Author Topic: Elder Ephraim of Arizona  (Read 2520 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline wgw

  • Amateur Liturgical Enthusiast
  • Archon
  • ********
  • Posts: 2,253
  • The above Syriac icon is of St. Athansius.
  • Faith: Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Orthodox
Re: Elder Ephraim of Arizona
« Reply #45 on: July 29, 2015, 03:24:30 PM »
I have visited this monastery and while theynare very traditional, down to details like the schedule of services and the order in which one enters the refectory, and in their exclusive use of Greek in the liturgy (at least one of the hieromonks is a convert priest who learned enough Greek to serve the liturgy), I saw nothing but love there.  The grounds were beautiful.

In the mens guesthouse of the large number of gentlemen staying there, some were teenagers and one or two were young men who had dabbled in narcotics and were a bit unstable; fortunately they do not stay in the more comfortable rooms upstairs where men of greater age reside.  However given the extreme hospitality they appear to offer, it does not surprise me that such a tragedy as documented here would happen, because this is inevitable when your monastery among other things functions as a sort of spiritual ICU.  It is that however and not a mental asylum, and no one is forced to stay there, so it is alas just a tragedy this occurred.   I auspect incidents like this of people who are on the edge going to a monastery but not getting better in some cases occur, for example, on Mount Athos or in other Orthodox lands, but there it would not be regarded as out of the ordinary.  However in the US I can definitely see how people of Protestant cultural values would regard a place like St. Anthony's in Florence as a cult.  Even a more relaxed monastery like Coptic St. Anthonys in Barstow might fall under such suspicion tragically.
Antisemitism, racism and prejudicial nationalism should have no place in Orthodoxy.  For to paraphrase  St. Paul, there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female, slave or freeman, in the Christian Church.

Offline Severian

  • But I'm only a cynical jerk on the internet, I swear
  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 5,264
  • Saint Severus of Antioch - the Eloquent Mouth
    • St. Jacob Baradeus' Orthodox Christian Fellowship
  • Faith: Orthodox Christianity
  • Jurisdiction: Coptic Orthodoxy
Re: Elder Ephraim of Arizona
« Reply #46 on: July 29, 2015, 03:41:43 PM »
I have visited this monastery and while theynare very traditional, down to details like the schedule of services and the order in which one enters the refectory, and in their exclusive use of Greek in the liturgy (at least one of the hieromonks is a convert priest who learned enough Greek to serve the liturgy), I saw nothing but love there. The grounds were beautiful.
Were they aware of your ecclesiological affiliation?
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." -The Lord Jesus Christ

"I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve!" -Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring

Offline jah777

  • Archon
  • ********
  • Posts: 2,073
Re: Elder Ephraim of Arizona
« Reply #47 on: July 29, 2015, 04:14:40 PM »
Quote
There are other goodies in there.

Oh, I know. I only picked one of them ....  :P :o

Well, I just got off the phone with one of the fathers at St Nektarios Monastery, and he confirmed that that site is not affiliated with them in any way, rejected some of the claims made there, and said he was going to look into the matter and see what this was all about because this is the first anyone there has heard of this site.  I didn't expect such a quick response, but I am glad.

This is probably quite old now, but I just wanted to add a couple things. First, thank you for alerting the monasteries. That was kind.

Second, although the blog does not have a name associated with it, the singular views expressed align with those of a disgruntled ex-monastic from St. Nektarios. His name is Jason McCullough, and he now resides in Canada.  He was the second Fr. Symeon of the Elder Ephraim's monastics in America.  He also appears to be running other blogs along similar themes—at least one more Tumblr and two Wordpress accounts.  It is possible he has help—perhaps from two other former monastics that live near him, Damian (Fr. Dionysios) and Novice Basil (Ellis)—but I doubt the former would spend so much time wallowing in negativity.

It's hard to find the handles on the blog to even describe it.  Many of the "facts" are just patently wrong. He has, for example, some names and dates wrong.  This could happen to anyone, so we'll not comment on those.  But there are SO MANY stories that are complete hearsay, and these are quite shocking, considering that the author mocks the use of hearsay by the group(s) he attacks. In still other cases, Jason is well aware of the facts and chooses to twist them.  In many other cases, I believe he is simply ignorant of the facts, having likely gleaned incorrect information from his source(s).

