had phrased my question clearly enough.
The same priest also taught that it was the job of monastics to pray sinners such as himself out of Hell.  I objected by tossing up Dives and Lazarus, but to no avail.
DanM
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on September 30, 2008, 01:11:06 AM
And why would you refuse to go to a place that's affiliated with the Greek Orthodox Church just because it's listed on a cult website?

See, as others have said, I need to see one of these monasteries up close and personal and I admit to having a fear of going there.  After all, my last visit to a monastery occurred 3 decades ago (as a 4 year old) and I remember mosaic floors, friendly monks, lots of folk dancing and not much else.  I do need to go alone and not with a bus trip or anyone else and hopefully not with a chip on my shoulder (which has been the biggest reason why I haven't gone).

Why do you even trust that website?  That's my whole point.

I did look at the "About Us" section and realized that most of the Advisory Board are attorneys and private investigators with Dr. Margaret Singer as a former Advisory Board member.  Rick Ross spent 26 years "studying, researching and responding to the problems often posed by such groups or movements."  Source (http://www.rickross.com/rickross.html)  While I think their goals are noble, I can also see how the site goes after wealthy cults for financial damages due to the suffering inflicted on those who left the cult.

FWIW, I never needed to read Rick Ross's website to know that Scientology is a cult, but if it weren't for you citing that site, I never would have thought that Elder Ephraim's monasteries could possibly also be a cult.  Why is this, I wonder.

Maybe we both share that discerning conscience? (aka gut feeling)  ;)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on September 30, 2008, 01:26:29 AM
A possible Orthodox source critical of the Arizona folks may be http://www.pokrov.org/.
Thanks for posting this link.  I visited the site and found these three articles I think would be good reading for a balanced view of this topic.

The Ephraim Question (from a critic of Elder Ephraim):  http://www.pokrov.org/resource.asp?ds=Article&id=128

Response to The Ephraim Question (from a supporter of Elder Ephraim):  http://www.pokrov.org/resource.asp?ds=Article&id=130

Not Athos in America (an article accusing St. Anthony's Monastery of heresy--virtually no mention of any other of Elder Ephraim's monasteries):  http://www.pokrov.org/resource.asp?ds=Article&id=121
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: GabrieltheCelt on September 30, 2008, 09:54:49 PM
^^I particularly enjoyed Juliana Chrisanthus' response to the 'fundamentalist/cult' allegations and DavidBryan's post earlier on this thread.  St. Anthony's Monastery was written written about in Gifts of the Desert by Kyriacos Markides Ph.D.  It was primarily through this book that I really wanted to visit but when Dr. Markides wrote that Elder Ephraim insists his monasteries use Greek exclusively, well, I guess that leaves me out as I wouldn't have a clue what was being said.  Given what I've read here and the above mentioned book, I think I support him.  I only wish he used English (we are in America afterall... :-\).
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Heracleides on September 30, 2008, 11:27:27 PM
^^I particularly enjoyed Juliana Chrisanthus' response to the 'fundamentalist/cult' allegations and DavidBryan's post earlier on this thread.  St. Anthony's Monastery was written written about in Gifts of the Desert by Kyriacos Markides Ph.D.  It was primarily through this book that I really wanted to visit but when Dr. Markides wrote that Elder Ephraim insists his monasteries use Greek exclusively, well, I guess that leaves me out as I wouldn't have a clue what was being said.  Given what I've read here and the above mentioned book, I think I support him.  I only wish he used English (we are in America afterall... :-\).

Agreed - that was my only 'wish' too during my many visits.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: LakaYaRabb on September 30, 2008, 11:51:06 PM
Though I am not Orthodox and only speak English, I have visited St. Anthony's several times. It is wonderful monastery and other-worldly.

I have to say, I am a little shocked at some of the allegations about Elder Ephraim. It seems to me that the allegations are more about monasticism in general. Some people are shocked at harsh penances. But why confess to a monastic? While I am not downplaying the concerns or even possible misconduct of monastics, I wish the allegations were either dismissed by clear evidence against them, or verified an corrected. The allegations seem very one-sided. "My confessor said this or told me to do that". How about some verification either way.



Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on October 08, 2008, 04:44:07 PM
Another "spiritual child" of the Elder Ephraim Monasteries is interviewed by an Oregon Newspaper about how he wound up being a Serbian Orthodox Mission (http://www.dormitionorthodoxchurch.org/dalles_chronicle_10_3_2008.pdf) Priest (note that Greek Orthodox Church is used throughout the entire article with no mention of the Church being a Serbian Orthodox Mission Church).

Quote
But, special people helped him to discern his mission for Christ. His spiritual confessor, and the Abbess from St. John The Forerunner Monestery
outside Goldendale gave Father Luke the insight he needed to choose his place of mission. Bend, Wenatchee and Salem were initial possibilities, but when the Abbess told him, "Start a church in The Dalles and it will take off," he did just that, and has never looked back.  Father Luke is pragmatic about his mission for God. He says, "The Orthodox Church is not a warm, fuzzy version of Christianity. It's intense. I mean, we apply orthodoxy."

Would Fr. Luke's Bishop, Bishop Maxim, agree with the last sentence?

The more I think about the situation, the more I realize that the "Athos in America" concept is payback by EP/GOA for the Antiochian Church accepting the Evangelical Orthodox Protestants led by Rev. Peter Gillquist.  After all, Patriarch Dimitrios of Blessed Memory turned away the group in the 1980's.

Edited to add an end quotation mark.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on October 08, 2008, 05:05:47 PM
Quote
"The Orthodox Church is not a warm, fuzzy version of Christianity. It's intense. I mean, we apply orthodoxy."

Would Fr. Luke's Bishop, Bishop Maxim, agree with the last sentence?
Why not?  Is that not an apt description of the Orthodox way of life?  Surely Great Lent itself would give you that impression, would it not?

Quote
The more I think about the situation, the more I realize that the "Athos in America" concept is payback by EP/GOA for the Antiochian Church accepting the Evangelical Orthodox Protestants led by Rev. Peter Gillquist.  After all, Patriarch Dimitrios of Blessed Memory turned away the group in the 1980's.
And just what does the latter have to do with the former? ???
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Elisha on October 08, 2008, 05:56:32 PM
Another "spiritual child" of the Elder Ephraim Monasteries is interviewed by an Oregon Newspaper about how he wound up being a Serbian Orthodox Priest (note that Greek Orthodox Church is used throughout the entire article with no mention of the Church being a Serbian Orthodox Mission Church).
Father Luke is pragmatic about his mission for God. He says, "The Orthodox Church is not a warm, fuzzy version of Christianity. It's intense. I mean, we apply orthodoxy."

Fr. Luke and I played together when we were young.  He's only a year older than me (he's only 34).
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on October 08, 2008, 06:05:46 PM
Quote
"The Orthodox Church is not a warm, fuzzy version of Christianity. It's intense. I mean, we apply orthodoxy."

Would Fr. Luke's Bishop, Bishop Maxim, agree with the last sentence?
Why not?  Is that not an apt description of the Orthodox way of life?  Surely Great Lent itself would give you that impression, would it not?

The Whole point of Great Lent is that ultimately, God is Love because He was crucifed for us and for our salvation and rose on the 3rd Day according to the Scriptures.   :)

The Forgiveness Vespers also imply that God is Love because we see how difficult it is to forgive complete strangers never mind forgiving those who we have differences with.

The Orthodox Church is not a warm, fuzzy version of Christianity only when it comes to preaching and practicing love to the World.  I'm not perfect in that regard.

Quote
The more I think about the situation, the more I realize that the "Athos in America" concept is payback by EP/GOA for the Antiochian Church accepting the Evangelical Orthodox Protestants led by Rev. Peter Gillquist.  After all, Patriarch Dimitrios of Blessed Memory turned away the group in the 1980's.
And just what does the latter have to do with the former? ???

1.  Initially, I thought the post was more relevant to the Orthodox Church of Tomorrow and I provided an Interview from a Priest which. I felt, complimented the OP and found Father Luke's affiliation with an Elder Ephraim Monastery an interesting coincidence.

2.  According to the article, the Fr. Luke's Father was one of those Evangelical Protestants (likely) rejected by the EP/GOA until they were received into the Antiochian Church.  That was my point, when I had one of those "light bulb" moments in trying to understand why Athos in America happened....
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Fr. George on October 08, 2008, 06:36:14 PM
And just what does the latter have to do with the former? ???

I was going to ask the same thing.  But IMO that's a tangent that probably would deserve its own thread.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on October 08, 2008, 06:37:16 PM
Quote
"The Orthodox Church is not a warm, fuzzy version of Christianity. It's intense. I mean, we apply orthodoxy."

Would Fr. Luke's Bishop, Bishop Maxim, agree with the last sentence?
Why not?  Is that not an apt description of the Orthodox way of life?  Surely Great Lent itself would give you that impression, would it not?

The Whole point of Great Lent is that ultimately, God is Love because He was crucifed for us and for our salvation and rose on the 3rd Day according to the Scriptures.   :)
But I'm not talking about what the point of Great Lent is.  I'm talking about the ascetic practices of Lent, which are intended to be intense and not at all a warm, fuzzy version of anything.

Quote
The Forgiveness Vespers also imply that God is Love because we see how difficult it is to forgive complete strangers never mind forgiving those who we have differences with.

The Orthodox Church is not a warm, fuzzy version of Christianity only when it comes to preaching and practicing love to the World.  I'm not perfect in that regard.
But I don't think this is what Fr. Luke was talking about.  Besides, you're taking your own understanding of what the Orthodox faith is and projecting this onto Fr. Luke's bishop and making this to also be His Grace's belief.

Quote
Quote
The more I think about the situation, the more I realize that the "Athos in America" concept is payback by EP/GOA for the Antiochian Church accepting the Evangelical Orthodox Protestants led by Rev. Peter Gillquist.  After all, Patriarch Dimitrios of Blessed Memory turned away the group in the 1980's.
And just what does the latter have to do with the former? ???

1.  Initially, I thought the post was more relevant to the Orthodox Church of Tomorrow and I provided an Interview from a Priest which. I felt, complimented the OP and found Father Luke's affiliation with an Elder Ephraim Monastery an interesting coincidence.
I moved this post because you said hardly anything to show the connection to the "Orthodox Church of Tomorrow" thread.

Quote
2.  According to the article, the Fr. Luke's Father was one of those Evangelical Protestants (likely) rejected by the EP/GOA until they were received into the Antiochian Church.  That was my point, when I had one of those "light bulb" moments in trying to understand why Athos in America happened....
But the wording of your post spoke so exclusively of the Elder Ephraim monastery in Goldendale, WA, that I took your post to speak primarily to your concern about them.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Elisha on October 08, 2008, 07:13:28 PM
To settle this with Fr. Luke, he is under Bp. Maxim because, because he is the rector of an Orthodox mission parish in the Serbian Western American Diocese.  He is under the Serbian American diocese, because he befriended Met. Amphilioje while studying at the seminary in Thessaloniki (despite growing up in an Antiochian, former Evangelical Orthodox parish), wanted to become a priest and submitted to said Serbian bishops since he liked how they do things.  Fr. Luke is a young, traditional minded priest and why he appears to have chosen Elder Ephraim as a spiritual father.

I think a lot of this about "Athos in America" because the Antiochian's accepted the EOC is bunch of silly speculation with no merit.

Ok, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on October 08, 2008, 09:35:53 PM
I think a lot of this about "Athos in America" because the Antiochian's accepted the EOC is bunch of silly speculation with no merit.
My sentiments exactly. ;)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on October 09, 2008, 12:04:17 AM
But I'm not talking about what the point of Great Lent is.  I'm talking about the ascetic practices of Lent, which are intended to be intense and not at all a warm, fuzzy version of anything.

Like I said in a previous thread, Fasting isn't about food; It's about giving up other passions like Christ when he went to the desert for 40 Days and withstood the temptations of Satan.  Yes, giving up passions produces an intense feeling and definitely not the warm fuzzies.  Denying the temptations/passions strengthens the soul to love the World - that was my point as well.   :)

But I don't think this is what Fr. Luke was talking about.  Besides, you're taking your own understanding of what the Orthodox faith is and projecting this onto Fr. Luke's bishop and making this to also be His Grace's belief.

I admit; I went a little out in left field regarding my understanding of the Orthodox faith and I apologize.   :)

But the wording of your post spoke so exclusively of the Elder Ephraim monastery in Goldendale, WA, that I took your post to speak primarily to your concern about them.

I was more concerned with why Father Luke didn't refer to his Church as a Serbian Orthodox Mission and I saw the link to the Goldendale Monastery as impetus for posting in the original location.  I apologize for any trouble I caused.   :)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Elisha on October 09, 2008, 01:34:14 AM

I was more concerned with why Father Luke didn't refer to his Church as a Serbian Orthodox Mission and I saw the link to the Goldendale Monastery as impetus for posting in the original location.  I apologize for any trouble I caused.   :)

Thank you. :)

I just read the article myself.  You were seriously reaching there.  If there is some conspiracy about the OP, this end sure ain't it.  You'll have to think up something else.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on October 09, 2008, 01:43:48 AM
Thank you. :)

I'm easy going and I readily admit my errors in judgment when they're pointed out to me.   ;)

I just read the article myself.  You were seriously reaching there.  If there is some conspiracy about the OP, this end sure ain't it.  You'll have to think up something else.

Gee, it's almost my bedtime - that will have to wait a while longer.   ;)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: antiderivative on October 23, 2008, 09:47:57 PM
Has anyone read the monk's side of the Rick Ross story?

http://www.athosinamerica.org/
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: GreekChef on October 23, 2008, 10:08:06 PM
I honestly don't really have an opinion on the Ephraimite monasteries, as I have had little contact with them... I just wanted to add another source to the discussion.  There used to be a website... www.concernedpoem.com (http://www.concernedpoem.com) (Concerned Parents Of Ephraimite Monastics), which was run by a coalition of parents of monastics in his monasteries who were concerned (obviously, from the name).  The last time I saw the site was a couple of years ago.  Oddly, the site is gone now.  I haven't been able to even find mention of the group, other than on pokrov.org.  If anyone finds more about this group, I would be interested in re-reading about what the issues were.  All I can remember about the site is that the main stories revolved around one specific novice (whose credibility was questionable), and the stories were primarily written by Theodore Kalmoukos (also of questionable credibility, in my view).  I remember thinking that they were blowing things way out of proportion and making a big deal where there was none. But I would be interested to know what has become of them.

If someone mentioned this group previously and I missed the post, I apologize!  I really just skimmed a lot of the thread, to be honest.  So if I'm repeating what's already been said, I apologize!
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on October 23, 2008, 10:32:54 PM
Has anyone read the monk's side of the Rick Ross story?

http://www.athosinamerica.org/

Very good, thorough article.  Thanks for sharing it.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: iustinos on January 26, 2010, 07:45:57 PM
At the risk of resurrecting a "hot" thread, I noticed that this thread is linked at the website of a new anti-Elder Ephraim website.  I don't have time to get into specifics, although I may some day, but so many of the teachings alleged against Elder Ephraim and those in the other GOA monasteries in this country are a problem of over-zealous, guru-seeking lay people that lack a basis in Orthodox teaching and Scriptural understanding.  Full disclosure:  my sons' godmother is Abbess Markella of Life-Giving Spring Monastery in Dunlap, California, an "Ephraimite" monastery.  I'm a former Catholic seminarian, now a lawyer.  We have visited Life-Giving Spring monastery numerous times.  I have also visited St. Anthony's where I spoke with Elder Ephraim and confessed to Fr. Paisios.  I have confessed to Fr. Paisios one other time and have spoken with him informally on one or two other occasions.  I have also visited St. Paraskevi's Monastery in Texas and spoke with Gerondissa Paraskevi there.  I have also had occasion to speak with Fr. Joseph from the monastery in Michigan a few times.  I also know the parents of three "Ephraimite" monastics and knew another before she became a novice.  Finally, my confessor (a parish priest) himself confesses to Fr. Paisios.

In all of my experiences with "Ephraimite" monastics, I have not experienced the various excesses alleged of them.  While they do have a particularly Athonite, and therefore, traditionalist Greek mentality, I have only benefitted from this.  The occasional advice given about my relationship with my wife---only ever given at my request---has been solid advice, very beneficial, and not inconsistent with advice from other "non-Ephraimites."  For example, recommending that just saying our daily prayers separately is insufficient; we should find time, even if briefly, to pray together every day.

But what I have seen, in particular from one person in our parish, is that certain Orthodox, sometimes converts, sometimes cradle, who experience a renaissance in their spiritual life but who have insecurities and a lack of basic education, will lach onto Elder Ephraim to an excess.  They will, through their lack of understanding of the lives of the Saints and the Church's theology, misinterpret what Elder Ephraim says and then repeat it as though the Gospel for everyone around.  This person in parish would hear the same thing that I heard from a monk or nun, and then subtley (and unconsciously) change it into something else.  She would then run around telling others, and thereby give them impression that the monastics are teaching something very different than what they are.  I suspect this happens quite often.

Now, I know that some will say that given my connections to the monasteries I am just an apologist and advocating, rather than being truthful (I've seen it alleged against others before).  Such is truly a cynical view and inconsistent with Christ's exhortations.  I've avoided getting into many specifics, but am happy to discuss further via private message.

I've noticed that if you search for commentary on the Orthodox Church online, you can find many unflattering commentaries by those that claim to either be in the Church or to have left the Church and even some by those who have only ever looked in from outside.  Probably anyone on this forum would read them and say that they do not correspond with the Orthodox Church we know and that the author suffers from a lack of understanding of our faith and piety.  I believe such is also the case with many commentaries on the monasteries available online.  No one should form a judgment as to the merit or lack of merit of Elder Ephraim, the monasteries, and their superiors without having first visited and discussed the matter with them.  Christian charity demands such.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: samkim on January 26, 2010, 08:15:16 PM
I really don't want to go through three pages of this thread. Can someone summarize for me the objections to St. Anthony's and Fr. Ephrem?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ozgeorge on January 26, 2010, 08:19:33 PM
I really don't want to go through three pages of this thread. Can someone summarize for me the objections to St. Anthony's and Fr. Ephrem?

I had to laugh when I read this! :D
What an age we live in! Here we are with an abbreviated three page list of people's opinions from different parts of the world and different times all combined into one relatively short thread- something which could never have been done before the Internet, and now, even this is too mundane and people want a summary of the summary! :D
I won't be sorry to leave this world!
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: jnorm888 on January 26, 2010, 08:39:35 PM
I really don't want to go through three pages of this thread. Can someone summarize for me the objections to St. Anthony's and Fr. Ephrem?

Some people don't like discipline....or they feel that religious groups shouldn't be real serious and about discipline. Everyone is not built the same and so for every person who hates religious discipline, there will be another person who will love it and thrive off it.





ICXC NIKA
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Anastasios on January 26, 2010, 08:43:20 PM
I really don't want to go through three pages of this thread. Can someone summarize for me the objections to St. Anthony's and Fr. Ephrem?

Fr Ephraim is actually a space alien and St Anthony's was built by the same people who built the pyramids and produced the movie Stargate. I think that's a pretty accurate summary.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Andrew21091 on January 26, 2010, 09:46:46 PM
The accusations against him and the monasteries are that they are trying to pollute the faith or something. What they say are lies and slander. The Elder Ephraim monasteries are traditional and they want Orthodoxy to be pure but those who are slaves to the world do not like this. I believe the accusations againts the monasteries are from parents who did not want their children to become monastics so they were convinced they were being brainwashed. One guy who went to St. Anthony's and became a novice left and said that they tried to brainwash him by making him go to church for long hours, having to do a cell rule, and working though I'm not sure what he was expecting going to a monastery. They think they are fanatical since they express a pure Orthodox spirit. What the slanderers of the Elder are afraid of is Orthodoxy. I'm sure all they want is to keep their churches as ethnic clubs and fight against Orthodoxy. The monasticism of the Elder Ephraim monasteries is the monasticism of the Fathers.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on January 26, 2010, 09:48:09 PM
I really don't want to go through three pages of this thread. Can someone summarize for me the objections to St. Anthony's and Fr. Ephrem?

Fr Ephraim is actually a space alien and St Anthony's was built by the same people who built the pyramids and produced the movie Stargate. I think that's a pretty accurate summary.
LOL. That's about it.

This is my favorite post:
So, what, Elder Ephraim should have pulled GOA's fat out of the fire?  Pray tell - why? I hardly see how GOA fiscal mismanagement should have any bearing whatsoever on the founding of monastic communities.

People stop going to Church and take busses to monasteries like the ones in Greece.

So, let's see...

1) In Phoenix I can go to the GOA Cathedral and endure a 20 minute monologue on the glories of all things Greek, where Christ is mentioned once in passing during the entire homily. Or, 2) I can go to St. Anthony's monastery, worship in one of it's three churches, and hear Christ proclaimed to the heavens...

Truly a difficult choice.  ::)



LOL.  Yes.  I will say that the followers of Ephraim are very Greek, but NOT ethnocentric.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Alveus Lacuna on January 27, 2010, 12:09:21 AM
St. Anthony's Monastery in Arizona is totally awesome and super-duper Orthodox.  And they're on the Revised Julian Calendar, which doesn't fit with the vibe there (being ultra-traditionalist), but whatever.  The only thing that seemed odd to me is that Elder Ephraim lives in some ridiculous palatial estate, but he seemed very humble and holy to me.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Riddikulus on January 27, 2010, 12:26:04 AM
The only thing I know about St Anthony's is that they were responsible for that ridiculous publication "Would You Like to Initiate Your
Children to Satanism", an inaccurate and alarmist ramble about the evils of Harry Potter and his creator.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: arimethea on January 27, 2010, 12:30:39 AM
Just thought I would share something with you all to ponder. When I visited Agios Oros in 1997 every monastery I visited there when they found out I was from America secluded me and would ask me one question before allowing me to stay; "What do you know of Ephraim?" Without a fault every monastery on the mountain had their guard up and when I asked who he was I was told to be weary of him.

Having visited some of the monasteries he has founded here in America I do not believe that all of them are bad and many are in fact filled with true monastics who are searching for salvation. As in all cases we must be aware of the wolf in sheep's clothing.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Iconodule on January 27, 2010, 12:33:23 AM
I visited Holy Protection Monastery in Pennsylvania... all I can say is that this place, to me, just radiates peace and kindness and I can't imagine them being connected with anything bad.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Anastasios on January 27, 2010, 10:04:54 AM
Forum posters,

It appears I inadvertently offended a poster by my response to samkim; said poster viewed my response as rude and patronizing.  My intent was not to insult samkim, but rather to use humor to point out that when you ask for a summary of a summary, you may end up getting a completely irrelevant and inaccurate summation. As some of you know, I have stated that I would like to see the level of discourse raised on this forum; I did not see my post as contradicting such stated goal but rather as using humor as a vehicle to communicate my point that we need to not always be looking for quick answers to complex issues.

For any offense caused anyone, I apologize.

Fr Anastasios
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on January 27, 2010, 10:14:31 AM
St. Anthony's Monastery in Arizona is totally awesome and super-duper Orthodox.  And they're on the Revised Julian Calendar, which doesn't fit with the vibe there (being ultra-traditionalist), but whatever.  The only thing that seemed odd to me is that Elder Ephraim lives in some ridiculous palatial estate, but he seemed very humble and holy to me.
I wonder if he lives there or receives there.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: FatherGiryus on January 27, 2010, 12:32:21 PM
I have never visited an Ephraimite monastery, but I do know them by their fruits, and I think I can say that, as with our parishes, the fruits are mixed.

On the one hand, they have helped many folks.  On the other hand, some of the advice they give is not appropriate to the people they give it to.  For example, I know of numerous divorces that have occured because one spouse is given marital advice that bring him/her into conflict with the other.  When you take a person raised as a nominal Orthodox and suddenly, all-at-once, dump a whole lot of discipline on them, they either run or go a bit nuts.

On Mt, Athos, there was a strict, but less severe, attitude.  For example, at one monastery the abbott, seeing that I had a wedding ring, began to berate me for wearing it as a clergyman.  He went on and on, and the poor monk assisting us raced to keep pace with the translation.  In the end, the translating monk looked at me (looking rather bewildered) and said, "Don't worry about it."  It was an opinion, one strongly held, but still only an opinion.  The monk knew about how things are done in America and that my wearing a ring was not impious here.  Essentially, I wasn't considered impious for not following the admonition.  Those who have had monastic experiences here in America have told me that some monastics expect every jot and tittle of their opinions be fulfilled.

In defense of St. Anthony's Monastery, they have taken up the very difficult and much-needed task of building an understanding of Byzantine music in English.  I am very grateful that the monastery has taken a more pro-English appoach which was different from when they were first established as Greek-only institutions.  I have been told the original idea of keeping them all Greek language was to ensure that if the monasteries were driven out by necessity, the monks could be easily assimilated into Mt. Athos or other Greek monasteries.  However, now that they have become well-established and are not going anywhere, they are looking to minister to the Church here in America.

While I have a great deal of respect for monastics and monasticism, I think it is important not to idealize them.  They are imperfect and tempted as we all are.  I would be cautious about taking advice from someone who has no experience in the area in which he speaks.  For example, when I am asked to give marital advice, I always begin with a disclaimer that I am not a couselor and that I can only speak of my own experience in marriage.

And, one must take responsibility for the advice one is given.  Many people want a mind-reading elder who will save them the great hassle of having to peer within themselves and discover, through tears, what it is that ills them.  Clarvoyance is only helpful to kick-start a soddened conscience, but reliance on it is laziness.  We need to discover our inner world for ourselves.

Anyway, that's my 2¢.

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Michael L on January 27, 2010, 02:05:49 PM
I think that the bad advice that is given could be miscommunication, for example:

An overzealous visitor to the monastery will ask Elder Ephraim for his blessing to sell his home and move near the monastery when The Elder gives a blessing for the visitor to do so. Said Visitor misconstrues this blessing as Elder Ephraim advised me to sell my home and move near the monastery.

See the difference!
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: iustinos on January 27, 2010, 03:28:18 PM
Fr. Giryus--Thank you for your comment.
It reminded me of now-Metropolitan Jonah's article "Five Good Reasons NOT To Visit A Monastery" which he wrote while abbott of St. John's Monastery, linked below.
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1403441/posts

Asking your blessing.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Schultz on January 27, 2010, 03:47:17 PM
And, one must take responsibility for the advice one is given.  Many people want a mind-reading elder who will save them the great hassle of having to peer within themselves and discover, through tears, what it is that ills them.  Clarvoyance is only helpful to kick-start a soddened conscience, but reliance on it is laziness.  We need to discover our inner world for ourselves.

Anyway, that's my 2¢.

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Bless, Father!

The bolded portion is one of the wisest things ever posted on this website, IMHO.  Thank you.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: FatherGiryus on January 27, 2010, 04:21:59 PM
I think that the bad advice that is given could be miscommunication, for example:

An overzealous visitor to the monastery will ask Elder Ephraim for his blessing to sell his home and move near the monastery when The Elder gives a blessing for the visitor to do so. Said Visitor misconstrues this blessing as Elder Ephraim advised me to sell my home and move near the monastery.

See the difference!


Absolutely.  This is one of the great dangers in giving advice, particularly when it isn't written down.  People hear what they want and remember what they want, and most folks are too scared to be so honest as to remember exactly what they are told.

Met. Jonah's article is one of the best I think on the topic.  Russian now is struggling with a 'mini-staretz' phenomenon in which many priests think they have the right to direct every detail of their parishioners' lives.  It is very sad, and borders on heresy.

I say 'heresy' because free-will is a DOGMA of the Church (read about the two wills of Jesus Christ if you think I am kidding).  Even when we obey, it is a free will decision done with mindfulness and an understanding.  Therefore, a monk who submits himself to obedience does so voluntarily.  When his abbot asks him to do something sinful, the monk can refuse if it is a sin and brings harm to others.

Very often, people ask for a 'blessing' as a magic talisman against failure.  Then, when they do fail, they can blame someone else.  I've been asked to 'bless' major decisions of parishioners and have refused, though I have no problem discussing the issue and going through their choices and the facts.  But, if I bless something in the name of God and the person fails, it can become a stumbling block to their relationship with the Church.  So, I tell people they still need to take their chances and realize that failure is always an option, but, in the hands of God, it is never a waste.  Most of the blessings I have now are either the direct or the indirect results of failure.

Your point is well taken about twisting facts.  If you want a scary book about the topic, read People of the Lie by Scott Peck.

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: monkvn on January 30, 2010, 01:50:11 AM
Actually, Fr. Panteleimon of Brookline, another disciple of Elder Joseph, was first for found a genuine Athonite Monastery in North America, in the 1960s. Of course, his reputation was self-destructed, but he did found the first Athonite Monastery on this continent. About the opinions toward the monasteries, one might bear in mind that monasticism has also served as a safety valve for Gnostic tendencies in the Church. People with such an orientation often become monastics and monastery founders. It is clear historically that Manichean Monasticism (which was older than Orthodox monasticism) did influence many ascetic writings and concepts in the Orthodox Church. Monasticism is a necessary aspect of Christian life, but marriage is equally a path of salvation. The Church would not be complete without both active marriage and active monasticism.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Alveus Lacuna on January 30, 2010, 02:21:26 AM
Welcome to the forum.  Just skimming through Elder Ephraim's writings over the last few days, but especuially his writings on paradise, he actually seems quite "gnostic" in his negative portrayal of material reality, seeming to feel that every aspect of this world is a lie and all we can do his look toward the better spiritual world.  One free of flesh and corruption.  Maybe I was misreading him, but I just kept waiting to read something about returning to the pleroma.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: FatherGiryus on January 30, 2010, 12:39:10 PM
Welcome to the forum.  Just skimming through Elder Ephraim's writings over the last few days, but especuially his writings on paradise, he actually seems quite "gnostic" in his negative portrayal of material reality, seeming to feel that every aspect of this world is a lie and all we can do his look toward the better spiritual world.  One free of flesh and corruption.  Maybe I was misreading him, but I just kept waiting to read something about returning to the pleroma.

I would be cautious about leveling the charge of heresy (albeit based on 'skimming') against anyone in the Church without substantial proof.  'Seems' and 'seeming' imply an uncertainty of content, which would be better served with a few actual citations of the offending passages rather than giving the appearance of bearing false witness.

Pardon my sensitivity, but I am one who has been accused of things based on others' interpretations of 'seeming' which has led to all kinds of trouble.  I have not read anything of Elder Ephraim, but am taking issue with how the implication of heresy is being made here.

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Iconodule on January 30, 2010, 01:18:29 PM
I think the accusation of Gnosticism tends to get thrown around rather liberally these days, often with little warrant. One can read many passages in the ascetic writings of the saints, such as the Ladder of Divine Ascent, which might sound "Gnostic" at first glance to some people. We will be resurrected with our bodies, but there is a very real sense that we are at war with the flesh, insofar as we are subjugated to it when bodily appetites override our higher faculties.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: observer on January 30, 2010, 04:24:16 PM
What is active marriage -am I missing something?  I still take to heart the words of Elder John of Varlaam. "Don't trust yourself this side of the grave".
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Alveus Lacuna on January 30, 2010, 11:47:32 PM
I would be cautious about leveling the charge of heresy (albeit based on 'skimming') against anyone in the Church without substantial proof.  'Seems' and 'seeming' imply an uncertainty of content, which would be better served with a few actual citations of the offending passages rather than giving the appearance of bearing false witness.

Forgive my passive accusation.  I fully revoke it as it was not qualified nor called for.  I was just making a careless comment.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Rosehip on January 31, 2010, 12:04:44 AM
Quote
I say 'heresy' because free-will is a DOGMA of the Church (read about the two wills of Jesus Christ if you think I am kidding).  Even when we obey, it is a free will decision done with mindfulness and an understanding.  Therefore, a monk who submits himself to obedience does so voluntarily.  When his abbot asks him to do something sinful, the monk can refuse if it is a sin and brings harm to others.

Father, I always very much enjoy reading your posts, and this little snippet is no exception. I remember, upon reading something of the unfortunate history of Fr. Panteleimon and HTM, and of some of the terrible scandals which occured there, being amazed at the fact that the young men agreed to go along with these repugnant sins even ONCE without immediately having grave doubts and loud alarm bells ringing in their heads. Such behaviour is befitting  a cult, not a respected church. I could never understand why anyone in their right mind would tolerate such behaviour from a leader if one was truly a christian and had even read the NT slightly...
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Marina14 on January 31, 2010, 09:46:16 PM
I just spend about 3 hours reading through the 3 pages of posts and reading the linked websites and link YouTube Videos and let me say: WOW!!!

I have visited 3 of Elder Ephraim's Monasteries. The first in North Carolina while I was a catchecumin. Then the one in CA after I'd converted and it was there I was told about St. Anthony's. I went to St. Anthony's in AR. I've been back to the one in CA several times and was baptized and chrimated there with my daughter since although we'd been brought into the Orthodox Church we'd never before been actually baptized. This was something I'd felt in my heart was lacking and was relieved when the Monks and Nuns from AR & CA told me it should and could be remedied.

I've had nothing but WONDERFUL experiences at each of the monasteries. I'd LOVE to be able to go back to St. Anthony's when I was there I confessed to Elder Paisius as Elder Ephraim had to address something and could not see me. I was only able to be there for less than 24 hours - drove back & forth took more time than I spent there. Totally worth it though! :)

I read the website linked which was an interview with the monk-priest whose parents have launched all the controversy. Sounds like he deeply loves his parents, but his parents were not practicing Orthodox and were/are deadset against their son's choice to be a monk. Reading it, I'm reminded of many Saints' lives I've read that their parents were deadset against them becoming Christians. Exactly the same.

I also noticed that those who have posted anything negative here about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries have NEVER visited one. I agree with others here that those how have never gone should GO! They are beautiful and soul enriching. Nothing negative about them. (Although being afraid of dogs, I didn't like the idea of dogs at the NC Monastery - but that is a problem with ME, not the Monastery!)

Anyone who hasn't yet, please do yourself a true spiritual favor and visit one of Elder Ephraim's Monasteries! :)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ozgeorge on January 31, 2010, 09:56:26 PM
I read the website linked which was an interview with the monk-priest whose parents have launched all the controversy. Sounds like he deeply loves his parents, but his parents were not practicing Orthodox and were/are deadset against their son's choice to be a monk. Reading it, I'm reminded of many Saints' lives I've read that their parents were deadset against them becoming Christians. Exactly the same.

I don't think we can assume that the parents of the monk are "not practising Orthodox". Nor can we assume that "becoming a Christian" is equivalent to "becoming a monk".
I think these kinds of equations ("Practising Christian = Monk") are the problem.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Iconodule on January 31, 2010, 09:57:54 PM
I read the website linked which was an interview with the monk-priest whose parents have launched all the controversy. Sounds like he deeply loves his parents, but his parents were not practicing Orthodox and were/are deadset against their son's choice to be a monk. Reading it, I'm reminded of many Saints' lives I've read that their parents were deadset against them becoming Christians. Exactly the same.

I don't think we can assume that the parents of the monk are "not practising Orthodox". Nor can we assume that "becoming a Christian" is equivalent to "becoming a monk".
I think these kinds of equations ("Practising Christian = Monk") are the problem.


Reading/ hearing the parents' words, it became apparent to me that they knew very little about Orthodoxy or Orthodox monasticism.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ozgeorge on January 31, 2010, 10:06:22 PM
Reading/ hearing the parents' words, it became apparent to me that they knew very little about Orthodoxy or Orthodox monasticism.
What specifically did they say to make you think they knew little about Orthodoxy?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Marina14 on January 31, 2010, 11:37:53 PM
I read the website linked which was an interview with the monk-priest whose parents have launched all the controversy. Sounds like he deeply loves his parents, but his parents were not practicing Orthodox and were/are deadset against their son's choice to be a monk. Reading it, I'm reminded of many Saints' lives I've read that their parents were deadset against them becoming Christians. Exactly the same.

I don't think we can assume that the parents of the monk are "not practising Orthodox". Nor can we assume that "becoming a Christian" is equivalent to "becoming a monk".
I think these kinds of equations ("Practising Christian = Monk") are the problem.


It's not an assumption that the parents are not practicing Orthodox...the witnesses of the parents, their own children, state that they never fasted, never confessed (save the mother once & her husband was upset by it & had her stop), they had no icon corner, did not pray, father announced after retirement/reading the Bible with his free time that he did not believe in a Christian God, etc.

Some of those Saints I have read about not only had parents become upset like the priest/monk's parents when they became Christians, but some of the Saints from Christian families became upset when their daughter's became nuns. The reaction of the parents were the same. Obiously becoming a monk or a nun is a much deeper spiritual step then becoming a Christian.

I did not make an equation of becoming a Christian with becoming a Monastic, but I did make an equation between the negative reaction of the parents in those situations.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on January 31, 2010, 11:47:59 PM
I read the website linked which was an interview with the monk-priest whose parents have launched all the controversy. Sounds like he deeply loves his parents, but his parents were not practicing Orthodox and were/are deadset against their son's choice to be a monk. Reading it, I'm reminded of many Saints' lives I've read that their parents were deadset against them becoming Christians. Exactly the same.

I don't think we can assume that the parents of the monk are "not practising Orthodox". Nor can we assume that "becoming a Christian" is equivalent to "becoming a monk".
I think these kinds of equations ("Practising Christian = Monk") are the problem.


It's not an assumption that the parents are not practicing Orthodox...the witnesses of the parents, their own children, state that they never fasted, never confessed (save the mother once & her husband was upset by it & had her stop), they had no icon corner, did not pray, father announced after retirement/reading the Bible with his free time that he did not believe in a Christian God, etc.

Some of those Saints I have read about not only had parents become upset like the priest/monk's parents when they became Christians, but some of the Saints from Christian families became upset when their daughter's became nuns. The reaction of the parents were the same. Obiously becoming a monk or a nun is a much deeper spiritual step then becoming a Christian.
Wrong.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Marina14 on January 31, 2010, 11:53:19 PM
I read the website linked which was an interview with the monk-priest whose parents have launched all the controversy. Sounds like he deeply loves his parents, but his parents were not practicing Orthodox and were/are deadset against their son's choice to be a monk. Reading it, I'm reminded of many Saints' lives I've read that their parents were deadset against them becoming Christians. Exactly the same.

I don't think we can assume that the parents of the monk are "not practising Orthodox". Nor can we assume that "becoming a Christian" is equivalent to "becoming a monk".
I think these kinds of equations ("Practising Christian = Monk") are the problem.


It's not an assumption that the parents are not practicing Orthodox...the witnesses of the parents, their own children, state that they never fasted, never confessed (save the mother once & her husband was upset by it & had her stop), they had no icon corner, did not pray, father announced after retirement/reading the Bible with his free time that he did not believe in a Christian God, etc.

Some of those Saints I have read about not only had parents become upset like the priest/monk's parents when they became Christians, but some of the Saints from Christian families became upset when their daughter's became nuns. The reaction of the parents were the same. Obiously becoming a monk or a nun is a much deeper spiritual step then becoming a Christian.
Wrong.

Okay, I take it you reject the Orthodox teachings concerning Monasticism.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on February 01, 2010, 12:08:25 AM
I read the website linked which was an interview with the monk-priest whose parents have launched all the controversy. Sounds like he deeply loves his parents, but his parents were not practicing Orthodox and were/are deadset against their son's choice to be a monk. Reading it, I'm reminded of many Saints' lives I've read that their parents were deadset against them becoming Christians. Exactly the same.

I don't think we can assume that the parents of the monk are "not practising Orthodox". Nor can we assume that "becoming a Christian" is equivalent to "becoming a monk".
I think these kinds of equations ("Practising Christian = Monk") are the problem.


It's not an assumption that the parents are not practicing Orthodox...the witnesses of the parents, their own children, state that they never fasted, never confessed (save the mother once & her husband was upset by it & had her stop), they had no icon corner, did not pray, father announced after retirement/reading the Bible with his free time that he did not believe in a Christian God, etc.

Some of those Saints I have read about not only had parents become upset like the priest/monk's parents when they became Christians, but some of the Saints from Christian families became upset when their daughter's became nuns. The reaction of the parents were the same. Obiously becoming a monk or a nun is a much deeper spiritual step then becoming a Christian.
Wrong.
Rather than post a smart-alecky one-word reply that calls this belief wrong, why don't you explain for us how this belief is wrong?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on February 01, 2010, 12:08:40 AM
I read the website linked which was an interview with the monk-priest whose parents have launched all the controversy. Sounds like he deeply loves his parents, but his parents were not practicing Orthodox and were/are deadset against their son's choice to be a monk. Reading it, I'm reminded of many Saints' lives I've read that their parents were deadset against them becoming Christians. Exactly the same.

I don't think we can assume that the parents of the monk are "not practising Orthodox". Nor can we assume that "becoming a Christian" is equivalent to "becoming a monk".
I think these kinds of equations ("Practising Christian = Monk") are the problem.


It's not an assumption that the parents are not practicing Orthodox...the witnesses of the parents, their own children, state that they never fasted, never confessed (save the mother once & her husband was upset by it & had her stop), they had no icon corner, did not pray, father announced after retirement/reading the Bible with his free time that he did not believe in a Christian God, etc.

Some of those Saints I have read about not only had parents become upset like the priest/monk's parents when they became Christians, but some of the Saints from Christian families became upset when their daughter's became nuns. The reaction of the parents were the same. Obiously becoming a monk or a nun is a much deeper spiritual step then becoming a Christian.
Wrong.

Okay, I take it you reject the Orthodox teachings concerning Monasticism.
No.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: LBK on February 01, 2010, 12:08:59 AM
My dear Marina, while I know that there are nominally Orthodox parents who are alarmed at their children showing a desire to be monastics, there are also good numbers who are indeed practicing Orthodox, who, nevertheless, are concerned when their child expresses a wish to be a monk or a nun, simply because of the age of the child (anywhere from early teens to early twenties).

In quite a few cases, this can be simply a faddish idea on the part of the child/teenager, and it is quite proper for a parent versed in the faith to want to get to the bottom of this idea. Is it simply a teenage phase, or a true spiritual calling? Experienced abbots and abbesses are pretty good at sifting out youngsters who have misguided youthful idealism, and those who have a true spiritual calling.

I speak from experience here. These are but two examples:

1: Someone close to my family, who, even as a child, was drawn to the life of the Church, ran off to a monastery when he was 15 or 16; his father soon worked out that a life in the world was futile for his first-born son. Not an easy decision for any father or family to come to terms with. The teenage novice not only became a monk, but has been, for quite some years, an abbot. He is now in his late fifties. It would not surprise me if he is appointed as a bishop before long.

2: Another friend, very zealous in his Orthodoxy, explored monastic possibilities after the breakup of his marriage. He entered a monastery as a novice (without great resistance from his family), spent a few months there, but the wisdom and discernment of the abbot carried a lot of weight. This young man was simply on the rebound from his failed relationship, and thought that monasticism was the answer. This lad soon returned to the world.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on February 01, 2010, 12:09:33 AM
I read the website linked which was an interview with the monk-priest whose parents have launched all the controversy. Sounds like he deeply loves his parents, but his parents were not practicing Orthodox and were/are deadset against their son's choice to be a monk. Reading it, I'm reminded of many Saints' lives I've read that their parents were deadset against them becoming Christians. Exactly the same.

I don't think we can assume that the parents of the monk are "not practising Orthodox". Nor can we assume that "becoming a Christian" is equivalent to "becoming a monk".
I think these kinds of equations ("Practising Christian = Monk") are the problem.


It's not an assumption that the parents are not practicing Orthodox...the witnesses of the parents, their own children, state that they never fasted, never confessed (save the mother once & her husband was upset by it & had her stop), they had no icon corner, did not pray, father announced after retirement/reading the Bible with his free time that he did not believe in a Christian God, etc.

Some of those Saints I have read about not only had parents become upset like the priest/monk's parents when they became Christians, but some of the Saints from Christian families became upset when their daughter's became nuns. The reaction of the parents were the same. Obiously becoming a monk or a nun is a much deeper spiritual step then becoming a Christian.
Wrong.
Rather than post a smart-alecky one-word reply that calls this belief wrong, why don't you explain for us how this belief is wrong?
Patience.  It's coming.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ozgeorge on February 01, 2010, 12:11:56 AM
Okay, I take it you reject the Orthodox teachings concerning Monasticism.
Marina, perhaps I'm wrong, but you seem to think that there is some difference between being a Christian and being a monastic, as though "being a Christian" is "the bare minimum" and "being a monastic" is "the ultimate aim" or "the Christian life lived perfectly".
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Marina14 on February 01, 2010, 12:19:06 AM
Okay, I take it you reject the Orthodox teachings concerning Monasticism.
Marina, perhaps I'm wrong, but you seem to think that there is some difference between being a Christian and being a monastic, as though "being a Christian" is "the bare minimum" and "being a monastic" is "the ultimate aim" or "the Christian life lived perfectly".

No.

Everyone is called to be a Christian. Out of Christians, some are called to Marriage and some to Monasticism as their path to theosis. St. Paul was clear that the monastic life is the higher of the two callings because their focus on Christ is undistracted by the matters of this life. The ulitmate aim, as you put it, of both paths is complete union with God for all eternity.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on February 01, 2010, 12:32:25 AM
Okay, I take it you reject the Orthodox teachings concerning Monasticism.
Marina, perhaps I'm wrong, but you seem to think that there is some difference between being a Christian and being a monastic, as though "being a Christian" is "the bare minimum" and "being a monastic" is "the ultimate aim" or "the Christian life lived perfectly".

No.

Everyone is called to be a Christian. Out of Christians, some are called to Marriage and some to Monasticism as their path to theosis. St. Paul was clear that the monastic life is the higher of the two callings because their focus on Christ is undistracted by the matters of this life. The ulitmate aim, as you put it, of both paths is complete union with God for all eternity.

Can you explain why Our Lord called married men as his disciples and Apostles?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Marina14 on February 01, 2010, 01:00:30 AM
Okay, I take it you reject the Orthodox teachings concerning Monasticism.
Marina, perhaps I'm wrong, but you seem to think that there is some difference between being a Christian and being a monastic, as though "being a Christian" is "the bare minimum" and "being a monastic" is "the ultimate aim" or "the Christian life lived perfectly".

No.

Everyone is called to be a Christian. Out of Christians, some are called to Marriage and some to Monasticism as their path to theosis. St. Paul was clear that the monastic life is the higher of the two callings because their focus on Christ is undistracted by the matters of this life. The ulitmate aim, as you put it, of both paths is complete union with God for all eternity.

Can you explain why Our Lord called married men as his disciples and Apostles?

Jesus called both married and unmarried men then as disciples and Apostles as well as now to the priesthood. But only unmarried men are called to become Bishops.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on February 01, 2010, 01:20:18 AM
Okay, I take it you reject the Orthodox teachings concerning Monasticism.
Marina, perhaps I'm wrong, but you seem to think that there is some difference between being a Christian and being a monastic, as though "being a Christian" is "the bare minimum" and "being a monastic" is "the ultimate aim" or "the Christian life lived perfectly".

No.

Everyone is called to be a Christian. Out of Christians, some are called to Marriage and some to Monasticism as their path to theosis. St. Paul was clear that the monastic life is the higher of the two callings because their focus on Christ is undistracted by the matters of this life. The ulitmate aim, as you put it, of both paths is complete union with God for all eternity.

Can you explain why Our Lord called married men as his disciples and Apostles?

Jesus called both married and unmarried men then as disciples and Apostles as well as now to the priesthood. But only unmarried men are called to become Bishops.

How did a Bishop require to be an unmarried man today?  Was that restriction always true?  There are threads on this board which discuss the marriage requirements for the episcopacy.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on February 01, 2010, 01:26:02 AM
Okay, I take it you reject the Orthodox teachings concerning Monasticism.
Marina, perhaps I'm wrong, but you seem to think that there is some difference between being a Christian and being a monastic, as though "being a Christian" is "the bare minimum" and "being a monastic" is "the ultimate aim" or "the Christian life lived perfectly".

No.

Everyone is called to be a Christian. Out of Christians, some are called to Marriage and some to Monasticism as their path to theosis. St. Paul was clear that the monastic life is the higher of the two callings because their focus on Christ is undistracted by the matters of this life. The ulitmate aim, as you put it, of both paths is complete union with God for all eternity.

Can you explain why Our Lord called married men as his disciples and Apostles?

Jesus called both married and unmarried men then as disciples and Apostles as well as now to the priesthood. But only unmarried men are called to become Bishops.
That's now, not then.

