Seraphim Larsen has been a spiritual child of Geronda Paisios, abbot of St. Anthony’s Monastery, almost since the beginning of the monastery’s establishment in Florence; circa 1995. Geronda Paisios baptized him into the orthodox faith during a secret ceremony. Seraphim was the chairman of the Pinal County Republican party.1 Furthermore, he is also a member of the Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots.2 It is no secret that Geronda Paisios has openly supported Ron Paul and other right-wing candidates when asked by his spiritual children who they should vote for. Greek edition books concerning the New World Order and Globalism that are sold in St. Anthony’s bookstore contain photocopies from English pamphlets distributed by American neo-Nazi groups.
A developer is proposing drastic changes to the zoning and land usage for parcels of land IMMEDIATELY ADJACENT to Saint Anthony’s Monastery. These changes would have a dramatic and significant negative impact to Saint Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery. It would also be a dramatic negative impact to all the local residents and out-of-state visitors who attend services there, to all the families who have relatives buried in the cemetery, and to everyone who currently enjoys the tranquil and graceful nature of the Monastery.
The proposed development is truly a drastic change:
• Over 200 new houses are to be developed on land north of the Monastery, including the area immediately adjacent to the Monastery Cemetery
• A new road is to be built extending from Paisano Road, then running in between the two Monastery hills, immediately at the base of the Prophet Elias Chapel, then very close to the cemetery. As this would be the only access road to the 200+ houses, traffic and noise would be greatly increased.
• The noise, traffic, housing, music, animals, etc. would bring a dramatic change to the whole community, disturbing not only the Monastery but the neighbors as well.
• The natural habitat and wildlife would be impacted by a big new development as well, disturbing several rare plant and animal species in the area.
YOUR URGENT ACTION IS REQUESTED! Public meetings are already scheduled for the coming week!! Please sign the petition immediately!
The petition simply asks the local authorities to leave the zoning of these properties unchanged. The purpose of zoning laws is to provide long-term expectations for property owners on how the land in their neighborhood is intended to be used. This allows people to plan and build in a manner appropriate to the existing neighborhood. The proposed new development represents a drastic change to current zoning usage and would have a strongly negative impact on the local community.
The petition also asks the Bureau of Land Management and the Arizona State Land Department simply to leave the usage of these properties unchanged. These agencies must approve any changes to the land usage where the developer wants to build the new road, since it passes through lands controlled by those agencies.
There is a private hearing early next week with Planning & Zoning and the local property owners (including the monastery). The monastery is hoping to bring as many signatures as possible (both paper petitions and printouts of the online petition) to that meeting.
If they don’t make a decision following that initial meeting, it’s likely they will have a public hearing sometime over the next few weeks.
Seraphim Larsen has also made a sample email for people to send:4
Send to: Pinal County Supervisors: Pete Rios <Pete.Rios@pinalcountyaz.gov>, Cheryl Chase <email@example.com>, Steve Miller <Steve.Miller@pinalcountyaz.gov>, Anthony Smith <Anthony.Smith@pinalcountyaz.gov>, Todd House <Todd.House@pinalcountyaz.gov>
Subject Line: Leave Zoning Unchanged near Saint Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery
Dear Pinal County Supervisors,
Thank you for all the great things you are doing for Pinal County!
I am writing to ask you to leave the zoning unchanged near Saint Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery at the end of Paisano Road in the Cactus Forest area immediately south of Florence.
Elmore/Brimhall LLC has submitted a rezoning application to the Pinal County Planning and Zoning Commission, asking that a large parcel immediately adjacent to the north border of the Monastery be rezoned from General Rural to a Residential classification for one-acre residential homes.
