Author Topic: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries  (Read 107149 times)

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Offline frjohnmorris

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #315 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
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 12:29:22 AM by frjohnmorris »

Offline Velsigne

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #316 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. 

A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground.

Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors nor how strong their weapons -- Cheyenne proverb

Offline FormerCalvinist

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #317 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.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 01:43:57 AM by FormerCalvinist »

Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #318 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.
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Offline frjohnmorris

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #319 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

« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 02:00:06 AM by frjohnmorris »

Offline Velsigne

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #320 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? 
A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground.

Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors nor how strong their weapons -- Cheyenne proverb

Offline Nikolaostheservant

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #321 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

Offline Nikolaostheservant

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #322 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!!!
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 02:49:50 AM by Nikolaostheservant »

Offline frjohnmorris

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #323 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
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 06:16:16 AM by frjohnmorris »

Offline Cavaradossi

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #324 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.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 07:06:28 AM by Cavaradossi »
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #325 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.
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Offline frjohnmorris

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #326 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

Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #327 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.
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Offline FatherGiryus

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #328 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.

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #329 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.
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Offline jah777

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #330 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.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 11:11:44 AM by jah777 »

Offline frjohnmorris

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #331 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
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 12:21:26 PM by frjohnmorris »

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #332 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.

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #333 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

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #334 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.)
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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #335 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?
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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #336 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.
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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #337 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.  
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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #338 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.

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #339 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.
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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #340 on: January 08, 2014, 08:30:34 PM »
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZnzO47YCMs

This seems to be prevalent Russian practice.
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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #341 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.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 08:44:58 PM by Maria »
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 10:04:50 PM by Mor Ephrem »
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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #343 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).
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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #344 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?
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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #345 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.      
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The erection of one’s rod counts as a form of glory (Theophylaktos of Ohrid, A Defense of Eunuchs, p. 329).

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #346 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.
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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #347 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
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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #348 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!  :)
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The erection of one’s rod counts as a form of glory (Theophylaktos of Ohrid, A Defense of Eunuchs, p. 329).

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #349 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?

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #350 on: January 09, 2014, 12:45:53 AM »
Wait - you aren't Orthodox, or am I misunderstanding?

I'm (Oriental, not Eastern) Orthodox. 
Please don't project meta-debates onto me.

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The erection of one’s rod counts as a form of glory (Theophylaktos of Ohrid, A Defense of Eunuchs, p. 329).

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #351 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.

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #352 on: January 09, 2014, 01:01:55 AM »
No worries!
Please don't project meta-debates onto me.

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The erection of one’s rod counts as a form of glory (Theophylaktos of Ohrid, A Defense of Eunuchs, p. 329).

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #353 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

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #354 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
Coptic
Ethiopian
West Syriac (India)

East Syriac (India)

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.
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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #355 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....
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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #356 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.
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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #357 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).

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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #358 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.
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Re: Concerned about Elder Ephraim's Monasteries
« Reply #359 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.