Were the married disciples less than disciples because they were married?  Where does that leave St. Peter, their chief?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on February 01, 2010, 01:54:38 AM
Okay, I take it you reject the Orthodox teachings concerning Monasticism.
Marina, perhaps I'm wrong, but you seem to think that there is some difference between being a Christian and being a monastic, as though "being a Christian" is "the bare minimum" and "being a monastic" is "the ultimate aim" or "the Christian life lived perfectly".

No.

Everyone is called to be a Christian. Out of Christians, some are called to Marriage and some to Monasticism as their path to theosis. St. Paul was clear that the monastic life is the higher of the two callings because their focus on Christ is undistracted by the matters of this life. The ulitmate aim, as you put it, of both paths is complete union with God for all eternity.

Can you explain why Our Lord called married men as his disciples and Apostles?

Jesus called both married and unmarried men then as disciples and Apostles as well as now to the priesthood. But only unmarried men are called to become Bishops.
That's now, not then.

Were the married disciples less than disciples because they were married?  Where does that leave St. Peter, their chief?
Can anyone involved in this tangent tell me what this has to do with the specifics of the Elder Ephraim Monasteries?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on February 01, 2010, 02:14:15 AM
Well, a group of Greek Orthodox Christians in Chicago have created a website detailing concerns about Elder Ephraim.  No one identifies themselves on the site; there exists a Facebook group; take it for what it's worth:

http://gotruthreform.org/home/ (http://gotruthreform.org/home/)

Mission Statement:

Quote
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.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on February 01, 2010, 02:15:40 AM
Okay, I take it you reject the Orthodox teachings concerning Monasticism.
Marina, perhaps I'm wrong, but you seem to think that there is some difference between being a Christian and being a monastic, as though "being a Christian" is "the bare minimum" and "being a monastic" is "the ultimate aim" or "the Christian life lived perfectly".

No.

Everyone is called to be a Christian. Out of Christians, some are called to Marriage and some to Monasticism as their path to theosis. St. Paul was clear that the monastic life is the higher of the two callings because their focus on Christ is undistracted by the matters of this life. The ulitmate aim, as you put it, of both paths is complete union with God for all eternity.

Can you explain why Our Lord called married men as his disciples and Apostles?

Jesus called both married and unmarried men then as disciples and Apostles as well as now to the priesthood. But only unmarried men are called to become Bishops.
That's now, not then.

Were the married disciples less than disciples because they were married?  Where does that leave St. Peter, their chief?
Can anyone involved in this tangent tell me what this has to do with the specifics of the Elder Ephraim Monasteries?

If a monastic tells a man to leave his wife or tells a single man not to marry, does that go against what Christ and St. Paul taught?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: FatherGiryus on February 01, 2010, 03:06:33 AM
Having had an in-depth experience with an 'angry parent' of a monastic, I found that most of the collective angst came from families where there was either only one or two children.  The parents I encountered had certain expectations of their children which monasticism interfered with (the above-mentioned parent had detailed requirements for his son to have girlfriends, get married, raise grandchildren for the parent, go to college, build a career, take over the family business... essentially return the 'investment' made by the parent in the child).

Most of the rage comes from modern families with few children.  Back in the old days when families were larger, parents were less upset by a child going off to a monastery or to sea, because their worldly expectations (or spiritual ones for that matter) could still be met.  One child might be handicapped, but there were six or seven other healthy ones.  Not so big of a deal.

The modern family is far more vested in the few children it produces, and so parents are far more demanding of the few children they have.  I think this is the untold side of the story, but it seems to be a theme I have seen over and over again.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: recent convert on February 01, 2010, 08:11:58 AM
Well, a group of Greek Orthodox Christians in Chicago have created a website detailing concerns about Elder Ephraim.  No one identifies themselves on the site; there exists a Facebook group; take it for what it's worth:

http://gotruthreform.org/home/ (http://gotruthreform.org/home/)

Mission Statement:

Quote
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.
Their website has nothing of substance so I suspect that this is some contingent that has an interest in smearing elder Ephraim's monasteries. The one I have visited near White Haven, Pa. (Hagia Skepe) receives many visitors, is welcoming, and traditional. Some lay blogs or websites  like Mark Stokoe investigate valid wrongdoing but this one seems suspect and lax in even posting content (which is probably for the better).
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on February 01, 2010, 11:17:49 AM
Well, a group of Greek Orthodox Christians in Chicago have created a website detailing concerns about Elder Ephraim.  No one identifies themselves on the site; there exists a Facebook group; take it for what it's worth:

http://gotruthreform.org/home/ (http://gotruthreform.org/home/)

Mission Statement:

Quote
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.
What does this prove?  That some people have a problem with the Ephraimite Monasteries is a given.  That they really should, however, remains to be seen.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on February 01, 2010, 11:18:33 AM
Okay, I take it you reject the Orthodox teachings concerning Monasticism.
Marina, perhaps I'm wrong, but you seem to think that there is some difference between being a Christian and being a monastic, as though "being a Christian" is "the bare minimum" and "being a monastic" is "the ultimate aim" or "the Christian life lived perfectly".

No.

Everyone is called to be a Christian. Out of Christians, some are called to Marriage and some to Monasticism as their path to theosis. St. Paul was clear that the monastic life is the higher of the two callings because their focus on Christ is undistracted by the matters of this life. The ulitmate aim, as you put it, of both paths is complete union with God for all eternity.

Can you explain why Our Lord called married men as his disciples and Apostles?

Jesus called both married and unmarried men then as disciples and Apostles as well as now to the priesthood. But only unmarried men are called to become Bishops.
That's now, not then.

Were the married disciples less than disciples because they were married?  Where does that leave St. Peter, their chief?
Can anyone involved in this tangent tell me what this has to do with the specifics of the Elder Ephraim Monasteries?

If a monastic tells a man to leave his wife or tells a single man not to marry, does that go against what Christ and St. Paul taught?
What's the context of the advice?  Without this I am not able to offer even the least jot or tittle of judgment of the advice given, IF this advice was ever really given.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on February 01, 2010, 12:51:07 PM
Okay, I take it you reject the Orthodox teachings concerning Monasticism.
Marina, perhaps I'm wrong, but you seem to think that there is some difference between being a Christian and being a monastic, as though "being a Christian" is "the bare minimum" and "being a monastic" is "the ultimate aim" or "the Christian life lived perfectly".

No.

Everyone is called to be a Christian. Out of Christians, some are called to Marriage and some to Monasticism as their path to theosis. St. Paul was clear that the monastic life is the higher of the two callings because their focus on Christ is undistracted by the matters of this life. The ulitmate aim, as you put it, of both paths is complete union with God for all eternity.

Can you explain why Our Lord called married men as his disciples and Apostles?

Jesus called both married and unmarried men then as disciples and Apostles as well as now to the priesthood. But only unmarried men are called to become Bishops.
That's now, not then.

Were the married disciples less than disciples because they were married?  Where does that leave St. Peter, their chief?
Can anyone involved in this tangent tell me what this has to do with the specifics of the Elder Ephraim Monasteries?

If a monastic tells a man to leave his wife or tells a single man not to marry, does that go against what Christ and St. Paul taught?
What's the context of the advice?  Without this I am not able to offer even the least jot or tittle of judgment of the advice given, IF this advice was ever really given.

This thread was nice and quiet until people started digging it up again.  I thought the context quoted by Marina14 was adequate for Isa and I to respond to.  The highlighted text below has been marked red for my understanding of the context.

Quote
Everyone is called to be a Christian. Out of Christians, some are called to Marriage and some to Monasticism as their path to theosis. St. Paul was clear that the monastic life is the higher of the two callings because their focus on Christ is undistracted by the matters of this life. The ulitmate aim, as you put it, of both paths is complete union with God for all eternity.

Not every Christian is called to marriage nor is every Christian called to monasticism.  Monastics have no business telling people any differently and/or convincing them otherwise.  People have free will not to accept marriage or to accept monasticism and I surely don't need a marketing pitch from a monastic whether it comes to marriage, monasticism or buying stock in Toyota.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on February 01, 2010, 12:58:58 PM
Their website has nothing of substance so I suspect that this is some contingent that has an interest in smearing elder Ephraim's monasteries. The one I have visited near White Haven, Pa. (Hagia Skepe) receives many visitors, is welcoming, and traditional. Some lay blogs or websites  like Mark Stokoe investigate valid wrongdoing but this one seems suspect and lax in even posting content (which is probably for the better).

#12 on their web links points to an Elder Ephraim Monastery outside of Athens, Greece.  To me, this website feels like some kind of straw man (if that's the right term) set up to record names and e-mail addresses of those who make allegations against Elder Ephraim and possibly as a response against Met. Iakovos as evident by the bolded text.

Quote
12.One can ask why concerned Orthodox Christians have taken their time and resources to start this website. There is an excellent article that discusses the need of the laity to educate and protect the faith. It also addresses issues such as “Can the laity (the members of the Church who are not ordained into the priesthood) involve itself in matters of the Faith? Can laypeople who are not empowered to officiate in Sacraments of the Church censure Bishops when those Bishops deviate from the truth? How justified are they who maintain an indifferent stance behind the backs of their Priests and Spiritual Fathers when the teaching and the Faith of the Church are being distorted, with the excuse that their Leaders and their Spiritual Fathers likewise do not witness and confess the truth of Orthodoxy because “they have undergone something human”? These questions are answered in an article that can be found at the following link:http://www.impantokratoros.gr/D1C49130.en.aspx

source (http://gotruthreform.org/links-to-informational-websites/)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on February 01, 2010, 01:08:01 PM
Having had an in-depth experience with an 'angry parent' of a monastic, I found that most of the collective angst came from families where there was either only one or two children.  The parents I encountered had certain expectations of their children which monasticism interfered with (the above-mentioned parent had detailed requirements for his son to have girlfriends, get married, raise grandchildren for the parent, go to college, build a career, take over the family business... essentially return the 'investment' made by the parent in the child).

Most of the rage comes from modern families with few children.  Back in the old days when families were larger, parents were less upset by a child going off to a monastery or to sea, because their worldly expectations (or spiritual ones for that matter) could still be met.  One child might be handicapped, but there were six or seven other healthy ones.  Not so big of a deal.

The modern family is far more vested in the few children it produces, and so parents are far more demanding of the few children they have.  I think this is the untold side of the story, but it seems to be a theme I have seen over and over again.


I think this coupled with such absurdities as child beauty pageants, schools to get on the right waiting list and the overscheduled child.

It seems the richer we become, the more impoverished we are. As Mother Theresa said "It is a poverty to think that a child must die to preserve your lifestyle."
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Rosehip on February 01, 2010, 01:24:18 PM
Having had an in-depth experience with an 'angry parent' of a monastic, I found that most of the collective angst came from families where there was either only one or two children.  The parents I encountered had certain expectations of their children which monasticism interfered with (the above-mentioned parent had detailed requirements for his son to have girlfriends, get married, raise grandchildren for the parent, go to college, build a career, take over the family business... essentially return the 'investment' made by the parent in the child).

Most of the rage comes from modern families with few children.  Back in the old days when families were larger, parents were less upset by a child going off to a monastery or to sea, because their worldly expectations (or spiritual ones for that matter) could still be met.  One child might be handicapped, but there were six or seven other healthy ones.  Not so big of a deal.

The modern family is far more vested in the few children it produces, and so parents are far more demanding of the few children they have.  I think this is the untold side of the story, but it seems to be a theme I have seen over and over again.


Excellent and commonsensical post! I think the same thing applies to parental reactions to their child's  homosexuality. If they had several other children, perhaps the blow wouldn't be as harsh. But since most people these days only have one or two, the announcement brings, in a sense, a death to many hopes and dreams for the child.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: FatherGiryus on February 01, 2010, 01:28:49 PM

Not every Christian is called to marriage nor is every Christian called to monasticism.  Monastics have no business telling people any differently and/or convincing them otherwise.  People have free will not to accept marriage or to accept monasticism and I surely don't need a marketing pitch from a monastic whether it comes to marriage, monasticism or buying stock in Toyota.


Maybe I'm mistaken, but if monastics are equal to lay people and you ban monastics from giving advice or voicing their opinions, does it necessarily follow that lay people should also refrain from giving advice or voicing their opinions?

If you censor one and not the other, than you are acknowledging that they are not equal, that monastics are more powerful in some way.  To some, this may be their impression.  However, the problem is with the perceiver rather than the perceived.  If you punish the monastic just because someone does not properly understand his role in the Church, where is the justice in that?

The responsibility lies with the laity to not overly-glamorize monasticism.  It is the job of the advice-seeker to find the right person to get advice from and not treat all monks like 'spiritual vending machines.'  The real problem is that those getting advice from monks don't see the monks as people.

The issue here is the education of the laity, which is poorly handled in many ways.  Censoring monks or banning pilgrims does not take care of the real problem, becuase it does not cure the false perception and, in fact, cements it (i.e. "Monks are very powerful, so don't talk to them.")

Blaming the monks as a group is part of the 'victim mentality' that has taken hold of our culture.  It creates a dichotomy of victim and perpetrator, absolving the former of his responsibility.  This is evil.  We must all bear our true responsibility for exercising free-will and weighing advice before taking it.  Like in the medical profession, if I forgo a second opinion and follow a doctor's advice without checking it out, I bear part of the responsibility for the outcome.

As a priest, I know that people can over-value or under-value my advice based on their misguided notions of the priesthood.  However, I do not refrain from doing what I think is right just because someone might misconstrue my advice as coming directlt from God.  I do warn people about this juvenile idealism, but I don't stop everything I am doing because someone might act in a foolish manner.  Neither should monks.

It would be helpful if monks offered disclaimers, and I know those who do.  However, most laypeople offer no disclaimers to their opinions (until after they are called on them).  So, I think that monks should have the same freedom if they are considered full equals to the laity.

For the record, I think it is darn foolish to be asking a monk about buying stock, but who is the bigger fool: the fool or the fool who follows him?

I'm sorry if some people find this offensive, but I think it very funny that here, in a place where advice is routinely offered blindly and received much the same, that we should talk about telling some people not to give advice while we ourselves feel free to offer all manner of advice to those we don't know.

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: FatherGiryus on February 01, 2010, 01:35:08 PM

I think this coupled with such absurdities as child beauty pageants, schools to get on the right waiting list and the overscheduled child.

It seems the richer we become, the more impoverished we are. As Mother Theresa said "It is a poverty to think that a child must die to preserve your lifestyle."

I absolutely agree.

It is very sad that many 'Christian' families no longer 'have time' for church, prayer, etc. because they are 'too busy' either making wealth, preparing to make wealth or spending it.

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on February 01, 2010, 03:41:22 PM
Okay, I take it you reject the Orthodox teachings concerning Monasticism.
Marina, perhaps I'm wrong, but you seem to think that there is some difference between being a Christian and being a monastic, as though "being a Christian" is "the bare minimum" and "being a monastic" is "the ultimate aim" or "the Christian life lived perfectly".

No.

Everyone is called to be a Christian. Out of Christians, some are called to Marriage and some to Monasticism as their path to theosis. St. Paul was clear that the monastic life is the higher of the two callings because their focus on Christ is undistracted by the matters of this life. The ulitmate aim, as you put it, of both paths is complete union with God for all eternity.

Can you explain why Our Lord called married men as his disciples and Apostles?

Jesus called both married and unmarried men then as disciples and Apostles as well as now to the priesthood. But only unmarried men are called to become Bishops.
That's now, not then.

Were the married disciples less than disciples because they were married?  Where does that leave St. Peter, their chief?
Can anyone involved in this tangent tell me what this has to do with the specifics of the Elder Ephraim Monasteries?

If a monastic tells a man to leave his wife or tells a single man not to marry, does that go against what Christ and St. Paul taught?
What's the context of the advice?  Without this I am not able to offer even the least jot or tittle of judgment of the advice given, IF this advice was ever really given.

This thread was nice and quiet until people started digging it up again.  I thought the context quoted by Marina14 was adequate for Isa and I to respond to.  The highlighted text below has been marked red for my understanding of the context.

Quote
Everyone is called to be a Christian. Out of Christians, some are called to Marriage and some to Monasticism as their path to theosis. St. Paul was clear that the monastic life is the higher of the two callings because their focus on Christ is undistracted by the matters of this life. The ulitmate aim, as you put it, of both paths is complete union with God for all eternity.

Not every Christian is called to marriage nor is every Christian called to monasticism.  Monastics have no business telling people any differently and/or convincing them otherwise.  People have free will not to accept marriage or to accept monasticism and I surely don't need a marketing pitch from a monastic whether it comes to marriage, monasticism or buying stock in Toyota.

But you still haven't offered any context for your initial question of whether monastics should be counseling a married man to leave his wife or a single man to not marry.  All you're doing is venting your indignation that they would ever do such a thing.  I'm not going to join you in your umbrage if you won't tell me why such advice was given.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SolEX01 on February 01, 2010, 03:49:37 PM
But you still haven't offered any context for your initial question of whether monastics should be counseling a married man to leave his wife or a single man to not marry.  All you're doing is venting your indignation that they would ever do such a thing.  I'm not going to join you in your umbrage if you won't tell me why such advice was given.

I cannot offer any personal context.

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on February 01, 2010, 03:51:37 PM
But you still haven't offered any context for your initial question of whether monastics should be counseling a married man to leave his wife or a single man to not marry.  All you're doing is venting your indignation that they would ever do such a thing.  I'm not going to join you in your umbrage if you won't tell me why such advice was given.

I cannot offer any personal context.


Then why are you indignant?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on February 01, 2010, 04:14:50 PM
But you still haven't offered any context for your initial question of whether monastics should be counseling a married man to leave his wife or a single man to not marry.  All you're doing is venting your indignation that they would ever do such a thing.  I'm not going to join you in your umbrage if you won't tell me why such advice was given.

I cannot offer any personal context.
Since you can't give us any context, I will.

A person may be married to a very abusive spouse.  The abuse may not be physical; it may instead be emotional--for instance, the abuse of constant criticism and judgment--but it is still abuse.  How is the abused wife not justified to leave her abusive husband (which, in this scenario, was the case), and how is it wrong for the monastic to counsel her to do so?

An unmarried man may also have a lot of psychosocial disorders that make him unfit for marriage, making it very unwise for such a man to ever marry.  Should not a monastic with the wisdom to discern these faults counsel such a man to remain single?  It seems to me that that's just a common-sense decision to make.

You see, it's not so cut and dried as "This monk told so-and-so to leave his wife and counseled whatshisname to never marry, which runs totally counter to St. Paul's teachings on marriage."  There's often more to the situation than meets your eyes.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ozgeorge on February 01, 2010, 07:41:43 PM
An unmarried man may also have a lot of psychosocial disorders that make him unfit for marriage, making it very unwise for such a man to ever marry.  Should not a monastic with the wisdom to discern these faults counsel such a man to remain single?  It seems to me that that's just a common-sense decision to make.
I'm not sure. To counsel a young man that his "psychosocial disorders" should preclude him from ever marrying would seem to suggest that the Church is unable to heal people's psychosocial disorders.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on February 01, 2010, 08:03:54 PM
An unmarried man may also have a lot of psychosocial disorders that make him unfit for marriage, making it very unwise for such a man to ever marry.  Should not a monastic with the wisdom to discern these faults counsel such a man to remain single?  It seems to me that that's just a common-sense decision to make.
I'm not sure. To counsel a young man that his "psychosocial disorders" should preclude him from ever marrying would seem to suggest that the Church is unable to heal people's psychosocial disorders.
Yes, I realize my choice of words was probably a bit strong in its projection of current disorders into the indefinite future, but I think that somewhat peripheral to my point.  Therefore, let me back off a bit and say that one's psychosocial disorders may make him unfit for marriage at this moment.  Even so, I would think that a monastic with the wisdom to recognize this would still be acting properly to counsel such a person to not marry until (s)he has attained much more order in his/her life.

(BTW, I recognize now that SolEX01 never said that a monastic counseled a man to never marry--he merely implied that a monastic counseled the man to not marry--so my reply to his inquiry was somewhat stronger than the inquiry itself and was thus not warranted by the initial question.)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ozgeorge on February 01, 2010, 08:09:44 PM
An unmarried man may also have a lot of psychosocial disorders that make him unfit for marriage, making it very unwise for such a man to ever marry.  Should not a monastic with the wisdom to discern these faults counsel such a man to remain single?  It seems to me that that's just a common-sense decision to make.
I'm not sure. To counsel a young man that his "psychosocial disorders" should preclude him from ever marrying would seem to suggest that the Church is unable to heal people's psychosocial disorders.
Yes, I realize my choice of words was probably a bit strong in its projection of current disorders into the future, but I think that somewhat peripheral to my point.  Therefore, let me back off a bit and say that one's psychosocial disorders may make him unfit for marriage at this moment.  Even so, I would think that a monastic with the wisdom to recognize this would still be acting properly to counsel such a person to not marry until (s)he has attained much more order in his/her life.
OK, but I still have a problem with how we are to discern whether a monastic does have the wisdom to counsel people correctly. People who seek counseling are often very vulnerable psychologically, and I think it is a mistake to assume that a monastic automatically has the wisdom to counsel them. I have seen too many disasters in that regard.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on February 01, 2010, 08:26:24 PM
An unmarried man may also have a lot of psychosocial disorders that make him unfit for marriage, making it very unwise for such a man to ever marry.  Should not a monastic with the wisdom to discern these faults counsel such a man to remain single?  It seems to me that that's just a common-sense decision to make.
I'm not sure. To counsel a young man that his "psychosocial disorders" should preclude him from ever marrying would seem to suggest that the Church is unable to heal people's psychosocial disorders.
Yes, I realize my choice of words was probably a bit strong in its projection of current disorders into the future, but I think that somewhat peripheral to my point.  Therefore, let me back off a bit and say that one's psychosocial disorders may make him unfit for marriage at this moment.  Even so, I would think that a monastic with the wisdom to recognize this would still be acting properly to counsel such a person to not marry until (s)he has attained much more order in his/her life.
OK, but I still have a problem with how we are to discern whether a monastic does have the wisdom to counsel people correctly. People who seek counseling are often very vulnerable psychologically, and I think it is a mistake to assume that a monastic automatically has the wisdom to counsel them. I have seen too many disasters in that regard.
I'm not assuming that every monastic is blessed with such discernment.  I don't doubt that some are, but I would venture to say that most are not and that one does need to be very careful and discerning of any counsel a monastic might offer.  Such monastic counsel should never be seen as a substitute for psychiatric treatment--maybe a good complement, but never a replacement.

However, we're now speaking of a subject that I see as somewhat separated from my earlier reply to SolEX01's question regarding how monastic counsel to specific individuals squares with St. Paul's general teachings vis-à-vis marriage and monasticism.  I still hold that there's much more to what SolEX01 thinks he sees than meets his eyes.  One needs to know the context of such advice that a man leave his wife or that a single man not marry to be able to judge such advice.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Michael L on February 01, 2010, 08:55:40 PM
Having had an in-depth experience with an 'angry parent' of a monastic, I found that most of the collective angst came from families where there was either only one or two children.  The parents I encountered had certain expectations of their children which monasticism interfered with (the above-mentioned parent had detailed requirements for his son to have girlfriends, get married, raise grandchildren for the parent, go to college, build a career, take over the family business... essentially return the 'investment' made by the parent in the child).

Most of the rage comes from modern families with few children.  Back in the old days when families were larger, parents were less upset by a child going off to a monastery or to sea, because their worldly expectations (or spiritual ones for that matter) could still be met.  One child might be handicapped, but there were six or seven other healthy ones.  Not so big of a deal.

The modern family is far more vested in the few children it produces, and so parents are far more demanding of the few children they have.  I think this is the untold side of the story, but it seems to be a theme I have seen over and over again.


Excellent and commonsensical post! I think the same thing applies to parental reactions to their child's  homosexuality. If they had several other children, perhaps the blow wouldn't be as harsh. But since most people these days only have one or two, the announcement brings, in a sense, a death to many hopes and dreams for the child.

Let's not honestly compare monasticism with homosexuality.

I would hope that a parents reaction to practicing Homosexuality is not the loss of hopes and dreams for their child, but being a afraid of their slavation and thier dread judgement before Christ.

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on February 01, 2010, 09:12:54 PM
Having had an in-depth experience with an 'angry parent' of a monastic, I found that most of the collective angst came from families where there was either only one or two children.  The parents I encountered had certain expectations of their children which monasticism interfered with (the above-mentioned parent had detailed requirements for his son to have girlfriends, get married, raise grandchildren for the parent, go to college, build a career, take over the family business... essentially return the 'investment' made by the parent in the child).

Most of the rage comes from modern families with few children.  Back in the old days when families were larger, parents were less upset by a child going off to a monastery or to sea, because their worldly expectations (or spiritual ones for that matter) could still be met.  One child might be handicapped, but there were six or seven other healthy ones.  Not so big of a deal.

The modern family is far more vested in the few children it produces, and so parents are far more demanding of the few children they have.  I think this is the untold side of the story, but it seems to be a theme I have seen over and over again.


Excellent and commonsensical post! I think the same thing applies to parental reactions to their child's  homosexuality. If they had several other children, perhaps the blow wouldn't be as harsh. But since most people these days only have one or two, the announcement brings, in a sense, a death to many hopes and dreams for the child.

Let's not honestly compare monasticism with homosexuality.

I would hope that a parents reaction to practicing Homosexuality is not the loss of hopes and dreams for their child, but being a afraid of their slavation and thier dread judgement before Christ.


Let us please remember the current moratorium (http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,25372.msg397032.html#msg397032) and not discuss homosexuality on this thread.  Thank you.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Pravoslav on February 01, 2010, 09:27:58 PM
Although I have never met Elder Ephfraim my wife and her family knows him well. He would visit their home personally when he would go to Montreal. I was shocked to have come across the articles I have seen against him. I attend one of his Monasteries currently (every chance I get between their and my Church). I adore everything about this man, if you could hear the stories my wife tells of him you would feel the same way. God willing we will get a chance to visit him in the Monastery (St. Anthony's) in Arizona where he resides. What he is doing is needed, the Monastic lifestyle is not an easy one and not for everyone. This is where I believe a lot of people really do not understand it and are so quick to judge it.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Rosehip on February 01, 2010, 09:43:42 PM
An unmarried man may also have a lot of psychosocial disorders that make him unfit for marriage, making it very unwise for such a man to ever marry.  Should not a monastic with the wisdom to discern these faults counsel such a man to remain single?  It seems to me that that's just a common-sense decision to make.
I'm not sure. To counsel a young man that his "psychosocial disorders" should preclude him from ever marrying would seem to suggest that the Church is unable to heal people's psychosocial disorders.

I would tend to agree-but I think sometimes it is more physiological than spiritual. In fact I know more than a few young men, who, before they married had quite severe psychosocial disorders which were caused by celibacy, and after they were married and were allowed to have a normal married life, they were miraculously "cured". I will grant, this is not always the case, but sometimes it is related to this very thing.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Rosehip on February 01, 2010, 10:39:46 PM

Quote
Let us please remember the current moratorium and not discuss homosexuality on this thread.  Thank you.

My apologies-this was my fault completely! I had not noticed the announcement of the moratorium and thank you for the reminder and I shall try to obey it.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Hamartolos on February 02, 2010, 08:11:58 PM
An unmarried man may also have a lot of psychosocial disorders that make him unfit for marriage, making it very unwise for such a man to ever marry.  Should not a monastic with the wisdom to discern these faults counsel such a man to remain single?  It seems to me that that's just a common-sense decision to make.
I'm not sure. To counsel a young man that his "psychosocial disorders" should preclude him from ever marrying would seem to suggest that the Church is unable to heal people's psychosocial disorders.

I would tend to agree-but I think sometimes it is more physiological than spiritual. In fact I know more than a few young men, who, before they married had quite severe psychosocial disorders which were caused by celibacy, and after they were married and were allowed to have a normal married life, they were miraculously "cured". I will grant, this is not always the case, but sometimes it is related to this very thing.

No view exists whatsoever among the scientific community that celibacy causes any mental disturbance like what you've described.  If someone is suffering from an anti-social disorder (take your pick from the DSM-IV), it is a chemical imbalance in the brain, not stemming from a lack of sexual activity.  
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Pravoslav on February 02, 2010, 08:29:09 PM
Well, a group of Greek Orthodox Christians in Chicago have created a website detailing concerns about Elder Ephraim.  No one identifies themselves on the site; there exists a Facebook group; take it for what it's worth:

http://gotruthreform.org/home/ (http://gotruthreform.org/home/)

Mission Statement:

Quote
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.

I have seen the homepage of the group in Chicago, and I feel they are gutless. If you are going to attack anyone and try to dig and investigate them than you should be out in the open, I feel that says everything about this "group" in Chicago
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Rosehip on February 02, 2010, 08:35:07 PM
Quote
No view exists whatsoever among the scientific community that celibacy causes any mental disturbance like what you've described.  If someone is suffering from an anti-social disorder (take your pick from the DSM-IV), it is a chemical imbalance in the brain, not stemming from a lack of sexual activity

I'm merely going by the living proof and testimonies I've seen and heard amongst acquaintances. Several male friends of mine have confided in me their(unsolicited) thoughts and experiences on these matters...I personally do not need to have them verify these things.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: PeterTheAleut on February 02, 2010, 11:59:36 PM
Well, a group of Greek Orthodox Christians in Chicago have created a website detailing concerns about Elder Ephraim.  No one identifies themselves on the site; there exists a Facebook group; take it for what it's worth:

http://gotruthreform.org/home/ (http://gotruthreform.org/home/)

Mission Statement:

Quote
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.
Having read this web site's multi-point description of what they call "Ephraimites", I would honestly have to say that even the elders of the Ephraimite monasteries themselves should be concerned that some would follow them in such an extreme, cult-like way.  That said, the tactics I've read there on how to out the "Ephraimites" strikes me as the secret informant tactics I would associate with my understanding of McCarthyism.  I can't see how that's any healthier than the extreme way some are reported to follow Elder Ephraim and his monastic disciples.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: FatherGiryus on February 03, 2010, 01:08:54 PM
Having read this web site's multi-point description of what they call "Ephraimites", I would honestly have to say that even the elders of the Ephraimite monasteries themselves should be concerned that some would follow them in such an extreme, cult-like way.  That said, the tactics I've read there on how to out the "Ephraimites" strikes me as the secret informant tactics I would associate with my understanding of McCarthyism.  I can't see how that's any healthier than the extreme way some are reported to follow Elder Ephraim and his monastic disciples.

Actually, having read the actual history regarding the House Un-American Activities Committee, I think 'McCarthyism' is a bit of a misnomer.  Especially now when you see the naked political aggression in Hollywood...

What this does smack of is emotion over reason.  There is nothing really in the site that is able to provide through Church canon and tradition how the 'Ephraimites' depart from true Tradition.  Again, I am not saying that those who part of the movement around Elder Ephraim are or are not.  But the site does not establish a coherent argument for its case.

One of the sad realities of modern life is that we are so bombarded by information that we hardly have time to process it all.  Therefore, we react without thinking.  I think this is a reaction without sufficient thought.  They may well have genuine complaints, but I cannot find it on this site for as far as I have been able to look.  Perhaps I have missed something.   ???




Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Fr. George on February 03, 2010, 01:34:43 PM
Maybe I'm mistaken, but if monastics are equal to lay people and you ban monastics from giving advice or voicing their opinions, does it necessarily follow that lay people should also refrain from giving advice or voicing their opinions?

If you censor one and not the other, than you are acknowledging that they are not equal, that monastics are more powerful in some way.  To some, this may be their impression.  However, the problem is with the perceiver rather than the perceived.  If you punish the monastic just because someone does not properly understand his role in the Church, where is the justice in that?

The responsibility lies with the laity to not overly-glamorize monasticism.  It is the job of the advice-seeker to find the right person to get advice from and not treat all monks like 'spiritual vending machines.'  The real problem is that those getting advice from monks don't see the monks as people.

The issue here is the education of the laity, which is poorly handled in many ways.  Censoring monks or banning pilgrims does not take care of the real problem, becuase it does not cure the false perception and, in fact, cements it (i.e. "Monks are very powerful, so don't talk to them.")

Blaming the monks as a group is part of the 'victim mentality' that has taken hold of our culture.  It creates a dichotomy of victim and perpetrator, absolving the former of his responsibility.  This is evil.  We must all bear our true responsibility for exercising free-will and weighing advice before taking it.  Like in the medical profession, if I forgo a second opinion and follow a doctor's advice without checking it out, I bear part of the responsibility for the outcome.

As a priest, I know that people can over-value or under-value my advice based on their misguided notions of the priesthood.  However, I do not refrain from doing what I think is right just because someone might misconstrue my advice as coming directlt from God.  I do warn people about this juvenile idealism, but I don't stop everything I am doing because someone might act in a foolish manner.  Neither should monks.

It would be helpful if monks offered disclaimers, and I know those who do.  However, most laypeople offer no disclaimers to their opinions (until after they are called on them).  So, I think that monks should have the same freedom if they are considered full equals to the laity.

For the record, I think it is darn foolish to be asking a monk about buying stock, but who is the bigger fool: the fool or the fool who follows him?

I'm sorry if some people find this offensive, but I think it very funny that here, in a place where advice is routinely offered blindly and received much the same, that we should talk about telling some people not to give advice while we ourselves feel free to offer all manner of advice to those we don't know.

Amen.  Post-of-the-Month material, IMO.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Irish Hermit on February 13, 2010, 02:08:14 AM
On Mt, Athos, there was a strict, but less severe, attitude.  For example, at one monastery the abbott, seeing that I had a wedding ring, began to berate me for wearing it as a clergyman. 


Dear Father,

In the Russian Church the wedding ring of a priest is often removed from his hand at ordination and crushed with something like a pair of pliers.  It is a symbol that his love for the Church and his Priesthood should be greater than any earthly love.

Is this what the abbot on Mount Athos had in mind?  Or was it something else?

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on February 13, 2010, 09:16:44 AM
An unmarried man may also have a lot of psychosocial disorders that make him unfit for marriage, making it very unwise for such a man to ever marry.  Should not a monastic with the wisdom to discern these faults counsel such a man to remain single?  It seems to me that that's just a common-sense decision to make.
I'm not sure. To counsel a young man that his "psychosocial disorders" should preclude him from ever marrying would seem to suggest that the Church is unable to heal people's psychosocial disorders.

I would tend to agree-but I think sometimes it is more physiological than spiritual. In fact I know more than a few young men, who, before they married had quite severe psychosocial disorders which were caused by celibacy, and after they were married and were allowed to have a normal married life, they were miraculously "cured". I will grant, this is not always the case, but sometimes it is related to this very thing.

No view exists whatsoever among the scientific community that celibacy causes any mental disturbance like what you've described.  If someone is suffering from an anti-social disorder (take your pick from the DSM-IV), it is a chemical imbalance in the brain, not stemming from a lack of sexual activity.  
not necessary, e.g. depression.

Anti-social disorder is more a Axis-II (personality) rather than Axis-I (clinical) disorder
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: pathos on February 13, 2010, 11:53:49 AM
Father Efrem is a comemorationist? Why his monasteries are on gregorian calendar?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: FatherGiryus on February 13, 2010, 12:10:42 PM
On Mt, Athos, there was a strict, but less severe, attitude.  For example, at one monastery the abbott, seeing that I had a wedding ring, began to berate me for wearing it as a clergyman. 


Dear Father,

In the Russian Church the wedding ring of a priest is often removed from his hand at ordination and crushed with something like a pair of pliers.  It is a symbol that his love for the Church and his Priesthood should be greater than any earthly love.

Is this what the abbot on Mount Athos had in mind?  Or was it something else?

I've never heard of that practice, so I can't say for sure.  I do know some priests wear their wedding ring with their Baptismal cross around their necks.  I've taken to the practice as well, but mostly because my knuckles have gotten too big as I have aged. :-\

I have a reservation about destroying a ring that was blessed and used during in a Mystery of the Church.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Rosehip on February 13, 2010, 12:18:53 PM
Quote
Dear Father,

In the Russian Church the wedding ring of a priest is often removed from his hand at ordination and crushed with something like a pair of pliers.  It is a symbol that his love for the Church and his Priesthood should be greater than any earthly love.

Is this what the abbot on Mount Athos had in mind?  Or was it something else?

Father, this is very interesting! I too had long noticed that our clergy, even if married, did not wear wedding bands. Being only familiar with the Russian way, it always surprised and perplexed me to see other clergy wearing wedding bands.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SeraphimMark on December 29, 2011, 12:58:08 AM
I remember when my Diocese buried the Metropolitan, I saw Elder Ephraim once. He seemed to be very austere, and thin and quiet. He did not say much. That is what little I know of him. This was at a convent of nuns where the Bishop had been buried. This was my second experience with monasticism. There was another experience I had at a different location under different circumstances. I visited a monastery  that only had two monks, and one happened to have a profession as a lawyer. I thought that strange, since I thought Monk's leave the world behind. Of course it is strange to only have two monks in one monastery. The other thing I thought was strange was that during the praying of the hours none of these monks used any incense! Every Liturgy I have attended for the past 10 years as a convert , every Paraklesis, every Royal Hours, Akatheist etc always always uses incense. This monastery also had a website dedicated to discussions about the plausibility of rationalism and evolutionism! Clearly this is not a monastery in the strict sense of the term. My thinking is this , that there is nothing wrong with Orthodox Monasticism, but there is something wrong with people's  misinterpretation of what that is and how its applied. It doesn't matter who you are no one is fallen is not susceptible to the sin of pride and taking Christ as the center and making oneself the center of everyone and everything around them.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Antonis on December 30, 2011, 04:03:05 PM
Why is everyone harsh on the Elder? I got back from St. Anthony's yesterday, one of many trips I have made there. They have brought beautiful and pious monastic tradition to the US, where it is oftentimes sorely lacking and needed.

Demons seeking to drive away people from the wellspring available to them? What are these accusations against the monasteries, they all seem like gossip and hearsay, completely unfounded, with nobody able to provide anything definitive.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: jnorm888 on December 30, 2011, 08:11:01 PM
Why is everyone harsh on the Elder? I got back from St. Anthony's yesterday, one of many trips I have made there. They have brought beautiful and pious monastic tradition to the US, where it is oftentimes sorely lacking and needed.

Demons seeking to drive away people from the wellspring available to them? What are these accusations against the monasteries, they all seem like gossip and hearsay, completely unfounded, with nobody able to provide anything definitive.

What you see is nothing more than the friction between Secularism vs a faith based life. Secularism wants to control, dominate and eradicate the religious. Thus they use the examples of the Jones Town Massacre and a few other suicidal groups as an excuse to have their way with the religious.

If a person is seen as being too committed to religion then in a secular society that is seen as an evil and bad thing. If a person questions their religion, rejects most of the tenets of their religion while at the same time is fully devoted and committed to the ways and values of secular society then such a person will be seen as good and just in that secular world.


And so what you see is a friction of the two worlds.


Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Ionnis on December 30, 2011, 08:14:00 PM
FREE ELDER EPHRAIM!

Different Elder Ephraim.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: jnorm888 on December 30, 2011, 08:15:21 PM
FREE ELDER EPHRAIM!

Different Elder Ephraim.

Thanks for the correction!
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: IXOYE on December 30, 2011, 09:11:33 PM
I remember when my Diocese buried the Metropolitan, I saw Elder Ephraim once. He seemed to be very austere, and thin and quiet. He did not say much. That is what little I know of him. This was at a convent of nuns where the Bishop had been buried. This was my second experience with monasticism. There was another experience I had at a different location under different circumstances. I visited a monastery  that only had two monks, and one happened to have a profession as a lawyer. I thought that strange, since I thought Monk's leave the world behind. Of course it is strange to only have two monks in one monastery. The other thing I thought was strange was that during the praying of the hours none of these monks used any incense! Every Liturgy I have attended for the past 10 years as a convert , every Paraklesis, every Royal Hours, Akatheist etc always always uses incense. This monastery also had a website dedicated to discussions about the plausibility of rationalism and evolutionism! Clearly this is not a monastery in the strict sense of the term. My thinking is this , that there is nothing wrong with Orthodox Monasticism, but there is something wrong with people's  misinterpretation of what that is and how its applied. It doesn't matter who you are no one is fallen is not susceptible to the sin of pride and taking Christ as the center and making oneself the center of everyone and everything around them.

Would that happen to be a monastery in Maine where a monk is a lawyer?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SeraphimMark on December 30, 2011, 11:50:51 PM
Would that happen to be a monastery in Maine where a monk is a lawyer?

IXOYE, thanks and no , but that interesting . Its a monastery in California actually. Maybe im wrong , but I can't fathom being a monk and a lawyer , or banker or anything like that  ???
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on December 31, 2011, 01:27:41 PM
Would that happen to be a monastery in Maine where a monk is a lawyer?

IXOYE, thanks and no , but that interesting . Its a monastery in California actually. Maybe im wrong , but I can't fathom being a monk and a lawyer , or banker or anything like that  ???

And if lawyers and bankers become monks...?

Most monastics today do not enter monasteries fresh out of school, never having had a career. And if something in their previous life--some skill, education, or qualification--is needed, the monastery will often make use of it. It has nothing whatever to do with Elder Ephraim's monasteries--it is a universal thing.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Knee V on December 31, 2011, 02:48:16 PM
At Holy Archangels there is a monk who is an MD. He finished his residency and then became a novice (he has since been tonsured a monk). Now his skill is useful for the monastery, as he can write prescriptions for the monks if needed, provide their medical care (if he has the supplies/facilities for it), and can give some emergency attention to visitors should the need arise. He is, of course, a monk first, but his skills as an MD are beneficial when the circumstances require a doctor.

It might be a different story if he were working at a nearby hospital and spending most of his time away from the monastery. But that would be between him, his abbot, and God.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: mike on January 01, 2012, 10:43:12 AM
One monastery in Poland runs a dental clinic.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: podkarpatska on January 01, 2012, 07:05:04 PM
At Holy Archangels there is a monk who is an MD. He finished his residency and then became a novice (he has since been tonsured a monk). Now his skill is useful for the monastery, as he can write prescriptions for the monks if needed, provide their medical care (if he has the supplies/facilities for it), and can give some emergency attention to visitors should the need arise. He is, of course, a monk first, but his skills as an MD are beneficial when the circumstances require a doctor.

It might be a different story if he were working at a nearby hospital and spending most of his time away from the monastery. But that would be between him, his abbot, and God.

Keep in mind that in order to continue to practice medicine his state will require a certain amount of continuing education credits.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: SeraphimMark on January 01, 2012, 07:13:24 PM
OK yes I understand there are monks that have professions I understand that of course that wasn't what I was thinking or talking about when I was speaking about the particular monastery I visited, sorry I wasn't clear . To be frank the monastery that I visited I think was a facade. The monks asked personnel questions like " how much do you make " etc They also accepted money donations but that was it.Other kinds of donations weren't as welcomed.Not using incense during the services , that was strange .
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 02, 2012, 06:11:49 PM
OK yes I understand there are monks that have professions I understand that of course that wasn't what I was thinking or talking about when I was speaking about the particular monastery I visited, sorry I wasn't clear . To be frank the monastery that I visited I think was a facade. The monks asked personnel questions like " how much do you make " etc They also accepted money donations but that was it.Other kinds of donations weren't as welcomed.Not using incense during the services , that was strange .

Sadly, there are several monasteries in America with only the appearance, but not the substance of Orthdooxy--empty censers indeed.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Marc1152 on January 03, 2012, 04:49:29 PM
At Holy Archangels there is a monk who is an MD. He finished his residency and then became a novice (he has since been tonsured a monk). Now his skill is useful for the monastery, as he can write prescriptions for the monks if needed, provide their medical care (if he has the supplies/facilities for it), and can give some emergency attention to visitors should the need arise. He is, of course, a monk first, but his skills as an MD are beneficial when the circumstances require a doctor.

It might be a different story if he were working at a nearby hospital and spending most of his time away from the monastery. But that would be between him, his abbot, and God.

I believe there are a few M.D. monks on Athos who provide the same sort of service.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: LBK on January 03, 2012, 05:22:54 PM
St Luke of Simferopol (1877-1961) was a monk, later a bishop; he was also a distinguished professor of surgery. His monastic status was no secret to the Soviet authorities.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: KBN1 on January 10, 2012, 05:15:14 PM
I just returned from four days at the Monastery of St. Anthony in Arizona.  I see reason to be concerned about some of the pilgrims, but I didn't see reason to be concerned about Elder Ephraim or the monks.  A few of the people visiting the monastery would talk about the Elder like he had magical powers and would say things like "He is the greatest saint that has ever lived.", and "He possesses the fullness of every single spiritual gift."  They had lots of tales of miracles he performed that always started with something like, "I met a person who's sister-in-law heard from a friend that..." There was also the belief that getting a blessing from Elder Ephraim was a much better blessing than available from any other Orthodox priest.  I only saw that from the visitors though. 

When we arrived at the monastery a monk greeted us and gave us a run down of the rules, service times, dress code, etc., and concluded by saying, "Elder Ephraim insists that no one kneels before him, or make prostration or the sign of the cross towards him.  That is unacceptable."  So they are aware of the problem.  What I saw of the Elder, he seems like he is full of love and joy and has lots of energy for how old he is.  And the monks that I interacted with and worked with seemed perfectly sane and were nothing but kind.  I know that four days is not a long time, but those are my impressions, for what its worth.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 10, 2012, 05:30:06 PM
I just returned from four days at the Monastery of St. Anthony in Arizona.  I see reason to be concerned about some of the pilgrims, but I didn't see reason to be concerned about Elder Ephraim or the monks.  A few of the people visiting the monastery would talk about the Elder like he had magical powers and would say things like "He is the greatest saint that has ever lived.", and "He possesses the fullness of every single spiritual gift."  They had lots of tales of miracles he performed that always started with something like, "I met a person who's sister-in-law heard from a friend that..." There was also the belief that getting a blessing from Elder Ephraim was a much better blessing than available from any other Orthodox priest.  I only saw that from the visitors though. 

When we arrived at the monastery a monk greeted us and gave us a run down of the rules, service times, dress code, etc., and concluded by saying, "Elder Ephraim insists that no one kneels before him, or make prostration or the sign of the cross towards him.  That is unacceptable."  So they are aware of the problem.  What I saw of the Elder, he seems like he is full of love and joy and has lots of energy for how old he is.  And the monks that I interacted with and worked with seemed perfectly sane and were nothing but kind.  I know that four days is not a long time, but those are my impressions, for what its worth.

Elder worship has probably always existed. St. John of Kronstadt had to take out a full page newspaper ad denouncing the idiocies of the "Ioannites" who claimed he was something like an incarnation of Christ and whatnot. The people were deluded and caused trouble for St. John.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Knee V on January 13, 2012, 12:07:01 PM
At Holy Archangels there is a monk who is an MD. He finished his residency and then became a novice (he has since been tonsured a monk). Now his skill is useful for the monastery, as he can write prescriptions for the monks if needed, provide their medical care (if he has the supplies/facilities for it), and can give some emergency attention to visitors should the need arise. He is, of course, a monk first, but his skills as an MD are beneficial when the circumstances require a doctor.

It might be a different story if he were working at a nearby hospital and spending most of his time away from the monastery. But that would be between him, his abbot, and God.

Keep in mind that in order to continue to practice medicine his state will require a certain amount of continuing education credits.

Indeed. They have a system to ensure that that can happen.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Knee V on January 13, 2012, 12:08:45 PM
To be frank the monastery that I visited I think was a facade. The monks asked personnel questions like " how much do you make " etc They also accepted money donations but that was it.Other kinds of donations weren't as welcomed.Not using incense during the services , that was strange .

That's unfortunate.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on January 13, 2012, 01:28:43 PM
St Luke of Simferopol (1877-1961) was a monk, later a bishop; he was also a distinguished professor of surgery. His monastic status was no secret to the Soviet authorities.
Indeed, it was a source of profound embarrassment (btw, IIRC, St. Luke was first married, but widowed).  They had to give him the Lenin award, as he was that outstanding.  When they questioned him if he had ever seen a soul during surgery, he replied no, but then he never saw love, compassion or any other emotion either.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on January 13, 2012, 01:48:18 PM
Having had an in-depth experience with an 'angry parent' of a monastic, I found that most of the collective angst came from families where there was either only one or two children.  The parents I encountered had certain expectations of their children which monasticism interfered with (the above-mentioned parent had detailed requirements for his son to have girlfriends, get married, raise grandchildren for the parent, go to college, build a career, take over the family business... essentially return the 'investment' made by the parent in the child).