I am writing to you to express my strong opposition to this rezoning proposal. The Monastery is the spiritual home to thousands of Greek Orthodox faithful who regularly attend services and pray on the peaceful grounds of the Monastery. The Monastery is the actual residence to over fifty Greek Orthodox Monks who have devoted their lives to worship, prayer, and serving the community. The Monastery is world-renowned for its tranquil, beautiful, and holy grounds, a major tourist attraction where tens of thousands of people visit every year from Arizona and around the world. Many visitors have also expressed interest and concern about the natural habitat and wildlife, and the negative impact of significant development. Finally, the Cemetery at the Monastery is the resting place for many faithful people whose family and relatives would be greatly disturbed to have a busy new road and housing development immediately adjacent to the cemetery, with road noise, houses, animals, and music disturbing the peace of the holy grounds.
I strongly urge you to advise the Planning and Zoning Commission to deny this application for a zoning change.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
NAME and CITY, STATE
UPDATE FROM SERAPHIM LARSEN (JUNE 03, 2016)
More than 5,000 signatures!
JUN 3, 2016 — We passed two significant milestones yesterday:
• We exceeded 5,000 signatures! The petition continues to build momentum!
• We had the meeting with the developer, with the Monastery and the other adjacent property owners.
The developer presented their plans and explained why they are asking for a change in zoning. They listened to the Monastery’s objections but gave no hint of conceding anything to the Monastery—they fully intend to go forward with their rezoning application. The one other neighbor who attended the meeting seemed sympathetic to the Monastery’s concerns, but their own concerns were more about how the development could impact access to their own property, which is at the far end of the development.
In other words, there weren’t any real surprises—this is the outcome we were expecting. The developer is not going to give up this project easily.
This meeting was required for the developer to complete the submission of their zoning application, which will all be turned over to the Planning and Zoning Commission in 1-2 weeks. A public hearing before the Planning & Zoning Commission will then be scheduled—we will be sure to let everyone know when that will happen and how you can speak at the hearing if you want.
It’s likely there will be more than one public hearing with Planning & Zoning, who will eventually make their recommendation to the County Board of Supervisors. The Supervisors will then address the question at another public meeting, at which they will approve or deny the rezoning application.
We will keep everyone informed every step of the way, and let you know what you can do to help. For now, please continue to email the Board of Supervisors—especially if you are local or in-state. See the link below for a sample message and all the contact information for the Board members.
In early 1998, a Greek iridologist from Montreal visited St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, Arizona. The Abbot invited him to examine the monks. So every monk went to see him. The older, more experienced fathers didn’t take the iridologist seriously as they recognized his practice for the quackery that it is. However, some of the younger novices who went, believing they were doing blind obedience by being open to the doctor, answered his questions truthfully. The doctor recorded these conversations and he now had in his possession numerous monks admitting to having done illicit chemicals and substances. Afterwards, when various monks had talked and laughed amongst themselves about the ridiculousness of this experience, one of the main questions asked to the various monks was if they had ever done cocaine before. Also, the main diagnosis and piece of advice was the monks were deficient in various things and needed to take Chlorophyll. The older fathers had a laugh about that and started enumerating all the Desert Fathers who essentially lived off bread and water: “St Anthony didn’t have chlorophyll in his diet,” etc. A few cases of chlorophyll were ordered for the fathers and sat in the storage closet, unused, for months.
Needless to say, Geronda Ephraim was very upset when he learned that a quack doctor (iridologist) saw all the fathers without his knowledge and had tape recordings of their private medical and personal life information. A few years later, it was rumored amongst the Fathers that this man had lost his business and his wife left him. The consensus was that this was God’s punishment upon the man for saddening Geronda Ephraim.
For those not familiar with this pseudoscience:
Iridology is the study of the iris to diagnose disease. It is not part of the curriculum of any medical school and its practitioners are not usually medical doctors.It is not regulated or licensed by any governmental agency in either Canada or the United States.
Iridology goes way beyond the claim that the eyes often provide signs of disease. Iridologists maintain that each organ has a counterpart in the eye and that you can determine the state of the organ’s health by looking at a particular section of the eye. The markings and patterns in the iris are compared to an iris chart, which maps zones of the iris and links them to parts of the body. No scientific investigation led to these charts; instead, they are the work of intuition.