The sheer insidiousness of the blogs becomes apparent when one comes to the realization that Jason no longer identifies as Orthodox. Yet, chanting plays in the background of the blog, and he posts icons and quotes from saints and modern Orthodox thinkers, particularly the Elder Ephraim, to lure Orthodox Christians into reading his poisonous words.  He presents the stories in an innocent manner, as if he's giving a tour.  Packaged with factual material, lies are quickly inserted into the narrative to give the readers something disturbing to chew on. It is a dishonest presentation.

The most baffling thing of all is why someone who no longer wishes to participate in either the monastic life or Orthodoxy—someone who is free to choose to do anything he wants with his life and time—would spend so many precious hours carefully crafting pieces, albeit negative, about the monasteries and Orthodoxy.

Thank you again for reading your own gut on the matter and digging a little deeper. I can only hope other people do the same.

Thank you for this information.  Just the other day I corresponded with a former novice from St. Nektarios Monastery.  According to these websites, this novice had been scandalized by what he saw at the monastery and even spoke out against what he saw there prior to leaving.  A lot of other information was mentioned on the website about this former novice but when I asked the former novice in a private conversation he told me:

Quote
I suppose the only thing I saw wrong at the monastery when I was there was me, my ego.

He said he never spoke out against anything in the monastery "because there was never anything to speak out against."

One man does appear to be behind several similar sites which sound convincing because of all of the name-dropping and insinuation of detailed inside knowledge.  However, when scrutinized the stories fall apart. 

I should say that I have stayed many times at St. Nektarios Monastery and Geronda Joseph was my spiritual father for a time before we moved far from there.  I was greatly edified and strengthened by my time there and never saw anything of concern. 

Offline Argo

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • Faith: Orthodox Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Antiochian
Re: Elder Ephraim of Arizona
« Reply #48 on: July 29, 2015, 05:27:58 PM »
Well said. I think if any person is going to any monastery expecting to find perfect people, he or she is living in a fantasy land.  But the supposed imperfections suggested on these sites are way out of bounds.

Offline wgw

  • Amateur Liturgical Enthusiast
  • Archon
  • ********
  • Posts: 2,253
  • The above Syriac icon is of St. Athansius.
  • Faith: Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Orthodox
Re: Elder Ephraim of Arizona
« Reply #49 on: July 30, 2015, 11:28:57 PM »
I have visited this monastery and while theynare very traditional, down to details like the schedule of services and the order in which one enters the refectory, and in their exclusive use of Greek in the liturgy (at least one of the hieromonks is a convert priest who learned enough Greek to serve the liturgy), I saw nothing but love there. The grounds were beautiful.
Were they aware of your ecclesiological affiliation?

Well this was in my time when for reasons of access I affiliated with an EO parish (seriously, if an OO church is out of range I will join a Chalcedonian one, since my view is that we are of one faith, I am going to put my money where my mouth is).  However there were some Australians present at the time, an Orthodox and his Catholic travelling companion, and the RC guy reported never having had a problem with the monks; they apparently had visited every summer.  Non Orthodox have to watch the liturgy from the Narthex and enter the refectory together with anyone who missed the initial lunch or dinner bell (or I suppose anyone who does not want to go through the formalities of dining together with the monks, liatening to the Greek reading, and the hymns and so on), so its not ideal I suppose for non Orthodox in that sense, but there is no hostility.  There were in fact enjoyable theologocal discussions with the Catholic gentleman in the living room of the gentlemens quarters, and one rather refined Orthodox father who was there with his family expressed to me privately his bewilderment that the RC guy didnt just become Orthodox.  But there wasnt a drop of hate there.

The monastery gardens by the way appear themselves to be the recipient of divine influence.  I can confidently say they are more imprssive than those at Disneyland, which is for anyone who has visited that atoried park particularly impressive considering the location of the monastery in Florence, a town of hellish dry heat whose main industry is prisons.  But the gardens and orchards of the monastery produce a microclimate so that the monastery grounds seem noticeably cooler than the rest of the valley, and are quite humid.  The Coptic St. Anthonys uses a lake to accomplish a similiar cooling effect, but I think the large scale of the Greek St. Anthonys causes this effect to be more pronounced despite not having an open body of water to provide cooling (which by the way is a de rigeur approach in the Barstow area; most of the rances around the Coptic monastery also have a lake or a pond for cooling, but I think the microclimate approach that the Arizona monastery uses is somewhat more dramatic).