Most of the rage comes from modern families with few children.  Back in the old days when families were larger, parents were less upset by a child going off to a monastery or to sea, because their worldly expectations (or spiritual ones for that matter) could still be met.  One child might be handicapped, but there were six or seven other healthy ones.  Not so big of a deal.

The modern family is far more vested in the few children it produces, and so parents are far more demanding of the few children they have.  I think this is the untold side of the story, but it seems to be a theme I have seen over and over again.


Excellent and commonsensical post! I think the same thing applies to parental reactions to their child's  homosexuality. If they had several other children, perhaps the blow wouldn't be as harsh. But since most people these days only have one or two, the announcement brings, in a sense, a death to many hopes and dreams for the child.

Let's not honestly compare monasticism with homosexuality.

I would hope that a parents reaction to practicing Homosexuality is not the loss of hopes and dreams for their child, but being a afraid of their slavation and thier dread judgement before Christ.


It is an honest look.  And comparison.  In both there is a loss of hopes and dreams.  That is an honest statement of fact.  That there is a new hope in one and not in the other doesn't change that.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on January 13, 2012, 01:53:26 PM
An unmarried man may also have a lot of psychosocial disorders that make him unfit for marriage, making it very unwise for such a man to ever marry.  Should not a monastic with the wisdom to discern these faults counsel such a man to remain single?  It seems to me that that's just a common-sense decision to make.
I'm not sure. To counsel a young man that his "psychosocial disorders" should preclude him from ever marrying would seem to suggest that the Church is unable to heal people's psychosocial disorders.

I would tend to agree-but I think sometimes it is more physiological than spiritual. In fact I know more than a few young men, who, before they married had quite severe psychosocial disorders which were caused by celibacy, and after they were married and were allowed to have a normal married life, they were miraculously "cured". I will grant, this is not always the case, but sometimes it is related to this very thing.

No view exists whatsoever among the scientific community that celibacy causes any mental disturbance like what you've described.  If someone is suffering from an anti-social disorder (take your pick from the DSM-IV), it is a chemical imbalance in the brain, not stemming from a lack of sexual activity.  
So all that burning that St. Paul talks about is just hot air?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on January 13, 2012, 02:01:45 PM
I remember when my Diocese buried the Metropolitan, I saw Elder Ephraim once. He seemed to be very austere, and thin and quiet. He did not say much. That is what little I know of him. This was at a convent of nuns where the Bishop had been buried. This was my second experience with monasticism. There was another experience I had at a different location under different circumstances. I visited a monastery  that only had two monks, and one happened to have a profession as a lawyer. I thought that strange, since I thought Monk's leave the world behind. Of course it is strange to only have two monks in one monastery. The other thing I thought was strange was that during the praying of the hours none of these monks used any incense! Every Liturgy I have attended for the past 10 years as a convert , every Paraklesis, every Royal Hours, Akatheist etc always always uses incense. This monastery also had a website dedicated to discussions about the plausibility of rationalism and evolutionism! Clearly this is not a monastery in the strict sense of the term. My thinking is this , that there is nothing wrong with Orthodox Monasticism, but there is something wrong with people's  misinterpretation of what that is and how its applied. It doesn't matter who you are no one is fallen is not susceptible to the sin of pride and taking Christ as the center and making oneself the center of everyone and everything around them.
On the incense, could it be that neither were hieromonks, i.e. had not been ordained?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Hamartolos on January 13, 2012, 03:28:25 PM
An unmarried man may also have a lot of psychosocial disorders that make him unfit for marriage, making it very unwise for such a man to ever marry.  Should not a monastic with the wisdom to discern these faults counsel such a man to remain single?  It seems to me that that's just a common-sense decision to make.
I'm not sure. To counsel a young man that his "psychosocial disorders" should preclude him from ever marrying would seem to suggest that the Church is unable to heal people's psychosocial disorders.

I would tend to agree-but I think sometimes it is more physiological than spiritual. In fact I know more than a few young men, who, before they married had quite severe psychosocial disorders which were caused by celibacy, and after they were married and were allowed to have a normal married life, they were miraculously "cured". I will grant, this is not always the case, but sometimes it is related to this very thing.

No view exists whatsoever among the scientific community that celibacy causes any mental disturbance like what you've described.  If someone is suffering from an anti-social disorder (take your pick from the DSM-IV), it is a chemical imbalance in the brain, not stemming from a lack of sexual activity. 
So all that burning that St. Paul talks about is just hot air?

I doubt the 'burning' is referring to any psychological disturbance, if so then the Church has been wrong to ask their bishops and monastics to be celibate.  Also, why are you bringing up a quote I made nearly 2 years ago?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Incognito777 on December 23, 2013, 05:11:38 AM
COMMENT: 1) In Phoenix I can go to the GOA Cathedral and endure a 20 minute monologue on the glories of all things Greek, where Christ is mentioned once in passing during the entire homily.

MY REPLY: Most Greek Orthodox people today only care about Greek culture and nation. Christianity is of second importance to them.

COMMENT: Or, 2) I can go to St. Anthony's monastery, worship in one of it's three churches, and hear Christ proclaimed to the heavens...

MY REPLY: Yeah, you'll hear him proclaimed in the Greek language, whom only a few people understand. Speaking in Greek, when most people understand English, is selfish and a tradition of men, which negates the Word of God. The purpose of language is to communicate, not to preserve culture.


Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: mike on December 23, 2013, 06:08:37 AM
The purpose of language is to communicate, not to preserve culture.

Not really. Culturogenic function of language is quite obvious. The question is, should churches be a places to preserve culture and to what extent?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on December 24, 2013, 12:19:36 AM
An unmarried man may also have a lot of psychosocial disorders that make him unfit for marriage, making it very unwise for such a man to ever marry.  Should not a monastic with the wisdom to discern these faults counsel such a man to remain single?  It seems to me that that's just a common-sense decision to make.
I'm not sure. To counsel a young man that his "psychosocial disorders" should preclude him from ever marrying would seem to suggest that the Church is unable to heal people's psychosocial disorders.

I would tend to agree-but I think sometimes it is more physiological than spiritual. In fact I know more than a few young men, who, before they married had quite severe psychosocial disorders which were caused by celibacy, and after they were married and were allowed to have a normal married life, they were miraculously "cured". I will grant, this is not always the case, but sometimes it is related to this very thing.

No view exists whatsoever among the scientific community that celibacy causes any mental disturbance like what you've described.  If someone is suffering from an anti-social disorder (take your pick from the DSM-IV), it is a chemical imbalance in the brain, not stemming from a lack of sexual activity. 
So all that burning that St. Paul talks about is just hot air?

I doubt the 'burning' is referring to any psychological disturbance, if so then the Church has been wrong to ask their bishops and monastics to be celibate.  Also, why are you bringing up a quote I made nearly 2 years ago?

Temptations of any sort can have psychological and physiological components.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on December 24, 2013, 12:21:50 AM
COMMENT: 1) In Phoenix I can go to the GOA Cathedral and endure a 20 minute monologue on the glories of all things Greek, where Christ is mentioned once in passing during the entire homily.

MY REPLY: Most Greek Orthodox people today only care about Greek culture and nation. Christianity is of second importance to them.

COMMENT: Or, 2) I can go to St. Anthony's monastery, worship in one of it's three churches, and hear Christ proclaimed to the heavens...

MY REPLY: Yeah, you'll hear him proclaimed in the Greek language, whom only a few people understand. Speaking in Greek, when most people understand English, is selfish and a tradition of men, which negates the Word of God. The purpose of language is to communicate, not to preserve culture.


And yet you can converse with the monastics in English and even be provided with English translations of the services. St. Anthony's even has a translation/musical notation project for church hymns.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: podkarpatska on December 24, 2013, 09:12:08 AM
By virtue of Orthodoxy's organizational model, culture and faith are inexorably linked. Maintaining a sound balance is difficult and sadly, far too often, it seems culture has the upper hand with some.

I'm a fervent advocate for liturgical vernacular. Here in America that often still means more than one language. We just have to deal with it.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shiny on December 24, 2013, 09:33:38 AM
Quote
COMMENT: 1) In Phoenix I can go to the GOA Cathedral and endure a 20 minute monologue on the glories of all things Greek, where Christ is mentioned once in passing during the entire homily.

MY REPLY: Most Greek Orthodox people today only care about Greek culture and nation. Christianity is of second importance to them.

This is spot on and is my only criticism of the Church.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Iconodule on December 24, 2013, 09:38:51 AM
Quote
COMMENT: 1) In Phoenix I can go to the GOA Cathedral and endure a 20 minute monologue on the glories of all things Greek, where Christ is mentioned once in passing during the entire homily.

MY REPLY: Most Greek Orthodox people today only care about Greek culture and nation. Christianity is of second importance to them.

This is spot on and is my only criticism of the Church.

Can anyone actually prove this beyond providing personal anecdotes? I have quite a different experience with Greek churches.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shiny on December 24, 2013, 10:25:39 AM
Quote
COMMENT: 1) In Phoenix I can go to the GOA Cathedral and endure a 20 minute monologue on the glories of all things Greek, where Christ is mentioned once in passing during the entire homily.

MY REPLY: Most Greek Orthodox people today only care about Greek culture and nation. Christianity is of second importance to them.

This is spot on and is my only criticism of the Church.

Can anyone actually prove this beyond providing personal anecdotes? I have quite a different experience with Greek churches.
You mean you found a parish that isn't an ethnic club outside of Antiochian/ACROD/OCA, even if the later can be seen as having Americanism.

Ive talked with GOA priests who observed and confirmed the same thing because I brought it up to my bishop as well.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on December 24, 2013, 10:27:15 AM
By virtue of Orthodoxy's organizational model, culture and faith are inexorably linked.

It's not only a matter of our organisational model.  Culture and faith are linked because they involve people.  People don't come in a "generic" variety, we are always born in a particular culture: if we identify some as more "cultural" or "ethnic" than others, it has more to do with our own perception of what is "normal" or "the default setting".  Faith, as we understand it, is a uniquely human phenomenon.  Put them together, and there's more of the same: "religion" is a type of culture in many ways, and our beliefs about God often have an effect on society.  You can't compartmentalise these things anymore than you can chop up people and see how well they thrive in pieces as opposed to whole.  
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shiny on December 24, 2013, 10:28:47 AM
^ sorry but people who identify more with their ethnicity and go to DL because of that rather than God is unacceptable. And that this mentality is allowed is worrisome.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Iconodule on December 24, 2013, 10:35:19 AM
Quote
COMMENT: 1) In Phoenix I can go to the GOA Cathedral and endure a 20 minute monologue on the glories of all things Greek, where Christ is mentioned once in passing during the entire homily.

MY REPLY: Most Greek Orthodox people today only care about Greek culture and nation. Christianity is of second importance to them.

This is spot on and is my only criticism of the Church.

Can anyone actually prove this beyond providing personal anecdotes? I have quite a different experience with Greek churches.
You mean you found a parish that isn't an ethnic club outside of Antiochian/ACROD/OCA, even if the later can be seen as having Americanism.

Ive talked with GOA priests who observed and confirmed the same thing because I brought it up to my bishop as well.

Yes, I have run into several Greek parishes that are open and welcoming to non-Greeks and quite serious about their Christianity. That doesn't mean they efface their own culture. And yes, I believe you when you say you have had a different experience- my question is, is there really any basis beyond such anecdotes to say that "Most Greek Orthodox people today only care about Greek culture and nation."
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on December 24, 2013, 10:36:44 AM
Can anyone actually prove this beyond providing personal anecdotes? I have quite a different experience with Greek churches.

My personal experience with Greek churches (limited) is that there is certainly some promotion/praise of Greek culture, but it would be wrong to say that Christ is secondary to this.  Actually, one of the most solid parishes I've ever attended was a Greek parish where the chanters sang everything in Greek--everything--but the priest tried to incorporate a lot of English, was a solid preacher, and devoted to pastoral and educational work and a complete parochial liturgical life.  If I still lived in that area as opposed to where I am now, that would've continued to be my parish, whether or not I eventually switched sides.  

That said, I have enough personal experience with "ethnic" churches generally to believe that others' experience with Greek churches might not be too far off the mark.  But I always feel bad for Greeks because they seem to be the easiest target: Ukrainians, Serbs, Russians, Romanians, even Antiochians have this problem to a greater or lesser extent.  It's not like the Greeks handed over Orthodoxy to all those people and suddenly became godless.  
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on December 24, 2013, 10:46:02 AM
^ sorry but people who identify more with their ethnicity and go to DL because of that rather than God is unacceptable. And that this mentality is allowed is worrisome.

I don't know where you got this from my post (maybe you weren't addressing mine).  But I would ask two questions:

1.  How do you know if a person is going to Divine Liturgy because "It's what Greeks do on Sunday" as opposed to "I want to worship God"?  The only person I've ever heard admit anything close was Frank Schaeffer (http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/frank-schaeffer-go-to-hell-pro-lifers/)...hardly a Greek's Greek.  However proud a person is of their culture, usually their participation in church services has to do with God because "Church" isn't the only way to engage in cultural activities. 

2.  Even if you did know that someone was attending divine services out of ethnic and not religious considerations, why would it be "unacceptable"?  They're not going to Divine Liturgy for you, after all.  I'd rather that they were there for good reasons than for bad reasons, but I'd prefer them to be there rather than to be absent.  God can and does work through all manner of circumstances to draw people to himself.  That little bit of spiritual effort, practiced for dubious reasons, may be enough for God to work with.  But for the sake of the perfect, you would oppose the good.  That's silly. 
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Iconodule on December 24, 2013, 10:49:02 AM
Can anyone actually prove this beyond providing personal anecdotes? I have quite a different experience with Greek churches.

My personal experience with Greek churches (limited) is that there is certainly some promotion/praise of Greek culture, but it would be wrong to say that Christ is secondary to this.  Actually, one of the most solid parishes I've ever attended was a Greek parish where the chanters sang everything in Greek--everything--but the priest tried to incorporate a lot of English, was a solid preacher, and devoted to pastoral and educational work and a complete parochial liturgical life.  If I still lived in that area as opposed to where I am now, that would've continued to be my parish, whether or not I eventually switched sides.  

That said, I have enough personal experience with "ethnic" churches generally to believe that others' experience with Greek churches might not be too far off the mark.  But I always feel bad for Greeks because they seem to be the easiest target: Ukrainians, Serbs, Russians, Romanians, even Antiochians have this problem to a greater or lesser extent.  It's not like the Greeks handed over Orthodoxy to all those people and suddenly became godless.  

While we're on the subject of juridictional stereotypes... this year I will likely be moving to a place where there is an Indian Jacobite Orthodox parish about 5 minutes away. There are also Greek churches in the area but further away. Which parish am I more likely to feel uncomfortable in (Chalcedon aside)?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on December 24, 2013, 10:51:29 AM
While we're on the subject of juridictional stereotypes... this year I will likely be moving to a place where there is an Indian Jacobite Orthodox parish about 5 minutes away. There are also Greek churches in the area but further away. Which parish am I more likely to feel uncomfortable in (Chalcedon aside)?

Depends...what would you consider "comfortable" and "uncomfortable"?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Iconodule on December 24, 2013, 10:59:38 AM
While we're on the subject of juridictional stereotypes... this year I will likely be moving to a place where there is an Indian Jacobite Orthodox parish about 5 minutes away. There are also Greek churches in the area but further away. Which parish am I more likely to feel uncomfortable in (Chalcedon aside)?

Depends...what would you consider "comfortable" and "uncomfortable"?

I guess generally speaking how might someone who is not at all Indian expect to be received? Will people talk to him? Will they be friendly or what what the hell he's doing there? Etc.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: hecma925 on December 24, 2013, 11:12:20 AM
While we're on the subject of juridictional stereotypes... this year I will likely be moving to a place where there is an Indian Jacobite Orthodox parish about 5 minutes away. There are also Greek churches in the area but further away. Which parish am I more likely to feel uncomfortable in (Chalcedon aside)?

Depends...what would you consider "comfortable" and "uncomfortable"?

I guess generally speaking how might someone who is not at all Indian expect to be received? Will people talk to him? Will they be friendly or what what the hell he's doing there? Etc.

I don't think you can make that judgment based on ethnicity (Greek, Indian, Arab, Russian, etc.).  It wouldn't be right anyway.  It would be better just to see what the parish dynamic is for yourself.  I've never been to an Indian church, but every Indian I met was kind.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Αριστοκλής on December 24, 2013, 11:42:03 AM
Can anyone actually prove this beyond providing personal anecdotes? I have quite a different experience with Greek churches.

My personal experience with Greek churches (limited) is that there is certainly some promotion/praise of Greek culture, but it would be wrong to say that Christ is secondary to this.  Actually, one of the most solid parishes I've ever attended was a Greek parish where the chanters sang everything in Greek--everything--but the priest tried to incorporate a lot of English, was a solid preacher, and devoted to pastoral and educational work and a complete parochial liturgical life.  If I still lived in that area as opposed to where I am now, that would've continued to be my parish, whether or not I eventually switched sides.  

That said, I have enough personal experience with "ethnic" churches generally to believe that others' experience with Greek churches might not be too far off the mark.  But I always feel bad for Greeks because they seem to be the easiest target: Ukrainians, Serbs, Russians, Romanians, even Antiochians have this problem to a greater or lesser extent.  It's not like the Greeks handed over Orthodoxy to all those people and suddenly became godless.  

While we're on the subject of juridictional stereotypes... this year I will likely be moving to a place where there is an Indian Jacobite Orthodox parish about 5 minutes away. There are also Greek churches in the area but further away. Which parish am I more likely to feel uncomfortable in (Chalcedon aside)?

Go and see....  :)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on December 24, 2013, 12:06:58 PM
Depends...what would you consider "comfortable" and "uncomfortable"?

I guess generally speaking how might someone who is not at all Indian expect to be received? Will people talk to him? Will they be friendly or what what the hell he's doing there? Etc.

Like any other group, it depends on the parish. 

Some parishes are decades old, fairly big, more or less established, people are at various stages of assimilation to American life, and those parishes in my experience are welcoming.  Typically there are no ushers or greeters, so you're on your own walking in, but in such parishes someone will usually introduce himself, if only to hand you a liturgy book and tell you where they are in the service or help you along.  Afterwards, the priest will greet you, and there are usually some outgoing or hospitable people who will introduce themselves, sit with you, chat for a while, etc. 

Some parishes, though, are fairly young, small, composed of recent immigrants or people who haven't quite made the adjustment, etc.  In those parishes, you will also be welcomed, but it will be different.  You might feel ignored or unwelcome, but it's not necessarily because no one wants you around.  They're probably wondering a non-Indian would ever be so interested in them and their church that he would want to visit.  They probably feel bad that you had to stand for a few hours and listen to an utterly foreign language sung in not necessarily the best possible way.  They might feel bad that they want to welcome you but aren't sure how to do that.  It's not "He's not one of us, get him out of here", it's more like "We don't know how to welcome him properly, it will be bad if we treat him wrong"...even if it means that people stay away.  I hope that makes sense. 

I would visit and keep an open mind.  Usually, if you introduce yourself to the priest or to some parishioner, say you're Orthodox (since you're OCA, I'd say "Russian Orthodox", they likely haven't heard of the OCA enough for it to be familiar), talk about some of the things you find similar with your own church experience, ask some questions, etc.  That's usually enough to get people going.  :)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Agabus on December 24, 2013, 12:28:40 PM

You mean you found a parish that isn't an ethnic club outside of Antiochian/ACROD/OCA, even if the later can be seen as having Americanism.
As a note of curiosity, what were the Antiochians like before the mid-1980s? Lots of people talk about how the EOC cohort brought a sea change in how things were done, but despite their very vocal influence to this day the original EOC group was only about 2,000-ish (?) people.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ialmisry on December 24, 2013, 01:09:18 PM

You mean you found a parish that isn't an ethnic club outside of Antiochian/ACROD/OCA, even if the later can be seen as having Americanism.
As a note of curiosity, what were the Antiochians like before the mid-1980s? Lots of people talk about how the EOC cohort brought a sea change in how things were done, but despite their very vocal influence to this day the original EOC group was only about 2,000-ish (?) people.
they broke the dam though.  I've been to a number (including our home parish) which, although former Protestant parishes, were not EOC.

The AOC's were mostly assimilated.  It was the problems of the Middle East which increased the Arabic in the local Arab parishes in the '80s (Intifadah, etc.).
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Incognito777 on December 26, 2013, 11:20:45 PM
I don't know what they do at that monastery. Maybe they use English sometimes. I take back what I said, and any other potentially slanderous information.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on December 27, 2013, 11:56:29 PM
^ sorry but people who identify more with their ethnicity and go to DL because of that rather than God is unacceptable. And that this mentality is allowed is worrisome.

I am very glad you have the ability to read hearts. But, as St. Paul says, strive for the higher gifts.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on December 27, 2013, 11:58:15 PM
Can anyone actually prove this beyond providing personal anecdotes? I have quite a different experience with Greek churches.

My personal experience with Greek churches (limited) is that there is certainly some promotion/praise of Greek culture, but it would be wrong to say that Christ is secondary to this.  Actually, one of the most solid parishes I've ever attended was a Greek parish where the chanters sang everything in Greek--everything--but the priest tried to incorporate a lot of English, was a solid preacher, and devoted to pastoral and educational work and a complete parochial liturgical life.  If I still lived in that area as opposed to where I am now, that would've continued to be my parish, whether or not I eventually switched sides.  

That said, I have enough personal experience with "ethnic" churches generally to believe that others' experience with Greek churches might not be too far off the mark.  But I always feel bad for Greeks because they seem to be the easiest target: Ukrainians, Serbs, Russians, Romanians, even Antiochians have this problem to a greater or lesser extent.  It's not like the Greeks handed over Orthodoxy to all those people and suddenly became godless.  

While we're on the subject of juridictional stereotypes... this year I will likely be moving to a place where there is an Indian Jacobite Orthodox parish about 5 minutes away. There are also Greek churches in the area but further away. Which parish am I more likely to feel uncomfortable in (Chalcedon aside)?

You'd get better food at coffee hour with the Indians, I think.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on December 28, 2013, 12:00:00 AM

You mean you found a parish that isn't an ethnic club outside of Antiochian/ACROD/OCA, even if the later can be seen as having Americanism.
As a note of curiosity, what were the Antiochians like before the mid-1980s? Lots of people talk about how the EOC cohort brought a sea change in how things were done, but despite their very vocal influence to this day the original EOC group was only about 2,000-ish (?) people.

The Antiochians in America were worshiping in English early on.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: vorgos on December 28, 2013, 03:38:46 AM
At Holy Archangels there is a monk who is an MD. He finished his residency and then became a novice (he has since been tonsured a monk). Now his skill is useful for the monastery, as he can write prescriptions for the monks if needed, provide their medical care (if he has the supplies/facilities for it), and can give some emergency attention to visitors should the need arise. He is, of course, a monk first, but his skills as an MD are beneficial when the circumstances require a doctor.

It might be a different story if he were working at a nearby hospital and spending most of his time away from the monastery. But that would be between him, his abbot, and God.

I believe there are a few M.D. monks on Athos who provide the same sort of service.

Yes there are indeed. I had to get stitched up by one of them...  :(
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Antonis on December 28, 2013, 04:32:51 AM
COMMENT: 1) In Phoenix I can go to the GOA Cathedral and endure a 20 minute monologue on the glories of all things Greek, where Christ is mentioned once in passing during the entire homily.

MY REPLY: Most Greek Orthodox people today only care about Greek culture and nation. Christianity is of second importance to them.

COMMENT: Or, 2) I can go to St. Anthony's monastery, worship in one of it's three churches, and hear Christ proclaimed to the heavens...

MY REPLY: Yeah, you'll hear him proclaimed in the Greek language, whom only a few people understand. Speaking in Greek, when most people understand English, is selfish and a tradition of men, which negates the Word of God. The purpose of language is to communicate, not to preserve culture.
As a native Phoenician I can say that the Cathedral is by far the most ethnic of the Greek parishes in the city. Does your first statement still hold water with the Cathedral's new, non-Greek priest?

Quote
I don't know what they do at that monastery. Maybe they use English sometimes. I take back what I said, and any other potentially slanderous information.
From my experience and speaking with the monks, St. Anthony's uses Greek exclusively.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Incognito777 on December 28, 2013, 12:29:15 PM
There is nothing wrong with Elder Ephraim and his monasteries. The problem is that the critics are falling for the lies created by the social engineers who want to create the illusion that Elder Ephraim and his monasteries have something wrong with them, when in reality they don't. The monastery is under attack by modernists, ecumenists and possibly masons which are working against the Orthodox Church. I also think protestant minded and modernist lay people and clergy who don't have a proper understanding of the Church are confused and attacking the monastery.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: FatherGiryus on December 30, 2013, 12:40:00 PM
Well, I think the problem is more complicated than that.

Elder Ephraim largely secludes himself from most people, and has no public voice of his own.  So, there is no way to verify what his teaches are or are not.  To get to him, you have to go through one of a number of people who are within orbit of him.

To do this, many pilgrims come to his monasteries, and talk to the first monk they meet.  The problem is that this monk may or may not share the opinions of Elder Ephraim, but he will talk nonetheless if he has a blessing to do so.  He will share his own opinions, and usually be able to reference them in some way to what he heard the Elder say or, since the elder so rarely speaks at all, what someone else told him the elder said.

The pilgrims assume they have received a 'fatwa' from a genuine spiritual source, and go about executing it with all vigor, only to have it blown up because it was third-hand to begin with and did not suit the actual circumstances.  By the time the divorce is over and the wounds stop bleeding, the damage is done.  Yet, there is no accountability, because monks are not held accountable for their spiritual advice, and laypeople are rarely told to be careful what they ask for.

We want everyone in the parish to be zealous, and on occasion someone takes us up on the offer, not realizing what they are getting themselves into.  Most parishes are in a completely different reality from these monasteries, and most of the monks have forgotten how secularized the average parish is.

We also forget that almost none of us would walk up to a parishioner in the average parish and expect to get teachings exactly as the parish priest does, yet this is what people do all the time in the monastery, forgetting that the monastery is exactly like a parish: there are people at all levels of spiritual development.

What's really sad is that some quarters in Orthodoxy have become personality-cult-driven.  Sure, people are important in the handing down of tradition, but I think that it has become distorted of late.  Anyone who is the least bit observant can see how this is playing out as Greece slowly disappears (http://eu.greekreporter.com/2013/11/20/eurostat-recorded-lowest-eu-birth-rate-in-greece/).  People want 'The Leader' to save them, be it Patriarch Bartholomew or Elder Ephraim.  These are just the Greek examples... you can find it elsewhere, but since we are talking about monasteries in the thick of it, one can see how the desperation for a solution to community problems can lead to over-valuing a single person.

I'm not for or against the monasteries, having never met Elder Ephraim nor visited any of his institutions.  I know a few people who have, and the feedback has been mixed.  So, I will go with that.


There is nothing wrong with Elder Ephraim and his monasteries. The problem is that the critics are falling for the lies created by the social engineers who want to create the illusion that Elder Ephraim and his monasteries have something wrong with them, when in reality they don't. The monastery is under attack by modernists, ecumenists and possibly masons which are working against the Orthodox Church. I also think protestant minded and modernist lay people and clergy who don't have a proper understanding of the Church are confused and attacking the monastery.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: podkarpatska on December 30, 2013, 01:34:24 PM
Well, I think the problem is more complicated than that.

Elder Ephraim largely secludes himself from most people, and has no public voice of his own.  So, there is no way to verify what his teaches are or are not.  To get to him, you have to go through one of a number of people who are within orbit of him.

To do this, many pilgrims come to his monasteries, and talk to the first monk they meet.  The problem is that this monk may or may not share the opinions of Elder Ephraim, but he will talk nonetheless if he has a blessing to do so.  He will share his own opinions, and usually be able to reference them in some way to what he heard the Elder say or, since the elder so rarely speaks at all, what someone else told him the elder said.

The pilgrims assume they have received a 'fatwa' from a genuine spiritual source, and go about executing it with all vigor, only to have it blown up because it was third-hand to begin with and did not suit the actual circumstances.  By the time the divorce is over and the wounds stop bleeding, the damage is done.  Yet, there is no accountability, because monks are not held accountable for their spiritual advice, and laypeople are rarely told to be careful what they ask for.

We want everyone in the parish to be zealous, and on occasion someone takes us up on the offer, not realizing what they are getting themselves into.  Most parishes are in a completely different reality from these monasteries, and most of the monks have forgotten how secularized the average parish is.

We also forget that almost none of us would walk up to a parishioner in the average parish and expect to get teachings exactly as the parish priest does, yet this is what people do all the time in the monastery, forgetting that the monastery is exactly like a parish: there are people at all levels of spiritual development.

What's really sad is that some quarters in Orthodoxy have become personality-cult-driven.  Sure, people are important in the handing down of tradition, but I think that it has become distorted of late.  Anyone who is the least bit observant can see how this is playing out as Greece slowly disappears (http://eu.greekreporter.com/2013/11/20/eurostat-recorded-lowest-eu-birth-rate-in-greece/).  People want 'The Leader' to save them, be it Patriarch Bartholomew or Elder Ephraim.  These are just the Greek examples... you can find it elsewhere, but since we are talking about monasteries in the thick of it, one can see how the desperation for a solution to community problems can lead to over-valuing a single person.

I'm not for or against the monasteries, having never met Elder Ephraim nor visited any of his institutions.  I know a few people who have, and the feedback has been mixed.  So, I will go with that.


There is nothing wrong with Elder Ephraim and his monasteries. The problem is that the critics are falling for the lies created by the social engineers who want to create the illusion that Elder Ephraim and his monasteries have something wrong with them, when in reality they don't. The monastery is under attack by modernists, ecumenists and possibly masons which are working against the Orthodox Church. I also think protestant minded and modernist lay people and clergy who don't have a proper understanding of the Church are confused and attacking the monastery.

I will second Father's thoughtful analysis. Monasteries are integral to Orthodoxy and thOe monastic ideal is incredible, BUT, and this is the big caveat, most of us -clergy and bishops (yes, bishops) included, don't live our lives there or have a true monastic calling. That's OK though. We are sowing the seeds of the Church and living our lives in the world. For most, that is their calling. Cultivate your personal relationship with the men with the greatest impact on your spiritual lives - your parish priests. Yes, they too are imperfect, but there is no mythical Othodox holy man sitting crossed legs atop a foggy mountain dispensing THE answers to life's journey. By all means make pilgrimage and visits to monasteries PART of your life, but don't  become obsessed by them.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: recent convert on December 30, 2013, 01:50:48 PM
Fr. Gyrus,
          It seems to me that the "American" Orthodox Church is choking to death on the ignorance of the laity. If people were willing to be or could be better informed what their faith really is, they might just visit a monastery for enrichment & not seeking  desparate (& probably rooted in some sort of cultural supersition) "guidance" . If the average layperson had adequate catechesis, many of these fiascos could probably be avoided. Many of the monastics that people receive inadequate "guidance" from are probably the spiritual descendents of the wandering prophets mentioned in the Didache & should be respected but usually not directly consulted.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: podkarpatska on December 30, 2013, 02:19:12 PM
Fr. Gyrus,
          It seems to me that the "American" Orthodox Church is choking to death on the ignorance of the laity. If people were willing to be or could be better informed what their faith really is, they might just visit a monastery for enrichment & not seeking  desparate (& probably rooted in some sort of cultural supersition) "guidance" . If the average layperson had adequate catechesis, many of these fiascos could probably be avoided. Many of the monastics that people receive inadequate "guidance" from are probably the spiritual descendents of the wandering prophets mentioned in the Didache & should be respected but usually not directly consulted.

Its easy to blame 'catechesis', but superstition and misinformation - and the earnest and pious search for 'answers' - are as old as Christianity itself.

I do agree with you about respecting most monastics, but not looking to them for your own answers. That is a traditional approach indeed.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: mike on December 30, 2013, 02:23:17 PM
We also forget that almost none of us would walk up to a parishioner in the average parish and expect to get teachings exactly as the parish priest does, yet this is what people do all the time in the monastery, forgetting that the monastery is exactly like a parish: there are people at all levels of spiritual development.

From what I see, people going to monasteries to look for gurus are isolated cases.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on December 30, 2013, 02:26:54 PM

You mean you found a parish that isn't an ethnic club outside of Antiochian/ACROD/OCA, even if the later can be seen as having Americanism.
As a note of curiosity, what were the Antiochians like before the mid-1980s? Lots of people talk about how the EOC cohort brought a sea change in how things were done, but despite their very vocal influence to this day the original EOC group was only about 2,000-ish (?) people.

I really do not think that the EOC changed that much in the Antiochian Archdiocese.  Most Antiochian parishes used English and had converts long before the EOC came into the Church. There were already many convert priests in the Archdiocese long before the EOC. Had the Antiochian Arcdiocese not been welcoming to converts the EOC would not have been received. Even before them, His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV lectured the clergy telling us "We are not here to preach Arabism. We are here to preach Christ." The coming of the EOC only accelerated a process that had already begun.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on December 30, 2013, 02:41:56 PM
Well, a group of Greek Orthodox Christians in Chicago have created a website detailing concerns about Elder Ephraim.  No one identifies themselves on the site; there exists a Facebook group; take it for what it's worth:

http://gotruthreform.org/home/ (http://gotruthreform.org/home/)

Mission Statement:

Quote
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.
What does this prove?  That some people have a problem with the Ephraimite Monasteries is a given.  That they really should, however, remains to be seen.

The real problem is that some of the monks do not show proper respect for the local clergy. When I was in Texas, people would take their children to the monastery to be baptized. I have no problem with that, but before another priest baptizes someone in my parish, I should be informed. There are also many stories of abuse through Confession from monastics who impose excessive penances and ask too many personal questions, especially about sex. Finally, some monastics will tell someone who was received by Chrismation that they are not fully Orthodox and that they should come to the monastery for "corrective baptism," which is wrong and in my opinion heretical because it denies the grace received through Chrismation which perfects whatever was lacking in their non-Orthodox baptism.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on December 30, 2013, 02:53:40 PM
Why does everyone hate Mt. Athos so much?  I'm asking seriously.  People have talking about waiting for the monks up there to die, and I don't understand why.  Are the monks supposed to be the conscience of the Church?

What does everyone hate about these monasteries under the supervision of Athos?

I do not know of anyone who hates Mt. Athos. However, the monks of Mt. Athos are not infallible. Sometimes, they or their followers make statements that are not accurate or theoloically sound. The prime example would be the controversy about the reception of converts. It is historical fact that the Orthodox Church has allowed the reception of converts baptized "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" with water through Chrismation. It is wrong when a monk or someone else questions the Orthodoxy of someone who has been received by Chrismation and suggests that they should undergo "corrective baptism."
Thus we should take Mt. Athos and monasticism seriously, but recognize that the monks of Mt. Athos or any other monastic establishment are not infallible or the last word on what is authentic Orthodoxy.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: recent convert on December 30, 2013, 02:57:13 PM
I think the Antiochians have done a lot; changing the name of the church from "Syrian" to "Antiochian" was probably pioneering. The first pocket, pan Orthodox prayer book in English speaking Orthodox Americans has the imprimatur of Metr. Antony Bashir  & it included a catechism derived from the 19th c. one of Metr. Philaret of Moscow. The Archdiocese also printed 5 books &  levels of catechesis during the 1940s for Americans; why these publications discontinued seems most unfortunate.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on December 30, 2013, 03:04:01 PM
I think the Antiochians have done a lot; changing the name of the church from "Syrian" to "Antiochian" was probably pioneering.

You can thank this man for that:

(http://daleinchina.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/samuel.jpg)

 ;)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: recent convert on December 30, 2013, 03:13:03 PM
I think the Antiochians have done a lot; changing the name of the church from "Syrian" to "Antiochian" was probably pioneering.

You can thank this man for that:

(http://daleinchina.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/samuel.jpg)

 ;)

Honestly, I cannot tell who this is. I know the church was still "Syrian" Orthodox under Ofesh & before his debacle so is this Metr. Bashir? I have check d photos of both & cannot determine this one though.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on December 30, 2013, 03:31:45 PM
No, that is Archbishop Mor Athanasius Yeshu Samuel.  My comment alluded to the court case between what is now known as the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese (EO) and the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese (OO). 
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: recent convert on December 30, 2013, 03:43:45 PM
No, that is Archbishop Mor Athanasius Yeshu Samuel.  My comment alluded to the court case between what is now known as the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese (EO) and the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese (OO). 

OK, I will look into that. Thanks fior the info.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on December 31, 2013, 12:17:22 AM
No, that is Archbishop Mor Athanasius Yeshu Samuel.  My comment alluded to the court case between what is now known as the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese (EO) and the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese (OO). 

Oh those Syrian-tradition OOs and their court cases. Like something out of Dickens.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: podkarpatska on December 31, 2013, 12:20:48 AM
No, that is Archbishop Mor Athanasius Yeshu Samuel.  My comment alluded to the court case between what is now known as the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese (EO) and the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese (OO). 

Oh those Syrian-tradition OOs and their court cases. Like something out of Dickens.

The Ruthenian/Rusyn Greek Catholics have nothing to hold their heads down when it came to notorious property rights court cases in America. ;)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on December 31, 2013, 12:22:54 AM
It's our inner Slav. 
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on December 31, 2013, 12:24:06 AM
No, that is Archbishop Mor Athanasius Yeshu Samuel.  My comment alluded to the court case between what is now known as the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese (EO) and the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese (OO). 

Oh those Syrian-tradition OOs and their court cases. Like something out of Dickens.

The Ruthenian/Rusyn Greek Catholics have nothing to hold their heads down when it came to notorious property rights court cases in America. ;)


And Metropolitan Platon vs. the Living Church.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on December 31, 2013, 12:24:47 AM
It's our inner Slav. 

The Inner Slav doing things the American Way. What does that make?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: FatherGiryus on December 31, 2013, 11:54:47 AM
Dear RC,

I would say that we are 'choking' no more than the rest of Christianity.  American Protestants, despite years and years of Sunday School and Bible Study, are woefully ignorant of even basic doctrine: just ask the average self-proclaimed Christian in America to name all the Apostles or even the origins of the Biblical canon.  Then they get really puzzled when you ask them why Jesus is always depicted with long hair... is that in the Bible?

I regularly teach a catechism class which is oriented towards Protestant converts, and what we do is read through the Old Testament and show the biblical foundations of Orthodoxy.  The attendees spend most of their time gasping for air, because they once prided themselves on knowing the Bible, until they see that they had a very narrow awareness of it.  Let's also not forget that mainline Protestantism is not only choking on the ignorance of the laity, it is becoming moribund: around here (Los Angeles area), many historic Protestant churches are being sold and 'converted' for other uses.  Sure, part of it is 'white flight' out into the desert, like Simi Valley or Valencia, but our overall church membership numbers are plunging.

In traditional Orthodoxy, people going to monasteries and getting advice is not a mark of desperation, but actually how the 'system' is designed.  In Russia, Romania, etc. the average priest has a high school diploma from a seminary-school.  He's not a theologian, and is only expected to provide sacraments and very basic catechesis.  Only a small number of clergy go on to 'academy' and get graduate degrees.  More in-depth instruction is naturally done in a monastery or at a cathedral with better-trained clergy.

In America, all the clergy are expected to have an MDiv (this more or less happens, though there are plenty of exceptions as Fr. Morris can attest), which is why most priests are made Archpriests after a rather short period of time.  In Romania, Archpriests were mostly limited to Deans, meaning around 1 in 100 priests. Over here, the average priest has a great deal more responsibility, because he is expected to provide everything for his people.

Meanwhile, our monasteries are small and usually inexperienced: most of them are still headed by their founding superior.  The monasteries have little depth of experience, and many of the monks are themselves converts with limited experience.  For example, the OCA's Metropolitan Tikhon converted at St. Tikhon's Monastery and never had any dealings with a parish until he was made a bishop.  You don't find that awkwardness overseas, whereas here this is not only not an impossibility, it is almost expected.

The truth is that, if you are serious about your faith, you cannot depend upon your parish priest, nor can you depend on the local monastery.  You need them all, but you cannot ever say that any one of them is 'infallible.'  You need to read and study and question.  Orthodox Christianity is not about easy answers handed out in easy-to-digest pellets, but rather about an ascetic struggle to find that Pearl of Great Price.  Once you find it, it is yours in a way that cannot be shaken.

You don't learn it, you earn it.  That's why you have to carry your cross while following Christ.



Fr. Gyrus,
          It seems to me that the "American" Orthodox Church is choking to death on the ignorance of the laity. If people were willing to be or could be better informed what their faith really is, they might just visit a monastery for enrichment & not seeking  desparate (& probably rooted in some sort of cultural supersition) "guidance" . If the average layperson had adequate catechesis, many of these fiascos could probably be avoided. Many of the monastics that people receive inadequate "guidance" from are probably the spiritual descendents of the wandering prophets mentioned in the Didache & should be respected but usually not directly consulted.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on December 31, 2013, 11:59:04 AM
No, that is Archbishop Mor Athanasius Yeshu Samuel.  My comment alluded to the court case between what is now known as the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese (EO) and the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese (OO). 

Oh those Syrian-tradition OOs and their court cases. Like something out of Dickens.

In Arabic, the term Syrian refers to the non-Chalcedonian Syrian or Syriac Orthodox Church. Eastern Orthodox are called Rhum because the Turks organized their government according to religious affiliation. Those called Syrian were the Syriac Church, those called Eastern or Greek Orthodox were called Rhum from their association with the Eastern Roman Empire. In America we call ourselves Antiochian Orthodox in about 1970 because we are under the Patriarchate of Antioch. Besides the title Antiochian has no ethnic implications and is appropriate because we not only have many people of Lebanese and Palestinian heritage, we also have many converts and Orthodox from various other ethnic heritages, because we use English and welcome all people regardless of their ethnic background. Originally some of our Churches called themselves Syrian Orthodox because the people who founded our first parishes came from what was then called Greater Syria for the separate nations of Syria and Lebanon did not yet exist. Since I am neither of Syrian nor of Lebanese heritage, I can identify with Antioch as one of the ancient Churches and as the first place where Christians were first called Christian.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: FatherGiryus on December 31, 2013, 12:03:48 PM
Dear Fr. John,

I have a number of old books from the Archdiocese, and they all show that the Archdiocese was originally incorporated using the term 'Syrian.'  'Antiochian' came about late in the time of Metropolitan Antony (Bashir).  This is why SOYO was originally the 'Syrian Orthodox Youth Organization.'


No, that is Archbishop Mor Athanasius Yeshu Samuel.  My comment alluded to the court case between what is now known as the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese (EO) and the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese (OO). 

Oh those Syrian-tradition OOs and their court cases. Like something out of Dickens.

In Arabic, the term Syrian refers to the non-Chalcedonian Syrian or Syriac Orthodox Church. Eastern Orthodox are called Rhum because the Turks organized their government according to religious affiliation. Those called Syrian were the Syriac Church, those called Eastern or Greek Orthodox were called Rhum from their association with the Eastern Roman Empire. In America we call ourselves Antiochian Orthodox because we are under the Patriarchate of Antioch. Originally some of our Churches called themselves Syrian Orthodox because the people came from what was then called Greater Syria for the separate nations of Syria and Lebanon did not yet exist.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on December 31, 2013, 12:24:12 PM
Dear Fr. John,

I have a number of old books from the Archdiocese, and they all show that the Archdiocese was originally incorporated using the term 'Syrian.'  'Antiochian' came about late in the time of Metropolitan Antony (Bashir).  This is why SOYO was originally the 'Syrian Orthodox Youth Organization.'


No, that is Archbishop Mor Athanasius Yeshu Samuel.  My comment alluded to the court case between what is now known as the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese (EO) and the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese (OO). 

Oh those Syrian-tradition OOs and their court cases. Like something out of Dickens.

In Arabic, the term Syrian refers to the non-Chalcedonian Syrian or Syriac Orthodox Church. Eastern Orthodox are called Rhum because the Turks organized their government according to religious affiliation. Those called Syrian were the Syriac Church, those called Eastern or Greek Orthodox were called Rhum from their association with the Eastern Roman Empire. In America we call ourselves Antiochian Orthodox because we are under the Patriarchate of Antioch. Originally some of our Churches called themselves Syrian Orthodox because the people came from what was then called Greater Syria for the separate nations of Syria and Lebanon did not yet exist.

That is correct we were originally called Syrian Antiochian, but dropped the name Syrian in about 1970.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Elisha on December 31, 2013, 01:15:46 PM
Fr. Gyrus,
          It seems to me that the "American" Orthodox Church is choking to death on the ignorance of the laity. If people were willing to be or could be better informed what their faith really is, they might just visit a monastery for enrichment & not seeking  desparate (& probably rooted in some sort of cultural supersition) "guidance" . If the average layperson had adequate catechesis, many of these fiascos could probably be avoided. Many of the monastics that people receive inadequate "guidance" from are probably the spiritual descendents of the wandering prophets mentioned in the Didache & should be respected but usually not directly consulted.

Its easy to blame 'catechesis', but superstition and misinformation - and the earnest and pious search for 'answers' - are as old as Christianity itself.

I do agree with you about respecting most monastics, but not looking to them for your own answers. That is a traditional approach indeed.

Furthermore, I would assume for converts on a general basis, that 1) catechesis is well done on average but 2) for most "cradles", not so much.  The reason being, not because they are NOT catechized, but that when they enter as a newborn, there is no "education barrier" as with adult (or even pre-adult/child) converts.  You can't make babies read books and test them.  Then it is up to the individual/parents/god-parents to make sure the person keeps going to church, actively TRIES to learn about their faith (and not just culture) and then continues in that faith.  Converts make active decisions as adults and intensely learn about the faith - just that they have "baggage" of varying degrees (minor to major) from their former experiences.  Cradles can be stuck in their culture and with crazy superstitions while converts can be stuck with "baggage" from their former experiences.  On the other hand, cradles can provide "gravitas" and mentoring through a lived experience and converts can bring a fresh zeal to the faith.  These are of course VERY general statements.  At my parish in NorCal, while we have typical Prot/RC converts, we have many that come from non-Christian, agnostic/atheitst, and even pagan backgrounds such that the usual books that "target" converts from Prot/RC backgrounds don't really apply.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Elisha on December 31, 2013, 01:28:36 PM

...

The truth is that, if you are serious about your faith, you cannot depend upon your parish priest, nor can you depend on the local monastery.  You need them all, but you cannot ever say that any one of them is 'infallible.'  You need to read and study and question.  Orthodox Christianity is not about easy answers handed out in easy-to-digest pellets, but rather about an ascetic struggle to find that Pearl of Great Price.  Once you find it, it is yours in a way that cannot be shaken.

You don't learn it, you earn it.  That's why you have to carry your cross while following Christ.



Fr. Gyrus,
          It seems to me that the "American" Orthodox Church is choking to death on the ignorance of the laity. If people were willing to be or could be better informed what their faith really is, they might just visit a monastery for enrichment & not seeking  desparate (& probably rooted in some sort of cultural supersition) "guidance" . If the average layperson had adequate catechesis, many of these fiascos could probably be avoided. Many of the monastics that people receive inadequate "guidance" from are probably the spiritual descendents of the wandering prophets mentioned in the Didache & should be respected but usually not directly consulted.

I don't normally say this, but POM material above from Fr. Gyrus.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Αριστοκλής on December 31, 2013, 01:48:01 PM
^ Second that.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: mike on December 31, 2013, 01:54:17 PM
^ Second that.

Has anyone reported it or shall I do it?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on December 31, 2013, 07:09:04 PM
Fr. Gyrus,
          It seems to me that the "American" Orthodox Church is choking to death on the ignorance of the laity. If people were willing to be or could be better informed what their faith really is, they might just visit a monastery for enrichment & not seeking  desparate (& probably rooted in some sort of cultural supersition) "guidance" . If the average layperson had adequate catechesis, many of these fiascos could probably be avoided. Many of the monastics that people receive inadequate "guidance" from are probably the spiritual descendents of the wandering prophets mentioned in the Didache & should be respected but usually not directly consulted.

Its easy to blame 'catechesis', but superstition and misinformation - and the earnest and pious search for 'answers' - are as old as Christianity itself.

I do agree with you about respecting most monastics, but not looking to them for your own answers. That is a traditional approach indeed.