In the early years of St. Anthony’s Monastery natural “alternative” medicines and remedies were utilized. There were some lay people who interpreted this use of natural remedies as a validation of homeopathy. There was a little bit of confusion when people were told that homeopathy, acupuncture and other “natural therapies” were demonic and not accepted by the Church. A common justification response was, “But I thought Geronda Paisios used homeopathy and recognized natural, alternative medicine.” There is a difference between natural products and homeopathic products which many people did not realize. There is a difference between nature and what natural products manipulated by occultists.
Numerous contemporary Elders have been speaking out against alternative therapies for decades.
From November 4-6, 2013, the 25th Pan-Orthodox Conference of the Delegates of Orthodox Churches and Dioceses on matters pertaining to heresies and para-religion was convened in Volos, Greece. Here are the conclusions of this symposium:
“The problem of disease; heretical and occultist approaches”, following an extensive discussion on the presentations, has unanimously adopted the following Conclusions:
The Conference considered the issue of disease and its therapeutic treatment, as perceived by the Orthodox Church on the one hand and by contemporary heretical, occultist and eastern religious groups on the other. In order to understand the radical differences between these two approaches to the issue, it is essential to have the necessary knowledge of anthropology, which is presupposed in each case. Orthodox anthropology, which the Orthodox outlook on the issue of disease and its therapy is based on, accepts that man is God’s creation, comprised of two harmoniously united, albeit different, elements, the body and the soul. Man is not soul alone or body alone; he is “both together”.
In accordance with the teachings of the Orthodox Church, disease is related to man’s status as a created being and is an aftermath of the fall, i.e., of man’s voluntary alienation from God, Who is the source of life and incorruption. Man’s fall disrupted the harmonious coexistence of body and soul and this disruption had devastating consequences upon both.
The taking on of human nature by God the Logos paved the way for the nullification of death and the salvation of man in his entirety. The incarnation of the Logos and His victory against death transformed suffering and disease into a “place” and “mode” of our salvation. Henceforth, both suffering and disease constitute means of redemption, if man makes the free choice to employ them in Christ.
In various heretical, occultist and eastern religious groups we encounter different notions concerning disease and its origins, namely:
a) In the heretical groups within the broader spectrum of Protestantism, disease is understood either as the work of a punitive God, i.e. punishment incurred because of a person’s sins, or strictly as the devil’s work.
b) in the occultist groups of the “New Age” movement and in groups originating in Eastern religions, disease is understood as a “blockage” of the normal flow of energy (“Prana”, “Chi”, “Cosmic energy”, etc.) in the human body.
The so-called “alternative therapies” are an application, in the field of healthcare, of conceptions of God, man and the world, which are characteristic of Eastern religions and of the “New Age of Aquarius”; therefore they should more properly be designated as “New Age Medicine”. According to these groups, everything is energy, everything is One (Theosophy’s claim that “All is One”) and everything is God. Based on this concept, they teach that by discovering his “divine Self” and by activating the mystic powers supposedly hidden inside him, man can heal himself. Self-healing is identified as the “release of blocked energy”.
A number of “alternative therapies” under various names suggest different ways for “releasing the blockages” of that energy. Homeopathy, for example, advocates the use of potentized homeopathic medicines; Acupuncture proposes the placement of needles at proper points that, according to its practitioners, correspond to “energy channels” in the human body, while other “therapies”, like Reiki, recommend the “removal of blockages” “through the laying of hands performed by a highly spiritual person… who is actually a channel of universal energies…”. In some of these “therapies” we even observe the practice of blending Christian terms with occultist interpretations, as part of an attempt to provide a theoretical validation of the way in which the method supposedly works. Most groups employ scientific-sounding terminology, with the intent to impress and mislead the unsuspecting public. Others, like Homeopathy practitioners, claim that their “medicines” can even treat passions of the soul, like selfishness, envy, wrath, anger, etc., thus usurping the role and work of the Orthodox Church as “spiritual infirmary”.
