Matushka Kristy’s Trip to Arizona (May, 2013)

NOTE: The following is taken from St. Nicholas Orthodox Church [Lawrence, KS] Monthly Newsletter, July 2013:
Journey to the Desert
At the end of May, Matushka Kristy took a trip to Arizona for a retreat. She had the opportunity to visit St. Anthony’s Monastery:

AZ Sign
Seems like it’s taking an awful lot of concentration just to type up a recollection of my recent visit to Tucson, Arizona. I may just have to sit on the quiet deck looking out over our green lawn to try to replicate the peaceful surroundings of St. Anthony’s Monastery. It won’t even come close, but it’s worth a try.

St. Elias Chapel, St. Anthony’s Monastery
St. Elias Chapel, St. Anthony’s Monastery

What a refreshing trip I had! Not only did I get to connect with and be encouraged by some dear friends who are also matushki, but I unexpectedly got to visit St. Anthony’s Monastery outside of Tucson. This opportunity came about from visiting St. Demetrius Greek Orthodox Church of Tucson. Unbeknownst to us, this parish has a miraculous bleeding gospel. In 1989, on Holy Thursday, after reading the 5th gospel reading and closing the book, the priest at that time, Fr. Anthony Moschonas, saw something on the pierced side of the icon of Christ on the Gospel. There was a fellow priest who saw it, too, and later it was confirmed to be human blood. Since then the gospel has continued to emit very small amounts of blood even though it was once vandalized when someone wiped it off.

[NOTE: Interestingly, all photos of the “Bleeding Gospel” have disappeared off the internet since Fr. Anthony Moschona’s death. There use to be post cards distributed with a picture of the Gospel which have since been discontinued. One can still find the letter he wrote to Bishop Anthony online: http://apantaortodoxias.blogspot.ca/2011/10/miracle-of-bleeding-gospel-april-27.html Again, none of the sites with this open letter have a photo of the Gospel, nor a scan of the post card.  As well, there was some talk amongst the monastics that Fr. Anthony may have constructed a hoax].

http://www.orthodoxhawaii.org/icons.html
http://www.orthodoxhawaii.org/icons.html

Fr. Earl and Presbytera Carol Cantos have been at this parish now for 5 years and have seen miracles happen in their parish. Pres. Carol gave each of us matushki a small vile of holy myrrh that came from the Holy Myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon of the Theotokos from Hawaii that has visited their parish. This myrrh is SO strong, a beautiful rose-smelling myrrh. A teenage boy in their parish was healed completely from blindness due to injury after venerating this icon when it was visiting their church.

St. Demetrios Church, Tucson, AZ. Since 2010, there have been 4+ fires burning down monasteries & churches connected with Geronda Ephraim [Serres, Provata, WA, AZ, etc.]
St. Demetrios Church, Tucson, AZ. Since 2010, there have been 4+ fires burning down monasteries & churches connected with Geronda Ephraim [Serres, Provata, WA, AZ, etc.]
Pres. Carol also shared many stories of the icons in their nave, which unfortunately were burned in a fire just two days after we visited their church. Please pray for their community as they rebuild! She was born on the island of Kefalonia and came to the US when she was in elementary school. She is full of wonderful stories of all the Greek saints and has a great love for St. Gerasimus, who ended his earthly life in 1579 on the island of Kefalonia, where he restored a church and founded a women’s monastery. He reposed on the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, August 15, and is commemorated on August 16 as well as October 20. Fr. Earl and Pres. Carol were so welcoming to my fellow matushki and me that they took us to lunch on Sunday after liturgy and then Presbytera offered to accompany any of us who wanted to go to the monastery that week.

Fr. Earl Cantos, St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Tucson, AZ.
Fr. Earl Cantos,  Tucson, AZ.

St. Anthony’s Monastery is a little over one hour north of Tucson. It has a miraculous story of its own. Fr. Anthony and his parish were asked to find property around the Tucson area on which to build a monastery. After many failed attempts to locate a suitable property, they drove out to the current site. While driving, they heard a talanton, or toaca, (a wooden board instrument used to call worshippers to prayer in many Orthodox monasteries) which stopped when they arrived at the property. They took this as a sign from God and then were able to buy this property. When signing the contract they learned that the property had no water source! When Elder Ephraim of Mount Athos visited the site he told them where to dig and amazingly they found an undiscovered aquifer. Since then the monastery has been able to grow beautiful vegetation to create an incredible peaceful oasis.

Churches of St. George & St. John, St. Anthony’s Monastery
Churches of St. George & St. John, St. Anthony’s Monastery

While at St. Anthony’s Monastery, Pres. Carol took us on a walking tour of 4 of the 5 chapels and St. Anthony’s Church, the altar at which Midnight Hour, Matins, and Divine Liturgy is served every day from 1am to 4am. The monks follow these services with a light breakfast, rest, and then work in the morning hours. At 3:00 in the afternoon there is ninth hour and vespers followed by small compline at 5pm. We did not attend a service due to the timing, but enjoyed great peace as we venerated many beautiful icons of our Lord and His saints and walked through the lush gardens of the oasis that God has provided for His servants. We were called by the talanton for the noonday meal and sat in silence as a monk read spiritual encouragement in Greek. The monks, the men, and the women each sat at their own tables. After the short but filling meal, we exited the dining hall in single file under the blessing of Abbot Paisius, who stood at the door; first the monks, then the men, then lastly the women.

Church of St. Nicholas, St. Anthony’s Monastery
Church of St. Nicholas, St. Anthony’s Monastery

There seems to be great order at the monastery. The monks not only keep the daily schedule of prayer, but among many physical tasks, care for 4,000 olive trees from which they make olive oil. I brought some of this olive oil home for my husband and I can attest to its richness and delectable flavor. Even now at home, I continue to be blessed by my visit to this wonderful monastery. You can find a detailed pdf. map and description of all the monastery grounds at this address:

AZ Cross Detail
http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/St.%20Anthony’s%20Map-web.pdf

http://www.saintnicholaschurch.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/ST%20NICHOLAS%20NEWSLETTER%20-%20July2013.pdf

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