Furthermore, I would assume for converts on a general basis, that 1) catechesis is well done on average but 2) for most "cradles", not so much.  The reason being, not because they are NOT catechized, but that when they enter as a newborn, there is no "education barrier" as with adult (or even pre-adult/child) converts.  You can't make babies read books and test them.  Then it is up to the individual/parents/god-parents to make sure the person keeps going to church, actively TRIES to learn about their faith (and not just culture) and then continues in that faith.  Converts make active decisions as adults and intensely learn about the faith - just that they have "baggage" of varying degrees (minor to major) from their former experiences.  Cradles can be stuck in their culture and with crazy superstitions while converts can be stuck with "baggage" from their former experiences.  On the other hand, cradles can provide "gravitas" and mentoring through a lived experience and converts can bring a fresh zeal to the faith.  These are of course VERY general statements.  At my parish in NorCal, while we have typical Prot/RC converts, we have many that come from non-Christian, agnostic/atheitst, and even pagan backgrounds such that the usual books that "target" converts from Prot/RC backgrounds don't really apply.

That is a generalization. We have adult Bible studies for the adults and Sunday School for the children. I have seen too many converts who bring with them Western attitudes, especially legalism and as a result fall victim to fundamentalist within Orthodoxy by obsession with beards, cassocks on the street and other non-essentials. Becoming Orthodox requires more than acceptance of certain doctrines. It also requires that the convert learn how to think like an Orthodox Christian. It sometimes takes years before a convert learns how to think like an Orthodox Christian.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Jovan on December 31, 2013, 07:16:18 PM
Totally agree Father, some of the things that were mentioned can easily be seen here in Sweden sa well
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: podkarpatska on December 31, 2013, 08:25:04 PM
Father, you beat me to the response. I agree with you.

By the way, a most Happy New Year! And thanks for joining here, your presence came along at a critical juncture - along with the return of Mor. We may not always agree, but you always post informative and thoughtful comments.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on December 31, 2013, 08:52:32 PM
Father, you beat me to the response. I agree with you.

By the way, a most Happy New Year! And thanks for joining here, your presence came along at a critical juncture - along with the return of Mor. We may not always agree, but you always post informative and thoughtful comments.

Thank you for your kind comments on my comments.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 01, 2014, 03:28:14 PM

 I'm not a big fan of the US/Canada based Elder Ephraim Monasteries, like St. Anthony's.  What I read into the sermon sounded more like cult thinking than Orthodox Christianity and the "sinister religious figures" were meant to be direct comparisons to cults whose "center of worship" was in the center of the compound, just as Father Peck proposed.


For those that don't know. Elder Ephraim was a disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast of Mount Athos.  Elder Ephraim is the first to establish an authentic Athonite monastery on American soil. I don't see why so many people are so critical about anything having to do with the Orthodox Monastic life.
Elder Ephraim has 17 monastery's in NA that are under his spiritual guidance. Along with many more on Mount Athos. From what I hear Elder Ephraim is a very humble man. I just don't see why he is so often criticized.

There are too many stories about problems that are allegedly caused by some monks and nuns for some of them not to be true.
The problem is not what they do in the monasteries. That is only between them, God and the Bishop. The problem is a lack of communication between the monks and the pastors of the people they advise. Sometimes ideas that come from some monks and nuns filter down to the parish and undermine the position of the local pastor. Some of the devotees of The Elder Ephraim have some very radical ideas and can be very judgmental of other Orthodox who do not share their understanding of Orthodoxy.  One problem is that some of the monks and nuns ask too many personal questions about the sexual relations of married people, and teach that all forms of conception control, including those that are non-abortive are sinful. Since the Eastern Orthodox Church has not spoken definitively on this issue the opinion that non-abortive methods of birth control are sinful is at best a theologoumena. If a monk or nun tell someone who was received into the Church by Chrismation that they are not fully Orthodox or should come to the monastery for a so called corrective baptism, they are wrong. If monks baptize someone without first receiving approval from their pastor, they are wrong. If a monk or nun tells someone not to listen to their pastor, because they consider him a "modernist" they are wrong. Most of the criticism of Orthodox ecumenism is false because some people confuse the Protestant view of ecumenism with the Orthodox view of ecumenism. The two views are very different. Orthodox ecumenism is a means to witness the Faith of Orthodoxy to non-Orthodox and has made it clear that union with non-Orthodox can only come about by mutual agreement on the Faith of the ancient undivided Church of the Holy Fathers and the 7 Ecumenical Councils. The witness of Orthodox involved in ecumenical activities is clear and uncompromising. We believe that the Eastern Orthodox Church is "the living realization of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Churh."

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Maria on January 01, 2014, 03:31:08 PM
Father, you beat me to the response. I agree with you.

By the way, a most Happy New Year! And thanks for joining here, your presence came along at a critical juncture - along with the return of Mor. We may not always agree, but you always post informative and thoughtful comments.

I agree. Not only are Father's responses calm, reasonable, and sober, but they reflect the teachings of the Orthodox Church.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Gunnarr on January 05, 2014, 05:31:39 PM
Well, a group of Greek Orthodox Christians in Chicago have created a website detailing concerns about Elder Ephraim.  No one identifies themselves on the site; there exists a Facebook group; take it for what it's worth:

http://gotruthreform.org/home/ (http://gotruthreform.org/home/)

Mission Statement:

Quote
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.
What does this prove?  That some people have a problem with the Ephraimite Monasteries is a given.  That they really should, however, remains to be seen.

The real problem is that some of the monks do not show proper respect for the local clergy. When I was in Texas, people would take their children to the monastery to be baptized. I have no problem with that, but before another priest baptizes someone in my parish, I should be informed. There are also many stories of abuse through Confession from monastics who impose excessive penances and ask too many personal questions, especially about sex. Finally, some monastics will tell someone who was received by Chrismation that they are not fully Orthodox and that they should come to the monastery for "corrective baptism," which is wrong and in my opinion heretical because it denies the grace received through Chrismation which perfects whatever was lacking in their non-Orthodox baptism.

Fr. John W. Morris

Which monasteries are these stories attached to, namely the ones you say of monastics asking too many personal questions about sex.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Maria on January 05, 2014, 06:12:50 PM
Well, a group of Greek Orthodox Christians in Chicago have created a website detailing concerns about Elder Ephraim.  No one identifies themselves on the site; there exists a Facebook group; take it for what it's worth:

http://gotruthreform.org/home/ (http://gotruthreform.org/home/)

Mission Statement:

Quote
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.
What does this prove?  That some people have a problem with the Ephraimite Monasteries is a given.  That they really should, however, remains to be seen.

The real problem is that some of the monks do not show proper respect for the local clergy. When I was in Texas, people would take their children to the monastery to be baptized. I have no problem with that, but before another priest baptizes someone in my parish, I should be informed. There are also many stories of abuse through Confession from monastics who impose excessive penances and ask too many personal questions, especially about sex. Finally, some monastics will tell someone who was received by Chrismation that they are not fully Orthodox and that they should come to the monastery for "corrective baptism," which is wrong and in my opinion heretical because it denies the grace received through Chrismation which perfects whatever was lacking in their non-Orthodox baptism.

Fr. John W. Morris

Which monasteries are these stories attached to, namely the ones you say of monastics asking too many personal questions about sex.

We should not make a mountain out of a mole hill. Rarely will monastics ask personal questions about sex as they are trying to live the angelic life. However, there are certain schismatic groups and psychotic personalities whose pastors not only ask too many personal questions about sex in order to micromanage and humiliate the parishioners, but also make off the wall statements in order to throw one off guard. One must be so very careful when choosing a "spiritual father," especially if that "spiritual father" demands unquestioning obedience and wants to micromanage your personal life, including where you work, how you vote, what you wear, what you read, where you shop, and what you buy.

Good Guys Wear Black has some excellent articles warning about those pastors and parish council members who attempt to micromanage. They can destroy parishes and individuals.

http://goodguyswearblack.org/category/general/
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Velsigne on January 06, 2014, 12:49:16 AM
I have been to one of the monasteries like half a dozen times both to work and to pray, and no one has ever asked me anything about sex.

I've seen them be very gracious to some pretty inappropriate people.

I've also had two occasions to speak with the Abbot of St. Anthony's while there, and he never said anything inappropriate to me or to a non-Orthodox family member who I took for an urgent issue, for which he stepped right up to the plate.  It was a miracle I got the person there at all.  I called ahead of time, explained the situation, was told I could come, asked for prayer, and I know there is a tremendous amount of grace there that made the whole thing possible.  He gave that person a really frank discussion about certain behaviors though, because that person needed to hear it, and I was too afraid to say it in that situation.  And he told me what to expect as I left the monastery, and it was totally accurate.  For my personal visit, he didn't give me some gigantic monastic burden, and he was really nice to talk with me at all.  He was really straight and clear.  He looked exhausted after talking with so many people, but he talked to every single person every single time.  People waited for hours and hours to talk with him, even his own family, and he just kept going. 

I also know at least two people who have the same Abbot as a Spiritual Father, and though I wouldn't ask them any particulars, I've never heard about all this impossible burden imposed on married couples except on the internet, which now is recited by local Orthodox who've never seen him or been to one of the monasteries.  It looks a) a bunch of hearsay b) none of anyone else's business unless there is some type of abuse going on. 

Otherwise, I just visit to pray with them and try to not be a burden to anyone, nor do I generally seek monastic counsel, but rather deal with our parish priest who knows me and who is very balanced, though he gave a blessing to seek counsel there if I wish to.  He wouldn't do that if he thought there was any problem with it.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 06, 2014, 11:56:21 AM
Elder Ephraim's monasteries, St. Anthony's included, do not seem, from my experience, to be centers of guruism. Never seen anyone from the monasteries latch on to potential disciple recruits. This has happened at monasteries not associated with Elder Ephraim (or canonical Orthodoxy).
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: jah777 on January 06, 2014, 12:50:16 PM
I have been to one of the monasteries like half a dozen times both to work and to pray, and no one has ever asked me anything about sex.

I've seen them be very gracious to some pretty inappropriate people.

I've also had two occasions to speak with the Abbot of St. Anthony's while there, and he never said anything inappropriate to me or to a non-Orthodox family member who I took for an urgent issue, for which he stepped right up to the plate.  It was a miracle I got the person there at all.  I called ahead of time, explained the situation, was told I could come, asked for prayer, and I know there is a tremendous amount of grace there that made the whole thing possible.  He gave that person a really frank discussion about certain behaviors though, because that person needed to hear it, and I was too afraid to say it in that situation.  And he told me what to expect as I left the monastery, and it was totally accurate.  For my personal visit, he didn't give me some gigantic monastic burden, and he was really nice to talk with me at all.  He was really straight and clear.  He looked exhausted after talking with so many people, but he talked to every single person every single time.  People waited for hours and hours to talk with him, even his own family, and he just kept going. 

I also know at least two people who have the same Abbot as a Spiritual Father, and though I wouldn't ask them any particulars, I've never heard about all this impossible burden imposed on married couples except on the internet, which now is recited by local Orthodox who've never seen him or been to one of the monasteries.  It looks a) a bunch of hearsay b) none of anyone else's business unless there is some type of abuse going on. 

Otherwise, I just visit to pray with them and try to not be a burden to anyone, nor do I generally seek monastic counsel, but rather deal with our parish priest who knows me and who is very balanced, though he gave a blessing to seek counsel there if I wish to.  He wouldn't do that if he thought there was any problem with it.

Thank you for your story.  I have visited a few monasteries under Elder Ephraim, had one of the abbots as my spiritual father, and since moving far from that particular monastery I now have a different abbot as spiritual father.  I have only been very blessed and helped by my spiritual fathers, and as a married man with several children; my wife and I have not felt burdened or treated in any way inappropriately.  The first words that come to mind with regard to the monasteries is they are a great refuge and are springs in the midst of a spiritual desert.  If someone has not been to confession at the monasteries and has not spoken at length with the abbots of any of the monasteries, they simply do not know what they are talking about and should not express themselves on the subject of the monasteries.  Inevitably, those who do so end  up repeating gossip and unverifiable rumors made by anonymous people with uncertain motives.  As Christians, we should refrain from spreading such gossip and rumors lest we inadvertently fall into the sins of slander and bearing false witness. 
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 06, 2014, 02:17:43 PM
I have visited a few monasteries under Elder Ephraim, had one of the abbots as my spiritual father, and since moving far from that particular monastery I now have a different abbot as spiritual father.  I have only been very blessed and helped by my spiritual fathers, and as a married man with several children; my wife and I have not felt burdened or treated in any way inappropriately.  The first words that come to mind with regard to the monasteries is they are a great refuge and are springs in the midst of a spiritual desert.  If someone has not been to confession at the monasteries and has not spoken at length with the abbots of any of the monasteries, they simply do not know what they are talking about and should not express themselves on the subject of the monasteries.  Inevitably, those who do so end  up repeating gossip and unverifiable rumors made by anonymous people with uncertain motives.  As Christians, we should refrain from spreading such gossip and rumors lest we inadvertently fall into the sins of slander and bearing false witness. 

I can't speak from experience regarding issues of confession or spiritual direction, but based on my experience visiting a few of the monasteries under Elder Ephraim (one for men, two for women) and my confessor's account of his experience while on pilgrimage at St Anthony's, these monasteries don't seem to be the creepy culty places they are made out to be.  Even as a non-EO, I've always been made to feel welcome, allowed to pray in the church (though, of course, not to commune), spend time in silence, eat, chat with the monastics...one of the Abbesses even gave me a tour of her monastery, and some visiting Greek ladies told me how blessed I was that she chose to spend time with me and give me the tour herself rather than delegate it to someone else (not sure if and/or to what extent they were exaggerating, but I figure an Abbess has better things to do with her time than show me around).  The monastics I've met were, to a (wo)man, kind, warm, welcoming, loving people (the women more so than the men, but I suppose that's to be expected). 

The people who frequent these monasteries are pious, and piety can seem weird to the non-pious, but other than piety, they were rather normal, not at all groupies.  I've met more bizarre clergy and people in parishes, seminaries, and other conventional places that don't get all the flack that monasteries get.  Some come for spiritual direction, to return to the sacraments, to pray and meditate, but others come to enjoy the peace and quiet, spend time on the grounds, buy baked goods from the gift shop...in other words, they come for a bit of a reprieve from normal life, but choose to do so in a spiritual atmosphere and not in some vacation spot.  They come on their own, or with their priests and with parish groups, and at all of the monasteries I've been to, the monastics have had excellent relations with the local parishes and their clergy.     

I don't want to judge, but certainly the "horror stories" going around about Elder Ephraim's monasteries don't match in any way what I see and experience when I spend time with these people.  Actually, I can't think of a monastery in America, OO or EO, that I've visited where I've had a bad experience, and that includes at least one Old Calendarist monastery.             
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: IXOYE on January 06, 2014, 03:24:18 PM
I have been to one of the monasteries like half a dozen times both to work and to pray, and no one has ever asked me anything about sex.

I've seen them be very gracious to some pretty inappropriate people.

I've also had two occasions to speak with the Abbot of St. Anthony's while there, and he never said anything inappropriate to me or to a non-Orthodox family member who I took for an urgent issue, for which he stepped right up to the plate.  It was a miracle I got the person there at all.  I called ahead of time, explained the situation, was told I could come, asked for prayer, and I know there is a tremendous amount of grace there that made the whole thing possible.  He gave that person a really frank discussion about certain behaviors though, because that person needed to hear it, and I was too afraid to say it in that situation.  And he told me what to expect as I left the monastery, and it was totally accurate.  For my personal visit, he didn't give me some gigantic monastic burden, and he was really nice to talk with me at all.  He was really straight and clear.  He looked exhausted after talking with so many people, but he talked to every single person every single time.  People waited for hours and hours to talk with him, even his own family, and he just kept going. 

I also know at least two people who have the same Abbot as a Spiritual Father, and though I wouldn't ask them any particulars, I've never heard about all this impossible burden imposed on married couples except on the internet, which now is recited by local Orthodox who've never seen him or been to one of the monasteries.  It looks a) a bunch of hearsay b) none of anyone else's business unless there is some type of abuse going on. 

Otherwise, I just visit to pray with them and try to not be a burden to anyone, nor do I generally seek monastic counsel, but rather deal with our parish priest who knows me and who is very balanced, though he gave a blessing to seek counsel there if I wish to.  He wouldn't do that if he thought there was any problem with it.

Thank you, Velsigne, for posting your experiences.

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: IXOYE on January 06, 2014, 03:30:27 PM
Inevitably, those who do so end up repeating gossip and unverifiable rumors made by anonymous people with uncertain motives. 

You make an important point.

Thank you as well for posting your experiences.

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 06, 2014, 07:42:16 PM
Quote from: Maria link=topic=17649.msg
[/quote

We should not make a mountain out of a mole hill. Rarely will monastics ask personal questions about sex as they are trying to live the angelic life.

Unfortunately, I have heard differently directly from people who have been to confession at some monasteries. I have also had the experience of serving a mission close to one of these monasteries. The monks Baptized  children from my parish without having the courtesy to inform me. One of our Antiochian Bishops has told me about the problems caused by monks telling people received into the Orthodox Church by Chrismation that they are were not properly received into the Church and need to come to the monastery for a so called corrective Baptism. It is heresy to Baptize someone who was received into the Eastern Orthodox Church through Chrismation, because it denies the grace that they received through their Chrismation, which perfects whatever was lacking in their non-Orthodox Baptism.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Velsigne on January 06, 2014, 11:49:15 PM
Unfortunately, I have heard differently directly from people who have been to confession at some monasteries. I have also had the experience of serving a mission close to one of these monasteries. The monks Baptized  children from my parish without having the courtesy to inform me. One of our Antiochian Bishops has told me about the problems caused by monks telling people received into the Orthodox Church by Chrismation that they are were not properly received into the Church and need to come to the monastery for a so called corrective Baptism. It is heresy to Baptize someone who was received into the Eastern Orthodox Church through Chrismation, because it denies the grace that they received through their Chrismation, which perfects whatever was lacking in their non-Orthodox Baptism.

Fr. John W. Morris

Have you gone through the proper jurisdictional channels to address this? 

Glancing at the second Ecumenical Council Canon 7 and sixth Ecumenical Council Canon 95, how is it determined from which group the penitent heretic hails?   

Canon 7:
  "As for those heretics who betake themselves to Orthodoxy, and to the lot of the saved, we accept them in accordance with the subjoined sequence and custom; viz.: Arians, and Macedonians, and Sabbatians, and Novatians, those calling themselves Cathari (or “Puritans”), and (those calling themselves) Aristeri[60] (Note of Translator. — This designation may be based upon the Greek word aristos, meaning “best,” though as a word it signifies “lefthand.”), and the Quartodecimans (quasi “Fourteenthists,” to use the English language in this connection), otherwise known as Tetradites (though in English this term is applied to an entirely different group of heretics), and Apollinarians we accept when they offer libelli (i.e., recantations in writing) and anathematize every heresy that does not hold the same beliefs as the catholic and apostolic Church of God, and are sealed first with holy myron (more usually called “chrism” in English) on their forehead and their eyes, and nose, and mouth, and ears; and in sealing them we say: “A seal of a free gift of Holy Spirit.” As for Eunomians, however, who are baptized with a single immersion, and Montanists, who are here called Phrygians, and the Sabellians, who teach that Father and Son are the same person, and who do some other bad things, and (those belonging to) any other heresies (for there are many heretics here, especially such as come from the country of the Galatians:[61] all of them that want to adhere to Orthodoxy we are willing to accept as Greeks. Accordingly, on the first day we make (Note of Translator. — The meaning of this word here is more exactly rendered “treat as”) them Christians; on the second day, catechumens; then, on the third day, we exorcize them with the act of blowing thrice into their face and into their ears; and thus do we catechize them, and we make them tarry a while in the church and listen to the Scriptures; and then we baptize them."


Canon 95: "As for heretics who are joining Orthodoxy and the portion of the saved, we accept them in accordance with the subjoined sequence and custom. Arians and Macedonians and Novations, who called themselves Cathari[236] and Aristeri,[237] and the Tessarakaidekatitae, or, at any rate, those called Tetradites and Apolinarists, we accept, when they give us certificates (called libelli); and when they anathematize every heresy that does not believe as the holy catholic and Apostolic Church of God believes, and are sealed, i. e., are anointed first with holy myron on the forehead and the eyes, and the nose and mouth, and the ears, while we are anointing them and sealing them we say, “A seal of a gift of Holy Spirit.” As concerning Paulianists who have afterwards taken refuge in the Catholic Church, a definition has been promulgated that they have to be rebaptized without fail. As for Eunomians, however, who baptize with a single immersion, and Montanists who are hereabouts called Phrygians and Sabellians, who hold the tenet Hyiopatoria (or modalistic monarchianism) and do other embarrassing things; and all other heresies — for there are many hereabouts, especially those hailing from the country of the Galatians[238] — as for all of them who wish to join Orthodoxy, we accept them as Greeks. Accordingly, on the first day, we make them Christians; on the second day, catechumens; after this, on the third day we exorcise them by breathing three times into their faces and into their ears. And thus we catechize them, and make them stay for a long time in church and listen to the Scriptures, and then we baptize them. As for Manicheans, and Valentinians, and Marcionists, and those from similar heresies, they have to give us certificates (called libelli) and anathematize their heresy, the Nestorians, and Nestorius, and Eutyches and Dioscorus, and Severus, and the other exarchs of such heresies, and those who entertain their beliefs, and all the aforementioned heresies, and thus they are allowed to partake of holy Communion."





On what exactly are you basing your very public charge of heresy? 

My baptismal certificate from the Greek Archdiocese is signed by the Priest who performed the Sacrament of Baptism, the sponsor and approved by the Metropolitan.  Are you saying that the presiding Metropolitan did not approve those baptisms, or that there is something amiss that should be brought to the attention of the Metropolitan? 

Is it correct protocol to bring these charges on an internet forum, without having the Metropolitan in charge of that monastery present, or possibly not even informed of what has taken place?

Here are the only relevant Canons I could find, and which have given me great pause when considering your post:

Second Ecumenical Canon 6:
 

"If, however, certain persons are neither heretics nor excluded from communion, nor condemned, nor previously charged with any offenses, should declare that they have an accusation of an ecclesiastical nature against a Bishop, the holy Council bids these persons to lodge their accusations before all the Bishops of the province and before them to prove the charges against the Bishop involved in the case. But if it so happen that the provincial Bishops are unable to or incompetent to decide the case against the Bishop and make the correction due, then they are to go to a greater synod of the Bishops of this diocese summoned to try this case. And they are not to lodge the accusation until they themselves have in writing agreed to incur the same penalty if in the course of the trial it be proved that they have been slandering the accused Bishop. But if anyone, scorning what has been decreed in the foregoing statements, should dare either to annoy the emperor’s ears or to trouble courts of secular authorities or an ecumenical council to the affrontment of all the Bishops of the diocese, let no such person be allowed to present any information whatever, because of his having thus roundly insulted the Canons and ecclesiastical discipline."



Fourth Ecumenical Council Canon 9:


If any Clergyman has a dispute with another, let him not leave his own Bishop and resort to secular courts, but let him first submit his case to his own Bishop, or let it be tried by referees chosen by both parties and approved by the Bishop. Let anyone who acts contrary hereto be liable to Canonical penalties. If, on the other hand, a Clergyman has a dispute with his own Bishop, or with some other Bishop, let it be tried by the Synod of the province. But if any Bishop or Clergyman has a dispute with the Metropolitan of the same province, let him apply either to the Exarch of the diocese or to the throne of the imperial capital Constantinople, and let it be tried before him.




Did the standing Bishops of the Americas not just have a meeting to begin to address these jurisdictional issues in real and tangible ways?  Was this issue brought up before the Bishops in that meeting? 

Did they all point fingers and each other and declare one another a heretic?

Fourth Ecumenical Council Canon 12:

It has come to our knowledge that some persons, by resorting to the civil authorities, have obtained pragmatics whereby they have contrived to divide one province into two, contrary to the ecclesiastical Canons, and as a result there are two Metropolitans in one and the same province. The holy Council has therefore made it a rule that no Bishop shall hereafter be allowed to do such a thing. For, if anyone shall attempt to do so, he shall forfeit his own rank. As for all those cities which have already been honored with the name of Metropolis by letters of the Emperor, let them enjoy only the honor, and likewise the Bishop who is administering its church; it being left plain that the rights properly belonging to the real Metropolis are to be preserved to this Metropolis (alone)

Fourth Ecumenical Council Canon 18:


The crime of conspiracy, or of faction (i.e., of factious partisanship), already prohibited by secular laws, ought still more to be forbidden to obtain in the Church of God. If, therefore, there be found any Clergymen, or Monastics, to be conspiring or to be engaged in factiousness of any kind, or hatching plots against Bishops or Fellow Clergymen[103] they shall forfeit their own rank altogether.

Fourth Ecumenical Council Canon 19:

 It has come to our ears that the canonically prescribed Synods of Bishops are not held in the provinces, and as a result of this fact many ecclesiastical matters in need of correction are neglected. The holy Council, therefore, has made it a rule, in accordance with the Canons of the Holy Fathers, for the Bishops to meet twice a year in convention somewhere in each province, wherever the Bishop of the Metropolis designates, and for all matters to be corrected that may come up. As for those Bishops, on the other hand, who fail to attend the meeting, but who, instead of doing so, remain at home in their respective cities, and lead their lives therein in good health and free from every indispensable and necessary occupation, they are to be reprimanded in a brotherly way.



Fourth Ecumenical Council Canon 21:


Clergymen or laymen accusing Bishops or Clergymen are not to be allowed to file charges against them promiscuously and without investigation until their own reputation has been examined into.

Did you perchance wear any non-clerical garb in the week preceding chrismation? 


Sixth Ecumenical Council Canon 6:


 Let no one on the Clerical List don inappropriate clothing, either when living in the city or when walking the road; but, on the contrary, let him wear costumes that have already been assigned to the use of those who are enrolled in the Clergy. If anyone should commit such a violation, let him be excommunicated for one week.



Sixth Ecumenical Council Canon 31:

 As for those Clergymen who hold a liturgy in oratories or prayerhouses or in private residences, or who carry out a baptism therein, without having obtained the consent of the local Bishop to do this, we decree that if any Clergyman fail to guard against doing this, let him be deposed from office.

Sixth Ecumenical Council Canon 34:

In view of the fact that the sacerdotal Canon clearly states that as the crime of conspiracy or of faction is utterly forbidden even by civil laws, it is much more fitting still that this be prohibited from occurring in the Church of God, we too are sedulous to insist that if any Clergymen or Monks be found either conspiring together or engaging in factional intrigues or hatching plots against Bishops or fellow Clergymen, they shall forfeit their own rank altogether.



And for a Father Confessor to speak frankly with soul charged to his care according to his good judgement is provided for in the Canons:



Sixth Ecumenical Council Canon 102


Those who have received from God authority to bind and to loose must take into consideration the quality of the sin, and the willingness and readiness of the sinner to return, and thus offer a treatment suited to the sin in question, lest by employing an immoderate adjustment in one direction or the other, they fail in compassing the salvation of the one ailing. For, the diseases called sin are not simple affairs, but, on the contrary, various and complex, and they produce many offshoots of the injury, as a result whereof the evil becomes widely diffused, and it progresses until it is checked[253] by the power of the one treating it. So that a person who is professing the science of treating ailments as a spiritual physician ought first to examine the disposition of the sinner, and ascertain whether he tends to health or on the contrary provokes the malady to attack him by his own actions; at the same time bearing in mind that he must provide against any reversion, and considering whether the patient is struggling against the physician, and whether the ulcer of the soul is being aggravated by the application of the remedy; and accordingly to mete out mercy in due proportion to the merits of the case. For all that matters to God and to the person undertaking pastoral leadership consists in the recovery of the straying sheep, and in healing the one wounded by the serpent. Accordingly, he ought not to drive the patient to the verge of despair, nor give him rein[254] to dissoluteness and contempt of life, but, on the contrary, in at least one way at any rate, either by resorting to extremer and stringent remedies, or to gentler and milder ones, to curb the disease, and to put up a fight to heal the ulcer for the one tasting the fruits of repentance, and wisely helping him on the way to the splendid rehabilitation to which the man is being invited. We must therefore be versed in both, i.e., both the requirements of accuracy and the requirements of custom. In the case of those who are obstinately opposed to extremities, we must follow the formula handed down to us, just as sacred Basil teaches us outright.

 
And so is the marriage bed held to be undefiled in the Canons. 

As a person who is posting on this forum bearing the title of an Orthodox clergyman and who has leveled a charge of heresy against an Orthodox monastery and, it by association it would seem, on the Metropolitan in whose jurisdiction they reside, I hope this matter will be dealt with in a real way affording the parties being accused a chance to address the issue so as not to further alienate jurisdictions which are in reality one, holy, catholic and Orthodox faith.  Otherwise, it seems an injustice is taking place in the form of an accusation on an internet forum and the inevitable judgement in the court of public opinion with only one side represented.

I for one, have heard a ROCOR priest and other clergy express an opinion that it is better for heterodox to be baptized into the faith.   As far as I had read or heard, chrismation as it is practiced now is an economia.

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Gunnarr on January 07, 2014, 01:06:21 AM
Quote from: Maria link=topic=17649.msg
[/quote

We should not make a mountain out of a mole hill. Rarely will monastics ask personal questions about sex as they are trying to live the angelic life.

Unfortunately, I have heard differently directly from people who have been to confession at some monasteries. I have also had the experience of serving a mission close to one of these monasteries. The monks Baptized  children from my parish without having the courtesy to inform me. One of our Antiochian Bishops has told me about the problems caused by monks telling people received into the Orthodox Church by Chrismation that they are were not properly received into the Church and need to come to the monastery for a so called corrective Baptism. It is heresy to Baptize someone who was received into the Eastern Orthodox Church through Chrismation, because it denies the grace that they received through their Chrismation, which perfects whatever was lacking in their non-Orthodox Baptism.

Fr. John W. Morris

please pm me or post the names of these monasteries

Also, perhaps those monks thought the people did not have baptisms at all before becoming orthodox, for example, A protestant might get a "baptism" which is not immersion, but sprinkles. second, to say "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" does God give any grace to the protestant minister who does such a baptism since they are outside the Church? What if it was a female minister of the anglican church? Did the holy spirit have any action in such a baptism which was not correct in any way besides "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit"? Can it be called a baptism? I ask you since you are a priest so perhaps can give me answers since I am not sure. I have another question, do different jurisdictions have different viewpoints on chrismation vs baptism of converts?

I have heard that at times some heresies, the converts were to be chrismated, in other heresies the converts were to be only baptized, such as for Arians, and of Iconoclasts. Perhaps it is a difference in jurisdiction, as as far as I can tell these decisions were decided by councils, that such converts were to be chrismated, or to be baptized so perhaps the jurisdictions have different methods? I do not know since you have not named the monasteries, were they of the Antioch jurisdiction?

Why to not tell the priest? That is really weird.

personally, I did not trust my baptism in any way which I had got in my protestant church, and would not have felt comfortable with chrismation
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 07, 2014, 01:12:12 AM
Quote from: Maria link=topic=17649.msg
[/quote

We should not make a mountain out of a mole hill. Rarely will monastics ask personal questions about sex as they are trying to live the angelic life.

Unfortunately, I have heard differently directly from people who have been to confession at some monasteries. I have also had the experience of serving a mission close to one of these monasteries. The monks Baptized  children from my parish without having the courtesy to inform me. One of our Antiochian Bishops has told me about the problems caused by monks telling people received into the Orthodox Church by Chrismation that they are were not properly received into the Church and need to come to the monastery for a so called corrective Baptism. It is heresy to Baptize someone who was received into the Eastern Orthodox Church through Chrismation, because it denies the grace that they received through their Chrismation, which perfects whatever was lacking in their non-Orthodox Baptism.

Fr. John W. Morris

Pretty sure that's not done anymore.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: mike on January 07, 2014, 01:16:21 AM
Also, perhaps those monks thought the people did not have baptisms at all before becoming orthodox, for example, A protestant might get a "baptism" which is not immersion, but sprinkles. second, to say "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" does God give any grace to the protestant minister who does such a baptism since they are outside the Church? What if it was a female minister of the anglican church? Did the holy spirit have any action in such a baptism which was not correct in any way besides "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit"? Can it be called a baptism? I ask you since you are a priest so perhaps can give me answers since I am not sure.

You stick to your priest's decision. Does not matter whether you like it or not.

Quote
I have another question, do different jurisdictions have different viewpoints on chrismation vs baptism of converts?

Yes. You stick to yours.

Quote
I have heard that at times some heresies, the converts were to be chrismated, in other heresies the converts were to be only baptized, such as for Arians, and of Iconoclasts.

IIRC Arians were chrismated according to Trullo.

Quote
Why to not tell the priest? That is really weird.

Your first point here.

Quote
personally, I did not trust my baptism in any way which I had got in my protestant church, and would not have felt comfortable with chrismation

Your comfort is the least important thing in this.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Gunnarr on January 07, 2014, 01:21:01 AM
Also, perhaps those monks thought the people did not have baptisms at all before becoming orthodox, for example, A protestant might get a "baptism" which is not immersion, but sprinkles. second, to say "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" does God give any grace to the protestant minister who does such a baptism since they are outside the Church? What if it was a female minister of the anglican church? Did the holy spirit have any action in such a baptism which was not correct in any way besides "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit"? Can it be called a baptism? I ask you since you are a priest so perhaps can give me answers since I am not sure.

You stick to your priest's decision. Does not matter whether you like it or not.

Quote
I have another question, do different jurisdictions have different viewpoints on chrismation vs baptism of converts?

Yes. You stick to yours.

Quote
I have heard that at times some heresies, the converts were to be chrismated, in other heresies the converts were to be only baptized, such as for Arians, and of Iconoclasts.

IIRC Arians were chrismated according to Trullo.

Quote
Why to not tell the priest? That is really weird.

Your first point here.

Quote
personally, I did not trust my baptism in any way which I had got in my protestant church, and would not have felt comfortable with chrismation

Your comfort is the least important thing in this.


Nope, first, the priest does not baptize or chrismate iwthout the concent of the convert so try again.

Second, how can you stick to a jurisdiction if you see a priest from one jurisdiction and a priest from another jurisdiction's monastery?

Third, I did not say the Arians were baptized, i was saying for example, some heretics were baptized, and some were chrismated. I did not list heresies in any particular order.

Fourth, yes my comfort is very important because it is my soul
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 07, 2014, 01:24:19 AM
Also, perhaps those monks thought the people did not have baptisms at all before becoming orthodox, for example, A protestant might get a "baptism" which is not immersion, but sprinkles. second, to say "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" does God give any grace to the protestant minister who does such a baptism since they are outside the Church? What if it was a female minister of the anglican church? Did the holy spirit have any action in such a baptism which was not correct in any way besides "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit"? Can it be called a baptism? I ask you since you are a priest so perhaps can give me answers since I am not sure.

You stick to your priest's decision. Does not matter whether you like it or not.

Quote
I have another question, do different jurisdictions have different viewpoints on chrismation vs baptism of converts?

Yes. You stick to yours.

Quote
I have heard that at times some heresies, the converts were to be chrismated, in other heresies the converts were to be only baptized, such as for Arians, and of Iconoclasts.

IIRC Arians were chrismated according to Trullo.

Quote
Why to not tell the priest? That is really weird.

Your first point here.

Quote
personally, I did not trust my baptism in any way which I had got in my protestant church, and would not have felt comfortable with chrismation

Your comfort is the least important thing in this.

Yes, because the person's soul has no bearing whatever on the exercise of economy.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Gunnarr on January 07, 2014, 01:26:27 AM
Also, perhaps those monks thought the people did not have baptisms at all before becoming orthodox, for example, A protestant might get a "baptism" which is not immersion, but sprinkles. second, to say "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" does God give any grace to the protestant minister who does such a baptism since they are outside the Church? What if it was a female minister of the anglican church? Did the holy spirit have any action in such a baptism which was not correct in any way besides "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit"? Can it be called a baptism? I ask you since you are a priest so perhaps can give me answers since I am not sure.

You stick to your priest's decision. Does not matter whether you like it or not.

Quote
I have another question, do different jurisdictions have different viewpoints on chrismation vs baptism of converts?

Yes. You stick to yours.

Quote
I have heard that at times some heresies, the converts were to be chrismated, in other heresies the converts were to be only baptized, such as for Arians, and of Iconoclasts.

IIRC Arians were chrismated according to Trullo.

Quote
Why to not tell the priest? That is really weird.

Your first point here.

Quote
personally, I did not trust my baptism in any way which I had got in my protestant church, and would not have felt comfortable with chrismation

Your comfort is the least important thing in this.

Yes, because the person's soul has no bearing whatever on the exercise of economy.
make sure to add another end quote while quoting that post there is one missing
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 07, 2014, 03:49:43 AM
I think the Antiochians have done a lot; changing the name of the church from "Syrian" to "Antiochian" was probably pioneering.

You can thank this man for that:

(http://daleinchina.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/samuel.jpg)

You can tell by the hat that this Bishop is wearing that he is not Eastern Orthodox. He is Oriental Orthodox. Bishops of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch wear a khamalavikia and veil like all other Eastern Orthodox  Bishops. He could be Syriac or Coptic. I am not sure. 

Fr. John W. Morris

 ;)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 07, 2014, 05:42:42 AM
Unfortunately, I have heard differently directly from people who have been to confession at some monasteries. I have also had the experience of serving a mission close to one of these monasteries. The monks Baptized  children from my parish without having the courtesy to inform me. One of our Antiochian Bishops has told me about the problems caused by monks telling people received into the Orthodox Church by Chrismation that they are were not properly received into the Church and need to come to the monastery for a so called corrective Baptism. It is heresy to Baptize someone who was received into the Eastern Orthodox Church through Chrismation, because it denies the grace that they received through their Chrismation, which perfects whatever was lacking in their non-Orthodox Baptism.

Fr. John W. Morris

Have you gone through the proper jurisdictional channels to address this? 

Glancing at the second Ecumenical Council Canon 7 and sixth Ecumenical Council Canon 95, how is it determined from which group the penitent heretic hails?   

Canon 7:
  "As for those heretics who betake themselves to Orthodoxy, and to the lot of the saved, we accept them in accordance with the subjoined sequence and custom; viz.: Arians, and Macedonians, and Sabbatians, and Novatians, those calling themselves Cathari (or “Puritans”), and (those calling themselves) Aristeri[60] (Note of Translator. — This designation may be based upon the Greek word aristos, meaning “best,” though as a word it signifies “lefthand.”), and the Quartodecimans (quasi “Fourteenthists,” to use the English language in this connection), otherwise known as Tetradites (though in English this term is applied to an entirely different group of heretics), and Apollinarians we accept when they offer libelli (i.e., recantations in writing) and anathematize every heresy that does not hold the same beliefs as the catholic and apostolic Church of God, and are sealed first with holy myron (more usually called “chrism” in English) on their forehead and their eyes, and nose, and mouth, and ears; and in sealing them we say: “A seal of a free gift of Holy Spirit.” As for Eunomians, however, who are baptized with a single immersion, and Montanists, who are here called Phrygians, and the Sabellians, who teach that Father and Son are the same person, and who do some other bad things, and (those belonging to) any other heresies (for there are many heretics here, especially such as come from the country of the Galatians:[61] all of them that want to adhere to Orthodoxy we are willing to accept as Greeks. Accordingly, on the first day we make (Note of Translator. — The meaning of this word here is more exactly rendered “treat as”) them Christians; on the second day, catechumens; then, on the third day, we exorcize them with the act of blowing thrice into their face and into their ears; and thus do we catechize them, and we make them tarry a while in the church and listen to the Scriptures; and then we baptize them."


Canon 95: "As for heretics who are joining Orthodoxy and the portion of the saved, we accept them in accordance with the subjoined sequence and custom. Arians and Macedonians and Novations, who called themselves Cathari[236] and Aristeri,[237] and the Tessarakaidekatitae, or, at any rate, those called Tetradites and Apolinarists, we accept, when they give us certificates (called libelli); and when they anathematize every heresy that does not believe as the holy catholic and Apostolic Church of God believes, and are sealed, i. e., are anointed first with holy myron on the forehead and the eyes, and the nose and mouth, and the ears, while we are anointing them and sealing them we say, “A seal of a gift of Holy Spirit.” As concerning Paulianists who have afterwards taken refuge in the Catholic Church, a definition has been promulgated that they have to be rebaptized without fail. As for Eunomians, however, who baptize with a single immersion, and Montanists who are hereabouts called Phrygians and Sabellians, who hold the tenet Hyiopatoria (or modalistic monarchianism) and do other embarrassing things; and all other heresies — for there are many hereabouts, especially those hailing from the country of the Galatians[238] — as for all of them who wish to join Orthodoxy, we accept them as Greeks. Accordingly, on the first day, we make them Christians; on the second day, catechumens; after this, on the third day we exorcise them by breathing three times into their faces and into their ears. And thus we catechize them, and make them stay for a long time in church and listen to the Scriptures, and then we baptize them. As for Manicheans, and Valentinians, and Marcionists, and those from similar heresies, they have to give us certificates (called libelli) and anathematize their heresy, the Nestorians, and Nestorius, and Eutyches and Dioscorus, and Severus, and the other exarchs of such heresies, and those who entertain their beliefs, and all the aforementioned heresies, and thus they are allowed to partake of holy Communion."





On what exactly are you basing your very public charge of heresy? 

My baptismal certificate from the Greek Archdiocese is signed by the Priest who performed the Sacrament of Baptism, the sponsor and approved by the Metropolitan.  Are you saying that the presiding Metropolitan did not approve those baptisms, or that there is something amiss that should be brought to the attention of the Metropolitan? 

Is it correct protocol to bring these charges on an internet forum, without having the Metropolitan in charge of that monastery present, or possibly not even informed of what has taken place?

Here are the only relevant Canons I could find, and which have given me great pause when considering your post:

Second Ecumenical Canon 6:
 

"If, however, certain persons are neither heretics nor excluded from communion, nor condemned, nor previously charged with any offenses, should declare that they have an accusation of an ecclesiastical nature against a Bishop, the holy Council bids these persons to lodge their accusations before all the Bishops of the province and before them to prove the charges against the Bishop involved in the case. But if it so happen that the provincial Bishops are unable to or incompetent to decide the case against the Bishop and make the correction due, then they are to go to a greater synod of the Bishops of this diocese summoned to try this case. And they are not to lodge the accusation until they themselves have in writing agreed to incur the same penalty if in the course of the trial it be proved that they have been slandering the accused Bishop. But if anyone, scorning what has been decreed in the foregoing statements, should dare either to annoy the emperor’s ears or to trouble courts of secular authorities or an ecumenical council to the affrontment of all the Bishops of the diocese, let no such person be allowed to present any information whatever, because of his having thus roundly insulted the Canons and ecclesiastical discipline."



Fourth Ecumenical Council Canon 9:


If any Clergyman has a dispute with another, let him not leave his own Bishop and resort to secular courts, but let him first submit his case to his own Bishop, or let it be tried by referees chosen by both parties and approved by the Bishop. Let anyone who acts contrary hereto be liable to Canonical penalties. If, on the other hand, a Clergyman has a dispute with his own Bishop, or with some other Bishop, let it be tried by the Synod of the province. But if any Bishop or Clergyman has a dispute with the Metropolitan of the same province, let him apply either to the Exarch of the diocese or to the throne of the imperial capital Constantinople, and let it be tried before him.




Did the standing Bishops of the Americas not just have a meeting to begin to address these jurisdictional issues in real and tangible ways?  Was this issue brought up before the Bishops in that meeting? 

Did they all point fingers and each other and declare one another a heretic?

Fourth Ecumenical Council Canon 12:

It has come to our knowledge that some persons, by resorting to the civil authorities, have obtained pragmatics whereby they have contrived to divide one province into two, contrary to the ecclesiastical Canons, and as a result there are two Metropolitans in one and the same province. The holy Council has therefore made it a rule that no Bishop shall hereafter be allowed to do such a thing. For, if anyone shall attempt to do so, he shall forfeit his own rank. As for all those cities which have already been honored with the name of Metropolis by letters of the Emperor, let them enjoy only the honor, and likewise the Bishop who is administering its church; it being left plain that the rights properly belonging to the real Metropolis are to be preserved to this Metropolis (alone)

Fourth Ecumenical Council Canon 18:


The crime of conspiracy, or of faction (i.e., of factious partisanship), already prohibited by secular laws, ought still more to be forbidden to obtain in the Church of God. If, therefore, there be found any Clergymen, or Monastics, to be conspiring or to be engaged in factiousness of any kind, or hatching plots against Bishops or Fellow Clergymen[103] they shall forfeit their own rank altogether.

Fourth Ecumenical Council Canon 19:

 It has come to our ears that the canonically prescribed Synods of Bishops are not held in the provinces, and as a result of this fact many ecclesiastical matters in need of correction are neglected. The holy Council, therefore, has made it a rule, in accordance with the Canons of the Holy Fathers, for the Bishops to meet twice a year in convention somewhere in each province, wherever the Bishop of the Metropolis designates, and for all matters to be corrected that may come up. As for those Bishops, on the other hand, who fail to attend the meeting, but who, instead of doing so, remain at home in their respective cities, and lead their lives therein in good health and free from every indispensable and necessary occupation, they are to be reprimanded in a brotherly way.



Fourth Ecumenical Council Canon 21:


Clergymen or laymen accusing Bishops or Clergymen are not to be allowed to file charges against them promiscuously and without investigation until their own reputation has been examined into.

Did you perchance wear any non-clerical garb in the week preceding chrismation? 


Sixth Ecumenical Council Canon 6:


 Let no one on the Clerical List don inappropriate clothing, either when living in the city or when walking the road; but, on the contrary, let him wear costumes that have already been assigned to the use of those who are enrolled in the Clergy. If anyone should commit such a violation, let him be excommunicated for one week.



Sixth Ecumenical Council Canon 31:

 As for those Clergymen who hold a liturgy in oratories or prayerhouses or in private residences, or who carry out a baptism therein, without having obtained the consent of the local Bishop to do this, we decree that if any Clergyman fail to guard against doing this, let him be deposed from office.

Sixth Ecumenical Council Canon 34:

In view of the fact that the sacerdotal Canon clearly states that as the crime of conspiracy or of faction is utterly forbidden even by civil laws, it is much more fitting still that this be prohibited from occurring in the Church of God, we too are sedulous to insist that if any Clergymen or Monks be found either conspiring together or engaging in factional intrigues or hatching plots against Bishops or fellow Clergymen, they shall forfeit their own rank altogether.



And for a Father Confessor to speak frankly with soul charged to his care according to his good judgement is provided for in the Canons:



Sixth Ecumenical Council Canon 102


Those who have received from God authority to bind and to loose must take into consideration the quality of the sin, and the willingness and readiness of the sinner to return, and thus offer a treatment suited to the sin in question, lest by employing an immoderate adjustment in one direction or the other, they fail in compassing the salvation of the one ailing. For, the diseases called sin are not simple affairs, but, on the contrary, various and complex, and they produce many offshoots of the injury, as a result whereof the evil becomes widely diffused, and it progresses until it is checked[253] by the power of the one treating it. So that a person who is professing the science of treating ailments as a spiritual physician ought first to examine the disposition of the sinner, and ascertain whether he tends to health or on the contrary provokes the malady to attack him by his own actions; at the same time bearing in mind that he must provide against any reversion, and considering whether the patient is struggling against the physician, and whether the ulcer of the soul is being aggravated by the application of the remedy; and accordingly to mete out mercy in due proportion to the merits of the case. For all that matters to God and to the person undertaking pastoral leadership consists in the recovery of the straying sheep, and in healing the one wounded by the serpent. Accordingly, he ought not to drive the patient to the verge of despair, nor give him rein[254] to dissoluteness and contempt of life, but, on the contrary, in at least one way at any rate, either by resorting to extremer and stringent remedies, or to gentler and milder ones, to curb the disease, and to put up a fight to heal the ulcer for the one tasting the fruits of repentance, and wisely helping him on the way to the splendid rehabilitation to which the man is being invited. We must therefore be versed in both, i.e., both the requirements of accuracy and the requirements of custom. In the case of those who are obstinately opposed to extremities, we must follow the formula handed down to us, just as sacred Basil teaches us outright.

 
And so is the marriage bed held to be undefiled in the Canons. 