The so-called alternative therapies not only have occultist implications, but their very foundations are non-Christian and in fact lie in the realm of the occult. Most of them represent more than mere proposals for the therapeutic treatment of the body; they also promise the transition, through what they call “quantum leap”, etc., to the “New Age”, and the creation of a new type of man. The Conference has reached the conclusion that these “therapies” (Angel Therapy, Ayurveda, Bach Flower Remedies, Aura Soma, Aromatherapy, Acupuncture, Bioenergy Therapies, Esoteric Healing, Craniosacral Therapy, Crystal Therapy, Homeopathy, Reiki, Reflexology, Shiatsu, pseudo-scientific psychotherapies, et al.) are founded on a worldview “serving as their background” which is contrary to and incompatible with the Orthodox faith.
Their widespread dissemination is developing into a major social issue of a medical and pharmaceutical nature with moral, social and spiritual repercussions, which occasionally endangers human lives. It also causes serious spiritual and pastoral problems. Since the State guarantees – notably through the Constitution – the legal right to health, which is put at risk by the aforementioned “therapies”, it ought to take practical steps, as well, in order to safeguard this right. These “therapies” threaten to distort the Orthodox mindset. They are potential “bridges” that could bring unsuspecting Orthodox Christians in contact with Eastern religions and Occultism.
The so-called “alternative therapies” or, according to the Medical Association of Athens “Unorthodox Treatment Methods”, in which a metaphysical energy is predominant, rely on obsolete and fictitious data. They lack rigorous scientific methodology. Furthermore, they are based on unverified principles, which normally belong to the realm of fantasy. Since they do not take advantage of modern scientific advancements and methods, they have been designated, by official Greek and international medical bodies and associations, as pseudo-sciences. According to such medical bodies, any noticeable therapeutic effect –if and when it occurs– is usually observed in auto-immune, psychosomatic and neuro-vegetative disorders. It is caused by the simulated medicine (placebo) mechanism, which is activated through the power of suggestion. Classical Medicine, by contrast, is an applied science, which is constantly advancing research and making progress, thus offering substantial care to millions of ailing people.
The Conference also reviewed “therapies” performed within groups of the broader Protestant spectrum (Neo-Pentecostals, “Charismatics”, Christian Science, etc.), as well as within Roman Catholicism to the extent that it has adopted such “charismatic” Protestant practices. Alleged therapies in such circles include a fair amount of on-demand “healings” (instances of fraud), a type of show that not only fails to provide actual healing, but is also heavily criticized by other Protestant communities.
Pseudo-therapies, whether of the Pentecostal or the “New Age” type, are considered to be either cases of clandestine fraud or phenomena caused by psychological suggestion, or bad imitations of miraculous healings in the Bible, without ruling out the possibility of demonic involvement. As such, they constitute signs of the Antichrist. What fundamentally distinguishes them from the miraculous healings effected by Saints is that they are performed for the ulterior purpose of misleading people away from Jesus Christ, the only true Physician of our souls and bodies.
As God’s creation, man can only be complete and find true healing by being fully united with Jesus Christ within the Orthodox Church, as stated by the Church Fathers.
The Conference unanimously approves the Conclusions stated above and authorizes its Chairman to sign them.
There are many orthodox articles and books exposing the frauds of many alternative medicines. For English readers, Michael Whelton’s False Gods: Counterfeit Spirituality in an Age of Anxiety is a good start: http://reginaorthodoxpress.com/falsegods.html
This past summer, due to the fact that my son John received the degree of Doctor of Civil Engineering at the University of Akron in Ohio of the USA, I had the opportunity and joy to visit with my wife the United States and Canada from June 18, 2009 until August 18, 2009.
Along with this, as I desired much to do so, I visited some Greek Orthodox monasteries as a pilgrim, which were founded by Elder Fr. Ephraim, who is 83 years old these days, the former abbot of the Holy Monastery of Philotheou on the Holy Mountain.
First I visited the Monastery of Saint Anthony which he established first in Arizona in the town of Florence, between the cities of Phoenix and Tuscon, within the desert, in which this ever-venerable and beloved throughout the world Elder Ephraim lives.