My impression of the monastery was that Elder Ephraim was trying to recreate the Athonite experience as much as possible within the strictures of the revised Julian calendar and the Greek parish typikon.  So alas I never heard my beloved Prime, Terce or Sext.  However the Ninth Hour in the Catholicon followed by Vespers was splendid, and Small Compline was especially haunting.  I am considering going back there this summer after the dormition fast concludes.
Antisemitism, racism and prejudicial nationalism should have no place in Orthodoxy.  For to paraphrase  St. Paul, there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female, slave or freeman, in the Christian Church.

Offline hecma925

  • Non-clairvoyant
  • Merarches
  • ***********
  • Posts: 9,956
  • Pray for me, a sinner.
    • Blog
  • Faith: Christ Clothes
  • Jurisdiction: Puerto Rican Orthodox Sobor
Re: Elder Ephraim of Arizona
« Reply #50 on: July 31, 2015, 12:55:20 AM »

The monastery gardens by the way appear themselves to be the recipient of divine influence.  I can confidently say they are more imprssive than those at Disneyland, which is for anyone who has visited that atoried park particularly impressive considering the location of the monastery in Florence, a town of hellish dry heat whose main industry is prisons.  But the gardens and orchards of the monastery produce a microclimate so that the monastery grounds seem noticeably cooler than the rest of the valley, and are quite humid.  The Coptic St. Anthonys uses a lake to accomplish a similiar cooling effect, but I think the large scale of the Greek St. Anthonys causes this effect to be more pronounced despite not having an open body of water to provide cooling (which by the way is a de rigeur approach in the Barstow area; most of the rances around the Coptic monastery also have a lake or a pond for cooling, but I think the microclimate approach that the Arizona monastery uses is somewhat more dramatic).

There's an underground spring.
Happy shall he be, that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock. Alleluia.

Once Christ has filled the Cross, it can never be empty again.

No longer pasting here.

Offline wgw

  • Amateur Liturgical Enthusiast
  • Archon
  • ********
  • Posts: 2,253
  • The above Syriac icon is of St. Athansius.
  • Faith: Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Orthodox
Re: Elder Ephraim of Arizona
« Reply #51 on: July 31, 2015, 03:49:05 AM »

The monastery gardens by the way appear themselves to be the recipient of divine influence.  I can confidently say they are more imprssive than those at Disneyland, which is for anyone who has visited that atoried park particularly impressive considering the location of the monastery in Florence, a town of hellish dry heat whose main industry is prisons.  But the gardens and orchards of the monastery produce a microclimate so that the monastery grounds seem noticeably cooler than the rest of the valley, and are quite humid.  The Coptic St. Anthonys uses a lake to accomplish a similiar cooling effect, but I think the large scale of the Greek St. Anthonys causes this effect to be more pronounced despite not having an open body of water to provide cooling (which by the way is a de rigeur approach in the Barstow area; most of the rances around the Coptic monastery also have a lake or a pond for cooling, but I think the microclimate approach that the Arizona monastery uses is somewhat more dramatic).

There's an underground spring.

At the Coptic or Greek monastery?  Im guessing the Greek one as I saw no evidence of that at the Coptic, except perhaps at their separate guest house, which has its own beautiful gardens which receive much more water than those at the Greek monastery perhaps due to a prevalence of lawns.  One thing I did notice about the Greek monastery which I think was part of the trick to how they had engineered their most exquisite landscaping, were relatively few lawns, but lots of pine trees, palm trees and flowering plants, which can potentially use only a minimal amount of water.  I should also mention the numerous fountains, crosses, gazebos and the open air chapel at the Florence monastery are exquisite, although in the morning if memory serves one must be cautious as in the hours before lunch the large local wasp population waters itself in the fountains before proceeding to pollination.  I was not stung; however having been stung at the age of 13 made me cross myself a bit and invoke divine protection; wasp stings are quite horrible, unlike bee stings whoch are a bearable nuissance.  However at night after one is awakened for the midnight office, matins and the liturgy, one has about 45 minutes to peruse the gardens, which are rather spectacularly lit.