As a person who is posting on this forum bearing the title of an Orthodox clergyman and who has leveled a charge of heresy against an Orthodox monastery and, it by association it would seem, on the Metropolitan in whose jurisdiction they reside, I hope this matter will be dealt with in a real way affording the parties being accused a chance to address the issue so as not to further alienate jurisdictions which are in reality one, holy, catholic and Orthodox faith.  Otherwise, it seems an injustice is taking place in the form of an accusation on an internet forum and the inevitable judgement in the court of public opinion with only one side represented.

I for one, have heard a ROCOR priest and other clergy express an opinion that it is better for heterodox to be baptized into the faith.   As far as I had read or heard, chrismation as it is practiced now is an economia.


Have you gone through the proper jurisdictional channels to address this? 

I RESPOND; Yes I did ask my Bishop to bring the problems caused by certain monasteries up to the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan with jurisdiction over the monastery without any result. This is one of the problems these monasteries are under the Greeks and I am Antiochian. I am not in a very good mood right now, so forgive me if I am blunt. I am suffering from a kidney stone and am in so much pain that I cannot sleep. It is 2:21 AM. I am due to have a second lithothrypthy (sp) on Thursday for this kidney stone. So forgive me if I am not in a very good mood. It is hard to be in a good mood when you feel that someone is sticking a knife in your groin.
I know that you are sincere and are trying to be a good and faithful Orthodox Christian.However, you are grossly misinformed on the historical practice of the Church for the reception of converts from schismatic and heretical groups.
At the risk of committing the sin of pride, I have to inform you that  I am quite familiar with this subject. When  the  controversy over the reception of converts began, I was put on the committee to consider this issue by  Metropolitan Philip. Since I am a PhD in history, I prepared a scholarly study of the historical practice of the Church for the reception of converts.  I found that the most common way to receive Catholics and Protestants Baptized with water, “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” is through profession of faith and Chrismation. The Pan Orthodox Council of Constantinople which rejected the Union of Florence made the decision to receive Catholics through Chrismation in 1485. The Pan Orthodox Council of Jerusalem Bethlehem of 1672 that condemned Protestantism, particularly Calvinism and issued the Confession of Dositheus, one of the Symbolic Books of modern Orthodoxy decreed that Protestants should also be received by profession of faith and Chrismation. Last summer, I was asked by our Antiochian Bishops to revise the guidelines for the reception of converts for our Archdiocese. I did so. It was approved by Metropolitan Philip and sent to every Priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese. Thus, I am well qualified to write on this subject. Because of the fad of so called inclusive language such as “Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier,” by some liberal Protestant groups our clergy must verify that the correct Trinitarian language was used in the non-Orthodox Baptism. If they cannot,  the convert must be received by Baptism.  I am also a special consultant to the Pastoral Committee of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America on Baptism and the reception of converts. I also serve as a consultant to the Committee on Ecumenical Affairs of the Bishop's Assembly which also deals with this subject. Years ago SCOBA decided that Baptized converts should be received by Chrismation.

Glancing at the second Ecumenical Council Canon 7 and sixth Ecumenical Council Canon 95, how is it determined from which group the penitent heretic hails?   

I RESPOND: Actually you are making a reference to Canon 95 of the Council in Trullo which was recognized as a continuation of the 6th Ecumenical Council by the 7th Ecumenical Council. As I have already mentioned, the most common practice of the Eastern Orthodox Church as ratified by two Pan-Orthodox Councils applies Canon 95 of the Council of Trullo to allow for the reception of Catholics and Protestants who have been Baptized with water “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” by profession of faith and Chrismation. The Oros of 1755 issued by Patriarch Cyril V of Constantinople which required all converts to be received by Baptism, was not universally accepted by the Eastern Orthodox Church. Russia ignored it. Antioch rejected it as an innovation. Since 1888 even Constantinople no longer follows the Oros of 1755 which is of questionable authority since it was issued by Patriarch Cyril V without the approval of the Holy Synod of Constantinople.

On what exactly are you basing your very public charge of heresy? 

I RESPOND: It is heresy to deny the power of Chrismation to correct whatever was lacking in the non-Orthodox Baptism because Chrismation completes whatever was lacking in the non-Orthodox Baptism.  That is why Canon 95 of Trullo could allow converts from various heretical groups to enter the Church through profession of faith and Chrismation.

My baptismal certificate from the Greek Archdiocese is signed by the Priest who performed the Sacrament of Baptism, the sponsor and approved by the Metropolitan.  Are you saying that the presiding Metropolitan did not approve those baptisms, or that there is something amiss that should be brought to the attention of the Metropolitan? 

I RESPOND: The official guidelines for the reception of converts into the Greek Archdiocese mandates the reception of a Baptized convert by Chrismation. Actually the official guidelines of every canonical Eastern Orthodox jurisdiction in America allows for the reception of converts by Chrismation. Even ROCOR which routinely receives converts by Baptism, allows a Bishop to receive a baptized Catholic or Protestant by Chrismation as an act of economy. No recognized authority on this subject denies that a convert Baptized outside of the Church can  become Orthodox through Chrismation. Even Fr. George D. Metallinos admits this in his book “I Confess One Baptism.” 

Is it correct protocol to bring these charges on an internet forum, without having the Metropolitan in charge of that monastery present, or possibly not even informed of what has taken place?

I RESPOND: I do not believe that any Metropolitan of the Greek Archdiocese would sanction the practice of so called corrective baptism. Actually, I have not accused anyone of heresy by name. I have simply stated that the practice of so called corrective Baptism is heretical. There was a case years ago in Atlanta in the OCA in which Archbishop Demetri suspended a Priest who submitted to a “corrective baptism.” Once in a private conversation Fr. Alexander Schmemann told me that it is “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit,” to Baptize someone who was received by Chrismation

Here are the only relevant Canons I could find, and which have given me great pause when considering your post:

Second Ecumenical Canon 6:
 

I RESPOND: Have you had  a course in Eastern Orthodox canon law from an accreditedited Eastern Orthodox Seminary? Nothing is more dangerous than for a person without the proper training in the principles of Eastern Orthodox Canon Law to pick up a copy of The Rudder and start quoting canons. You simply are not qualified to interpret the canon law without proper training in the principles of Eastern Orthodox Canon Law.

Did the standing Bishops of the Americas not just have a meeting to begin to address these jurisdictional issues in real and tangible ways?  Was this issue brought up before the Bishops in that meeting? 

I RESPOND: Not yet, because the Pastoral Committee has not completed its report which deals not only with the reception of converts, but marriage, funerals and several other matters. However,  the Pastoral Committee of the Assembly of Bishops met in LA in May. I prepared the report for the meeting on the reception of converts and everyone there agreed with my conclusions. I am also a consultant to the Committee on Ecumenical Affairs of the Bishop's Assembly which also deals with this issue and agrees with my conclusions on this matter.

Did you perchance wear any non-clerical garb in the week preceding chrismation? 

I RESPOND: I wear what my Bishops requires me to wear when I am carrying out my clerical duties and almost always when I leave my home. What I wear at home or even when I am carrying our my Priestly duties is none of your business. It is not your place to judge me or anyone else by what I wear. I wear black pants and a black clerical shirt with a clerical collar, because that is what my Bishop has instructed me to wear.  The canons require clergy to dress as clergy, but does not specify exactly what they should wear. That is because these things have changed through the centuries. In Greece married Priests like myself only began to wear cassocks outside of the Church grounds or a monastery during the 19th century. Before that they dressed as an ordinary layman, but in darker colors. In the 19th century the Holy Synod of Russia decreed that clergy serving outside of Orthodox lands should dress as a proper gentleman. Even St. Tikhon wore a businessman's suite while serving in America.
 
And so is the marriage bed held to be undefiled in the Canons. 

I RESPOND: The official guidelines published by the Holy Synod of Russia for Confessors during the 19th century forbids a Priest hearing a Confession from asking too many personal questions about the intimate sexual relations between a husband and a wife. When  I was told that a monk asked one of my spiritual children questions about the intimate sexual relations with their husband, I asked my Bishop if that is proper and was told that the monk was completely out of line to ask such personal questions of a married woman.

As a person who is posting on this forum bearing the title of an Orthodox clergyman and who has leveled a charge of heresy against an Orthodox monastery and, it by association it would seem, on the Metropolitan in whose jurisdiction they reside, I hope this matter will be dealt with in a real way affording the parties being accused a chance to address the issue so as not to further alienate jurisdictions which are in reality one, holy, catholic and Orthodox faith.  Otherwise, it seems an injustice is taking place in the form of an accusation on an internet forum and the inevitable judgement in the court of public opinion with only one side represented.

I RESPOND: I was very careful how I expressed myself. I did not name any monastery or accuse anyone of heresy. I wrote that the practice of “corrective Baptism” is heretical. The practice of “corrective baptism” of someone who was received by Chrismation and has received Communion in the Church is against the teaching of the Holy Fathers. Read Canon I of the 1st Canonical Epistle of St. Basil the Great. In it he expresses disagreement with the decision of  an unnamed Bishop in Asia to receive by Chrismation someone he believes should be received by Baptism, but recognizes the authority of the Asian Bishops to make decisions how to receive converts in their own diocese, writing,  “Because some in Asia have otherwise determined, let [their baptism] be allowed: but not that of the Encratites; for they have altered their baptism, to make themselves incapable of being received by the Church. Yet custom and the Fathers, that is bishops, who have the administration, must be followed;”
Since you list yourself as Antiochian, you should show proper respect for the decision of our Antiochian Bishops which is to receive Baptized converts by Chrismation.
Archpriest John W Morris, PhD
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Gunnarr on January 07, 2014, 06:40:25 AM
Offtopic,

What do you think of Fr. George Metallinos? I have not read the "I confess one Baptism" but rather simply some articles he has written in greek  (By the way do you know more than one language?)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Santagranddad on January 07, 2014, 07:24:54 AM
Offtopic,

What do you think of Fr. George Metallinos? I have not read the "I confess one Baptism" but rather simply some articles he has written in greek  (By the way do you know more than one language?)

It is a very interesting read, not least for the historical perspective he gives. And well qualified too.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: TheTrisagion on January 07, 2014, 10:09:32 AM
Fr. John, I am sorry to hear of your kidney stones.  I have never had them, but I have heard horror stories.  You are in my prayers.

Thank you for your contributions on this forum.  I greatly appreciate the advice and insight you provide.  :)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: jah777 on January 07, 2014, 10:44:12 AM
One of our Antiochian Bishops has told me about the problems caused by monks telling people received into the Orthodox Church by Chrismation that they are were not properly received into the Church and need to come to the monastery for a so called corrective Baptism. It is heresy to Baptize someone who was received into the Eastern Orthodox Church through Chrismation, because it denies the grace that they received through their Chrismation, which perfects whatever was lacking in their non-Orthodox Baptism.

It is important to understand that such a teaching regarding the reception of converts and "corrective baptism" of those not received into Orthodoxy by baptism is a teaching that is very commonly encountered in the Jerusalem Patriarchate, the Church of Greece, Mt. Athos, and elsewhere.  I know people who were received by Chrismation, visited Jerusalem, and were told there that they must have an Orthodox baptism in order to receive communion.  Convert clergy who were received without baptism have been baptized in Greece and Mt. Athos before being allowed to serve in these locations.  The basis of this teaching is very firmly rooted in the canons of the Church, the decree of the Council of 1755 (signed by the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Alexandria), the interpretations of the canons made by St. Nikodemos, etc.  The reception of converts by means other than baptism leads to a lot of confusion over whether non-Orthodox sacraments are salvific.

The common practice of accepting converts without baptism who had previously received a "baptism" in the name of the Holy Trinity is based mostly on the teachings of Blessed Augustine and neglects the patristic and canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church.  For instance, the seventh canon of the Second Ecumenical Council states that the Eunomians were to be received by baptism for the sole reason that they had not received three full immersions.  St. Nikodemos was emphatic that Latins must receive baptism since they are heretics and no longer baptized people with three full immersions.  Met Anthony (Khrapovitsky) reviewed all of the canons related to the application of economy in the reception of converts and concluded that a convert could be received without baptism only if 1) they received three full immersions in the name of the Holy Trinity, and 2) the external form of Apostolic Succession was retained by those who performed the baptism.  Today, all of these principles are cast aside and converts are routinely chrismated in many jurisdictions based solely on the claim that the former "baptism" was conducted in the name of the Holy Trinity.

See:

http://www.oodegr.com/english/biblia/baptisma1/par2.htm

http://www.oodegr.com/english/biblia/baptisma1/perieh.htm

http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/stnikodemos_latinbaptism.aspx

http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/khrap_econ.aspx
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 07, 2014, 10:53:32 AM
I know people who were received by Chrismation, visited Jerusalem, and were told there that they must have an Orthodox baptism in order to receive communion.  Convert clergy who were received without baptism have been baptized in Greece and Mt. Athos before being allowed to serve in these locations. 

Are the convert clergy who undergo such "corrective baptism" also required to submit to "corrective tonsuring as reader" and "corrective ordination as subdeacon, deacon, and/or priest" before being allowed to serve in those places?  If not, why not? 
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: jah777 on January 07, 2014, 11:05:29 AM
I know people who were received by Chrismation, visited Jerusalem, and were told there that they must have an Orthodox baptism in order to receive communion.  Convert clergy who were received without baptism have been baptized in Greece and Mt. Athos before being allowed to serve in these locations. 

Are the convert clergy who undergo such "corrective baptism" also required to submit to "corrective tonsuring as reader" and "corrective ordination as subdeacon, deacon, and/or priest" before being allowed to serve in those places?  If not, why not? 

I admit that I am not well acquainted with such accounts but my understanding is that an Orthodox person who has not received baptism would just receive whatever was lacking in that reception.  This would be done just to make sure all was done properly and to erase any question in the mind of the convert, and in the minds of those with whom the convert clergy might be serving, regarding that convert's status in the Church.  Such an act does not imply that anything was lacking in the chrismation, ordination, etc.; it only completes what was lacking in the initial reception.

That being said, I really don't know if the monasteries under Elder Ephraim perform "corrective baptisms".  Since I was received into the Church by baptism, it is not an issue I have struggled with, though when I was a catechumen I did feel very strongly that we should be baptized and petitioned my priest and bishop in the OCA to this end.  The bishop gave his blessing, and so we were baptized.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: jah777 on January 07, 2014, 11:15:15 AM
Concerning the reception of the non-Orthodox by baptism, I though I would include this short personal account of Archimandrite Placide (Deseille), a very well respected patristic scholar and Eastern Rite Catholic abbot who later converted to Orthodoxy and was received into the Church by baptism.  Fr. Placide's account appears in the book:

The Living Witness of the Holy Mountain: Contemporary Voices from Mount Athos
Translated, with introduction and notes by Hieromonk Alexander (Golitzin), pp.63-93.

Note: The book's author/compiler is now Bishop Alexander of Toledo and the Bulgarian diocese in the OCA.

Quote
THE QUESTION OF BAPTISM

During our first conversations with Father Aemilianos, the abbot of Simonos Petras, about our entry into Orthodoxy, he had not concealed from us that, in his eyes, the customary and most appropriate form of entry into the Orthodox Church was through baptism.  I had never thought about this aspect of Orthodox ecclesiology and, at the time, was quite surprised by it.  I made a careful study of the problem, beginning with the canonical and patristic sources.  I also found several articles, written by Catholic and Orthodox theologians and canonists, to be quite helpful.

After a thorough examination of the question, and with the full agreement of our new abbot, it was decided that, when the time came, we would be received into the Orthodox Church by baptism.  This later aroused surprise and sometimes indignation in those Catholic or Orthodox circles that were little acquainted with the theological and canonical tradition of the Greek Church.  Since a large amount of inaccurate information has been circulated on this subject, I think it right to give here some historical and doctrinal details that will serve for a better understanding of the facts.

Since the third century two customs have co-existed in the Church for the reception of heterodox Christians: reception by the imposition of hands (or, by chrismation), and repetition of the baptismal rite already received in heterodoxy.  Rome accepted only the laying on of hands and strongly condemned the repetition of the baptism of heretics.  The Churches of Africa and Asia, on the other hand, held on the second practice, the most ardent defenders of which were Saints Cyprian of Carthage and Firmilian of Caesarea.  The latter two insisted on the bond that exists between the sacraments of the Church.  For them, a minister who had separated himself from the Church’s profession of faith had separated himself at the same time from the Church herself, and so could no longer administer her sacraments.

From the fourth century, the Roman doctrine on the validity of heterodox sacraments, upheld by the exceptional authority of Saint Augustine in the West, was imposed on the whole Latin Church, at least in matters of baptism.  The question of the validity of the heterodox ordination of priests was not generally accepted in the West until the thirteenth century.

In the East, however, thanks especially to the influence of Saint Basil, the ecclesiology and sacramental theology of Saint Cyprian never ceased to be considered as more in conformity with the tradition and spirit of the Church than the doctrine of Saint Augustine [who, in any case, was largely unknown in the Greek-speaking Church – ED.].  Baptism remained the absolute norm, akribeia [lit., exactness]; although, taking into account the practice of those local churches which recognized the baptism of heretics who did not deny the very fundamentals of the faith (the doctrine of the Trinity), it was accepted that when reasons of “economy” demanded it (that is, out of condescension for human weakness) they could be received by the laying on of hands, or Chrismation.

The principal canonical basis for the non-recognition of heterodox sacraments is the 46th Apostolic Canon which declares: “We ordain that a bishop, priest, or deacon who has admitted the baptism or sacrifice of heretics be deposed.”  These Apostolic Canons, confirmed by the VIth Ecumenical Council (in Trullo) in 692, comprise the foundations of Orthodox canon law.  The practice of economy in certain cases is authorized by Canon I of Saint Basil the Great.

At a later time, in the seventeenth century, the Russian Orthodox Church came under a very strong Latin influence, and was partially won over to the position of Saint Augustine.  She then decided to receive Catholics into Orthodoxy by confession and a profession of faith alone.  From the perspective of traditional Orthodox theology, this could only be accepted as a very generous instance of recourse to the principal of economy.

This explains the apparent contradictions found in the canonical texts of the Councils and the Fathers, as well as in the practice of the Orthodox Church down the centuries.  So far as present practice is concerned, the reception of Catholics by baptism is very clearly prescribed in the Pedalion, an official compendium of canon law for the Churches of the Greek language, in which the text of the canons is accompanied by commentaries by Saint Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, a very great authority.  For the territories under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the decree prescribing the rebaptism of Catholics has never been abolished.  As for the Church of Greece: “Those who with to embrace Orthodoxy must be invited to rebaptism, and only in those cases where this is not possible should they be received by anointing with Holy Chrism.”

Athos is a country were only monks live, who by virtue of their calling must strive to live out as best they can all the demands of Christian life and the Church’s Tradition.  They engage in no pastoral activity, nor do they seek to proselytize, that is, to draw people to Orthodoxy by making things easier for them.  It is therefore normal for them to abide by akribeia, though without blaming those who, finding themselves in different circumstances, have recourse to economy.

Athos’s vocation is akribeia in all spheres.  It is normal for the non-Orthodox who become monks there to be received by baptism.  Yet the monks of Athos are not men given to the constant condemnation of others, nor do they prefer severity to mercy, nor are they attached to a narrow-minded rigorism.  The issue is on an altogether different level.

Some people have written that by “imposing” a new baptism on us, the monks of Athos forced us to repudiate and mock the whole of our past as Catholic monks.  Others have also written that, to the contrary, it was we who asked for baptism, contrary to the wishes of our abbot, in order to satisfy the most rigorous minority of Athonite monks.  

These assertions have nothing to do with reality.  The monks of Athos in fact imposed nothing on us.  They did not oblige us to become Athonite monks, and they left us perfectly free to be received into Orthodoxy by different means elsewhere.  Nor were we looking to please anyone at all.  But since we had chosen, as we said above, to become monks of Mount Athos, we could only be received in the way accepted by men whom we held to be our fathers and brothers, and whose way of thinking we knew perfectly well.  We asked freely to be received by baptism, incomplete agreement with our abbot, because this procedure seemed to us both right and necessary for Athos, both theologically sound and canonically correct.  This was not to “deny” our Catholic baptism received in the name of the Trinity, but to confess that everything it signified was fulfilled by our entry into the Orthodox Church.  It was not to deny the real communion that exists between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches in much of their doctrine and sacramental practice, but it was to recognize that this communion in the faith is not perfect, and that, consequently, according to the most exact form of Orthodox theology, Catholic sacraments cannot be purely and simply recognized by the Orthodox Church.

I have been asked for my retrospective opinion on the sacraments that we had ourselves administered while still priests of the Roman Church.  I would simply reply that the Orthodox Church speaks more willingly about the “authenticity” and ”legitimacy” of sacraments than about their “validity.”  Only sacraments administered and received in the Orthodox Church are “authentic” and “legitimate” and, according to the usual order of things, the validity, or effective communication of grace, depends on this legitimacy.  But the Holy Spirit is free with His gifts, and He can distribute them without going through the usual channels of salvation wherever He finds hearts that are well-disposed.  Saint Gregory the Theologian said once: “Just as many of our own people are not really with us, because their lives separate them from the common body, so on the other hand many belong to us who outwardly are not ours, those whose conduct is in advance of their faith, who lack only the name, although they possess the reality itself.”  He goes on to cite the case of his own father who before his conversion was “a foreign bough, if you wish, but by his way of life, a part of us.”  We can therefore only leave this matter, with complete confidence, to the mercy of God.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 07, 2014, 12:09:29 PM
Fr. John, I am sorry to hear of your kidney stones.  I have never had them, but I have heard horror stories.  You are in my prayers.

Thank you for your contributions on this forum.  I greatly appreciate the advice and insight you provide.  :)

+1
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 07, 2014, 12:14:17 PM
I know people who were received by Chrismation, visited Jerusalem, and were told there that they must have an Orthodox baptism in order to receive communion.  Convert clergy who were received without baptism have been baptized in Greece and Mt. Athos before being allowed to serve in these locations. 

Are the convert clergy who undergo such "corrective baptism" also required to submit to "corrective tonsuring as reader" and "corrective ordination as subdeacon, deacon, and/or priest" before being allowed to serve in those places?  If not, why not? 

No. Because those sacraments were conveyed by the Orthodox Church in Orthodox form. (I don't know about those Eastern Catholic clergy received through vesting--I'm not sure how often this happens.) The so-called corrective baptism, AFAIK, applies only to those who received non-Orthodox baptism. I have yet to hear of a case (in canonical Orthodoxy) where an Orthodox baby or adult was baptized through means other than triple immersion and then years later someone said they had to have a corrective baptism. I suppose this might be done, given St. Basil's teaching on economy in aerobaptism, but that seems a bit of a stretch.

AFAIK, it is not that easy to get a corrective baptism--even from those who do it. It's becoming less and less common. So, in the end, it may not endure as long as the thousand-year controversy about whether or not to kiss the chalice after communing.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 07, 2014, 12:17:29 PM
I heard a story about Elder Sophrony of Essex. He was giving communion and a woman came up and he saw that, unlike the others, the visible grace around her (don't know how to explain it) was flickering, rather than shining like the others. He asked her if she was Orthodox. She said yes, that she had been chrismated. Then the elder gave her communion.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 07, 2014, 01:06:14 PM
I admit that I am not well acquainted with such accounts but my understanding is that an Orthodox person who has not received baptism would just receive whatever was lacking in that reception.  This would be done just to make sure all was done properly and to erase any question in the mind of the convert, and in the minds of those with whom the convert clergy might be serving, regarding that convert's status in the Church.  Such an act does not imply that anything was lacking in the chrismation, ordination, etc.; it only completes what was lacking in the initial reception.

No. Because those sacraments were conveyed by the Orthodox Church in Orthodox form. (I don't know about those Eastern Catholic clergy received through vesting--I'm not sure how often this happens.) The so-called corrective baptism, AFAIK, applies only to those who received non-Orthodox baptism. I have yet to hear of a case (in canonical Orthodoxy) where an Orthodox baby or adult was baptized through means other than triple immersion and then years later someone said they had to have a corrective baptism. I suppose this might be done, given St. Basil's teaching on economy in aerobaptism, but that seems a bit of a stretch.

Baptism is the absolute prerequisite for receiving any of the other sacraments of the Church.  If a person is not baptised, you can't chrismate them, ordain them, and so on because such would have no effect on the person.  It's not like we can take a Jew, ordain him, and then baptise him twenty-five years later and declare him an archpriest in recognition of his years of ministry.  Baptism is necessary before anything else. 

So, as I see it, there are only two options. 

1.  You can accept that bishops have the right to exercise economy in the reception of heterodox Christians, as allowed in the canons, both in terms of the letter (when the type of heterodox Christian is named) and the spirit (applying the principles of the letter to types of heterodox Christian which are not named in the canons for one or the other reason).  If, for example, my bishop exercises strictness in the reception of converts, but another bishop with whom he is in communion exercises economy, my bishop and his local Church ought to accept as Orthodox someone whom he has accepted as Orthodox, even if we would've accepted him differently.  This is basically how the OO do things: some of us are more strict than others, but no one second guesses decisions already made. 

2.  If you believe in applying strictness to such an extent that you would do so-called "corrective baptism", you should have the consistency and the guts to do "corrective chrismation" and, if applicable, "corrective ordination(s)".  If the baptism was faulty, everything else is compromised.  Just because, as Shanghaiski suggests, the other sacraments were conveyed by the Orthodox Church in an Orthodox form doesn't mean anything.  "Corrective baptism" can't retroactively "fix" ordinations. 

ISTM that requiring "corrective baptism" without "correcting" anything else is a cowardly practice: people who advocate such things don't want to rock the boat too much (by requiring too many corrections and implicitly judging the jurisdiction of Orthodox bishops), but they are willing to rock it just enough to satisfy their preference for receiving everyone by baptism.  But in doing so and in rejecting the use of economy in this way, they're actually calling into question their faithfulness to that article of the Creed upon which they base their strictness.   
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Maria on January 07, 2014, 01:50:55 PM
Also, perhaps those monks thought the people did not have baptisms at all before becoming orthodox, for example, A protestant might get a "baptism" which is not immersion, but sprinkles. second, to say "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" does God give any grace to the protestant minister who does such a baptism since they are outside the Church? What if it was a female minister of the anglican church? Did the holy spirit have any action in such a baptism which was not correct in any way besides "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit"? Can it be called a baptism? I ask you since you are a priest so perhaps can give me answers since I am not sure.

You stick to your priest's decision. Does not matter whether you like it or not.

Not quite.

Proper information must be shared by the catechumen in order to insure that a proper decision can be made by the Bishop. One cannot assume anything as serious errors have been made.

I have heard of some Protestant and even Roman Catholic converts whose initial "baptism" was deemed not to be proper. For example, there have been older Roman Catholic priests and Anglican priests who have baptized or who are still baptizing, "In the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier" or other such genderless language that appeases the feminists. Even the Roman Catholic Pope has ruled that people "baptized" in that improper manner are to be Baptized using the biblical mandate, "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." This was discussed in a previous thread here.

There have been ROCOR, Antiochian, Greek, and OCA priests who upon finding that their catechumen was baptized by a militant lesbian priestess in the Anglican or one of the other Protestant denominations have urged the Bishop to consider reception by Baptism, and the Bishop did agree, because the original intention to baptize was accomplished in a rebellious anti-Christian manner. In another case, a catechumen, who had insisted that his baptism by a rabid anti-Catholic and anti-Orthodox protestant was not proper, was allowed to be received by Holy Baptism. Again, it was the rebellious and anti-Christian attitude of the Protestant minister that convinced the Bishop that those candidates did need to be received by Holy Baptism.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: jah777 on January 07, 2014, 02:06:14 PM
ISTM that requiring "corrective baptism" without "correcting" anything else is a cowardly practice: people who advocate such things don't want to rock the boat too much (by requiring too many corrections and implicitly judging the jurisdiction of Orthodox bishops), but they are willing to rock it just enough to satisfy their preference for receiving everyone by baptism.  But in doing so and in rejecting the use of economy in this way, they're actually calling into question their faithfulness to that article of the Creed upon which they base their strictness.   

Those who advocate "corrective baptisms" in the case of converts received without baptism would probably argue that nothing else needs to be corrected since everything else was done properly.  You and Fr. John may wish to force a certain implication, interpretation, belief, etc. into the minds and hearts of those who do such things; but I think the simple explanation of making sure all of the i's are dotted and t's are crossed is sufficient.  In saying this, I'm really not interested in defending or promoting corrective baptism. 

The story referenced above concerning Elder Sophrony reflects the belief that I have heard from other Athonite monks not associated with Elder Ephraim's monasteries, that experience has demonstrated that people go through a more complete transformation when they are received by baptism than by chrismation.  This is an observation made by those who have the experience and spiritual gifts to perceive such things and is not simply a matter of interpreting canons.  If you have this belief, it is understandable that you would recommend for those received without baptism to receive a proper Orthodox baptism.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 07, 2014, 03:41:26 PM
Offtopic,

What do you think of Fr. George Metallinos? I have not read the "I confess one Baptism" but rather simply some articles he has written in greek  (By the way do you know more than one language?)

There is a whole chapter in my book on Orthodox Fundamentalism published by Light and Life on the issue of the reception of converts. A significant part of that chapter is a critique the book "I Confess One Baptism." To put is simply, he is wrong on several points. The most common historical practice of the Eastern Orthodox Church is to receive converts baptized outside of the Church by Catholics and Protestants with water "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." by profession of faith and Chrismation. This is the only practice that has actually received the endorsement of Pan-Orthodox councils, for Catholics in Constantinople in 1485, for Protestants in Jerusalem and Bethlehem in 1672. This whole issue is an artificial argument being advanced by well meaning, but misinformed people and by some people who are overly influenced by the schismatic Old Calendarist Movement. It is also being advanced by some people who are using this argument to gain a following for themselves. I do not agree with everything in it, because I personally consider the reception of a convert through Chrismation an exercise of economy, but a very good discussion of this issue can be found in the joint statement of the North American Orthodox Roman Catholic dialogue at
http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/orthodox/baptism-and-sacramental-economy.cfm

When dealing with this or any other matter we must do what the Church does and has done through the centuries, not what we think the Church should do or who can make the best argument on  what the Church should do. The advocates of reception only through Baptism can make a good argument, but that argument does not conform to  the historical practice of the Eastern Orthodox Church for the reception of converts from schismatic or heretical groups. Although canon law does allow a Bishop to instruct his Priests to receive all converts through Baptism, the same canon law also allows as Bishop to instruct his clergy to receive converts through Chrismation. Thus,  it is uncanonical, and in my opinion heretical,  to Baptize someone who has been received by Chrismation if their Bishop has mandated that they should be received by Chrismation. Once some has entered the Church regardless of how, as long as they are following the instructions of their Bishop,  they are fully Orthodox. We must remember that canonically the Bishop alone, following the practices mandated by his Primate and the Holy Synod under which he serves, has the authority to instruct his clergy how to receive converts. The Church has received converts from schismatic and heretical groups by profession of faith and Chrismation for centuries. If canon 95 of Trullo can mandate that a convert from Arianism which denied the divinity of Christ by profession of faith and Christmation, the Church can receive a Catholic or Protestant who does believe in the divinity of Christ by profession of faith and Chrismation.
If a convert came to me and demanded to be received through Baptism rather than Chrismation, I would not receive them. A convert must come to the Church on the Church's terms not their own terms. Any convert must be willing to accept the authority of the Church on this and all other doctrinal matters. One does not come to the Church with conditions. We do not need cafeteria Orthodox who decide for themselves what they believe. We need Orthodox who fully and without reservation accept the teachings and practices of the Church.

Fr. John  W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 07, 2014, 04:03:06 PM
Those who advocate "corrective baptisms" in the case of converts received without baptism would probably argue that nothing else needs to be corrected since everything else was done properly.  You and Fr. John may wish to force a certain implication, interpretation, belief, etc. into the minds and hearts of those who do such things; but I think the simple explanation of making sure all of the i's are dotted and t's are crossed is sufficient.  In saying this, I'm really not interested in defending or promoting corrective baptism. 

If all bishops would agree to treat all non-Orthodox as if they were never baptised and simply receive everyone by baptism (except those specifically mentioned in the canons whose method of reception has been defined otherwise), I would be OK with that.  If all bishops would agree to respect prudential decisions made by other bishops, whether or not that's how they would've done it themselves, I would be OK with that too.  Of course, I take it for granted that the clergy and faithful would agree to abide by whatever choice the bishops committed themselves to in this regard and not "agitate".  So I'm not interested in "forcing" any particular belief or implication into the minds and hearts of those who correctively baptise because I don't really have an agenda to push regarding them. 

But it must be said that those who do such things, by the very act of doing them, are calling into question decisions made by bishops with whom they are in communion, and that is at the very least confusing to the faithful.  By all means, debate how a person should be received before they are received, but once they are received into the Church by a legitimate bishop (or priest acting in his name) in what is recognised as a legitimate method, why go through these other things?  The responsibility to cross t's and dot i's when receiving a convert belongs to the pastor (bishop and/or priest) of the convert, not to the clergy and/or monks of the place in which the visiting convert wishes to confess, commune, or serve. 

It's not sufficient to say that "everything else (chrismation, ordinations, etc.) was done properly" and so a corrective baptism is all that's necessary.  The sacraments are not simply a matter of performing the proper rites while saying the proper words.  If the baptism was defective to begin with (and "corrective baptism" is basically an affirmation of this), none of the other sacraments actually effected that which they were supposed to effect, because without baptism you can't receive the other sacraments.  Baptism doesn't retroactively correct priestly ordination because by definition baptism has to be the first thing. 

Those who support corrective baptism often justify their position precisely by pointing out that the sacraments are about more than just words and rites (e.g., it's not enough to use water and baptise with the Trinitarian formula) and so economy must not be abused, but somehow when it comes to administering other corrective sacraments along with baptism, they hesitate and fall back precisely on words and rites.  That's not consistent with basic sacramental theology, it's a patchwork theology that mixes economy with strictness and ruins both.           

Quote
The story referenced above concerning Elder Sophrony reflects the belief that I have heard from other Athonite monks not associated with Elder Ephraim's monasteries, that experience has demonstrated that people go through a more complete transformation when they are received by baptism than by chrismation.  This is an observation made by those who have the experience and spiritual gifts to perceive such things and is not simply a matter of interpreting canons.  If you have this belief, it is understandable that you would recommend for those received without baptism to receive a proper Orthodox baptism.

I don't have the requisite ascetic experience and spiritual gifts to perceive whether there is a more complete transformation when a person is baptised as opposed to merely chrismated.  But, IMO, this is not a matter of charismatic discernment, it's basic theology and canonical practice.  The only way a person can be received by chrismation is if the bishop determines that their heterodox baptism is acceptable.  Whether you define it as "the sacrament of baptism, as Orthodox understand it, was conferred by the heterodox" or "chrismation completes and heals whatever was lacking in the heterodox baptism", the grace of baptism is there, otherwise chrismation as economy would make no sense even as a possibility.  So if a non-Orthodox Christian is received through chrismation and is communed, sacramentally the "transformation" is the same. 

In the story above, it is obvious that, whatever Elder Sophrony's reservations were concerning this person and the method of her reception, it didn't prevent him from communing her without requiring a corrective baptism.  Was the spiritual condition of this person, which he observed as a flickering light compared to the others' brilliantly shining lights, merely because of economic chrismation?  Or were the others simply holier than she was?  Perhaps she withheld some sin in confession?  Maybe it was demonic manifestation intended to tempt the Elder into some sin.  Based on whatever was presented in this thread about that story, it's hard to conclude that the only reason for the phenomenon he experienced was the use of economy in the reception of that woman.  And the Elder, whatever his doubts, did not let them cloud his understanding of basic sacramental theology and his canonical/pastoral responsibilities.  It's an interesting anecdote, but essentially useless as evidence on behalf of "corrective baptism".   
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Gunnarr on January 07, 2014, 04:03:47 PM
Offtopic,

What do you think of Fr. George Metallinos? I have not read the "I confess one Baptism" but rather simply some articles he has written in greek  (By the way do you know more than one language?)

There is a whole chapter in my book on Orthodox Fundamentalism published by Light and Life on the issue of the reception of converts. A significant part of that chapter is a critique the book "I Confess One Baptism." To put is simply, he is wrong on several points. The most common historical practice of the Eastern Orthodox Church is to receive converts baptized outside of the Church by Catholics and Protestants with water "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." by profession of faith and Chrismation. This is the only practice that has actually received the endorsement of Pan-Orthodox councils, for Catholics in Constantinople in 1485, for Protestants in Jerusalem and Bethlehem in 1672. This whole issue is an artificial argument being advanced by well meaning, but misinformed people and by some people who are overly influenced by the schismatic Old Calendarist Movement. It is also being advanced by some people who are using this argument to gain a following for themselves. I do not agree with everything in it, because I personally consider the reception of a convert through Chrismation an exercise of economy, but a very good discussion of this issue can be found in the joint statement of the North American Orthodox Roman Catholic dialogue at
http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/orthodox/baptism-and-sacramental-economy.cfm

When dealing with this or any other matter we must do what the Church does and has done through the centuries, not what we think the Church should do or who can make the best argument on  what the Church should do. The advocates of reception only through Baptism can make a good argument, but that argument does not conform to  the historical practice of the Eastern Orthodox Church for the reception of converts from schismatic or heretical groups. Although canon law does allow a Bishop to instruct his Priests to receive all converts through Baptism, the same canon law also allows as Bishop to instruct his clergy to receive converts through Chrismation. Thus,  it is uncanonical, and in my opinion heretical,  to Baptize someone who has been received by Chrismation if their Bishop has mandated that they should be received by Chrismation. Once some has entered the Church regardless of how, as long as they are following the instructions of their Bishop,  they are fully Orthodox. We must remember that canonically the Bishop alone, following the practices mandated by his Primate and the Holy Synod under which he serves, has the authority to instruct his clergy how to receive converts. The Church has received converts from schismatic and heretical groups by profession of faith and Chrismation for centuries. If canon 95 of Trullo can mandate that a convert from Arianism which denied the divinity of Christ by profession of faith and Christmation, the Church can receive a Catholic or Protestant who does believe in the divinity of Christ by profession of faith and Chrismation.
If a convert came to me and demanded to be received through Baptism rather than Chrismation, I would not receive them. A convert must come to the Church on the Church's terms not their own terms. Any convert must be willing to accept the authority of the Church on this and all other doctrinal matters. One does not come to the Church with conditions. We do not need cafeteria Orthodox who decide for themselves what they believe. We need Orthodox who fully and without reservation accept the teachings and practices of the Church.

Fr. John  W. Morris

This is such a problem in Orthodoxy, two Archpriests disagreeing with one another, two Ph. D's disagreeing with one another! No wonder the Catholics made an infallible pope, it makes it so much easier! (I am joking by the way)

Thank you for the clarifications
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 07, 2014, 05:25:14 PM
I admit that I am not well acquainted with such accounts but my understanding is that an Orthodox person who has not received baptism would just receive whatever was lacking in that reception.  This would be done just to make sure all was done properly and to erase any question in the mind of the convert, and in the minds of those with whom the convert clergy might be serving, regarding that convert's status in the Church.  Such an act does not imply that anything was lacking in the chrismation, ordination, etc.; it only completes what was lacking in the initial reception.

No. Because those sacraments were conveyed by the Orthodox Church in Orthodox form. (I don't know about those Eastern Catholic clergy received through vesting--I'm not sure how often this happens.) The so-called corrective baptism, AFAIK, applies only to those who received non-Orthodox baptism. I have yet to hear of a case (in canonical Orthodoxy) where an Orthodox baby or adult was baptized through means other than triple immersion and then years later someone said they had to have a corrective baptism. I suppose this might be done, given St. Basil's teaching on economy in aerobaptism, but that seems a bit of a stretch.

Baptism is the absolute prerequisite for receiving any of the other sacraments of the Church.  If a person is not baptised, you can't chrismate them, ordain them, and so on because such would have no effect on the person.  It's not like we can take a Jew, ordain him, and then baptise him twenty-five years later and declare him an archpriest in recognition of his years of ministry.  Baptism is necessary before anything else. 

So, as I see it, there are only two options. 

1.  You can accept that bishops have the right to exercise economy in the reception of heterodox Christians, as allowed in the canons, both in terms of the letter (when the type of heterodox Christian is named) and the spirit (applying the principles of the letter to types of heterodox Christian which are not named in the canons for one or the other reason).  If, for example, my bishop exercises strictness in the reception of converts, but another bishop with whom he is in communion exercises economy, my bishop and his local Church ought to accept as Orthodox someone whom he has accepted as Orthodox, even if we would've accepted him differently.  This is basically how the OO do things: some of us are more strict than others, but no one second guesses decisions already made. 

2.  If you believe in applying strictness to such an extent that you would do so-called "corrective baptism", you should have the consistency and the guts to do "corrective chrismation" and, if applicable, "corrective ordination(s)".  If the baptism was faulty, everything else is compromised.  Just because, as Shanghaiski suggests, the other sacraments were conveyed by the Orthodox Church in an Orthodox form doesn't mean anything.  "Corrective baptism" can't retroactively "fix" ordinations. 

ISTM that requiring "corrective baptism" without "correcting" anything else is a cowardly practice: people who advocate such things don't want to rock the boat too much (by requiring too many corrections and implicitly judging the jurisdiction of Orthodox bishops), but they are willing to rock it just enough to satisfy their preference for receiving everyone by baptism.  But in doing so and in rejecting the use of economy in this way, they're actually calling into question their faithfulness to that article of the Creed upon which they base their strictness.   

That's why I related it to St. Basil's economy in aerobaptism. No one who actually does corrective baptism denies the grace of the Holy Spirit operative in how else the convert was received, otherwise they would have redid all the other sacraments. It's one of those weird fuzzy areas, as far as I can tell. We can get red in the face about it as much as we want, but AFAIK, it is a practice that is passing away. And hopefully blanket economy will also pass away as non-Orthodox groups get weirder and weirder. That way, there will be no questions. I agree, it is a rather reckless thing, and frankly I'm not sure if it serves a good purpose for even the person who desires it. The apologists say that Orthodox baptism will aid in the spiritual life, etc. Well, I have seen several people known to me be baptized and then wander off into apostasy.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Maria on January 07, 2014, 05:28:50 PM
I admit that I am not well acquainted with such accounts but my understanding is that an Orthodox person who has not received baptism would just receive whatever was lacking in that reception.  This would be done just to make sure all was done properly and to erase any question in the mind of the convert, and in the minds of those with whom the convert clergy might be serving, regarding that convert's status in the Church.  Such an act does not imply that anything was lacking in the chrismation, ordination, etc.; it only completes what was lacking in the initial reception.

No. Because those sacraments were conveyed by the Orthodox Church in Orthodox form. (I don't know about those Eastern Catholic clergy received through vesting--I'm not sure how often this happens.) The so-called corrective baptism, AFAIK, applies only to those who received non-Orthodox baptism. I have yet to hear of a case (in canonical Orthodoxy) where an Orthodox baby or adult was baptized through means other than triple immersion and then years later someone said they had to have a corrective baptism. I suppose this might be done, given St. Basil's teaching on economy in aerobaptism, but that seems a bit of a stretch.

Baptism is the absolute prerequisite for receiving any of the other sacraments of the Church.  If a person is not baptised, you can't chrismate them, ordain them, and so on because such would have no effect on the person.  It's not like we can take a Jew, ordain him, and then baptise him twenty-five years later and declare him an archpriest in recognition of his years of ministry.  Baptism is necessary before anything else.  

So, as I see it, there are only two options.  

1.  You can accept that bishops have the right to exercise economy in the reception of heterodox Christians, as allowed in the canons, both in terms of the letter (when the type of heterodox Christian is named) and the spirit (applying the principles of the letter to types of heterodox Christian which are not named in the canons for one or the other reason).  If, for example, my bishop exercises strictness in the reception of converts, but another bishop with whom he is in communion exercises economy, my bishop and his local Church ought to accept as Orthodox someone whom he has accepted as Orthodox, even if we would've accepted him differently.  This is basically how the OO do things: some of us are more strict than others, but no one second guesses decisions already made.  

2.  If you believe in applying strictness to such an extent that you would do so-called "corrective baptism", you should have the consistency and the guts to do "corrective chrismation" and, if applicable, "corrective ordination(s)".  If the baptism was faulty, everything else is compromised.  Just because, as Shanghaiski suggests, the other sacraments were conveyed by the Orthodox Church in an Orthodox form doesn't mean anything.  "Corrective baptism" can't retroactively "fix" ordinations.  

ISTM that requiring "corrective baptism" without "correcting" anything else is a cowardly practice: people who advocate such things don't want to rock the boat too much (by requiring too many corrections and implicitly judging the jurisdiction of Orthodox bishops), but they are willing to rock it just enough to satisfy their preference for receiving everyone by baptism.  But in doing so and in rejecting the use of economy in this way, they're actually calling into question their faithfulness to that article of the Creed upon which they base their strictness.    

That's why I related it to St. Basil's economy in aerobaptism. No one who actually does corrective baptism denies the grace of the Holy Spirit operative in how else the convert was received, otherwise they would have redid all the other sacraments. It's one of those weird fuzzy areas, as far as I can tell. We can get red in the face about it as much as we want, but AFAIK, it is a practice that is passing away. And hopefully blanket economy will also pass away as non-Orthodox groups get weirder and weirder. That way, there will be no questions. I agree, it is a rather reckless thing, and frankly I'm not sure if it serves a good purpose for even the person who desires it. The apologists say that Orthodox baptism will aid in the spiritual life, etc. Well, I have seen several people known to me be baptized and then wander off into apostasy.

Was not Arian, himself, a baptized Orthodox Christian before he fell into heresy? Origen was also a baptized Orthodox Christian before he fell into heresy.

And was not Judas one of the Twelve?

Christ did say that there are wolves among us.

Baptism does not guarantee us a place in Heaven.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 07, 2014, 05:34:08 PM
I admit that I am not well acquainted with such accounts but my understanding is that an Orthodox person who has not received baptism would just receive whatever was lacking in that reception.  This would be done just to make sure all was done properly and to erase any question in the mind of the convert, and in the minds of those with whom the convert clergy might be serving, regarding that convert's status in the Church.  Such an act does not imply that anything was lacking in the chrismation, ordination, etc.; it only completes what was lacking in the initial reception.

No. Because those sacraments were conveyed by the Orthodox Church in Orthodox form. (I don't know about those Eastern Catholic clergy received through vesting--I'm not sure how often this happens.) The so-called corrective baptism, AFAIK, applies only to those who received non-Orthodox baptism. I have yet to hear of a case (in canonical Orthodoxy) where an Orthodox baby or adult was baptized through means other than triple immersion and then years later someone said they had to have a corrective baptism. I suppose this might be done, given St. Basil's teaching on economy in aerobaptism, but that seems a bit of a stretch.

Baptism is the absolute prerequisite for receiving any of the other sacraments of the Church.  If a person is not baptised, you can't chrismate them, ordain them, and so on because such would have no effect on the person.  It's not like we can take a Jew, ordain him, and then baptise him twenty-five years later and declare him an archpriest in recognition of his years of ministry.  Baptism is necessary before anything else.  

So, as I see it, there are only two options.  

1.  You can accept that bishops have the right to exercise economy in the reception of heterodox Christians, as allowed in the canons, both in terms of the letter (when the type of heterodox Christian is named) and the spirit (applying the principles of the letter to types of heterodox Christian which are not named in the canons for one or the other reason).  If, for example, my bishop exercises strictness in the reception of converts, but another bishop with whom he is in communion exercises economy, my bishop and his local Church ought to accept as Orthodox someone whom he has accepted as Orthodox, even if we would've accepted him differently.  This is basically how the OO do things: some of us are more strict than others, but no one second guesses decisions already made.  

2.  If you believe in applying strictness to such an extent that you would do so-called "corrective baptism", you should have the consistency and the guts to do "corrective chrismation" and, if applicable, "corrective ordination(s)".  If the baptism was faulty, everything else is compromised.  Just because, as Shanghaiski suggests, the other sacraments were conveyed by the Orthodox Church in an Orthodox form doesn't mean anything.  "Corrective baptism" can't retroactively "fix" ordinations.  

ISTM that requiring "corrective baptism" without "correcting" anything else is a cowardly practice: people who advocate such things don't want to rock the boat too much (by requiring too many corrections and implicitly judging the jurisdiction of Orthodox bishops), but they are willing to rock it just enough to satisfy their preference for receiving everyone by baptism.  But in doing so and in rejecting the use of economy in this way, they're actually calling into question their faithfulness to that article of the Creed upon which they base their strictness.    