As a visiting pilgrim I was amazed and marveled at his divine works, but in particular their deep spiritual life and the numerous miracles they accomplish.
His perpetual smiling face, his child-like purity, his radiant eyes, radiate and strike one with love, boundless goodness and holiness!
His good reputation has spread throughout all of America and Canada and everybody travels to him for confession, to receive advice, and to tell them their problems so that they will be released of them. He is another Paisios and Porphyrios!
This Monastery of Saint Anthony and Saint Nektarios is found in the middle of the Arizona desert with temperatures which can reach 40-45 degrees celcius in the summer, where only cacti can survive among the different species, which are being preserved and protected as a state tree.
Within this desert there now stands this wondrous Monastery of Saint Antony, a virtual oasis which shades, cools, refreshes, relaxes, decorates and fragrances the surrounding region with its 2,000 species of flowers and trees, but is first and foremost a SPIRITUAL OASIS with Elder Ephraim to refresh and bring peace, calm, rest, and healing to the sick, broken, and suffering hearts of our fellow-men.
Everyday there is a line of people which anxiously waits to see him, to talk with him, and to receive his blessing and a prayer.
The desert has truly transformed into a “Hospital” for the suffering hearts of our fellow-men and he leads them to the Divine and to salvation.
In 1995 Elder Ephraim miraculously began the foundation and building of the Monastery of Saint Anthony, despite the uninhabitable environment, with no water, no roads and electricity, and especially with the presence of wild animals of prey and poisonous snakes. Many wondered and told the Elder what he was doing there.
The place where the monastery was founded in the middle of the wild and inhospitable desert, however, was revealed from on high in a miraculous manner by Saint Anthony.
In truth, many people of the area would hear bells ringing every evening at that place, which was confirmed by the Elder, though there is no reasonable explanation for something like that to happen in the area.
Furthermore, in a miraculous manner, St. Anthony, the teacher of the desert, showed him the spot where there was precious water in the desert at a depth of 980 meters and now produces about 300 liters of drinkable water per second.
With this large amount of water they planted 3,000 olive trees, vine gardens, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, fruit-bearing trees, figs, palm trees, a greenhouse with all the vegetables, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, pumpkins, etc., pine trees, cypress trees, and many other multi-colored flowers which altogether are fragrant throughout the area. Everything is of course irrigated twice a day during the summer months, due to the heat.
The monastery is now run with 45 monks, who work hard and tirelessly taking care of the gardens, the thousands of trees, and the multitude of visitors with hospitality, and the abbot is Fr. Paisios who came from Mount Athos.
The monks are of various nationalities and races who have received our Orthodoxy, they were baptized Christians, and now serve the Church with zeal. They are from different parts of America, with one of African descent and a Japanese monk. Out in the desert there are wild animals like snakes, vipers, deer, lions, hares, partridge, and squirrels.
At the beginning of the building activities the vipers and other snakes and animals presented a great danger to the workers, to clean the area and build the churches and plant the gardens and flowers, but Fr. Ephraim in a miraculous manner dispersed them from the area of the monastery and in this way they continued their wondrous work.
The monastery has 2,000 stremma [a ¼ acre or 1,000 square meters is 1 stremma] and is visited by many pilgrims daily, where they can be accommodated in separate building complexes for women and for men, with very clean and comfortable rooms.
The monks follow and apply the Byzantine traditions, sacred services, vigils, prayers and life with the horos of the Holy Mountain, naturally in the Greek language.
The Monastery of Saint Antony is a coenobium with five churches: Sts. Anthony and Nektarios and St. Nicholas which are built of stone and are exquisite, and St. Demetrios, St. Seraphim of Sarov in the Russian style and St. George which amaze the visitors with their architecture.
Also, near the monastery, up on a hill, there is the very beautiful Church of the Prophet Elijah, of the same type found in Santorini with blue and white colors, which oversees the desert with a wonderful view.
Many sick and suffering people run to Elder Ephraim, who with the help of the Elder, their faith and the grace of God, are healed. People receive courage, peace, calm and hope in God and a joy that is indescribable. Indeed, many contemporary miracles occur!