Of the different monasteries Ive visited, I think only the Episcopal monastery in Santa Barbara, which is basically an Anglican themed hotel, in that there are too few brethren for other obediences besides hospitality, is more comfortable in terms of temporal considerations than the Florence monastery.
Antisemitism, racism and prejudicial nationalism should have no place in Orthodoxy.  For to paraphrase  St. Paul, there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female, slave or freeman, in the Christian Church.

Offline hecma925

  • Non-clairvoyant
  • Merarches
  • ***********
  • Posts: 9,956
  • Pray for me, a sinner.
    • Blog
  • Faith: Christ Clothes
  • Jurisdiction: Puerto Rican Orthodox Sobor
Re: Elder Ephraim of Arizona
« Reply #52 on: July 31, 2015, 04:14:45 AM »

The monastery gardens by the way appear themselves to be the recipient of divine influence.  I can confidently say they are more imprssive than those at Disneyland, which is for anyone who has visited that atoried park particularly impressive considering the location of the monastery in Florence, a town of hellish dry heat whose main industry is prisons.  But the gardens and orchards of the monastery produce a microclimate so that the monastery grounds seem noticeably cooler than the rest of the valley, and are quite humid.  The Coptic St. Anthonys uses a lake to accomplish a similiar cooling effect, but I think the large scale of the Greek St. Anthonys causes this effect to be more pronounced despite not having an open body of water to provide cooling (which by the way is a de rigeur approach in the Barstow area; most of the rances around the Coptic monastery also have a lake or a pond for cooling, but I think the microclimate approach that the Arizona monastery uses is somewhat more dramatic).

There's an underground spring.

Im guessing the Greek one

You would be right, since you brought it up.
Happy shall he be, that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock. Alleluia.

Once Christ has filled the Cross, it can never be empty again.

No longer pasting here.

Offline wgw

  • Amateur Liturgical Enthusiast
  • Archon
  • ********
  • Posts: 2,253
  • The above Syriac icon is of St. Athansius.
  • Faith: Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Orthodox
Re: Elder Ephraim of Arizona
« Reply #53 on: July 31, 2015, 04:33:15 AM »

The monastery gardens by the way appear themselves to be the recipient of divine influence.  I can confidently say they are more imprssive than those at Disneyland, which is for anyone who has visited that atoried park particularly impressive considering the location of the monastery in Florence, a town of hellish dry heat whose main industry is prisons.  But the gardens and orchards of the monastery produce a microclimate so that the monastery grounds seem noticeably cooler than the rest of the valley, and are quite humid.  The Coptic St. Anthonys uses a lake to accomplish a similiar cooling effect, but I think the large scale of the Greek St. Anthonys causes this effect to be more pronounced despite not having an open body of water to provide cooling (which by the way is a de rigeur approach in the Barstow area; most of the rances around the Coptic monastery also have a lake or a pond for cooling, but I think the microclimate approach that the Arizona monastery uses is somewhat more dramatic).

There's an underground spring.

Im guessing the Greek one

You would be right, since you brought it up.

So that makes a lot of sense then.


My guess is the underground spring drives their irrigation works which in turn enable the gardens and create the microclimate and high humidity on the monastery grounds.

If you go into Florence or Coolidge, those towns are fiery furnaces, and they might well have apeings of their own or at least groundwater access.

I remeber in my eearly childhood Tucson was far more comfortable than it is today. and the most striking change seems to be how there are many fewer shadyntrees in the city now versus then.

The trick to fighting back the desert is to use water intelligently to create oases and vegetation which can in turn create stable microclimates.

However I do believe the pure splendor of the gardens at the two monasteries naked for St. Anthony in the US, and also from the photos Ive seen, at the Egyptian original (which also features an underground spring), should be regarded as a divine blessing in and of itself.

It also makes for a nice refutation of the Bahai faith; if you know of any Orthodox tempted to join that pernicious cult on account of the gardens which surround their "Houses of Worship", one might simply show them photographs of Elder Ephrems monastery, or better yet, take them there.  St. Anthonys is a very traditional monastery operating according to an Athonite sensibility which is probably quite a bit more conservative than the Orthodoxy of people like H.E. Kallistos Ware or Fr. John Behr of SVS, but which is nonetheless full of love.
Antisemitism, racism and prejudicial nationalism should have no place in Orthodoxy.  For to paraphrase  St. Paul, there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female, slave or freeman, in the Christian Church.