That's why I related it to St. Basil's economy in aerobaptism. No one who actually does corrective baptism denies the grace of the Holy Spirit operative in how else the convert was received, otherwise they would have redid all the other sacraments. It's one of those weird fuzzy areas, as far as I can tell. We can get red in the face about it as much as we want, but AFAIK, it is a practice that is passing away. And hopefully blanket economy will also pass away as non-Orthodox groups get weirder and weirder. That way, there will be no questions. I agree, it is a rather reckless thing, and frankly I'm not sure if it serves a good purpose for even the person who desires it. The apologists say that Orthodox baptism will aid in the spiritual life, etc. Well, I have seen several people known to me be baptized and then wander off into apostasy.

Was not Arian, himself, a baptized Orthodox Christian before he fell into heresy? Origen was also a baptized Orthodox Christian before he fell into heresy.

And was not Judas one of the Twelve?

Christ did say that there are wolves among us.

Baptism does not guarantee us a place in Heaven.

Indeed. Although, with respect to Origen, he died in communion with the Church and was not anathematized until centuries after his death--something at the time strange enough to cause scandal in itself.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: LBK on January 07, 2014, 05:48:37 PM
The story referenced above concerning Elder Sophrony reflects the belief that I have heard from other Athonite monks not associated with Elder Ephraim's monasteries, that experience has demonstrated that people go through a more complete transformation when they are received by baptism than by chrismation.  This is an observation made by those who have the experience and spiritual gifts to perceive such things and is not simply a matter of interpreting canons.  If you have this belief, it is understandable that you would recommend for those received without baptism to receive a proper Orthodox baptism.

Then what of those who are proclaimed Orthodox saints, but who were received into the Church by chrismation? New-martyr Elizabeth the Grand Duchess is one that immediately comes to mind. To say that chrismation bestows an imperfect or incomplete transformation is dangerous and damaging, to say the least.

The service for chrismation is the same as that for baptism. Only the sections directly related to the blessing of the baptismal water and the immersion are omitted.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 07, 2014, 05:55:44 PM
That's why I related it to St. Basil's economy in aerobaptism.

I would prefer not to introduce aerobaptism into this discussion unless it's deemed absolutely necessary.  I'm not really sure what to make of the practice for a few reasons (e.g., its only support, AFAIK, is St Basil, it is not common, outside of EO circles no one seems to even know of it let alone accept it, etc.). 

Quote
No one who actually does corrective baptism denies the grace of the Holy Spirit operative in how else the convert was received, otherwise they would have redid all the other sacraments. It's one of those weird fuzzy areas, as far as I can tell. We can get red in the face about it as much as we want, but AFAIK, it is a practice that is passing away. And hopefully blanket economy will also pass away as non-Orthodox groups get weirder and weirder. That way, there will be no questions. I agree, it is a rather reckless thing, and frankly I'm not sure if it serves a good purpose for even the person who desires it. The apologists say that Orthodox baptism will aid in the spiritual life, etc. Well, I have seen several people known to me be baptized and then wander off into apostasy.

Generally, I agree with you.  Regarding that first sentence, though, I would really love to know how they justify corrective baptism for converts with their acceptance of the working of the Holy Spirit in their economic reception. 
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 07, 2014, 05:56:38 PM
The story referenced above concerning Elder Sophrony reflects the belief that I have heard from other Athonite monks not associated with Elder Ephraim's monasteries, that experience has demonstrated that people go through a more complete transformation when they are received by baptism than by chrismation.  This is an observation made by those who have the experience and spiritual gifts to perceive such things and is not simply a matter of interpreting canons.  If you have this belief, it is understandable that you would recommend for those received without baptism to receive a proper Orthodox baptism.

Then what of those who are proclaimed Orthodox saints, but who were received into the Church by chrismation? New-martyr Elizabeth the Grand Duchess is one that immediately comes to mind. To say that chrismation bestows an imperfect or incomplete transformation is dangerous and damaging, to say the least.

The service for chrismation is the same as that for baptism. Only the sections directly related to the blessing of the baptismal water and the immersion are omitted.

I don't think they're saying that.

And the latter assumes that the service of chrismation is done the same every time. I've rarely seen it done the same way twice.

As far as I can tell, whether to baptize or to chrismate a convert is a fuzzy thing, relying more on things like the present political circumstances, what have we been doing for the last few decades, and intuition. The last person to be thought of is the individual convert who is usually overawed in the first place (and willing to do and believe whatever). Later, if the convert has an issue, he's fed more about the need to have faith and obedience. Well, that's all well and good, but the question has not been answered satisfactorily.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 07, 2014, 06:01:26 PM
As far as I can tell, whether to baptize or to chrismate a convert is a fuzzy thing, relying more on things like the present political circumstances, what have we been doing for the last few decades, and intuition. The last person to be thought of is the individual convert who is usually overawed in the first place (and willing to do and believe whatever). Later, if the convert has an issue, he's fed more about the need to have faith and obedience. Well, that's all well and good, but the question has not been answered satisfactorily.

This is a good point.  Even if Orthodox theologians can point to historical precedent and say that economic reception of RC's and Protestants has been accepted and practiced for centuries, there's nothing consistent about it except the inconsistency in practice.  Various local Churches decided on economy or strictness based on current political circumstances, theological predilections, "doing what the other guys don't do", etc.  It would be good, IMO, to remove these factors as far as possible from the decision on whether or not to use economy and judge the matter based on principles of faith and the pastoral needs of the convert and the local community. 
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 07, 2014, 06:02:14 PM
That's why I related it to St. Basil's economy in aerobaptism.

I would prefer not to introduce aerobaptism into this discussion unless it's deemed absolutely necessary.  I'm not really sure what to make of the practice for a few reasons (e.g., its only support, AFAIK, is St Basil, it is not common, outside of EO circles no one seems to even know of it let alone accept it, etc.). 

Quote
No one who actually does corrective baptism denies the grace of the Holy Spirit operative in how else the convert was received, otherwise they would have redid all the other sacraments. It's one of those weird fuzzy areas, as far as I can tell. We can get red in the face about it as much as we want, but AFAIK, it is a practice that is passing away. And hopefully blanket economy will also pass away as non-Orthodox groups get weirder and weirder. That way, there will be no questions. I agree, it is a rather reckless thing, and frankly I'm not sure if it serves a good purpose for even the person who desires it. The apologists say that Orthodox baptism will aid in the spiritual life, etc. Well, I have seen several people known to me be baptized and then wander off into apostasy.

Generally, I agree with you.  Regarding that first sentence, though, I would really love to know how they justify corrective baptism for converts with their acceptance of the working of the Holy Spirit in their economic reception. 

I would too. It does sound more Latin, if that cliche can be forgiven. But consider that we operate through the tangible. There's no tangible element in the chrismation service that makes reference to baptism. And that non-Orthodox baptism is not properly regarded as a baptism in the first place, but only something thought to have the form--though that is often questionable as well. Consider what is the need, nowadays, to chrismate converts? It used to be they were chrismated due to expediency--to make it easier for them to come in; and for political reasons--so that hostile heretics would not get as upset. I don't think those two reasons exist any longer to the extent they once did. So now there is just the question of the individual convert--does he want to be baptized? Since it's no necessity to chrismate in 99 percent of cases. But instead we fall back on something which is rather nebulous. And we continue to sing "As many as have been baptized..."
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 07, 2014, 06:03:50 PM
As far as I can tell, whether to baptize or to chrismate a convert is a fuzzy thing, relying more on things like the present political circumstances, what have we been doing for the last few decades, and intuition. The last person to be thought of is the individual convert who is usually overawed in the first place (and willing to do and believe whatever). Later, if the convert has an issue, he's fed more about the need to have faith and obedience. Well, that's all well and good, but the question has not been answered satisfactorily.

This is a good point.  Even if Orthodox theologians can point to historical precedent and say that economic reception of RC's and Protestants has been accepted and practiced for centuries, there's nothing consistent about it except the inconsistency in practice.  Various local Churches decided on economy or strictness based on current political circumstances, theological predilections, "doing what the other guys don't do", etc.  It would be good, IMO, to remove these factors as far as possible from the decision on whether or not to use economy and judge the matter based on principles of faith and the pastoral needs of the convert and the local community. 

And the inconsistency doesn't speak well for Orthodox sacramentology. If baptism is so important, why rely so much on an understanding of chrismation which is, frankly, not present either in Scripture, that raises more questions than it answers.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 07, 2014, 06:06:44 PM
I would too. It does sound more Latin, if that cliche can be forgiven. But consider that we operate through the tangible. There's no tangible element in the chrismation service that makes reference to baptism.

What do you mean by this?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Maria on January 07, 2014, 06:09:54 PM
I would too. It does sound more Latin, if that cliche can be forgiven. But consider that we operate through the tangible. There's no tangible element in the chrismation service that makes reference to baptism.

What do you mean by this?

In Baptism, there is the anointing with the oil of gladness (olive oil) which is a prefiguration of Holy Chrism, is it not?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 07, 2014, 06:31:29 PM
I would too. It does sound more Latin, if that cliche can be forgiven. But consider that we operate through the tangible. There's no tangible element in the chrismation service that makes reference to baptism.

What do you mean by this?

Was I unclear? Water is for baptism. Oil is for chrismation. But where it the tangible sign of the working of the Holy Spirit in the chrismation service for the person who has not received Orthodox baptism? Even if the other elements are there--and they're not always--where is the physical sign? Where is the sacramental theology in practice that is the whole thing to which the understanding of the chrismation filling up the empty form with grace refers? Does that make more sense?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 07, 2014, 06:50:15 PM
I would too. It does sound more Latin, if that cliche can be forgiven. But consider that we operate through the tangible. There's no tangible element in the chrismation service that makes reference to baptism.

What do you mean by this?

Was I unclear? Water is for baptism. Oil is for chrismation. But where it the tangible sign of the working of the Holy Spirit in the chrismation service for the person who has not received Orthodox baptism? Even if the other elements are there--and they're not always--where is the physical sign? Where is the sacramental theology in practice that is the whole thing to which the understanding of the chrismation filling up the empty form with grace refers? Does that make more sense?

It does not have to make sense. Remember the Greek word for "sacrament" is "mystery." The sacramental theology is in the historic practice of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the canons, and the decisions of Pan-Orthodox Councils which without a doubt allow for the reception of a convert through Chrismation.  The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. Its historical practices are infallible whether we understand them or not and should not be questioned by any faithful Orthodox Christian.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 07, 2014, 07:03:06 PM
I would too. It does sound more Latin, if that cliche can be forgiven. But consider that we operate through the tangible. There's no tangible element in the chrismation service that makes reference to baptism.

What do you mean by this?

Was I unclear? Water is for baptism. Oil is for chrismation. But where it the tangible sign of the working of the Holy Spirit in the chrismation service for the person who has not received Orthodox baptism? Even if the other elements are there--and they're not always--where is the physical sign? Where is the sacramental theology in practice that is the whole thing to which the understanding of the chrismation filling up the empty form with grace refers? Does that make more sense?
The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. Its historical practices are infallible whether we understand them or not and should not be questioned by any faithful Orthodox Christian.

Fr. John W. Morris

Yes the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. But, no, that does not give a blanket infallibility for its historical practices--which are myriad and certainly need to be questioned.

Consider at least the first three ecumenical councils. Nicea I broke the conciliar tradition up to that point by ejecting the three dissident bishops who would not agree to homoousios. Constantinople 1 reversed that trend and opted not to use St. Gregory's words on the Holy Spirit in the Creed for the sake of bringing in the Macedonians, even though the Church believes St. Gregory's words exactly. And at Ephesus 1, St. Cyril would not even wait for Patriarch John of Antioch to get there before convening and finishing the council, thus opening the future to further problems. You see, each of these three councils were not made in an understanding of infallibility for all time, but were pragmatic and products of their time. That does not leave the faith of these councils open to debate, but if one is going to forbid questioning of anything, then one is going to have far more problems. Certainly the Church can and should be able to handle questions. Bishops all have done and will do different things over time depending on the circumstances. They have acted as seemed right one way, and then reversed course. It is not cut and dried. Much as our understanding of the Holy Spirit guiding the church is not cut and dried.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 07, 2014, 07:08:35 PM
Was I unclear?

Bear with me, because I'm still not getting it.  :P

Quote
Water is for baptism. Oil is for chrismation. But where it the tangible sign of the working of the Holy Spirit in the chrismation service for the person who has not received Orthodox baptism? Even if the other elements are there--and they're not always--where is the physical sign? Where is the sacramental theology in practice that is the whole thing to which the understanding of the chrismation filling up the empty form with grace refers? Does that make more sense?

What do you mean by "tangible sign" if you don't mean the water and the oil? 

What are the "other elements" that may or may not be there?  And where is "there"? 
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 07, 2014, 07:18:55 PM
It does not have to make sense. Remember the Greek word for "sacrament" is "mystery." The sacramental theology is in the historic practice of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the canons, and the decisions of Pan-Orthodox Councils which without a doubt allow for the reception of a convert through Chrismation.  The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. Its historical practices are infallible whether we understand them or not and should not be questioned by any faithful Orthodox Christian.

Fr. John W. Morris

Father,

With respect, I really wish you didn't express things in this way.  "Mystery" does not (need to) mean "non-sense".  Our faith teaches us that there are many things which don't make sense to us that are nevertheless not merely true but logical in the deepest sense of that word.  Mystery is not opposed to reason.   

And as for the Church's "historical practices", what is the criterion for determining what is and what is not a "historical practice" enjoying infallibility?  What do "history" and "practice" even mean in this context?  The wearing of cassocks by clergy both "on" and "off duty" is a "historical practice" predating both of us, and yet neither of us would identify that as "infallible" and "not to be questioned".  "Historical practice" is one type of evidence, but it does not a theology make, much less an infallible theology. 
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: TheTrisagion on January 07, 2014, 07:29:58 PM
I realize I have no weight here really, but I would think that when it comes to baptism, whatever the Church has taught has to be pretty much infallible. If not, you are risking people who think they are entering the Church and really are not. If the only way you can be brought in is by baptism and chrismation alone is insufficient, all those who have been brought in that way are deceived.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 07, 2014, 07:38:03 PM
I realize I have no weight here really, but I would think that when it comes to baptism, whatever the Church has taught has to be pretty much infallible. If not, you are risking people who think they are entering the Church and really are not. If the only way you can be brought in is by baptism and chrismation alone is insufficient, all those who have been brought in that way are deceived.

I'm not sure why we need to see things always in such stark, black and white terms, given the history we have and the variance of practice. I, personally, have no need of infallibility in anything apart from God. I was taught that only in Him is there infallibility.

"Whatever the Church has taught"--and that has been several things with regard to how to receive converts. There is not some blessed document somewhere on which everyone everywhere has always agreed on and followed. (I, personally, am not at all bothered by this, or by how people are received. Even corrective baptisms don't bother me, given the rest of how converts have been received.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 07, 2014, 07:42:20 PM
Was I unclear?

Bear with me, because I'm still not getting it.  :P

Quote
Water is for baptism. Oil is for chrismation. But where it the tangible sign of the working of the Holy Spirit in the chrismation service for the person who has not received Orthodox baptism? Even if the other elements are there--and they're not always--where is the physical sign? Where is the sacramental theology in practice that is the whole thing to which the understanding of the chrismation filling up the empty form with grace refers? Does that make more sense?

What do you mean by "tangible sign" if you don't mean the water and the oil? 

What are the "other elements" that may or may not be there?  And where is "there"? 

The water is for baptisms. We're talking about chrismations of persons not baptized in the Orthodox manner. The oil is only for chrismation, as a symbol (discounting the oil of gladness before baptism). "There" is the service for the reception of converts--of which each archdiocese seems to have its own version. The "problem" that is not referenced, to my knowledge, in the service itself by some tangible sign--it can even be a prayer--is that whole issue of the grace of the Holy Spirit filling up the form of the heterodox baptism. This is the belief, but it is not referenced in the service. I don't know if it should be, but if it's so important, and if that is what is believed, it would seem to me that something should be there, since that is the overall sacramental trend I have witnessed in my years being Orthodox.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Santagranddad on January 07, 2014, 08:02:13 PM
The Church has when it feel times demand tended to 'strictness' or 'economy' as deemed appropriate. Fr George Metallinos outlines this well in his book referred to earlier. He is, of course, a priest of the Church of Greece and an academic.

As to current attitudes to the reception of converts, it is not true or necessary to simply and repeatedly refer to contemporary controversies in relation to Baptism/chrismation versus Chrismation as something only bought up by so-called 'schismatic' Old Calendarist circles. Athonite reservations (not including Esphigmenou) can hardly or accurately be so identified.

Time inhibits me but some references to Canonicity appear both simplistic and inaccurate. The late Fr Alexander Schmemann has written a lengthy article on precisely this. He cannot be 'dismissed' conveniently as a schismatic or an 'Old Calendarist'.

As to the notion that believers may not question, or withdraw from hierarchs teaching error, then were the faithful supposed to fall into line immediately following their bishops after almost all signed up to the false Ferrara Florence Council?

If time permitted I would expand on this but the need to look after a friend with an unstable cardiac condition limits me, sorry.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Maria on January 07, 2014, 08:05:49 PM
The Church has when it feel times demand tended to 'strictness' or 'economy' as deemed appropriate. Fr George Metallinos outlines this well in his book referred to earlier. He is, of course, a priest of the Church of Greece and an academic.

As to current attitudes to the reception of converts, it is not true or necessary to simply and repeatedly refer to contemporary controversies in relation to Baptism/chrismation versus Chrismation as something only bought up by so-called 'schismatic' Old Calendarist circles. Athonite reservations (not including Esphigmenou) can hardly or accurately be so identified.

Time inhibits me but some references to Canonicity appear both simplistic and inaccurate. The late Fr Alexander Schmemann has written a lengthy article on precisely this. He cannot be 'dismissed' conveniently as a schismatic or an 'Old Calendarist'.

As to the notion that believers may not question, or withdraw from hierarchs teaching error, then were the faithful supposed to fall into line immediately following their bishops after almost all signed up to the false Ferrara Florence Council?

If time permitted I would expand on this but the need to look after a friend with an unstable cardiac condition limits me, sorry.

Thanks for your valuable input. Yes, we cannot always accept the individual advice of Bishops as they are not infallible like the Pope.  ::)

My prayers for your friend. Lord have mercy and grant health and salvation.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 07, 2014, 08:36:13 PM
The water is for baptisms. We're talking about chrismations of persons not baptized in the Orthodox manner. The oil is only for chrismation, as a symbol (discounting the oil of gladness before baptism). "There" is the service for the reception of converts--of which each archdiocese seems to have its own version.

OK, thanks.

Quote
The "problem" that is not referenced, to my knowledge, in the service itself by some tangible sign--it can even be a prayer--is that whole issue of the grace of the Holy Spirit filling up the form of the heterodox baptism. This is the belief, but it is not referenced in the service. I don't know if it should be, but if it's so important, and if that is what is believed, it would seem to me that something should be there, since that is the overall sacramental trend I have witnessed in my years being Orthodox.

I'm unaware of the full gamut of "services" for the reception of converts in Eastern Orthodoxy.  My understanding was that if a baptised non-Orthodox was to be received by the EO by chrismation, it is essentially the chrismation part of the baptismal rite that is used verbatim, along with a confession of faith and, if applicable, a renunciation of past heresies before the chrismation.  If there are other rites, I'd be interested in seeing them and considering how, if at all, they affect my argument. 

If it is in fact the chrismation rite found in the order of baptism which is used, I would argue that the "tangible sign" is the chrismation itself.  The use of the chrism for anointing is an image of the outpouring of the grace of the Holy Spirit who dwells in the oil (see also the prayer before the anointing with the oil of gladness, which speaks of the fruit of the olive as a gift given by God for the completion of the mysteries...surely applicable to the chrism if applicable to this "lesser" oil).  The prayer before the anointing makes clear that the anointing is a seal (seals indicating fulness, perfection, and completion), and the act of anointing itself is the laying on of hands (obscured in the Byzantine rite anytime that dainty little paintbrush implement is used, but not at all obscured in the various Latin and Oriental rites where the chrism must be applied by a finger/hand, even both hands).  Before chrism was ever used in the Church, it was prayer and the laying on of hands which conferred the gift of the Spirit, and these are retained in the rite even if we use an oil now.

Is this chrismation a "tangible sign" specifically of the healing of heterodox baptism?  Probably not, because the service presumes a regular baptism (the prayers and rites are not changed to reflect past history).  But in the sense that chrismation is the fulfillment of baptism in the sense of completion and sealing, I would say it is the same thing and no more really needs to be "said", especially when factoring in the communing of the convert.  At that point, the person is joined to Christ and incorporated into his Body in every possible way.  What more could be done?  Even the suggestion that more could be done borders on blasphemous.   
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 07, 2014, 08:50:28 PM
Well, I have no desire to be blasphemous.

The reception by chrismation presumes baptism, but if there is no Orthodox baptism, there is at most only a form to be filled/healed by the chrismation. But this has, to my mind, rather weak underpinnings given our sacramentology which, to my knowledge, follows St. Cyprian, and the fact that reception by baptism and chrismation of the heterodox are interchangeable and do not follow a concrete, universally-recognized set of circumstances, but vary over time based on many factors.

I get and accept the understanding and the operation of the sacrament and the authority of the Church and the prerogative of the bishops. But it still seems to me that there is a rather, for lack of a better term, "loose" thing going on for something so important. There is a sort of randomness (and, to me, disorder) going on here. We leave it to God--well and good. But we don't necessarily go about other sacraments like this. Marriage is probably closest to it.

Maybe I make something out of not much. But I'm not so sure it's nothing. We do something because we can, but this does not mean that we should do it.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Deacon Lance on January 07, 2014, 09:02:58 PM
Good writing on the subject by Prof Erickson

http://jbburnett.com/resources/erickson_reception-svtq97.pdf
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 07, 2014, 11:43:15 PM
Quote from: Maria link=topic=17649.msg
[/quote

We should not make a mountain out of a mole hill. Rarely will monastics ask personal questions about sex as they are trying to live the angelic life.

Unfortunately, I have heard differently directly from people who have been to confession at some monasteries. I have also had the experience of serving a mission close to one of these monasteries. The monks Baptized  children from my parish without having the courtesy to inform me. One of our Antiochian Bishops has told me about the problems caused by monks telling people received into the Orthodox Church by Chrismation that they are were not properly received into the Church and need to come to the monastery for a so called corrective Baptism. It is heresy to Baptize someone who was received into the Eastern Orthodox Church through Chrismation, because it denies the grace that they received through their Chrismation, which perfects whatever was lacking in their non-Orthodox Baptism.

Fr. John W. Morris

please pm me or post the names of these monasteries

Also, perhaps those monks thought the people did not have baptisms at all before becoming orthodox, for example, A protestant might get a "baptism" which is not immersion, but sprinkles. second, to say "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" does God give any grace to the protestant minister who does such a baptism since they are outside the Church? What if it was a female minister of the anglican church? Did the holy spirit have any action in such a baptism which was not correct in any way besides "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit"? Can it be called a baptism? I ask you since you are a priest so perhaps can give me answers since I am not sure. I have another question, do different jurisdictions have different viewpoints on chrismation vs baptism of converts?

I have heard that at times some heresies, the converts were to be chrismated, in other heresies the converts were to be only baptized, such as for Arians, and of Iconoclasts. Perhaps it is a difference in jurisdiction, as as far as I can tell these decisions were decided by councils, that such converts were to be chrismated, or to be baptized so perhaps the jurisdictions have different methods? I do not know since you have not named the monasteries, were they of the Antioch jurisdiction?

Why to not tell the priest? That is really weird.

personally, I did not trust my baptism in any way which I had got in my protestant church, and would not have felt comfortable with chrismation

What makes you feel comfortable is not important. If you come to the Eastern Orthodox Church, you have to come on the Church's terms not your own terms. If you want to convert, you must convert according to the practices of the Bishop over the parish in which you convert without any conditions on your part. You do not have the right attitude if you will only convert under your conditions. I know that this is harsh, but the Church is not a cafeteria where you can pick and choose what you believe. You have to accept Orthodoxy without reservation. Part of that acceptance is the requirement that you obey your Bishop. If your Bishop decides that you have to come in through Baptism, you must come in through Baptism. If the Bishop decides that you must come in through Chrismation, you must come in through Chrismation.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 08, 2014, 12:03:24 AM
Well, I have no desire to be blasphemous.

The reception by chrismation presumes baptism, but if there is no Orthodox baptism, there is at most only a form to be filled/healed by the chrismation. But this has, to my mind, rather weak underpinnings given our sacramentology which, to my knowledge, follows St. Cyprian, and the fact that reception by baptism and chrismation of the heterodox are interchangeable and do not follow a concrete, universally-recognized set of circumstances, but vary over time based on many factors.

I get and accept the understanding and the operation of the sacrament and the authority of the Church and the prerogative of the bishops. But it still seems to me that there is a rather, for lack of a better term, "loose" thing going on for something so important. There is a sort of randomness (and, to me, disorder) going on here. We leave it to God--well and good. But we don't necessarily go about other sacraments like this. Marriage is probably closest to it.

Maybe I make something out of not much. But I'm not so sure it's nothing. We do something because we can, but this does not mean that we should do it.

St. Cyprian is a Saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church, but in the Eastern Orthodox Church we do not follow the teachings of one Father. We follow the canons of the 7 Ecumenical Councils, the decisions of Pan-Orthodox Councils, and the historical practice of the Church. The canons of the 7 Ecumenical Councils did not require converts from the great heresies condemned by the Councils to be received through Baptism. Arians were to be received by Chrismation,  Nestorians and Monophysites by profession of faith and a renunciation of their former heresy. Canon 95 of Trullo gives a list of the heresies that existed at the time and tells how they should be received. Since Catholics had not yet gone into schism and Protestants did not exist in 692, the canon does not cover their reception. Therefore the Church held Pan-Orthodox councils, Constantinople in 1485, and Jerusalem Bethlehem in 1672 that decided that baptized Catholics and Protestants should be received by Chrismation. In 1755 Patriarch Cyril V of Constantinople broke with tradition and decreed that all converts should be received by Baptism. However, this decree was not accepted by all Eastern Orthodox. Moscow and Antioch both continued to follow the older tradition. In 1888 Constantinople modified the 1755 decision of Cyril V and decided to allow its Bishops to receive baptized converts by Chrismation.
Today we have a new problem with the advent of feminist theology. Now we have to verify that a person was Baptized "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," and not in so called inclusive language such as "Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier." If it cannot be verified that the correct Trinitarian language was used, the convert must be received by Baptism.
Therefore a potential convert must come into the Church according to the practice mandated by the Bishop over the parish he or she is joining. In America all canonical Orthodox jurisdictions receive baptized converts by profession of faith and Chrismation. Although ROCOR normally receives converts through Baptism, the rules of ROCOR allow a Bishop to use economy and to receive a Catholic or Protestant through Chrismation. I suspect that now that ROCOR has reconciled with Moscow reception by Chrismation will become more common in ROCOR because that is the traditional Russian practice as mandated by the Russian Book of Needs, published by St. Tikhon's Press in English. The Russians have even received Catholics through a profession of faith.
How many times do I have to repeat myself on this topic? In the Eastern Orthodox Church we do what the Church does,  not what think it should do or what our favorite monastic or theologian thinks that the Church should do. No one who has studied this issue denies that through economy  baptized convert may be received into the Church by Chrismation. Even Fr. Metallinos admits that in his book "I Confess One Baptism." So what is the issue?
As far back as St. Basil the Great the Church has recognized the authority of the local Bishops  to instruct his Priests how to receive converts, subject to the guidelines established by the Holy Synod under which he serves. If the Bishop requires all converts to be Baptized, a convert under his omophorion must be Baptized. If a Bishop mandates that converts be received by Chrismtion, a convert under his omophorion must be Chrismated.
There is no canonical or historical grounds for the abuse of so called conditional Baptism. Those who practice this are making up their own form of Orthodoxy and are not following the established practice of the Church. A person who was received by Chrismation is just as Orthodox as someone who was received by Baptism.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Velsigne on January 08, 2014, 01:24:03 AM



I RESPOND: Have you had  a course in Eastern Orthodox canon law from an accreditedited Eastern Orthodox Seminary? Nothing is more dangerous than for a person without the proper training in the principles of Eastern Orthodox Canon Law to pick up a copy of The Rudder and start quoting canons. You simply are not qualified to interpret the canon law without proper training in the principles of Eastern Orthodox Canon Law.

That was the point.  Making declarations of heresy against other Metropolitans on public forums with regard to obscure issues seems a questionable tactic to get your personal message out there. 

But having read through most of the above posts, I have learned a lot more, so thank God (and all the contributors!). 



Velsigne asked: Did the standing Bishops of the Americas not just have a meeting to begin to address these jurisdictional issues in real and tangible ways?  Was this issue brought up before the Bishops in that meeting? 

I RESPOND: Not yet, because the Pastoral Committee has not completed its report which deals not only with the reception of converts, but marriage, funerals and several other matters. However,  the Pastoral Committee of the Assembly of Bishops met in LA in May. I prepared the report for the meeting on the reception of converts and everyone there agreed with my conclusions. I am also a consultant to the Committee on Ecumenical Affairs of the Bishop's Assembly which also deals with this issue and agrees with my conclusions on this matter.

Then I will pray for God's will to be done.


Velsigne asked with tongue in cheek: Did you perchance wear any non-clerical garb in the week preceding chrismation? 

I RESPOND: I wear what my Bishops requires me to wear when I am carrying out my clerical duties and almost always when I leave my home. What I wear at home or even when I am carrying our my Priestly duties is none of your business. It is not your place to judge me or anyone else by what I wear. I wear black pants and a black clerical shirt with a clerical collar, because that is what my Bishop has instructed me to wear.  The canons require clergy to dress as clergy, but does not specify exactly what they should wear. That is because these things have changed through the centuries. In Greece married Priests like myself only began to wear cassocks outside of the Church grounds or a monastery during the 19th century. Before that they dressed as an ordinary layman, but in darker colors. In the 19th century the Holy Synod of Russia decreed that clergy serving outside of Orthodox lands should dress as a proper gentleman. Even St. Tikhon wore a businessman's suite while serving in America.

The point was that things aren't always black and white as with your clerical clothes, and as others have contributed, there are things that God gives holy people to see to help guide us.  If the letter of a law is to be followed so exactly, like a speed limit law, then may God help us. 
 

Velsigne commented: And so is the marriage bed held to be undefiled in the Canons. 

I RESPOND: The official guidelines published by the Holy Synod of Russia for Confessors during the 19th century forbids a Priest hearing a Confession from asking too many personal questions about the intimate sexual relations between a husband and a wife. When  I was told that a monk asked one of my spiritual children questions about the intimate sexual relations with their husband, I asked my Bishop if that is proper and was told that the monk was completely out of line to ask such personal questions of a married woman.

Since we aren't privy to the exact exchange during a Confession, as it should be, it can only leave people to wonder why you would bring this up as some kind of 'proof' against and unnamed monastery in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.   We don't know the woman involved, we don't know the topic, we don't really know anything except you disapprove of an unnamed Greek Orthodox Father Confessor and and unnamed monastery that stepped on your toes a little.   You stated it was a mission parish, for all we know, you were only there once a month and maybe people went elsewhere.  They should be free to do that, church isn't a prison.

Velsigne: As a person who is posting on this forum bearing the title of an Orthodox clergyman and who has leveled a charge of heresy against an Orthodox monastery and, it by association it would seem, on the Metropolitan in whose jurisdiction they reside, I hope this matter will be dealt with in a real way affording the parties being accused a chance to address the issue so as not to further alienate jurisdictions which are in reality one, holy, catholic and Orthodox faith.  Otherwise, it seems an injustice is taking place in the form of an accusation on an internet forum and the inevitable judgement in the court of public opinion with only one side represented.

I RESPOND: I was very careful how I expressed myself. I did not name any monastery or accuse anyone of heresy. I wrote that the practice of “corrective Baptism” is heretical. The practice of “corrective baptism” of someone who was received by Chrismation and has received Communion in the Church is against the teaching of the Holy Fathers. Read Canon I of the 1st Canonical Epistle of St. Basil the Great. In it he expresses disagreement with the decision of  an unnamed Bishop in Asia to receive by Chrismation someone he believes should be received by Baptism, but recognizes the authority of the Asian Bishops to make decisions how to receive converts in their own diocese, writing,  “Because some in Asia have otherwise determined, let [their baptism] be allowed: but not that of the Encratites; for they have altered their baptism, to make themselves incapable of being received by the Church. Yet custom and the Fathers, that is bishops, who have the administration, must be followed;”
Since you list yourself as Antiochian, you should show proper respect for the decision of our Antiochian Bishops which is to receive Baptized converts by Chrismation.
Archpriest John W Morris, PhD


No where have I listed myself as a member of the Antiochian jurisdiction, because I'm not and never have been.  No where have I shown disrespect for receiving converts by Chrismation. 

My point is that I don't agree with your methods using a public forum to attempt to spread your dislike of a monastery by tarring all the "Elder Ephraim" monasteries.  That pretty much leaves the reader wondering which one it could possibly be and so looks like you would want the reader to distrust all of them.   

For all we know, that situation may have happened years ago and never again, or you could be harboring a grudge, or they could be baptizing one of your flock right now.  I kind of doubt it though, and the whole thing may be a misunderstanding of some kind.

I understand you haven't been feeling well, and I hope your situation corrects itself. 

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: FormerCalvinist on January 08, 2014, 01:43:39 AM
I heard a story about Elder Sophrony of Essex. He was giving communion and a woman came up and he saw that, unlike the others, the visible grace around her (don't know how to explain it) was flickering, rather than shining like the others. He asked her if she was Orthodox. She said yes, that she had been chrismated. Then the elder gave her communion.

Can you provide the source of this story that you have heard? I cannot help but wonder what the point of it is, if not to spread fear and doubt among those converts who have been received by Chrismation.

Mt. 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 08, 2014, 01:49:30 AM
I heard a story about Elder Sophrony of Essex. He was giving communion and a woman came up and he saw that, unlike the others, the visible grace around her (don't know how to explain it) was flickering, rather than shining like the others. He asked her if she was Orthodox. She said yes, that she had been chrismated. Then the elder gave her communion.

Can you provide the source of this story that you have heard? I cannot help but wonder what the point of it is, if not to spread fear and doubt among those converts who have been received by Chrismation.

Mt. 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

I read it years ago on Monachos posted, IIRC, by someone who frequented the monastery in Essex.

I do not at all believe his intent was to spread fear and doubt. And I myself was received through Chrismation.

Obviously, this is a very sensitive topic because lots of people go through serious struggle. And it is because there is serious struggle involved that I have discussed it here, in an effort to understand it better.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 08, 2014, 01:55:05 AM



I RESPOND: Have you had  a course in Eastern Orthodox canon law from an accreditedited Eastern Orthodox Seminary? Nothing is more dangerous than for a person without the proper training in the principles of Eastern Orthodox Canon Law to pick up a copy of The Rudder and start quoting canons. You simply are not qualified to interpret the canon law without proper training in the principles of Eastern Orthodox Canon Law.

That was the point.  Making declarations of heresy against other Metropolitans on public forums with regard to obscure issues seems a questionable tactic to get your personal message out there. 

But having read through most of the above posts, I have learned a lot more, so thank God (and all the contributors!). 



Velsigne asked: Did the standing Bishops of the Americas not just have a meeting to begin to address these jurisdictional issues in real and tangible ways?  Was this issue brought up before the Bishops in that meeting? 

I RESPOND: Not yet, because the Pastoral Committee has not completed its report which deals not only with the reception of converts, but marriage, funerals and several other matters. However,  the Pastoral Committee of the Assembly of Bishops met in LA in May. I prepared the report for the meeting on the reception of converts and everyone there agreed with my conclusions. I am also a consultant to the Committee on Ecumenical Affairs of the Bishop's Assembly which also deals with this issue and agrees with my conclusions on this matter.

Then I will pray for God's will to be done.


Velsigne asked with tongue in cheek: Did you perchance wear any non-clerical garb in the week preceding chrismation? 

I RESPOND: I wear what my Bishops requires me to wear when I am carrying out my clerical duties and almost always when I leave my home. What I wear at home or even when I am carrying our my Priestly duties is none of your business. It is not your place to judge me or anyone else by what I wear. I wear black pants and a black clerical shirt with a clerical collar, because that is what my Bishop has instructed me to wear.  The canons require clergy to dress as clergy, but does not specify exactly what they should wear. That is because these things have changed through the centuries. In Greece married Priests like myself only began to wear cassocks outside of the Church grounds or a monastery during the 19th century. Before that they dressed as an ordinary layman, but in darker colors. In the 19th century the Holy Synod of Russia decreed that clergy serving outside of Orthodox lands should dress as a proper gentleman. Even St. Tikhon wore a businessman's suite while serving in America.

The point was that things aren't always black and white as with your clerical clothes, and as others have contributed, there are things that God gives holy people to see to help guide us.  If the letter of a law is to be followed so exactly, like a speed limit law, then may God help us. 
 

Velsigne commented: And so is the marriage bed held to be undefiled in the Canons. 

I RESPOND: The official guidelines published by the Holy Synod of Russia for Confessors during the 19th century forbids a Priest hearing a Confession from asking too many personal questions about the intimate sexual relations between a husband and a wife. When  I was told that a monk asked one of my spiritual children questions about the intimate sexual relations with their husband, I asked my Bishop if that is proper and was told that the monk was completely out of line to ask such personal questions of a married woman.

Since we aren't privy to the exact exchange during a Confession, as it should be, it can only leave people to wonder why you would bring this up as some kind of 'proof' against and unnamed monastery in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.   We don't know the woman involved, we don't know the topic, we don't really know anything except you disapprove of an unnamed Greek Orthodox Father Confessor and and unnamed monastery that stepped on your toes a little.   You stated it was a mission parish, for all we know, you were only there once a month and maybe people went elsewhere.  They should be free to do that, church isn't a prison.

Velsigne: As a person who is posting on this forum bearing the title of an Orthodox clergyman and who has leveled a charge of heresy against an Orthodox monastery and, it by association it would seem, on the Metropolitan in whose jurisdiction they reside, I hope this matter will be dealt with in a real way affording the parties being accused a chance to address the issue so as not to further alienate jurisdictions which are in reality one, holy, catholic and Orthodox faith.  Otherwise, it seems an injustice is taking place in the form of an accusation on an internet forum and the inevitable judgement in the court of public opinion with only one side represented.

I RESPOND: I was very careful how I expressed myself. I did not name any monastery or accuse anyone of heresy. I wrote that the practice of “corrective Baptism” is heretical. The practice of “corrective baptism” of someone who was received by Chrismation and has received Communion in the Church is against the teaching of the Holy Fathers. Read Canon I of the 1st Canonical Epistle of St. Basil the Great. In it he expresses disagreement with the decision of  an unnamed Bishop in Asia to receive by Chrismation someone he believes should be received by Baptism, but recognizes the authority of the Asian Bishops to make decisions how to receive converts in their own diocese, writing,  “Because some in Asia have otherwise determined, let [their baptism] be allowed: but not that of the Encratites; for they have altered their baptism, to make themselves incapable of being received by the Church. Yet custom and the Fathers, that is bishops, who have the administration, must be followed;”
Since you list yourself as Antiochian, you should show proper respect for the decision of our Antiochian Bishops which is to receive Baptized converts by Chrismation.
Archpriest John W Morris, PhD


No where have I listed myself as a member of the Antiochian jurisdiction, because I'm not and never have been.  No where have I shown disrespect for receiving converts by Chrismation. 

My point is that I don't agree with your methods using a public forum to attempt to spread your dislike of a monastery by tarring all the "Elder Ephraim" monasteries.  That pretty much leaves the reader wondering which one it could possibly be and so looks like you would want the reader to distrust all of them.   

For all we know, that situation may have happened years ago and never again, or you could be harboring a grudge, or they could be baptizing one of your flock right now.  I kind of doubt it though, and the whole thing may be a misunderstanding of some kind.

I understand you haven't been feeling well, and I hope your situation corrects itself. 



I never made any accusations of heresy against any Orthodox Metropolitan. I criticized a practice that is uncanonical and not faithful to the tradition of our Church. As far as I know no canonical Eastern Orthodox Metropolitan in this country sanctions so called conditional Baptism. What about those who champion this practice questioning the Orthodoxy of those of us who were Chrismated? Am I a second class priest because I was Chrismated when I joined the Orthodox Church? Do the Sacraments administered by a priest who was Baptized in the Orthodox Church have more validity than the Sacraments that I have been administering for almost 34 years in the priesthood?
As far as Ephraim's monasteries are concerned. Are they above criticism?  If something is coming out of them that is causing problems for the Church at large, it is not exactly a private matter. There is an old saying, "where there is smoke there is fire." There is certainly enough smoke coming from monasteries associated with Ephraim to cause questions about what is coming out of them. At the very least, I know from personal experience that they do not show proper respect for the position of the local pastors. A pastor is responsible for his flock. It is completely inappropriate for a monk to baptize someone from a parish without communicating first with the person's priest.
I was serving a mission as a full time priest. I stand by my statement that it is inappropriate for a Confessor to ask too many questions about the intimate relations between a husband and wife. Monastics should not undermine the position of a pastor of a parish or any other Orthodox priest by challenging what he is teaching his people. They should stay in their monastery and not visit another priest's parishioners in their search for donations or cause other problems for the pastor of a parish. 

Archpriest John W. Morris

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Velsigne on January 08, 2014, 02:21:48 AM



I RESPOND: Have you had  a course in Eastern Orthodox canon law from an accreditedited Eastern Orthodox Seminary? Nothing is more dangerous than for a person without the proper training in the principles of Eastern Orthodox Canon Law to pick up a copy of The Rudder and start quoting canons. You simply are not qualified to interpret the canon law without proper training in the principles of Eastern Orthodox Canon Law.

That was the point.  Making declarations of heresy against other Metropolitans on public forums with regard to obscure issues seems a questionable tactic to get your personal message out there. 

But having read through most of the above posts, I have learned a lot more, so thank God (and all the contributors!). 



Velsigne asked: Did the standing Bishops of the Americas not just have a meeting to begin to address these jurisdictional issues in real and tangible ways?  Was this issue brought up before the Bishops in that meeting? 

I RESPOND: Not yet, because the Pastoral Committee has not completed its report which deals not only with the reception of converts, but marriage, funerals and several other matters. However,  the Pastoral Committee of the Assembly of Bishops met in LA in May. I prepared the report for the meeting on the reception of converts and everyone there agreed with my conclusions. I am also a consultant to the Committee on Ecumenical Affairs of the Bishop's Assembly which also deals with this issue and agrees with my conclusions on this matter.

Then I will pray for God's will to be done.


Velsigne asked with tongue in cheek: Did you perchance wear any non-clerical garb in the week preceding chrismation? 

I RESPOND: I wear what my Bishops requires me to wear when I am carrying out my clerical duties and almost always when I leave my home. What I wear at home or even when I am carrying our my Priestly duties is none of your business. It is not your place to judge me or anyone else by what I wear. I wear black pants and a black clerical shirt with a clerical collar, because that is what my Bishop has instructed me to wear.  The canons require clergy to dress as clergy, but does not specify exactly what they should wear. That is because these things have changed through the centuries. In Greece married Priests like myself only began to wear cassocks outside of the Church grounds or a monastery during the 19th century. Before that they dressed as an ordinary layman, but in darker colors. In the 19th century the Holy Synod of Russia decreed that clergy serving outside of Orthodox lands should dress as a proper gentleman. Even St. Tikhon wore a businessman's suite while serving in America.

The point was that things aren't always black and white as with your clerical clothes, and as others have contributed, there are things that God gives holy people to see to help guide us.  If the letter of a law is to be followed so exactly, like a speed limit law, then may God help us. 
 

Velsigne commented: And so is the marriage bed held to be undefiled in the Canons. 

I RESPOND: The official guidelines published by the Holy Synod of Russia for Confessors during the 19th century forbids a Priest hearing a Confession from asking too many personal questions about the intimate sexual relations between a husband and a wife. When  I was told that a monk asked one of my spiritual children questions about the intimate sexual relations with their husband, I asked my Bishop if that is proper and was told that the monk was completely out of line to ask such personal questions of a married woman.

Since we aren't privy to the exact exchange during a Confession, as it should be, it can only leave people to wonder why you would bring this up as some kind of 'proof' against and unnamed monastery in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.   We don't know the woman involved, we don't know the topic, we don't really know anything except you disapprove of an unnamed Greek Orthodox Father Confessor and and unnamed monastery that stepped on your toes a little.   You stated it was a mission parish, for all we know, you were only there once a month and maybe people went elsewhere.  They should be free to do that, church isn't a prison.

Velsigne: As a person who is posting on this forum bearing the title of an Orthodox clergyman and who has leveled a charge of heresy against an Orthodox monastery and, it by association it would seem, on the Metropolitan in whose jurisdiction they reside, I hope this matter will be dealt with in a real way affording the parties being accused a chance to address the issue so as not to further alienate jurisdictions which are in reality one, holy, catholic and Orthodox faith.  Otherwise, it seems an injustice is taking place in the form of an accusation on an internet forum and the inevitable judgement in the court of public opinion with only one side represented.

I RESPOND: I was very careful how I expressed myself. I did not name any monastery or accuse anyone of heresy. I wrote that the practice of “corrective Baptism” is heretical. The practice of “corrective baptism” of someone who was received by Chrismation and has received Communion in the Church is against the teaching of the Holy Fathers. Read Canon I of the 1st Canonical Epistle of St. Basil the Great. In it he expresses disagreement with the decision of  an unnamed Bishop in Asia to receive by Chrismation someone he believes should be received by Baptism, but recognizes the authority of the Asian Bishops to make decisions how to receive converts in their own diocese, writing,  “Because some in Asia have otherwise determined, let [their baptism] be allowed: but not that of the Encratites; for they have altered their baptism, to make themselves incapable of being received by the Church. Yet custom and the Fathers, that is bishops, who have the administration, must be followed;”
Since you list yourself as Antiochian, you should show proper respect for the decision of our Antiochian Bishops which is to receive Baptized converts by Chrismation.
Archpriest John W Morris, PhD


No where have I listed myself as a member of the Antiochian jurisdiction, because I'm not and never have been.  No where have I shown disrespect for receiving converts by Chrismation. 

My point is that I don't agree with your methods using a public forum to attempt to spread your dislike of a monastery by tarring all the "Elder Ephraim" monasteries.  That pretty much leaves the reader wondering which one it could possibly be and so looks like you would want the reader to distrust all of them.   

For all we know, that situation may have happened years ago and never again, or you could be harboring a grudge, or they could be baptizing one of your flock right now.  I kind of doubt it though, and the whole thing may be a misunderstanding of some kind.

I understand you haven't been feeling well, and I hope your situation corrects itself. 



I never made any accusations of heresy against any Orthodox Metropolitan. I criticized a practice that is uncanonical and not faithful to the tradition of our Church. As far as I know no canonical Eastern Orthodox Metropolitan in this country sanctions so called conditional Baptism. What about those who champion this practice questioning the Orthodoxy of those of us who were Chrismated? Am I a second class priest because I was Chrismated when I joined the Orthodox Church? Do the Sacraments administered by a priest who was Baptized in the Orthodox Church have more validity than the Sacraments that I have been administering for almost 34 years in the priesthood?
As far as Ephraim's monasteries are concerned. Are they above criticism?  If something is coming out of them that is causing problems for the Church at large, it is not exactly a private matter. There is an old saying, "where there is smoke there is fire." There is certainly enough smoke coming from monasteries associated with Ephraim to cause questions about what is coming out of them. At the very least, I know from personal experience that they do not show proper respect for the position of the local pastors. A pastor is responsible for his flock. It is completely inappropriate for a monk to baptize someone from a parish without communicating first with the person's priest.
I was serving a mission as a full time priest. I stand by my statement that it is inappropriate for a Confessor to ask too many questions about the intimate relations between a husband and wife. Monastics should not undermine the position of a pastor of a parish or any other Orthodox priest by challenging what he is teaching his people. They should stay in their monastery and not visit another priest's parishioners in their search for donations or cause other problems for the pastor of a parish. 

Archpriest John W. Morris



What you said is that they baptized someone you had previously Chrismated and that is a heresy.  That means whoever performed the baptism is a heretic, and the Metropolitan who signed the Baptismal Certificate is a heretic as well.  You made it sound like it's a hotbed of heresy when in reality there may some sound reason for them to do that, but we don't know what that is because they aren't here on this forum to explain it to us. 

I haven't heard of any complaining but you, and people come from all over the place to the monasteries.   They seem to work rather well together, and the one I'm most familiar with is supporting a mission parish because they've been carrying the load of being a parish to a local community, which is not the purpose of a monastery. 

Even if a priest had a complaint, they should use appropriate avenues to address it, not cast aspersions on everyone in every monastery started by Elder Ephraim.

People could come up with some smoke from Antiochian goings on.  Should everyone be warned away from them as well? 
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Nikolaostheservant on January 08, 2014, 02:36:12 AM



I RESPOND: Have you had  a course in Eastern Orthodox canon law from an accreditedited Eastern Orthodox Seminary? Nothing is more dangerous than for a person without the proper training in the principles of Eastern Orthodox Canon Law to pick up a copy of The Rudder and start quoting canons. You simply are not qualified to interpret the canon law without proper training in the principles of Eastern Orthodox Canon Law.

That was the point.  Making declarations of heresy against other Metropolitans on public forums with regard to obscure issues seems a questionable tactic to get your personal message out there. 

But having read through most of the above posts, I have learned a lot more, so thank God (and all the contributors!). 



Velsigne asked: Did the standing Bishops of the Americas not just have a meeting to begin to address these jurisdictional issues in real and tangible ways?  Was this issue brought up before the Bishops in that meeting? 

I RESPOND: Not yet, because the Pastoral Committee has not completed its report which deals not only with the reception of converts, but marriage, funerals and several other matters. However,  the Pastoral Committee of the Assembly of Bishops met in LA in May. I prepared the report for the meeting on the reception of converts and everyone there agreed with my conclusions. I am also a consultant to the Committee on Ecumenical Affairs of the Bishop's Assembly which also deals with this issue and agrees with my conclusions on this matter.

Then I will pray for God's will to be done.


Velsigne asked with tongue in cheek: Did you perchance wear any non-clerical garb in the week preceding chrismation? 

I RESPOND: I wear what my Bishops requires me to wear when I am carrying out my clerical duties and almost always when I leave my home. What I wear at home or even when I am carrying our my Priestly duties is none of your business. It is not your place to judge me or anyone else by what I wear. I wear black pants and a black clerical shirt with a clerical collar, because that is what my Bishop has instructed me to wear.  The canons require clergy to dress as clergy, but does not specify exactly what they should wear. That is because these things have changed through the centuries. In Greece married Priests like myself only began to wear cassocks outside of the Church grounds or a monastery during the 19th century. Before that they dressed as an ordinary layman, but in darker colors. In the 19th century the Holy Synod of Russia decreed that clergy serving outside of Orthodox lands should dress as a proper gentleman. Even St. Tikhon wore a businessman's suite while serving in America.

The point was that things aren't always black and white as with your clerical clothes, and as others have contributed, there are things that God gives holy people to see to help guide us.  If the letter of a law is to be followed so exactly, like a speed limit law, then may God help us. 
 

Velsigne commented: And so is the marriage bed held to be undefiled in the Canons. 

I RESPOND: The official guidelines published by the Holy Synod of Russia for Confessors during the 19th century forbids a Priest hearing a Confession from asking too many personal questions about the intimate sexual relations between a husband and a wife. When  I was told that a monk asked one of my spiritual children questions about the intimate sexual relations with their husband, I asked my Bishop if that is proper and was told that the monk was completely out of line to ask such personal questions of a married woman.

Since we aren't privy to the exact exchange during a Confession, as it should be, it can only leave people to wonder why you would bring this up as some kind of 'proof' against and unnamed monastery in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.   We don't know the woman involved, we don't know the topic, we don't really know anything except you disapprove of an unnamed Greek Orthodox Father Confessor and and unnamed monastery that stepped on your toes a little.   You stated it was a mission parish, for all we know, you were only there once a month and maybe people went elsewhere.  They should be free to do that, church isn't a prison.

Velsigne: As a person who is posting on this forum bearing the title of an Orthodox clergyman and who has leveled a charge of heresy against an Orthodox monastery and, it by association it would seem, on the Metropolitan in whose jurisdiction they reside, I hope this matter will be dealt with in a real way affording the parties being accused a chance to address the issue so as not to further alienate jurisdictions which are in reality one, holy, catholic and Orthodox faith.  Otherwise, it seems an injustice is taking place in the form of an accusation on an internet forum and the inevitable judgement in the court of public opinion with only one side represented.

I RESPOND: I was very careful how I expressed myself. I did not name any monastery or accuse anyone of heresy. I wrote that the practice of “corrective Baptism” is heretical. The practice of “corrective baptism” of someone who was received by Chrismation and has received Communion in the Church is against the teaching of the Holy Fathers. Read Canon I of the 1st Canonical Epistle of St. Basil the Great. In it he expresses disagreement with the decision of  an unnamed Bishop in Asia to receive by Chrismation someone he believes should be received by Baptism, but recognizes the authority of the Asian Bishops to make decisions how to receive converts in their own diocese, writing,  “Because some in Asia have otherwise determined, let [their baptism] be allowed: but not that of the Encratites; for they have altered their baptism, to make themselves incapable of being received by the Church. Yet custom and the Fathers, that is bishops, who have the administration, must be followed;”
Since you list yourself as Antiochian, you should show proper respect for the decision of our Antiochian Bishops which is to receive Baptized converts by Chrismation.
Archpriest John W Morris, PhD


No where have I listed myself as a member of the Antiochian jurisdiction, because I'm not and never have been.  No where have I shown disrespect for receiving converts by Chrismation. 

My point is that I don't agree with your methods using a public forum to attempt to spread your dislike of a monastery by tarring all the "Elder Ephraim" monasteries.  That pretty much leaves the reader wondering which one it could possibly be and so looks like you would want the reader to distrust all of them.   

For all we know, that situation may have happened years ago and never again, or you could be harboring a grudge, or they could be baptizing one of your flock right now.  I kind of doubt it though, and the whole thing may be a misunderstanding of some kind.

I understand you haven't been feeling well, and I hope your situation corrects itself. 



I never made any accusations of heresy against any Orthodox Metropolitan. I criticized a practice that is uncanonical and not faithful to the tradition of our Church. As far as I know no canonical Eastern Orthodox Metropolitan in this country sanctions so called conditional Baptism. What about those who champion this practice questioning the Orthodoxy of those of us who were Chrismated? Am I a second class priest because I was Chrismated when I joined the Orthodox Church? Do the Sacraments administered by a priest who was Baptized in the Orthodox Church have more validity than the Sacraments that I have been administering for almost 34 years in the priesthood?
As far as Ephraim's monasteries are concerned. Are they above criticism?  If something is coming out of them that is causing problems for the Church at large, it is not exactly a private matter. There is an old saying, "where there is smoke there is fire." There is certainly enough smoke coming from monasteries associated with Ephraim to cause questions about what is coming out of them. At the very least, I know from personal experience that they do not show proper respect for the position of the local pastors. A pastor is responsible for his flock. It is completely inappropriate for a monk to baptize someone from a parish without communicating first with the person's priest.
I was serving a mission as a full time priest. I stand by my statement that it is inappropriate for a Confessor to ask too many questions about the intimate relations between a husband and wife. Monastics should not undermine the position of a pastor of a parish or any other Orthodox priest by challenging what he is teaching his people. They should stay in their monastery and not visit another priest's parishioners in their search for donations or cause other problems for the pastor of a parish. 

Archpriest John W. Morris



Without a doubt i would follow the advice of a elder Monk before a Priest. 

A Priest is within and of this world and must 'finess" things in order for them to work out his way.

A Monk is not of this world, he/she has turned her/his back on worldy affairs. and so is concerned only with Godly things, and doing what is Godly.

Especially Elder Eframs monistaries.

and father, its true, i took it that you were reffering to one of elder Eframs monistaries!!! were you not?

Father you said this:

"Monastics should not undermine the position of a pastor of a parish or any other Orthodox priest by challenging what he is teaching his people. They should stay in their monastery and not visit another priest's parishioners in their search for donations or cause other problems for the pastor of a parish."

and that says it all. its obvious you have had your toes stepped on by one of his monks/monastary.

let it go father, your phd does not make you right.

and while you are leting go, let go your ego also.

forgive me and i hope you get well soon
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Nikolaostheservant on January 08, 2014, 02:47:37 AM
I just can read your posts and keep quiet so long.

You also said:

"As far as Ephraim's monasteries are concerned. Are they above criticism?  If something is coming out of them that is causing problems for the Church at large, it is not exactly a private matter. There is an old saying, "where there is smoke there is fire." There is certainly enough smoke coming from monasteries associated with Ephraim to cause questions about what is coming out of them. At the very least, I know from personal experience that they do not show proper respect for the position of the local pastors. A pastor is responsible for his flock. It is completely inappropriate for a monk to baptize someone from a parish without communicating first with the person's priest. "

WHAT smoke is coning out of Ephrams monastaries? the drug addict mushroom head on you tube. Whome they realised what/who he was and asked him to go? or the "greek" family who has made it there vendeta to tarnish the name of the Ephram monistaries. because they did not want there little boy to be a monk?

Re: "they not showing respect to local pastors".

thats as old as time. Imagin that, a priest holding a gruge against the monks, cause they are taking away his buisness!!! thats view predates us both put together.

i say it again, without a doubt i will follow a Elder Monk light years before i follow a Priest in this day and age.
My Priest at my parish only thinks about picking your last penny out of you pocket. so discusting i dont go to the church 20 min away. i have to go when i can to a church 1hr away!!!
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 08, 2014, 06:15:23 AM
I am not sure if I am answering one person or several.

Without a doubt i would follow the advice of a elder Monk before a Priest.  

I RESPOND:  Why? Just because someone is a monk does not mean that they have been educated in the teachings of the Orthodox Church or are qualified to give spiritual guidance to people living in this world.  Some of the greatest heretics in the history of the Church have been monks. There are good and pious monks and nuns, but there have also been bad  monks and nuns just as there are good and pious parish Priests and bad parish Priests. If you are in a parish, you are under the spiritual jurisdiction of the pastor and should respect his position as your spiritual father in Christ. You make a mistake to assume that an elder monk is spiritually superior than a Priest just because he is a monk. You should use more spiritual discernment. Monastics do not have a monopoly on spirituality and Priests are not devoid of spirituality. If a monk is truly spiritual, he would be the first person to tell you that you should respect the spiritual authority of your Priest. Your Priest will be judged by God for how he has helped you work out  your salvation and he is the one who gives you the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ.

A Priest is within and of this world and must 'finess" things in order for them to work out his way.

I RESPOND: A Priest may be in this world, but he is in this world to bring the Gospel of Christ to the world. There is nothing that is more important than bringing the Gospel to the world.

A Monk is not of this world, he/she has turned her/his back on worldy affairs. and so is concerned only with Godly things, and doing what is Godly.

I RESPOND:  You have no idea how many sacrifices a parish priest must make to serve Christ.   A parish priest worries more about the salvation of his flock than his own salvation. He not only sacrifices himself, but also his wife and children to serve Christ. You have no idea of the sacrifices that I have made to be a Priest. It is not your place to judge me.
Monasticism is a part of the Orthodox Faith, and should be supported. But there are no superior callings. Each person who is serving Christ according to their calling is serving Christ according to the highest calling that is possible in this life. No calling is superior to another in the Church.

Especially Elder Eframs monistaries.

I RESPOND: It is spiritually dangerous to make a cult around any monastic or priest.  I do not think that the way that some people almost worship Fr. Ephraim is spiritually healthy. He may be a very holy man, but he is still a fallible man.  
I object strongly to the practice of so-called corrective Baptism and consider it heretical. Monks should respect the authority of the Bishop with authority over the parish the convert is joining to exercise his judgment on how to receive the convert. It is not the place of monastics to challenge the accepted practices of the Church or to interfere in the internal affairs of a parish or diocese by telling someone who was received by Chrismation that they are not fully Orthodox.  I have spent considerable time studying this matter and know the teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Ind father, its true, i took it that you were reffering to one of elder Eframs monistaries!!! were you not?

Father you said this:

"Monastics should not undermine the position of a pastor of a parish or any other Orthodox priest by challenging what he is teaching his people. They should stay in their monastery and not visit another priest's parishioners in their search for donations or cause other problems for the pastor of a parish."

and that says it all. its obvious you have had your toes stepped on by one of his monks/monastary.

let it go father, your phd does not make you right.

I RESPOND  My PhD qualifies me to teach history on the college level. My Very Rev. qualifies me to act as an Eastern Orthodox Archpriest. As Pastor of a parish, my spiritual children are my responsibility. A monastic should respect the position of the parish clergy and work with them, not against them or do anything that would undermine their position.  

and while you are leting go, let go your ego also.

I RESPOND; You would do well to take your own advice and not be so quick to judge a Priest as you have been to judge me.

forgive me and i hope you get well soon

I RESPOND: All that I expect from monastics is that they show the same respect for my position as spiritual father to my flock as any other priest should show. That is all. There are rules of protocol in the Church. If someone in my parish goes to a monastery to have their child baptized, the monastery should ask for my blessing since the child is a member of my parish.  I should not find out about the Baptism after it has happened. If I am the person responsible for giving someone Communion, I must know if they are going to Confession regularly. If someone wants to go to a monastery and my Bishop approves, I have no problem as long as the monastic recognizes that I need to know about it. I also need to know if they have been placed under penance and should not receive Communion. That is not unreasonable. I also have a right to insure that whatever teaching that they receive at a monastery is sound Orthodox teaching. I did graduate from an Orthodox seminary and know just as much about the doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox Church as most monastics.
You are right I am very skeptical about monastics. I have seen too much harm done to the Church by some monastics who put on an act as being spiritual persons but are living immoral lives. One monk I knew who I thought was a spiritual man is now in prison for soliciting a homosexual relationship with a minor. Another monk committed suicide when he learned that the police were on their way to arrest him for sexually abusing children. One monastery that proclaimed itself as the standard for true Orthodoxy, left their canonical Bishop and started their own Church under an uncanonical Greek Old Calendarist pseudo-bishop after the Metropolitan under whom they served began an investigation of accusations of  homosexual activities in the monastery.  There have been far too many scandals in the American Orthodox Church caused by homosexual monks or monks who are guilty of sexual abuse of children. There have also been Priests who are guilty of sexual immorality, so I am not singling out monastics for criticism. There is a web site I believe that it is called Pokrov or something like that that gives examples of what I mean.
In conclusion, when discussing doctrinal issues, we must follow the teaching and practices of the Church, not our own theories, or the opinions of our favorite monastic or theologian.
On the matter that began our discussions, I am certain that those who deny that it is proper to receive a convert by Chrismation are wrong and that those who would Baptize someone who was received by Chrismation are committing a very serious sin.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Cavaradossi on January 08, 2014, 06:50:45 AM
Fr. (John) bless,

While you accuse the monastic communities here in Texas (whether it is St. Paraskevi or Holy Archangels, I do not know) of grave sin and near-heresy, I must ask: why should I accept anecdotal evidence about horror stories of corrective baptisms, heavy penances, secret baptisms, and other outrages when I personally have visited an Ephraimite monastery here in Texas with friends who were received by Chrismation and saw first-hand that they were not pressured into corrective baptism; when I know people who confess regularly at Ephraimite monasteries who do not wind up with fifteen year excommunications; and when His Eminence Isaiah (though I am not saying that His Eminence is by any means perfect in his judgment) has been such an ardent supporter of these two communities here in Texas? Should I instead believe that this is all a clever and elaborate façade?

I do not mean to be harsh, but I have noticed a general mistrust of monastics amongst Antiochian clergy here in Texas, and I wonder if this attitude is not hurting those who have visited these monastic communities and found none of the horror stories which are rumored to go on in such places. Of those whom I know who have visited these monasteries (and have had edifying experiences), the mistrust their clergymen display towards these communities is a source of frustration for them, and instead of protecting them from potential danger, this atmosphere of mistrust causes them to doubt the judgment of their own parish priests.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: TheTrisagion on January 08, 2014, 09:31:32 AM
I see much antecdotal stories here, but not much concrete evidence.  I don't doubt that most of the monks are very good, Godly men who do not cause problems for priests, but I think we would all be very naive to say that EVERY monk has the wisdom and experience needed to be a good spiritual father.  Just like there are good and bad priest and laymen, so there are good and bad monastics. I do not doubt that there are monastics in the Ephraimite monasteries who have foolishly given excessive pennances, I doubt they are in the majority, but if a few are doing so, it can cause problems for the faithful and their priests who are ultimately responsible for the spiritual wellbeing of their flock. My personal experience has been one of laymen pitting monastic vs clergy as opposed to any real dissent between the two.  I know of several people who have gone to a monastery and then to their priest, received two different pieces of advice and then conflate the two into the belief that there is some sort of dissent between the two groups.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 08, 2014, 10:08:20 AM
I am not sure if I am answering one person or several.

Without a doubt i would follow the advice of a elder Monk before a Priest.  

I have been thinking about the above statement. Is is not possible that a Priest in the world who knows what it is like trying to live an Eastern Orthodox life in the world might provide more spiritual help to another person living in the world than a monk who does not really know what it is like trying to be a faithful Orthodox Christian in 21st century America?

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 08, 2014, 10:26:55 AM
I am not sure if I am answering one person or several.

Without a doubt i would follow the advice of a elder Monk before a Priest.  

I have been thinking about the above statement. Is is not possible that a Priest in the world who knows what it is like trying to live an Eastern Orthodox life in the world might provide more spiritual help to another person living in the world than a monk who does not really know what it is like trying to be a faithful Orthodox Christian in 21st century America?

Fr. John W. Morris

I think, honestly, that you can have an ill-informed married parish priest and a well-informed monastic priest. I would not make a generalization one way or the other.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: FatherGiryus on January 08, 2014, 10:50:51 AM
To be honest, I think there's a lot of confusion here regarding paradigms.

Spiritual authority over Christians rests with the bishops, not the priests or the monks.  While a priest has sacramental duties in a parish on behalf of the bishop, this is not a 'pastorate' in the sense of the Protestant usage.  However, in the US we end up inadvertently falling into that model, and this is where the problem lies.

I know priests who are extremely territorial.  If their parishioners call me, they are on the phone almost immediately as soon as they hear.  Frankly, I don't care who my parishioners talk to... it is their own responsibility to find their salvation, and I cannot force anyone to listen to me.  Some of them do take advice from monastics.  I warn them: you will be held accountable for their bad advice if you follow it and it leads to problems.  The same is true for me, and I do tell the people in the parish to double-check what I say.  I am not particularly worried about being in control over people, mostly because it is not in my ordination prayers.  I know what I am ordained to do, and I know what I am not ordained to do.  If the bishop makes me do something that I am not ordained to do (which is about 2/3 of what a priest does these days in America), then it is on him.

This gets back to the real issue: it would be very helpful for the bishops themselves to assert themselves more over their monastic institutions and ensure that advice being given is in conformity with jurisdictional policies.  Of course, the same is true for clergy.  However, since we are in America, and the Evangelical Protestant model (every man gets to read the Bible and draw his own conclusions, which he then teaches as absolute truths) is the default, many clergy think they have the right to be 'right' in direct conflict with their bishops' express will.  This is dangerous.  All of us need accountability, both divine and human.

On the topic of 'corrective baptisms,' there is a very simple solution: ask the monk whether he is obedient to his bishop.  If he says 'yes,' then ask him whether you are supposed to be obedient to your bishop.  If he says 'no,' the conversation is over.  If he does say 'yes,' then tell him you were obedient to him when you were received, and that's it.

I was grilled by a monk on Mt. Athos.  He asked me, 'how were you received into the Church?'  I said, 'through obedience to the bishop.'  He asked several more times, and I gave him the same answer.  When he would not let go, I added, 'in conformity with the standards set forth by the Ecumenical Patriarch... your bishop!'  His attitude changed.

Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: LBK on January 08, 2014, 10:57:39 AM
Quote
On the topic of 'corrective baptisms,' there is a very simple solution: ask the monk whether he is obedient to his bishop.  If he says 'yes,' then ask him whether you are supposed to be obedient to your bishop.  If he says 'no,' the conversation is over.  If he does say 'yes,' then tell him you were obedient to him when you were received, and that's it.

I was grilled by a monk on Mt. Athos.  He asked me, 'how were you received into the Church?'  I said, 'through obedience to the bishop.'  He asked several more times, and I gave him the same answer.  When he would not let go, I added, 'in conformity with the standards set forth by the Ecumenical Patriarch... your bishop!'  His attitude changed.

AXIOS! Your flock is blessed to have a priest like you, Father.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: jah777 on January 08, 2014, 10:58:09 AM
Fr. John,

First of all, I do appreciate that you take the time to participate in this forum even though it can be quite trying at times.  Last night, I took a look at your chapter on the “Baptism Controversy” in “Orthodox Fundamentalism” and I appreciate the breadth of your research even while not completely agreeing with certain assertions and conclusions.

Regarding “corrective baptism”, I don’t know that there is much worth discussing on the subject because there is practically nothing written promoting this practice and it is uncertain whether any of Elder Ephraim’s monasteries (the subject of this thread) practice this today if ever.  You mentioned hearing such stories, but I can’t recall if this was heard by you directly from someone who received a “corrective baptism” or if such stories came to you through the rumor mill or from anonymous and unverifiable stories on the internet.  It would be interesting to know more about the history of this practice, when and where this has occurred (I mentioned a friend of mine who was chrismated in the OCA and then baptized in the Jordan because in Jerusalem he had to have an Orthodox baptism to commune), and what explanations have been given by those who practice this. 

Regarding reception of converts by chrismation, I question the emphasis you place on Blessed Augustine’s explanation of non-Orthodox baptisms since his writings have not been very influential in Orthodoxy in general.  I also question your marginalization of St. Cyprian’s position and the arguments regarding historical context that are used to dismiss the 1755 declaration while not giving due attention to the historical context behind the decisions of earlier councils which allowed for the reception of non-Orthodox without baptism.  It is well known that baptism is the mystery used to receive people into the Church.  Exceptions have been made historically under certain circumstances, as the many references you have made demonstrate.  In our time, however, these exceptions have been made into the rule and the rule is now the exception.  Claiming that receiving converts who were formerly baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity was the rule rather than the exception tends to overlook the historical contexts that prompted the use of economy in these situations.  As I mentioned before, the seventh canon of the Second Ecumenical Council requires the reception of the Eunomians by baptism since the baptisms they practiced did not have three full immersions.  One argument that St. Nikomemos makes for dispensing with economy in his time for the reception of Roman Catholics is the fact that by his time they no longer administered their baptisms in an Orthodox fashion, with three full immersions.  Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky) similarly states that a three full immersion heterodox baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity is necessary for the application of economy.  When the argument is made that Roman Catholics or Protestants have been received in past centuries without requiring baptism, hardly ever is mention made regarding the method of baptism practiced by those non-Orthodox groups at those times and whether a three-fold immersion was still standard practice then. 

Regarding the distinction between strictness and economy, Fr. John Erickson erroneously claims that this distinction is an innovation introduced by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain but this is simply false.  St. Basil the Great makes this distinction in his first canon in the 4th century:

Quote
For although the ones who were the first to depart had been ordained by the Fathers and with the imposition of their hands they had obtained the gracious gift of the Spirit, yet after breaking away they became laymen, and had no authority either to baptize or to ordain anyone, nor could they impart the grace of the Spirit to others, after they themselves had forfeited it. Wherefore they bade that those baptized by them should be regarded as baptized by laymen, and that when they came to join the Church they should have to be repurified by the true baptism as prescribed by the Church. Inasmuch, however, as it has seemed best to some of those in the regions of Asia, for the sake of extraordinary concession (or "economy") to the many, to accept their baptism, let it be accepted. As for the case of the Encratites, however, it behooves us to look upon it as a crime, since as though to make themselves unacceptable to the Church they have attempted to anticipate the situation by advocating a baptism of their own; hence they themselves have run counter to their own custom. I deem, therefore, that since there is nothing definitely prescribed as regards them, it was fitting that we should set their baptism aside, and if any of them appears to have left them, he shall be baptized upon joining the Church. If, however, this is to become an obstacle in the general economy (of the Church), we must again adopt the custom and follow the Fathers who economically regulated the affairs of our Church. For I am inclined to suspect that we may by the severity of the proposition actually prevent men from being saved because of their being too indolent in regard to baptism. But if they keep our baptism, let this not deter us. For we are not obliged to return thanks to them, but to serve the Canons with exactitude.

St. Basil’s canon, which has been accepted by Ecumenical Councils (i.e. 2nd canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council) clearly states that those who go into schism lose the grace of the Holy Spirit and should be received by baptism.  However, he does recognize reception by chrismation as an “extraordinary concession” that is to be allowed only if requiring baptism would appear to place a major obstacle to someone’s conversion.  The understanding is that converts should be baptized, but better for them to be received by chrismation without baptism than to not be received into the Church at all.

Regarding the use of economy, Dr. Lewis J. Patsavos, in his article on “The Canonical Tradition of the Orthodox Church” on the GOARCH site states:

Quote
Consequently, "economy" is any deviation from the norm. The exercise of "economy" ceases if its cause no longer exists or if the basis for its application rested upon false or pretended grounds. Once "economy" has been applied, the normative practice is restored as before. Furthermore, temporary departure from the normative practice through "economy" does not set precedent.
 
http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7071

The problem today is that economy has been severely abused such that it has become the norm without any justification or need.  In fact, in some jurisdictions a person will not be received by baptism even if he requests it!  So, whereas St. Basil the Great stated that baptism should be the norm unless this requirement would deter someone from being received into the Church, today potential converts are told that they can’t be baptized even if not baptizing them deters them from the Church!  I think you even mentioned that you won’t receive someone who insists on being baptized.  Why has everything become so turned upside down?

It has also been observed that the common reception of converts without baptism has been exploited by Orthodox and Roman Catholics involved in Ecumenism to promote the idea that since we “accept each other’s baptism”, we recognize each other as administering grace-filled mysteries and therefore as being part of the same Church.  The exploitation of the abuse of economy by those with Ecumenist agendas is precisely what led ROCOR in 1971 to require greater strictness in receiving converts by baptism, and which in part led Fr. George Metallinos in his book “I Confess One Baptism” to recommend that this strictness continue to be applied in our times.

It is also important to recognize that not all Orthodox churches agree that the chrismation is or should be the norm for receiving converts who were formally “baptized” in the name of the Holy Trinity.  The Jerusalem Patriarchate and the Church of Greece, for instance, come to mind.  Some bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate also baptize all converts.  Reputable patristic scholars like Fr. Placide (Deseille) also disagree with you regarding the normative practice of the Church in this regard, not to mention St. Nikodemos and the many saints after him who certainly studied the past canons and councils in considerable depth. 

Regarding your distrust of monasticism, it is true that many monasteries in America have come to a very unfortunate end.  I believe that this is mostly attributable to the fact that those who have started these monasteries were not beforehand trained by many decades of monastic obedience under an experienced spiritual father/abbot/elder.  One such monastery that you refer to, which left the Church when the bishops began to investigate charges of sexual immorality, lived on Mt. Athos for perhaps a couple of years at most.  The recently disgraced abbot of one of the OCA’s monasteries lived as an archimandrite in the world for many decades before joining the monastery and quickly being made abbot soon after.  One monastery whose inhabitants have since fled to Ukraine were formerly monks in a Byzantine Catholic monastery and the monks who were received into the monastery had been accused of sexually assaulting a man who proceeded to murder a nun in the same monastery.  I think you will find that all of the monasteries that came to an unfortunate end had similar shaky foundations and an absence of many decades of monastic obedience under an experienced spiritual father/abbot/elder.

ROCOR’s Holy Trinity monastery in Jordanville, Hermitage of the Holy Cross in WV, and a few others are an exception to the above accounts in that these monasteries were established on a very solid foundation by those with years of monastic obedience under good spiritual direction.  Elder Ephraim himself was also trained through many decades under strict monastic obedience to one of the great contemporary elders of our times who will likely soon be glorified by the Church, Elder Joseph the Hesychast.  Elder Ephraim also had many years of training as an abbot and developed a reputation throughout the world for his gifts and his skill in helping people along the way of salvation.  While you have heard stories that concern you, I hope you will be able to some day visit one or more of the monasteries and develop a greater understanding of them from your own experience.  In any case, I hope you will also pray that God will produce good fruit from their labors and that the many monasteries will not have the same unfortunate end that you have seen elsewhere.  I’m sure you recognize that monasticism has been a very powerful force in the life of the Church and that a great many of the saints and hierarchs that we celebrate and depict in our icons were also monastics, and so monasticism certainly has great positive potential even if not every monastery is a factory for generating glorified saints.

Regarding the role of monastic spiritual fathers versus parish priests, I have often been puzzled when parish priests claim that they are the spiritual father of the parish and that monks should consult with them before advising people who belong to the parish.  Isn’t the very concept of “parish membership” something of an American phenomenon?  Do churches in Greece, Russia, and other Orthodox lands have this concept of parish membership?  Furthermore, the Fathers do advise that one should be discerning in finding a spiritual father, exercising the same caution and discernment in finding a physician for the soul as one for the body.  Many parish priests may be very good spiritual fathers, and some monks who are allowed to serve as spiritual fathers perhaps should never have been given this responsibility.  We should neither disparage the parish clergy nor indiscriminately latch on to monastic spiritual fathers.  In any case, reading the lives of contemporary monastic spiritual fathers (St. Porphyrios, Paisios, Joseph the Hesychast, etc.) one finds countless examples of these elders counseling the laity who come to them.  If these monastic spiritual fathers simply directed the laity to talk to their parish priest instead of to them, we would not have so many of the excellent stories that have come down to us from these saints and elders.  The problem here seems more to be due to the fact that parish clergy in this country are simply not used to having monasteries around and do not understand, or perhaps even appreciate, their role in the Church. 

It seems strange to state that not all monastics can be trusted as good spiritual guides while suggesting that all parish priests are more than qualified to act as such.  I know many personal examples of people being given terrible advice by their parish priest in confession, advice that is very damaging to the soul.  You say that parish priests care about the salvation of their flock more than their own, but isn’t that just as sweeping of a claim as to suggest that all monastics are living saints, well on their way to theosis, having spiritual gifts of clairvoyance and discernment?  Perhaps you are such an admirable priest and you both care for, and wisely guide, those who come to you for confession and advice.  Sadly, this is not the case with every parish priest.

Certainly there will be a time of adjustment needed when monasteries are established in jurisdictions which are completely, or mostly, without them.  Hopefully, in time, the parish clergy will become more acquainted with the monasteries, that those in the parishes will become more acquainted with Orthodox tradition and the role of monasticism in Orthodoxy, and healthier relationships will develop between the parishes and the monasteries than what exists at present.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 08, 2014, 12:16:20 PM
Fr. John,

First of all, I do appreciate that you take the time to participate in this forum even though it can be quite trying at times.  Last night, I took a look at your chapter on the “Baptism Controversy” in “Orthodox Fundamentalism” and I appreciate the breadth of your research even while not completely agreeing with certain assertions and conclusions.

Regarding “corrective baptism”, I don’t know that there is much worth discussing on the subject because there is practically nothing written promoting this practice and it is uncertain whether any of Elder Ephraim’s monasteries (the subject of this thread) practice this today if ever.  You mentioned hearing such stories, but I can’t recall if this was heard by you directly from someone who received a “corrective baptism” or if such stories came to you through the rumor mill or from anonymous and unverifiable stories on the internet.  It would be interesting to know more about the history of this practice, when and where this has occurred (I mentioned a friend of mine who was chrismated in the OCA and then baptized in the Jordan because in Jerusalem he had to have an Orthodox baptism to commune), and what explanations have been given by those who practice this. 

Regarding reception of converts by chrismation, I question the emphasis you place on Blessed Augustine’s explanation of non-Orthodox baptisms since his writings have not been very influential in Orthodoxy in general.  I also question your marginalization of St. Cyprian’s position and the arguments regarding historical context that are used to dismiss the 1755 declaration while not giving due attention to the historical context behind the decisions of earlier councils which allowed for the reception of non-Orthodox without baptism.  It is well known that baptism is the mystery used to receive people into the Church.  Exceptions have been made historically under certain circumstances, as the many references you have made demonstrate.  In our time, however, these exceptions have been made into the rule and the rule is now the exception.  Claiming that receiving converts who were formerly baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity was the rule rather than the exception tends to overlook the historical contexts that prompted the use of economy in these situations.  As I mentioned before, the seventh canon of the Second Ecumenical Council requires the reception of the Eunomians by baptism since the baptisms they practiced did not have three full immersions.  One argument that St. Nikomemos makes for dispensing with economy in his time for the reception of Roman Catholics is the fact that by his time they no longer administered their baptisms in an Orthodox fashion, with three full immersions.  Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky) similarly states that a three full immersion heterodox baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity is necessary for the application of economy.  When the argument is made that Roman Catholics or Protestants have been received in past centuries without requiring baptism, hardly ever is mention made regarding the method of baptism practiced by those non-Orthodox groups at those times and whether a three-fold immersion was still standard practice then. 

Regarding the distinction between strictness and economy, Fr. John Erickson erroneously claims that this distinction is an innovation introduced by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain but this is simply false.  St. Basil the Great makes this distinction in his first canon in the 4th century:

Quote
For although the ones who were the first to depart had been ordained by the Fathers and with the imposition of their hands they had obtained the gracious gift of the Spirit, yet after breaking away they became laymen, and had no authority either to baptize or to ordain anyone, nor could they impart the grace of the Spirit to others, after they themselves had forfeited it. Wherefore they bade that those baptized by them should be regarded as baptized by laymen, and that when they came to join the Church they should have to be repurified by the true baptism as prescribed by the Church. Inasmuch, however, as it has seemed best to some of those in the regions of Asia, for the sake of extraordinary concession (or "economy") to the many, to accept their baptism, let it be accepted. As for the case of the Encratites, however, it behooves us to look upon it as a crime, since as though to make themselves unacceptable to the Church they have attempted to anticipate the situation by advocating a baptism of their own; hence they themselves have run counter to their own custom. I deem, therefore, that since there is nothing definitely prescribed as regards them, it was fitting that we should set their baptism aside, and if any of them appears to have left them, he shall be baptized upon joining the Church. If, however, this is to become an obstacle in the general economy (of the Church), we must again adopt the custom and follow the Fathers who economically regulated the affairs of our Church. For I am inclined to suspect that we may by the severity of the proposition actually prevent men from being saved because of their being too indolent in regard to baptism. But if they keep our baptism, let this not deter us. For we are not obliged to return thanks to them, but to serve the Canons with exactitude.

St. Basil’s canon, which has been accepted by Ecumenical Councils (i.e. 2nd canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council) clearly states that those who go into schism lose the grace of the Holy Spirit and should be received by baptism.  However, he does recognize reception by chrismation as an “extraordinary concession” that is to be allowed only if requiring baptism would appear to place a major obstacle to someone’s conversion.  The understanding is that converts should be baptized, but better for them to be received by chrismation without baptism than to not be received into the Church at all.

Regarding the use of economy, Dr. Lewis J. Patsavos, in his article on “The Canonical Tradition of the Orthodox Church” on the GOARCH site states:

Quote
Consequently, "economy" is any deviation from the norm. The exercise of "economy" ceases if its cause no longer exists or if the basis for its application rested upon false or pretended grounds. Once "economy" has been applied, the normative practice is restored as before. Furthermore, temporary departure from the normative practice through "economy" does not set precedent.
 
http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7071

The problem today is that economy has been severely abused such that it has become the norm without any justification or need.  In fact, in some jurisdictions a person will not be received by baptism even if he requests it!  So, whereas St. Basil the Great stated that baptism should be the norm unless this requirement would deter someone from being received into the Church, today potential converts are told that they can’t be baptized even if not baptizing them deters them from the Church!  I think you even mentioned that you won’t receive someone who insists on being baptized.  Why has everything become so turned upside down?

It has also been observed that the common reception of converts without baptism has been exploited by Orthodox and Roman Catholics involved in Ecumenism to promote the idea that since we “accept each other’s baptism”, we recognize each other as administering grace-filled mysteries and therefore as being part of the same Church.  The exploitation of the abuse of economy by those with Ecumenist agendas is precisely what led ROCOR in 1971 to require greater strictness in receiving converts by baptism, and which in part led Fr. George Metallinos in his book “I Confess One Baptism” to recommend that this strictness continue to be applied in our times.

It is also important to recognize that not all Orthodox churches agree that the chrismation is or should be the norm for receiving converts who were formally “baptized” in the name of the Holy Trinity.  The Jerusalem Patriarchate and the Church of Greece, for instance, come to mind.  Some bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate also baptize all converts.  Reputable patristic scholars like Fr. Placide (Deseille) also disagree with you regarding the normative practice of the Church in this regard, not to mention St. Nikodemos and the many saints after him who certainly studied the past canons and councils in considerable depth. 

Regarding your distrust of monasticism, it is true that many monasteries in America have come to a very unfortunate end.  I believe that this is mostly attributable to the fact that those who have started these monasteries were not beforehand trained by many decades of monastic obedience under an experienced spiritual father/abbot/elder.  One such monastery that you refer to, which left the Church when the bishops began to investigate charges of sexual immorality, lived on Mt. Athos for perhaps a couple of years at most.  The recently disgraced abbot of one of the OCA’s monasteries lived as an archimandrite in the world for many decades before joining the monastery and quickly being made abbot soon after.  One monastery whose inhabitants have since fled to Ukraine were formerly monks in a Byzantine Catholic monastery and the monks who were received into the monastery had been accused of sexually assaulting a man who proceeded to murder a nun in the same monastery.  I think you will find that all of the monasteries that came to an unfortunate end had similar shaky foundations and an absence of many decades of monastic obedience under an experienced spiritual father/abbot/elder.

ROCOR’s Holy Trinity monastery in Jordanville, Hermitage of the Holy Cross in WV, and a few others are an exception to the above accounts in that these monasteries were established on a very solid foundation by those with years of monastic obedience under good spiritual direction.  Elder Ephraim himself was also trained through many decades under strict monastic obedience to one of the great contemporary elders of our times who will likely soon be glorified by the Church, Elder Joseph the Hesychast.  Elder Ephraim also had many years of training as an abbot and developed a reputation throughout the world for his gifts and his skill in helping people along the way of salvation.  While you have heard stories that concern you, I hope you will be able to some day visit one or more of the monasteries and develop a greater understanding of them from your own experience.  In any case, I hope you will also pray that God will produce good fruit from their labors and that the many monasteries will not have the same unfortunate end that you have seen elsewhere.  I’m sure you recognize that monasticism has been a very powerful force in the life of the Church and that a great many of the saints and hierarchs that we celebrate and depict in our icons were also monastics, and so monasticism certainly has great positive potential even if not every monastery is a factory for generating glorified saints.

Regarding the role of monastic spiritual fathers versus parish priests, I have often been puzzled when parish priests claim that they are the spiritual father of the parish and that monks should consult with them before advising people who belong to the parish.  Isn’t the very concept of “parish membership” something of an American phenomenon?  Do churches in Greece, Russia, and other Orthodox lands have this concept of parish membership?  Furthermore, the Fathers do advise that one should be discerning in finding a spiritual father, exercising the same caution and discernment in finding a physician for the soul as one for the body.  Many parish priests may be very good spiritual fathers, and some monks who are allowed to serve as spiritual fathers perhaps should never have been given this responsibility.  We should neither disparage the parish clergy nor indiscriminately latch on to monastic spiritual fathers.  In any case, reading the lives of contemporary monastic spiritual fathers (St. Porphyrios, Paisios, Joseph the Hesychast, etc.) one finds countless examples of these elders counseling the laity who come to them.  If these monastic spiritual fathers simply directed the laity to talk to their parish priest instead of to them, we would not have so many of the excellent stories that have come down to us from these saints and elders.  The problem here seems more to be due to the fact that parish clergy in this country are simply not used to having monasteries around and do not understand, or perhaps even appreciate, their role in the Church. 

It seems strange to state that not all monastics can be trusted as good spiritual guides while suggesting that all parish priests are more than qualified to act as such.  I know many personal examples of people being given terrible advice by their parish priest in confession, advice that is very damaging to the soul.  You say that parish priests care about the salvation of their flock more than their own, but isn’t that just as sweeping of a claim as to suggest that all monastics are living saints, well on their way to theosis, having spiritual gifts of clairvoyance and discernment?  Perhaps you are such an admirable priest and you both care for, and wisely guide, those who come to you for confession and advice.  Sadly, this is not the case with every parish priest.

Certainly there will be a time of adjustment needed when monasteries are established in jurisdictions which are completely, or mostly, without them.  Hopefully, in time, the parish clergy will become more acquainted with the monasteries, that those in the parishes will become more acquainted with Orthodox tradition and the role of monasticism in Orthodoxy, and healthier relationships will develop between the parishes and the monasteries than what exists at present.
Quote from: Cavaradossi
[quote author=jah777 link=topic=17649.msg1058303#msg1058303 date=1389193089
Fr. John,

First of all, I do appreciate that you take the time to participate in this forum even though it can be quite trying at times.  Last night, I took a look at your chapter on the “Baptism Controversy” in “Orthodox Fundamentalism” and I appreciate the breadth of your research even while not completely agreeing with certain assertions and conclusions.

Regarding “corrective baptism”, I don’t know that there is much worth discussing on the subject because there is practically nothing written promoting this practice and it is uncertain whether any of Elder Ephraim’s monasteries (the subject of this thread) practice this today if ever.  You mentioned hearing such stories, but I can’t recall if this was heard by you directly from someone who received a “corrective baptism” or if such stories came to you through the rumor mill or from anonymous and unverifiable stories on the internet.  It would be interesting to know more about the history of this practice, when and where this has occurred (I mentioned a friend of mine who was chrismated in the OCA and then baptized in the Jordan because in Jerusalem he had to have an Orthodox baptism to commune), and what explanations have been given by those who practice this. 

Regarding reception of converts by chrismation, I question the emphasis you place on Blessed Augustine’s explanation of non-Orthodox baptisms since his writings have not been very influential in Orthodoxy in general.  I also question your marginalization of St. Cyprian’s position and the arguments regarding historical context that are used to dismiss the 1755 declaration while not giving due attention to the historical context behind the decisions of earlier councils which allowed for the reception of non-Orthodox without baptism.  It is well known that baptism is the mystery used to receive people into the Church.  Exceptions have been made historically under certain circumstances, as the many references you have made demonstrate.  In our time, however, these exceptions have been made into the rule and the rule is now the exception.  Claiming that receiving converts who were formerly baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity was the rule rather than the exception tends to overlook the historical contexts that prompted the use of economy in these situations.  As I mentioned before, the seventh canon of the Second Ecumenical Council requires the reception of the Eunomians by baptism since the baptisms they practiced did not have three full immersions.  One argument that St. Nikomemos makes for dispensing with economy in his time for the reception of Roman Catholics is the fact that by his time they no longer administered their baptisms in an Orthodox fashion, with three full immersions.  Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky) similarly states that a three full immersion heterodox baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity is necessary for the application of economy.  When the argument is made that Roman Catholics or Protestants have been received in past centuries without requiring baptism, hardly ever is mention made regarding the method of baptism practiced by those non-Orthodox groups at those times and whether a three-fold immersion was still standard practice then. 

Regarding the distinction between strictness and economy, Fr. John Erickson erroneously claims that this distinction is an innovation introduced by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain but this is simply false.  St. Basil the Great makes this distinction in his first canon in the 4th century:

Quote
For although the ones who were the first to depart had been ordained by the Fathers and with the imposition of their hands they had obtained the gracious gift of the Spirit, yet after breaking away they became laymen, and had no authority either to baptize or to ordain anyone, nor could they impart the grace of the Spirit to others, after they themselves had forfeited it. Wherefore they bade that those baptized by them should be regarded as baptized by laymen, and that when they came to join the Church they should have to be repurified by the true baptism as prescribed by the Church. Inasmuch, however, as it has seemed best to some of those in the regions of Asia, for the sake of extraordinary concession (or "economy") to the many, to accept their baptism, let it be accepted. As for the case of the Encratites, however, it behooves us to look upon it as a crime, since as though to make themselves unacceptable to the Church they have attempted to anticipate the situation by advocating a baptism of their own; hence they themselves have run counter to their own custom. I deem, therefore, that since there is nothing definitely prescribed as regards them, it was fitting that we should set their baptism aside, and if any of them appears to have left them, he shall be baptized upon joining the Church. If, however, this is to become an obstacle in the general economy (of the Church), we must again adopt the custom and follow the Fathers who economically regulated the affairs of our Church. For I am inclined to suspect that we may by the severity of the proposition actually prevent men from being saved because of their being too indolent in regard to baptism. But if they keep our baptism, let this not deter us. For we are not obliged to return thanks to them, but to serve the Canons with exactitude.

St. Basil’s canon, which has been accepted by Ecumenical Councils (i.e. 2nd canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council) clearly states that those who go into schism lose the grace of the Holy Spirit and should be received by baptism.  However, he does recognize reception by chrismation as an “extraordinary concession” that is to be allowed only if requiring baptism would appear to place a major obstacle to someone’s conversion.  The understanding is that converts should be baptized, but better for them to be received by chrismation without baptism than to not be received into the Church at all.

Regarding the use of economy, Dr. Lewis J. Patsavos, in his article on “The Canonical Tradition of the Orthodox Church” on the GOARCH site states:

Quote
Consequently, "economy" is any deviation from the norm. The exercise of "economy" ceases if its cause no longer exists or if the basis for its application rested upon false or pretended grounds. Once "economy" has been applied, the normative practice is restored as before. Furthermore, temporary departure from the normative practice through "economy" does not set precedent.
 
http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7071

The problem today is that economy has been severely abused such that it has become the norm without any justification or need.  In fact, in some jurisdictions a person will not be received by baptism even if he requests it!  So, whereas St. Basil the Great stated that baptism should be the norm unless this requirement would deter someone from being received into the Church, today potential converts are told that they can’t be baptized even if not baptizing them deters them from the Church!  I think you even mentioned that you won’t receive someone who insists on being baptized.  Why has everything become so turned upside down?

It has also been observed that the common reception of converts without baptism has been exploited by Orthodox and Roman Catholics involved in Ecumenism to promote the idea that since we “accept each other’s baptism”, we recognize each other as administering grace-filled mysteries and therefore as being part of the same Church.  The exploitation of the abuse of economy by those with Ecumenist agendas is precisely what led ROCOR in 1971 to require greater strictness in receiving converts by baptism, and which in part led Fr. George Metallinos in his book “I Confess One Baptism” to recommend that this strictness continue to be applied in our times.

It is also important to recognize that not all Orthodox churches agree that the chrismation is or should be the norm for receiving converts who were formally “baptized” in the name of the Holy Trinity.  The Jerusalem Patriarchate and the Church of Greece, for instance, come to mind.  Some bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate also baptize all converts.  Reputable patristic scholars like Fr. Placide (Deseille) also disagree with you regarding the normative practice of the Church in this regard, not to mention St. Nikodemos and the many saints after him who certainly studied the past canons and councils in considerable depth. 

Regarding your distrust of monasticism, it is true that many monasteries in America have come to a very unfortunate end.  I believe that this is mostly attributable to the fact that those who have started these monasteries were not beforehand trained by many decades of monastic obedience under an experienced spiritual father/abbot/elder.  One such monastery that you refer to, which left the Church when the bishops began to investigate charges of sexual immorality, lived on Mt. Athos for perhaps a couple of years at most.  The recently disgraced abbot of one of the OCA’s monasteries lived as an archimandrite in the world for many decades before joining the monastery and quickly being made abbot soon after.  One monastery whose inhabitants have since fled to Ukraine were formerly monks in a Byzantine Catholic monastery and the monks who were received into the monastery had been accused of sexually assaulting a man who proceeded to murder a nun in the same monastery.  I think you will find that all of the monasteries that came to an unfortunate end had similar shaky foundations and an absence of many decades of monastic obedience under an experienced spiritual father/abbot/elder.

ROCOR’s Holy Trinity monastery in Jordanville, Hermitage of the Holy Cross in WV, and a few others are an exception to the above accounts in that these monasteries were established on a very solid foundation by those with years of monastic obedience under good spiritual direction.  Elder Ephraim himself was also trained through many decades under strict monastic obedience to one of the great contemporary elders of our times who will likely soon be glorified by the Church, Elder Joseph the Hesychast.  Elder Ephraim also had many years of training as an abbot and developed a reputation throughout the world for his gifts and his skill in helping people along the way of salvation.  While you have heard stories that concern you, I hope you will be able to some day visit one or more of the monasteries and develop a greater understanding of them from your own experience.  In any case, I hope you will also pray that God will produce good fruit from their labors and that the many monasteries will not have the same unfortunate end that you have seen elsewhere.  I’m sure you recognize that monasticism has been a very powerful force in the life of the Church and that a great many of the saints and hierarchs that we celebrate and depict in our icons were also monastics, and so monasticism certainly has great positive potential even if not every monastery is a factory for generating glorified saints.

Regarding the role of monastic spiritual fathers versus parish priests, I have often been puzzled when parish priests claim that they are the spiritual father of the parish and that monks should consult with them before advising people who belong to the parish.  Isn’t the very concept of “parish membership” something of an American phenomenon?  Do churches in Greece, Russia, and other Orthodox lands have this concept of parish membership?  Furthermore, the Fathers do advise that one should be discerning in finding a spiritual father, exercising the same caution and discernment in finding a physician for the soul as one for the body.  Many parish priests may be very good spiritual fathers, and some monks who are allowed to serve as spiritual fathers perhaps should never have been given this responsibility.  We should neither disparage the parish clergy nor indiscriminately latch on to monastic spiritual fathers.  In any case, reading the lives of contemporary monastic spiritual fathers (St. Porphyrios, Paisios, Joseph the Hesychast, etc.) one finds countless examples of these elders counseling the laity who come to them.  If these monastic spiritual fathers simply directed the laity to talk to their parish priest instead of to them, we would not have so many of the excellent stories that have come down to us from these saints and elders.  The problem here seems more to be due to the fact that parish clergy in this country are simply not used to having monasteries around and do not understand, or perhaps even appreciate, their role in the Church. 

It seems strange to state that not all monastics can be trusted as good spiritual guides while suggesting that all parish priests are more than qualified to act as such.  I know many personal examples of people being given terrible advice by their parish priest in confession, advice that is very damaging to the soul.  You say that parish priests care about the salvation of their flock more than their own, but isn’t that just as sweeping of a claim as to suggest that all monastics are living saints, well on their way to theosis, having spiritual gifts of clairvoyance and discernment?  Perhaps you are such an admirable priest and you both care for, and wisely guide, those who come to you for confession and advice.  Sadly, this is not the case with every parish priest.

Certainly there will be a time of adjustment needed when monasteries are established in jurisdictions which are completely, or mostly, without them.  Hopefully, in time, the parish clergy will become more acquainted with the monasteries, that those in the parishes will become more acquainted with Orthodox tradition and the role of monasticism in Orthodoxy, and healthier relationships will develop between the parishes and the monasteries than what exists at present.
Fr. John,

First of all, I do appreciate that you take the time to participate in this forum even though it can be quite trying at times.  Last night, I took a look at your chapter on the “Baptism Controversy” in “Orthodox Fundamentalism” and I appreciate the breadth of your research even while not completely agreeing with certain assertions and conclusions.

Regarding “corrective baptism”, I don’t know that there is much worth discussing on the subject because there is practically nothing written promoting this practice and it is uncertain whether any of Elder Ephraim’s monasteries (the subject of this thread) practice this today if ever.  You mentioned hearing such stories, but I can’t recall if this was heard by you directly from someone who received a “corrective baptism” or if such stories came to you through the rumor mill or from anonymous and unverifiable stories on the internet.  It would be interesting to know more about the history of this practice, when and where this has occurred (I mentioned a friend of mine who was chrismated in the OCA and then baptized in the Jordan because in Jerusalem he had to have an Orthodox baptism to commune), and what explanations have been given by those who practice this. 

Regarding reception of converts by chrismation, I question the emphasis you place on Blessed Augustine’s explanation of non-Orthodox baptisms since his writings have not been very influential in Orthodoxy in general.  I also question your marginalization of St. Cyprian’s position and the arguments regarding historical context that are used to dismiss the 1755 declaration while not giving due attention to the historical context behind the decisions of earlier councils which allowed for the reception of non-Orthodox without baptism.  It is well known that baptism is the mystery used to receive people into the Church.  Exceptions have been made historically under certain circumstances, as the many references you have made demonstrate.  In our time, however, these exceptions have been made into the rule and the rule is now the exception.  Claiming that receiving converts who were formerly baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity was the rule rather than the exception tends to overlook the historical contexts that prompted the use of economy in these situations.  As I mentioned before, the seventh canon of the Second Ecumenical Council requires the reception of the Eunomians by baptism since the baptisms they practiced did not have three full immersions.  One argument that St. Nikomemos makes for dispensing with economy in his time for the reception of Roman Catholics is the fact that by his time they no longer administered their baptisms in an Orthodox fashion, with three full immersions.  Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky) similarly states that a three full immersion heterodox baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity is necessary for the application of economy.  When the argument is made that Roman Catholics or Protestants have been received in past centuries without requiring baptism, hardly ever is mention made regarding the method of baptism practiced by those non-Orthodox groups at those times and whether a three-fold immersion was still standard practice then. 

Regarding the distinction between strictness and economy, Fr. John Erickson erroneously claims that this distinction is an innovation introduced by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain but this is simply false.  St. Basil the Great makes this distinction in his first canon in the 4th century:

Quote
For although the ones who were the first to depart had been ordained by the Fathers and with the imposition of their hands they had obtained the gracious gift of the Spirit, yet after breaking away they became laymen, and had no authority either to baptize or to ordain anyone, nor could they impart the grace of the Spirit to others, after they themselves had forfeited it. Wherefore they bade that those baptized by them should be regarded as baptized by laymen, and that when they came to join the Church they should have to be repurified by the true baptism as prescribed by the Church. Inasmuch, however, as it has seemed best to some of those in the regions of Asia, for the sake of extraordinary concession (or "economy") to the many, to accept their baptism, let it be accepted. As for the case of the Encratites, however, it behooves us to look upon it as a crime, since as though to make themselves unacceptable to the Church they have attempted to anticipate the situation by advocating a baptism of their own; hence they themselves have run counter to their own custom. I deem, therefore, that since there is nothing definitely prescribed as regards them, it was fitting that we should set their baptism aside, and if any of them appears to have left them, he shall be baptized upon joining the Church. If, however, this is to become an obstacle in the general economy (of the Church), we must again adopt the custom and follow the Fathers who economically regulated the affairs of our Church. For I am inclined to suspect that we may by the severity of the proposition actually prevent men from being saved because of their being too indolent in regard to baptism. But if they keep our baptism, let this not deter us. For we are not obliged to return thanks to them, but to serve the Canons with exactitude.

St. Basil’s canon, which has been accepted by Ecumenical Councils (i.e. 2nd canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council) clearly states that those who go into schism lose the grace of the Holy Spirit and should be received by baptism.  However, he does recognize reception by chrismation as an “extraordinary concession” that is to be allowed only if requiring baptism would appear to place a major obstacle to someone’s conversion.  The understanding is that converts should be baptized, but better for them to be received by chrismation without baptism than to not be received into the Church at all.

Regarding the use of economy, Dr. Lewis J. Patsavos, in his article on “The Canonical Tradition of the Orthodox Church” on the GOARCH site states:

Quote
Consequently, "economy" is any deviation from the norm. The exercise of "economy" ceases if its cause no longer exists or if the basis for its application rested upon false or pretended grounds. Once "economy" has been applied, the normative practice is restored as before. Furthermore, temporary departure from the normative practice through "economy" does not set precedent.
 
http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7071

The problem today is that economy has been severely abused such that it has become the norm without any justification or need.  In fact, in some jurisdictions a person will not be received by baptism even if he requests it!  So, whereas St. Basil the Great stated that baptism should be the norm unless this requirement would deter someone from being received into the Church, today potential converts are told that they can’t be baptized even if not baptizing them deters them from the Church!  I think you even mentioned that you won’t receive someone who insists on being baptized.  Why has everything become so turned upside down?

It has also been observed that the common reception of converts without baptism has been exploited by Orthodox and Roman Catholics involved in Ecumenism to promote the idea that since we “accept each other’s baptism”, we recognize each other as administering grace-filled mysteries and therefore as being part of the same Church.  The exploitation of the abuse of economy by those with Ecumenist agendas is precisely what led ROCOR in 1971 to require greater strictness in receiving converts by baptism, and which in part led Fr. George Metallinos in his book “I Confess One Baptism” to recommend that this strictness continue to be applied in our times.

It is also important to recognize that not all Orthodox churches agree that the chrismation is or should be the norm for receiving converts who were formally “baptized” in the name of the Holy Trinity.  The Jerusalem Patriarchate and the Church of Greece, for instance, come to mind.  Some bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate also baptize all converts.  Reputable patristic scholars like Fr. Placide (Deseille) also disagree with you regarding the normative practice of the Church in this regard, not to mention St. Nikodemos and the many saints after him who certainly studied the past canons and councils in considerable depth. 

Regarding your distrust of monasticism, it is true that many monasteries in America have come to a very unfortunate end.  I believe that this is mostly attributable to the fact that those who have started these monasteries were not beforehand trained by many decades of monastic obedience under an experienced spiritual father/abbot/elder.  One such monastery that you refer to, which left the Church when the bishops began to investigate charges of sexual immorality, lived on Mt. Athos for perhaps a couple of years at most.  The recently disgraced abbot of one of the OCA’s monasteries lived as an archimandrite in the world for many decades before joining the monastery and quickly being made abbot soon after.  One monastery whose inhabitants have since fled to Ukraine were formerly monks in a Byzantine Catholic monastery and the monks who were received into the monastery had been accused of sexually assaulting a man who proceeded to murder a nun in the same monastery.  I think you will find that all of the monasteries that came to an unfortunate end had similar shaky foundations and an absence of many decades of monastic obedience under an experienced spiritual father/abbot/elder.

ROCOR’s Holy Trinity monastery in Jordanville, Hermitage of the Holy Cross in WV, and a few others are an exception to the above accounts in that these monasteries were established on a very solid foundation by those with years of monastic obedience under good spiritual direction.  Elder Ephraim himself was also trained through many decades under strict monastic obedience to one of the great contemporary elders of our times who will likely soon be glorified by the Church, Elder Joseph the Hesychast.  Elder Ephraim also had many years of training as an abbot and developed a reputation throughout the world for his gifts and his skill in helping people along the way of salvation.  While you have heard stories that concern you, I hope you will be able to some day visit one or more of the monasteries and develop a greater understanding of them from your own experience.  In any case, I hope you will also pray that God will produce good fruit from their labors and that the many monasteries will not have the same unfortunate end that you have seen elsewhere.  I’m sure you recognize that monasticism has been a very powerful force in the life of the Church and that a great many of the saints and hierarchs that we celebrate and depict in our icons were also monastics, and so monasticism certainly has great positive potential even if not every monastery is a factory for generating glorified saints.

Regarding the role of monastic spiritual fathers versus parish priests, I have often been puzzled when parish priests claim that they are the spiritual father of the parish and that monks should consult with them before advising people who belong to the parish.  Isn’t the very concept of “parish membership” something of an American phenomenon?  Do churches in Greece, Russia, and other Orthodox lands have this concept of parish membership?  Furthermore, the Fathers do advise that one should be discerning in finding a spiritual father, exercising the same caution and discernment in finding a physician for the soul as one for the body.  Many parish priests may be very good spiritual fathers, and some monks who are allowed to serve as spiritual fathers perhaps should never have been given this responsibility.  We should neither disparage the parish clergy nor indiscriminately latch on to monastic spiritual fathers.  In any case, reading the lives of contemporary monastic spiritual fathers (St. Porphyrios, Paisios, Joseph the Hesychast, etc.) one finds countless examples of these elders counseling the laity who come to them.  If these monastic spiritual fathers simply directed the laity to talk to their parish priest instead of to them, we would not have so many of the excellent stories that have come down to us from these saints and elders.  The problem here seems more to be due to the fact that parish clergy in this country are simply not used to having monasteries around and do not understand, or perhaps even appreciate, their role in the Church. 

It seems strange to state that not all monastics can be trusted as good spiritual guides while suggesting that all parish priests are more than qualified to act as such.  I know many personal examples of people being given terrible advice by their parish priest in confession, advice that is very damaging to the soul.  You say that parish priests care about the salvation of their flock more than their own, but isn’t that just as sweeping of a claim as to suggest that all monastics are living saints, well on their way to theosis, having spiritual gifts of clairvoyance and discernment?  Perhaps you are such an admirable priest and you both care for, and wisely guide, those who come to you for confession and advice.  Sadly, this is not the case with every parish priest.

Certainly there will be a time of adjustment needed when monasteries are established in jurisdictions which are completely, or mostly, without them.  Hopefully, in time, the parish clergy will become more acquainted with the monasteries, that those in the parishes will become more acquainted with Orthodox tradition and the role of monasticism in Orthodoxy, and healthier relationships will develop between the parishes and the monasteries than what exists at present.

link=topic=17649.msg1058206#msg1058206 date=1389178245]
Fr. (John) bless,

I agree with most of your statements about monasticism in America. No group of men or women should try to organize a monastery without proper guidance from a well seasoned and experienced monastic. However, we are not in Greece or Russia where there is a monastery in almost every city. In America, we do have parish membership.  The pastor of the parish has the responsibility to act as spiritual father to the members of his parish unless for some reasons the Bishop decides that the pastor cannot hear Confessions.
When I wrote the chapter on the reception of converts, which was originally a report written at the request of our Antiochian Bishops when this controversy first arose a long time ago, I tried my best to express the mind of the Church, not my own opinions. The decision on how to receive a convert belongs to the Bishops following the principles established by the 7 Ecumenical Councils.  Whether or not the use of economy is excessive is their concern, not ours. As Priests we must obey our Bishops. In the United States every Orthodox jurisdiction has guidelines that state that a Catholic or Protestant who was Baptized with water "in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," is to be received by Chrismation. The only exception is ROCOR which normally Baptizes all converts. However, even the guidelines of ROCOR give the local Bishop the authority to receive a Catholic or Protestant by Chrismation through economy.
Even St. Cyprian recognized that the Church had received converts from schismatic and heretical groups for Chrismation for a long time before he wrote his work "On the Unity of the Catholic Church." Besides, Pope St. Stephen strongly disagreed with him on this issue, so St. Cyprian's views were not universally accepted. The canons of the 7 Ecumenical Councils did not accept St. Cyprian's opinion, but allowed for the reception by Chrismation of Arians and by profession of faith of Nestorians and Monophysites. I believe that this matter was settled concerning Catholics and Protestants by the Pan-Orthodox Councils of  Constantinople of 1485,  Jerusalem Bethlehem of 1672 and Moscow of 1667 which mandate that Baptized Catholics and Protestants are to be received by Chrismation. To my knowledge these are the only Pan-Orthodox councils that have dealt with the reception of converts. The Oros of 1755 of Cyril V was the exception to the normal practice and applied only to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Both Moscow and Antioch rejected the 1755 Oros of Cyril V. Since 1888 the Ecumenical Patriarchate has allowed its Bishops to receive baptized Catholics and Protestants by Chrismation. The guidelines of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America under the Ecumenical Patriarchate mandates that baptized converts are to be received by Chrismation. These decisions were based on the precedent set by Canon 95 of Trullo which was recognized as a continuation of the 6th Ecumenical Council by the 7th Ecumenical Council. They are also based on the 1st canon of the 1st Canonical Letter of St. Basil the Great which recognizes the right of a local Bishop to receive a convert by Chrismation, even if St. Basil disagreed with their decision. This canon is also recognized by Trullo and the 7th Ecumenical Council. Thus it is not exactly out of the ordinary, but has the force of canon law to receive a Baptized convert by Chrismation. By 1485 and 1672, the West had Baptized by pouring or sprinkling for centuries, thus the decisions of these Pan-Orthodox Councils allow for the reception by Chrismation of someone who was not Baptized by triple immersion.
I am no fan of Blessed Augustine. However, he is recognized by the Ecumenical Councils as a Father of the Church. I have a whole chapter in my history of Christianity "The Historic Church: An Orthodox View of Christian History," on how Augustine laid the theological foundation for the Western schism. 
I should note that there are Orthodox theologians who do not consider the reception of a baptized convert by Chrismation an act of economy, but consider it the normal practice of the Church. See the recommendations of the North American Orthodox Catholic dialogue for an explanation of this view. http://www.scoba.us/resources/orthodox-catholic/baptism-sacramentaleconomy.html
I do not entirely agree with them, because I personally  believe that sacraments administered outside of the Orthodox Church are lacking in fullness and are fulfilled by the grace of Chrismation.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: podkarpatska on January 08, 2014, 01:18:01 PM
Offtopic,

What do you think of Fr. George Metallinos? I have not read the "I confess one Baptism" but rather simply some articles he has written in greek  (By the way do you know more than one language?)

In the USA, one can not obtain a PhD in most of the humanities without language proficiency in more than ones native tongue. History requires multi lingual skills.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 08, 2014, 05:23:21 PM
Offtopic,

What do you think of Fr. George Metallinos? I have not read the "I confess one Baptism" but rather simply some articles he has written in greek  (By the way do you know more than one language?)

In the USA, one can not obtain a PhD in most of the humanities without language proficiency in more than ones native tongue. History requires multi lingual skills.

That is correct, or it was at least correct back in 1974 when I earned my PhD. My two languages were Russian and German. My major field of history was German history. In the days that I earned my PhD one had to have 5 fields. Mine were Modern Europe, English History, Russian History, American History to 1828 and German Literature. I earned my PhD before I converted to Orthodoxy and have taught history on the college level. Until about 15 years ago, I taught part time at a college or university near my parish. I have also taught church history on the college level and studied the Protestant Reformation at Goethe University where I spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar. Naturally, I also graduated from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology with an MTS degree.
I have a detailed discussion of "I Confess One Baptism" in the chapter on the reception of converts in my book on Orthodox Fundamentalism published by Light and Life. This chapter is a revision of a report on this issue that I was asked to write for our Aniochian Bishops who appointed me to the committee to study this issue when it first became a controversy.
I am home waiting for my second Lithotripsy on a very painful kidney stone tomorrow. Thus I have neither book here so can only answer your question from memory. To summarize, I disagree with some of Metallinos conclusions and criticism of the practice or receiving a baptized convert by Chrismation. He neglects to mention that the Oros of 1755 mandating that all converts be received by Baptism was never actually approved by the Holy Synod of Constantinople. The Holy Synod of Antioch rejected it as an innovation and departure from the usual practice of the Church. Moscow also rejected it. He also neglects to put the Oros in its proper historical context. It was issued by Cyril V as a kind of protest against the formation of the Eastern Catholic Churches that use the Byzantine Liturgy but are under the Pope in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. However, even Metallinos admits that it is a legitimate practice to receive a baptized convert by Chrismation because there is no way to deny the historical fact that the Eastern Orthodox Church has always allowed the reception of a convert by Chrismation as an exercise of economy. By the way, he does not endorse the practice of so called corrective Baptism and recognizes as fully Orthodox a convert who was received by Chrismation. Finally, I do not believe that he gives enough recognition to the authority of the Pan-Orthodox Councils of Constantinople of 1485, Jerusalem Bethlehem of 1672 and Moscow of 1667 which decreed that baptized Catholics and Protestants be received by Chrismation. Since the West has Baptized by pouring or sprinkling for centuries before these councils, the argument that triple immersion is required is incorrect. I believe that  Pan-Orthodox Councils have more authority than Patriarch Cyril V, Fr. Metallinos or any group of monks including the monks on Mt. Athos have to establish the proper practice of the Church, especially since Canon 95 of Trullo which has ecumenical authority because Trullo was ratified as a continuation of the 6th Ecumenical Council by 7th Ecumenical Council mandates that heretics and schismatics should be received by profession of faith or Chrismation. The only heretics who were received by Baptism were those who did not Baptize "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." The canon even mandates that Arians who denied the divinity of Christ are to be received by Chrismation.
I want to emphasize that my objection is to so called corrective Baptism and that I do not question the authority of a Bishop to instruct his clergy to receive all converts by Baptism provided, of course, that he is following the guidelines for the reception of converts established by the Holy Synod under which he serves. However, it is equally legitimate for a Bishop to instruct his clergy to receive baptized converts by Chrismation, provided, again that he is following the guidelines of the Holy Synod under which he serves. Regardless of how a convert was received, they are fully Orthodox and so-called corrective Baptism is uncanonical and theologically unsound.
Once again, we must do what the Church does not what we or anyone else no matter how much theology they have studied think the Church should do. That is the problem with this argument. Some people do not understand this important principle. We are not Protestants who decide for themselves what to believe. A faithful Orthodox Christian accepts the practice of the Church. It is historic fact, ratified by Pan Orthodox Councils that a baptized convert may enter the Church through Chrismation. Thus this is an artificial argument. My Bishop tells me to receive those Baptized with water "in the Name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit" by Chrismation. Therefore as an obedient Priest that is what I do. If a Priest serves under a Bishop who instructs him to receive all converts by Baptism, that is what he must do. However, I do know that in the United States the guidelines of all canonical jurisdictions mandate that baptized converts be received by Chrismation. The only exception is  ROROR that normally received converts by Baptism, but ROCOR also allows a Bishop to receive a Catholic or Protestant by Chrismation.
There is no need for this controversy. It is completely artificial because the Church has spoken clearly on this subject.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 08, 2014, 06:06:10 PM
An argument for baptizing heterodox converts who did not have the proper form of baptism--triple immersion--would make more sense if the Orthodox actually practiced triple immersion all the time, except for special circumstances--circumstances better than that there wasn't a tub big enough. (There's also the Didache, but IIRC, it wasn't discovered until 100 years ago or so.)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Maria on January 08, 2014, 06:13:57 PM
An argument for baptizing heterodox converts who did not have the proper form of baptism--triple immersion--would make more sense if the Orthodox actually practiced triple immersion all the time, except for special circumstances--circumstances better than that there wasn't a tub big enough. (There's also the Didache, but IIRC, it wasn't discovered until 100 years ago or so.)

What does the Didache mention about Holy Baptism as practiced during that time?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 08, 2014, 06:23:09 PM
An argument for baptizing heterodox converts who did not have the proper form of baptism--triple immersion--would make more sense if the Orthodox actually practiced triple immersion all the time, except for special circumstances--circumstances better than that there wasn't a tub big enough. (There's also the Didache, but IIRC, it wasn't discovered until 100 years ago or so.)

What does the Didache mention about Holy Baptism as practiced during that time?

It mentions, IIRC, other methods of baptism besides triple immersion, that may be used.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 08, 2014, 06:29:43 PM
The reception by chrismation presumes baptism, but if there is no Orthodox baptism, there is at most only a form to be filled/healed by the chrismation. But this has, to my mind, rather weak underpinnings given our sacramentology which, to my knowledge, follows St. Cyprian, and the fact that reception by baptism and chrismation of the heterodox are interchangeable and do not follow a concrete, universally-recognized set of circumstances, but vary over time based on many factors.

I get and accept the understanding and the operation of the sacrament and the authority of the Church and the prerogative of the bishops. But it still seems to me that there is a rather, for lack of a better term, "loose" thing going on for something so important. There is a sort of randomness (and, to me, disorder) going on here. We leave it to God--well and good. But we don't necessarily go about other sacraments like this. Marriage is probably closest to it.

Maybe I make something out of not much. But I'm not so sure it's nothing. We do something because we can, but this does not mean that we should do it.

Our sacramental theology follows St Cyprian except when it doesn't, as Fr John hinted at in his comments.  Generally, we are more Cyprianite than Augustinian (and the West more Augustinian than Cyprianite), but it's not always so easy or accurate to stereotype in this way.  If we adopted one framework, there would always be legitimate exceptions that don't fit the mould.  

Perhaps part of the issue here is that EO practice is all over the place...I didn't realise to what degree until I read Fr Erickson's article (thanks, Fr Lance).  I presumed that the main question was whether or not to receive by baptism, and if baptism was not chosen, any other method of reception would still be sacramental: so, for instance, receiving a Roman Catholic by chrismation would mean the sacrament of chrismation as Orthodox understand it, and not merely an anointing with chrism.  But it seems like there are various rites, some of which are considered sacramental and some of which are not, depending on a few factors, and that seems rather nutty.  

I prefer the OO practice: the "Asian" Churches tend to follow what Fr Erickson calls the "Russian" practice, while the "African" Churches follow what he calls "Greek" practice, with all the implicit ideas underlying such practices as he's described, BUT the method of reception is always sacramental AND someone received "less rigourously" by one Church is not second-guessed by a "more rigourous" Church.  
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 08, 2014, 07:10:20 PM
An argument for baptizing heterodox converts who did not have the proper form of baptism--triple immersion--would make more sense if the Orthodox actually practiced triple immersion all the time, except for special circumstances--circumstances better than that there wasn't a tub big enough. (There's also the Didache, but IIRC, it wasn't discovered until 100 years ago or so.)

Because of my research on this subject, I have a copy of the guidelines for Baptism and the reception of converts for almost every canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in the United States. Most of them  Baptize adults by pouring water over the head of the person as he or she bends over the Baptismal font that is used for infants. I understand that is also the practice in Russia. I have a big tub that I use so that I can immerse the person three times when I Baptize an adult.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: LBK on January 08, 2014, 08:20:53 PM
An argument for baptizing heterodox converts who did not have the proper form of baptism--triple immersion--would make more sense if the Orthodox actually practiced triple immersion all the time, except for special circumstances--circumstances better than that there wasn't a tub big enough. (There's also the Didache, but IIRC, it wasn't discovered until 100 years ago or so.)

Because of my research on this subject, I have a copy of the guidelines for Baptism and the reception of converts for almost every canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in the United States. Most of them  Baptize adults by pouring water over the head of the person as he or she bends over the Baptismal font that is used for infants. I understand that is also the practice in Russia. I have a big tub that I use so that I can immerse the person three times when I Baptize an adult.

Fr. John W. Morris

Strange. I've been to more than a few baptisms of adults and older children in my fifty years in the Church, across several jurisdictions, and every one of them were by full triple immersion, never pouring over the head as described. The tubs and troughs weren't fancy, but they did the job.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: mike on January 08, 2014, 08:30:34 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZnzO47YCMs

This seems to be prevalent Russian practice.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Maria on January 08, 2014, 08:44:39 PM
An argument for baptizing heterodox converts who did not have the proper form of baptism--triple immersion--would make more sense if the Orthodox actually practiced triple immersion all the time, except for special circumstances--circumstances better than that there wasn't a tub big enough. (There's also the Didache, but IIRC, it wasn't discovered until 100 years ago or so.)

Because of my research on this subject, I have a copy of the guidelines for Baptism and the reception of converts for almost every canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in the United States. Most of them  Baptize adults by pouring water over the head of the person as he or she bends over the Baptismal font that is used for infants. I understand that is also the practice in Russia. I have a big tub that I use so that I can immerse the person three times when I Baptize an adult.

Fr. John W. Morris

Strange. I've been to more than a few baptisms of adults and older children in my fifty years in the Church, across several jurisdictions, and every one of them were by full triple immersion, never pouring over the head as described. The tubs and troughs weren't fancy, but they did the job.

I have seen a couple of OCA baptisms for adults here in the Los Angeles area where the catechumen leaned over the infant font and the priest poured water over the forehead three times.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 08, 2014, 10:02:19 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZnzO47YCMs

This seems to be prevalent Russian practice.

And, for comparative purposes:

Armenian (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNQafG8i-4U)
Coptic (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VVN3Eci3Yo)
Ethiopian (http://youtu.be/6NvrA7tFIQg?t=3m30s)
West Syriac (India) (http://youtu.be/oE2zrg16Tao?t=26m44s)

East Syriac (India) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6fUIg0L3IE)


Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Deacon Lance on January 08, 2014, 10:28:27 PM
Hopefully this puts to rest that there is anyting wrong with the Roman practice of affusion(pouring).
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: xOrthodox4Christx on January 08, 2014, 10:42:19 PM
Hopefully this puts to rest that there is anyting wrong with the Roman practice of affusion(pouring).

What about sprinkling?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 08, 2014, 10:44:59 PM
Hopefully this puts to rest that there is anyting wrong with the Roman practice of affusion(pouring).

Well, we'll always find something wrong with Rome, even when there isn't.  :P

Seriously, though, I think there's a difference between the Roman method of pouring and those in the East.  In the East, even when the person is not immersed three times under water, but simply has water poured over them, they are washed: the whole body is washed with the water in such a way that the entire body has been covered with the water.  This is what ecclesiastical writers point to when justifying such a practice in place of three immersions.  For instance, while the Copts and East Syrians have managed to keep full immersions, the West Syrians moved away from that about a thousand years ago because, according to St Dionysius Bar Salibi, there were enough "accidents" (:() to justify a change in the practice.  The Armenians and Ethiopians seem to have followed suit.  Symbolically, this type of "affusion" is closer to the ideal of triple immersion (though it accomplishes the same effect) than pouring a few tablespoons of water from a fake seashell over the side of a kid's head.  As an emergency measure, the Roman method works just fine, and because it is at least sometimes legitimate, IMO, it gets the benefit of the doubt, but as much as I like RC's, I cannot admit that it is the same thing.      
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Deacon Lance on January 08, 2014, 10:57:51 PM
Hopefully this puts to rest that there is anyting wrong with the Roman practice of affusion(pouring).

What about sprinkling?

It is not a licit form.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Deacon Lance on January 08, 2014, 11:23:06 PM
Hopefully this puts to rest that there is anyting wrong with the Roman practice of affusion(pouring).

Well, we'll always find something wrong with Rome, even when there isn't.  :P

Seriously, though, I think there's a difference between the Roman method of pouring and those in the East.  In the East, even when the person is not immersed three times under water, but simply has water poured over them, they are washed: the whole body is washed with the water in such a way that the entire body has been covered with the water.  This is what ecclesiastical writers point to when justifying such a practice in place of three immersions.  For instance, while the Copts and East Syrians have managed to keep full immersions, the West Syrians moved away from that about a thousand years ago because, according to St Dionysius Bar Salibi, there were enough "accidents" (:() to justify a change in the practice.  The Armenians and Ethiopians seem to have followed suit.  Symbolically, this type of "affusion" is closer to the ideal of triple immersion (though it accomplishes the same effect) than pouring a few tablespoons of water from a fake seashell over the side of a kid's head.  As an emergency measure, the Roman method works just fine, and because it is at least sometimes legitimate, IMO, it gets the benefit of the doubt, but as much as I like RC's, I cannot admit that it is the same thing.      

I respect your opinion, but I just don't see a real difference between pouring over the head only or sitting the baby in an inch of water while pouring over the head.  I understand the theory, I just don't buy it.  Immersion is just that, entering a body/container of water and going under.  What is going on in most of those vidoes would be best described as suffusion. Ironically, it is the Evangelicals who adhere to the ancient form most closely going down to the river and gettng dunked.   

Although I must admit the baby in the Armenian video was having the best time in the font I have ever seen at a baptism. :D
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 09, 2014, 12:25:23 AM
Although I must admit the baby in the Armenian video was having the best time in the font I have ever seen at a baptism. :D

I had a lot of fun searching for those videos!  :)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: android on January 09, 2014, 12:35:06 AM
I have visited a few monasteries under Elder Ephraim, had one of the abbots as my spiritual father, and since moving far from that particular monastery I now have a different abbot as spiritual father.  I have only been very blessed and helped by my spiritual fathers, and as a married man with several children; my wife and I have not felt burdened or treated in any way inappropriately.  The first words that come to mind with regard to the monasteries is they are a great refuge and are springs in the midst of a spiritual desert.  If someone has not been to confession at the monasteries and has not spoken at length with the abbots of any of the monasteries, they simply do not know what they are talking about and should not express themselves on the subject of the monasteries.  Inevitably, those who do so end  up repeating gossip and unverifiable rumors made by anonymous people with uncertain motives.  As Christians, we should refrain from spreading such gossip and rumors lest we inadvertently fall into the sins of slander and bearing false witness. 

I can't speak from experience regarding issues of confession or spiritual direction, but based on my experience visiting a few of the monasteries under Elder Ephraim (one for men, two for women) and my confessor's account of his experience while on pilgrimage at St Anthony's, these monasteries don't seem to be the creepy culty places they are made out to be.  Even as a non-EO, I've always been made to feel welcome, allowed to pray in the church (though, of course, not to commune), spend time in silence, eat, chat with the monastics...one of the Abbesses even gave me a tour of her monastery, and some visiting Greek ladies told me how blessed I was that she chose to spend time with me and give me the tour herself rather than delegate it to someone else (not sure if and/or to what extent they were exaggerating, but I figure an Abbess has better things to do with her time than show me around).  The monastics I've met were, to a (wo)man, kind, warm, welcoming, loving people (the women more so than the men, but I suppose that's to be expected). 

The people who frequent these monasteries are pious, and piety can seem weird to the non-pious, but other than piety, they were rather normal, not at all groupies.  I've met more bizarre clergy and people in parishes, seminaries, and other conventional places that don't get all the flack that monasteries get.  Some come for spiritual direction, to return to the sacraments, to pray and meditate, but others come to enjoy the peace and quiet, spend time on the grounds, buy baked goods from the gift shop...in other words, they come for a bit of a reprieve from normal life, but choose to do so in a spiritual atmosphere and not in some vacation spot.  They come on their own, or with their priests and with parish groups, and at all of the monasteries I've been to, the monastics have had excellent relations with the local parishes and their clergy.     

I don't want to judge, but certainly the "horror stories" going around about Elder Ephraim's monasteries don't match in any way what I see and experience when I spend time with these people.  Actually, I can't think of a monastery in America, OO or EO, that I've visited where I've had a bad experience, and that includes at least one Old Calendarist monastery.             


Wait - you aren't Orthodox, or am I misunderstanding?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 09, 2014, 12:45:53 AM
Wait - you aren't Orthodox, or am I misunderstanding?

I'm (Oriental, not Eastern) Orthodox. 
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: android on January 09, 2014, 12:56:26 AM
Wait - you aren't Orthodox, or am I misunderstanding?

I'm (Oriental, not Eastern) Orthodox. 

Ahhhh of course. Thanks brother.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Mor Ephrem on January 09, 2014, 01:01:55 AM
No worries!
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 09, 2014, 02:13:33 AM
Hopefully this puts to rest that there is anyting wrong with the Roman practice of affusion(pouring).

Well, we'll always find something wrong with Rome, even when there isn't.  :P

Seriously, though, I think there's a difference between the Roman method of pouring and those in the East.  In the East, even when the person is not immersed three times under water, but simply has water poured over them, they are washed: the whole body is washed with the water in such a way that the entire body has been covered with the water.  This is what ecclesiastical writers point to when justifying such a practice in place of three immersions.  For instance, while the Copts and East Syrians have managed to keep full immersions, the West Syrians moved away from that about a thousand years ago because, according to St Dionysius Bar Salibi, there were enough "accidents" (:() to justify a change in the practice.  The Armenians and Ethiopians seem to have followed suit.  Symbolically, this type of "affusion" is closer to the ideal of triple immersion (though it accomplishes the same effect) than pouring a few tablespoons of water from a fake seashell over the side of a kid's head.  As an emergency measure, the Roman method works just fine, and because it is at least sometimes legitimate, IMO, it gets the benefit of the doubt, but as much as I like RC's, I cannot admit that it is the same thing.      

I respect your opinion, but I just don't see a real difference between pouring over the head only or sitting the baby in an inch of water while pouring over the head.  I understand the theory, I just don't buy it.  Immersion is just that, entering a body/container of water and going under.  What is going on in most of those vidoes would be best described as suffusion. Ironically, it is the Evangelicals who adhere to the ancient form most closely going down to the river and gettng dunked.   

Although I must admit the baby in the Armenian video was having the best time in the font I have ever seen at a baptism. :D

Frankly, if he kid is screaming its lungs out or fighting, I do the best that I can to immerse the child three times according to usual Eastern Orthodox practice. I am sure that God understands that if the kid is big and is fighting too much that one can only do so much.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: rakovsky on January 09, 2014, 03:37:12 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZnzO47YCMs

This seems to be prevalent Russian practice.

And, for comparative purposes:

Armenian (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNQafG8i-4U)
Coptic (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VVN3Eci3Yo)
Ethiopian (http://youtu.be/6NvrA7tFIQg?t=3m30s)
West Syriac (India) (http://youtu.be/oE2zrg16Tao?t=26m44s)

East Syriac (India) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6fUIg0L3IE)

One of the recommended videos through the link was to an Ethiopian Orthodox music video that was enchanting:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZ3uPVJlFhM

It sounded like a mix of an Irish shanty and vocalized music from India.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: vorgos on January 09, 2014, 04:07:43 AM
Hopefully this puts to rest that there is anyting wrong with the Roman practice of affusion(pouring).

I thought I read somewhere that there was an order.

1) full immersion in moving water
2) full immersion in a tab
3) pouring

Now the RC seem to have gone lazy. While I can understand the difficulty with #1, what is so hard with #2?

BTW mods should probably split this thread if we continue discussing baptism....
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: rakovsky on January 09, 2014, 06:53:23 PM
Hopefully this puts to rest that there is anyting wrong with the Roman practice of affusion(pouring).

I thought I read somewhere that there was an order.

1) full immersion in moving water
2) full immersion in a tab
3) pouring

Now the RC seem to have gone lazy. While I can understand the difficulty with #1, what is so hard with #2?

BTW mods should probably split this thread if we continue discussing baptism....
Unfortunately, some babies have died from even very brief full immersion. It is strange. The water gets in their lungs just a bit and it kills them. I am not sure how it works. It has been discussed elsewhere on OC.net.

Granted, I understand that this is a very rare occurance, and that full immersion is the norm for Orthodox.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Shanghaiski on January 09, 2014, 06:55:53 PM
Hopefully this puts to rest that there is anyting wrong with the Roman practice of affusion(pouring).

Hahahahahahahahaha.  :angel:
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Deacon Lance on January 09, 2014, 07:04:58 PM
Hopefully this puts to rest that there is anyting wrong with the Roman practice of affusion(pouring).

I thought I read somewhere that there was an order.

1) full immersion in moving water
2) full immersion in a tab
3) pouring

Now the RC seem to have gone lazy. While I can understand the difficulty with #1, what is so hard with #2?

BTW mods should probably split this thread if we continue discussing baptism....
Unfortunately, some babies have died from even very brief full immersion. It is strange. The water gets in their lungs just a bit and it kills them. I am not sure how it works. It has been discussed elsewhere on OC.net.

Granted, I understand that this is a very rare occurance, and that full immersion is the norm for Orthodox.
It only takes a few ounces for an adult to drown, much less for an infant.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Santagranddad on January 09, 2014, 07:17:14 PM
An old monk I knew well had a technique of briefly covering the infant's nose and mouth on immersion.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Maria on January 09, 2014, 07:51:45 PM
Hopefully this puts to rest that there is anyting wrong with the Roman practice of affusion(pouring).

I thought I read somewhere that there was an order.

1) full immersion in moving water
2) full immersion in a tab
3) pouring

Now the RC seem to have gone lazy. While I can understand the difficulty with #1, what is so hard with #2?

BTW mods should probably split this thread if we continue discussing baptism....
Unfortunately, some babies have died from even very brief full immersion. It is strange. The water gets in their lungs just a bit and it kills them. I am not sure how it works. It has been discussed elsewhere on OC.net.

Granted, I understand that this is a very rare occurance, and that full immersion is the norm for Orthodox.

The baby pictured in the Coptic baptism sounded like he got some water or mucus in his throat. He was struggling and making unusual sounds. I was surprised that the priest dunked him face down.

I have seen some Antiochian priests handle the babies as if they were planes when they had a larger baptismal font. The priest would quickly fly them down into the water and then immediately out. It was a sight to see.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: LBK on January 09, 2014, 07:58:48 PM
Quote
I have seen some Antiochian priests handle the babies as if they were planes when they had a larger baptismal font. The priest would quickly fly them down into the water and then immediately out. It was a sight to see.

It's not just the Antiochians. I've seen Russian priests do it, too. Quick, easy, and quite safe.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 09, 2014, 08:23:10 PM
Hopefully this puts to rest that there is anyting wrong with the Roman practice of affusion(pouring).

I thought I read somewhere that there was an order.

1) full immersion in moving water
2) full immersion in a tab
3) pouring

Now the RC seem to have gone lazy. While I can understand the difficulty with #1, what is so hard with #2?

BTW mods should probably split this thread if we continue discussing baptism....
Unfortunately, some babies have died from even very brief full immersion. It is strange. The water gets in their lungs just a bit and it kills them. I am not sure how it works. It has been discussed elsewhere on OC.net.

Granted, I understand that this is a very rare occurance, and that full immersion is the norm for Orthodox.

That sounds like an old wive's tale to me. Besides most babies cry and that would take care of any water that got in its lungs. Some Priests pinch the baby to make it cry after it is Baptized for that purpose.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Maria on January 09, 2014, 08:26:48 PM
Hopefully this puts to rest that there is anyting wrong with the Roman practice of affusion(pouring).

I thought I read somewhere that there was an order.

1) full immersion in moving water
2) full immersion in a tab
3) pouring

Now the RC seem to have gone lazy. While I can understand the difficulty with #1, what is so hard with #2?

BTW mods should probably split this thread if we continue discussing baptism....
Unfortunately, some babies have died from even very brief full immersion. It is strange. The water gets in their lungs just a bit and it kills them. I am not sure how it works. It has been discussed elsewhere on OC.net.

Granted, I understand that this is a very rare occurance, and that full immersion is the norm for Orthodox.

That sounds like an old wive's tale to me. Besides most babies cry and that would take care of any water that got in its lungs. Some Priests pinch the baby to make it cry after it is Baptized for that purpose.

Fr. John W. Morris

Is that why some babies cry whenever they see a priest after they have been baptized?

Baby pinchers?  ::)
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: LBK on January 09, 2014, 08:41:47 PM
Quote
Besides most babies cry and that would take care of any water that got in its lungs. Some Priests pinch the baby to make it cry after it is Baptized for that purpose.

Babies that cry at baptisms are, in my experience, those older than about six months. Baptizing babies when they're a month or two is not only spiritually beneficial, but much easier from a practical perspective. They're smaller, less wriggly, easier to handle, and, if the priest uses a good technique, the bub rarely cries.

Pinching babies to make them cry?  :o :o
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: frjohnmorris on January 09, 2014, 09:02:27 PM
Quote
Besides most babies cry and that would take care of any water that got in its lungs. Some Priests pinch the baby to make it cry after it is Baptized for that purpose.

Babies that cry at baptisms are, in my experience, those older than about six months. Baptizing babies when they're a month or two is not only spiritually beneficial, but much easier from a practical perspective. They're smaller, less wriggly, easier to handle, and, if the priest uses a good technique, the bub rarely cries.

Pinching babies to make them cry?  :o :o

Yes. An old Priest told me that after I was ordained. I have never actually had to do it, because most babies cry. The old Syrian saying is that they are fighting with the devil. However, neither one of my children cried at their Baptism.
I have learned the hard way that I have to tell the godparent that when I tell them to breathe and spit on him,  I mean on the ground as a symbol of spitting on the devil, not on the baby.

Fr. John W. Morris
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: LBK on January 09, 2014, 09:04:52 PM
Quote
I have learned the hard way that I have to tell the godparent that when I tell them to breathe and spit on him,  I mean on the ground as a symbol of spitting on the devil, not on the baby.

 :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Cavaradossi on January 10, 2014, 12:50:19 AM
I have learned the hard way that I have to tell the godparent that when I tell them to breathe and spit on him,  I mean on the ground as a symbol of spitting on the devil, not on the baby.

I almost just spit my drink out reading that. :laugh:
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Salpy on January 10, 2014, 01:55:35 AM
Hopefully this puts to rest that there is anyting wrong with the Roman practice of affusion(pouring).

I thought I read somewhere that there was an order.

1) full immersion in moving water
2) full immersion in a tab
3) pouring

Now the RC seem to have gone lazy. While I can understand the difficulty with #1, what is so hard with #2?

BTW mods should probably split this thread if we continue discussing baptism....
Unfortunately, some babies have died from even very brief full immersion. It is strange. The water gets in their lungs just a bit and it kills them. I am not sure how it works. It has been discussed elsewhere on OC.net.

Granted, I understand that this is a very rare occurance, and that full immersion is the norm for Orthodox.

This may be what you are thinking of:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,29080.0.html

Very tragic.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Agabus on January 12, 2014, 06:58:45 PM
Quote
I have learned the hard way that I have to tell the godparent that when I tell them to breathe and spit on him,  I mean on the ground as a symbol of spitting on the devil, not on the baby.

 :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
It's also funny when it's an adult.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: LBK on January 12, 2014, 07:04:47 PM
Quote
I have learned the hard way that I have to tell the godparent that when I tell them to breathe and spit on him,  I mean on the ground as a symbol of spitting on the devil, not on the baby.

 :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
It's also funny when it's an adult.

Even funnier!  :laugh:
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: rakovsky on January 13, 2014, 07:32:09 PM
Unfortunately, some babies have died from even very brief full immersion. It is strange. The water gets in their lungs just a bit and it kills them. I am not sure how it works. It has been discussed elsewhere on OC.net.

Granted, I understand that this is a very rare occurance, and that full immersion is the norm for Orthodox.

That sounds like an old wive's tale to me. Besides most babies cry and that would take care of any water that got in its lungs. Some Priests pinch the baby to make it cry after it is Baptized for that purpose.

Fr. John W. Morris
It's quite unfortunate, Father, but this is not an old wives' tale. It was surprising to me as I am sure it would be to you, however this was on TV- I think Romanian, was discussed on a thread here on OC.net, and I asked a doctor about it who said that Yes the death can happen as a reaction to the water. It is very sad that death and suffering are so much around us.

Regards.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: LakaYaRabb on January 13, 2014, 07:48:51 PM
 ::)

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2013/11/the-story-behind-infant-that-died.html
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: TheTrisagion on January 13, 2014, 08:20:06 PM
There is something known as "secondary drowning". That being said, I've never heard of it occurring from baptism.

Quote
Secondary drowning – Inhaled fluid can act as an irritant inside the lungs. Physiological responses to even small quantities include the extrusion of liquid into the lungs (pulmonary edema) over the following hours, but this reduces the ability to exchange air and can lead to a person "drowning in their own body fluid." Certain poisonous vapors or gases (as for example in chemical warfare), or vomit can have a similar effect. The reaction can take place up to 72 hours after a near drowning incident, and may lead to a serious condition or death.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drowning#Secondary_drowning
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: rakovsky on January 13, 2014, 08:28:06 PM
::)

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2013/11/the-story-behind-infant-that-died.html


"A closer analysis of forensic findings proved that eventually the baby did not drown. The child was suffering from a lung disease unknown to the family, which was the cause of his death."

Perhaps a lung disease known as secondary drowning, caused by water irritating the lungs?
Certainly a strange phenomenon if the case.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: ilyazhito on May 07, 2014, 01:20:33 AM
Off topic. I think the OP was concerned about Elder Ephraim's monasteries, but I don't know why there should be concern. From what I can tell, St. Anthony's in Arizona is doing OK, and if there are people interested in monasticism, then glory be to God.
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: hecma925 on May 13, 2014, 12:41:21 PM
Off topic. I think the OP was concerned about Elder Ephraim's monasteries, but I don't know why there should be concern. From what I can tell, St. Anthony's in Arizona is doing OK, and if there are people interested in monasticism, then glory be to God.

How many monastics are there now?
Title: Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
Post by: Carl Kraeff (Second Chance) on May 14, 2014, 12:40:30 PM
::)

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2013/11/the-story-behind-infant-that-died.html


"A closer analysis of forensic findings proved that eventually the baby did not drown. The child was suffering from a lung disease unknown to the family, which was the cause of his death."

Perhaps a lung disease known as secondary drowning, caused by water irritating the lungs?
Certainly a strange phenomenon if the case.

Secondary drowning is reality and can happen during baptism. However, if the priest is aware of this problem, such an outcome may be prevented. See http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,29080.msg459665.html#msg459665 (http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,29080.msg459665.html#msg459665)