There are innumerable stories of sick people becoming perfectly well and are grateful to the Elder and take him to be their spiritual father, and he advises them and leads them along the heavenly road of salvation and theosis.
Furthermore, Fr. Ephraim has founded 19 operating monasteries which he oversees and guides, 17 of which are in the United States and 2 are in Canada, with the goal of establishing 20 like on the Holy Mountain.
He has also begun to establish an old age home which will very soon take in many needy and poor elderly.
While I am by no means an “ephraimite,” ie one who follows the Elder blindly and worships him as a living saint, a major part of my Orthodox formation was received at St. Antony’s and was thoroughly patristic and not tainted at all by the conspiracy theories and baiting that this fellow has brought up.
[NOTE: Rotislav showed up in the late 90’s and helped the outside Fathers plant palm trees].
I would begin by saying that Mr. Smith has devoted his life to the study of Scripture and has made his decisions based on how he has understood it, some good, some bad. His approach has been diverse, based on RC bible study, friendships and contacts with Orthodox Jews and Rabbis, and a diverse association with Orthodox of all stripes. This is something for which he should be commended.
Now, I was there at St. Antony’s during the period in question and am well aware of Mr. Smith’s situation, as he was a friend of mine and a confidant. To begin with, Fr. Paisios told Mr. Smith to refrain from sexual relations after his CIVIL MARRIAGE at the Mesa Wedding Chapel UNTIL he was married in the Church. Fr. Paisios does not dissuade sex in marriage in regard to procreation, and his point of view mirrors that of St. Maximos the Confessor, the Kollyvades Fathers, and the best thought of Patristic Scholars of our day.
[NOTE: Under no circumstances does a Geronda give a blessing for any carnal unions that are not blessed through marriage in a canonical Orthodox Church. Furthermore, the rules and canons of the church forbid carnal unions before receiving Holy Communion and on fast days, thus Orthodox couples generally refrain from carnal unions during a large portion of the year (2x 40-day Lents, the Dormition Fast, Wednesdays and Fridays, etc.) Though it varies from Geronda to Geronda, and of course on the disposition of the spiritual child confessing, when a couple passes the child-rearing phase of their relationship, they are given the suggestion or advice that it might be better to cease having carnal relations. Of course, the general advice and suggestions of a spiritual father are essentially an obedience]
I never witnessed not one baptism at St. Antony’s. [NOTE: The baptisms at that time were done in secret, the church was locked, only the priest, the ecclesiastiko, godparent and person baptised were present. There was always a haste to empty the font afterwards and clean up the church so as not to raise suspicion. Hieromonk Gabriel and Father Hieronymos were two of the ekklesiastikoi at that time period. Because adult baptisms at the monasteries were forbidden by the Hierarchy during that time period—and priests were essentially at risk of being defrocked if caught—then it’s obvious that it wasn’t something for public spectacle. This problem was solved later on when a spiritual child of Geronda Paisios offered the creek on his property to be used for baptisms. In rare cases, one may be sent to Mount Athos to be baptized, in other cases, Mt. Athos is just a cover story to direct attention away from the monastery].
Mr. Smith kept on requesting to have his rule increased, not decreased. He frequently did things without the “blessings” he says he needed to obtain, such as getting married outside of the Church, quitting his job because he didn’t feel like working anymore and forcing his wife to do so, moving in with his mother in law, abandoning his apartment, abandoning his vocational training in carpentry and tile laying on the verge of making a career for himself, etc. These were all decisions Mr. Smith made AGAINST Elder Paisios’ advice and were quite the product of his own self-will. When his finances collapsed and his living situation worsened, HE SPECIFICALLY requested the aid of the monastery in Florence for himself and his wife, where they could “get things together living as BROTHER AND SISTER and UNTONSURED MONASTICS IN SEPARATE QUARTERS.” That didn’t seem to satisfy him, and he decided to move himself and his wife to FL to “avoid having his Nissan Pick Up repossessed, so that he could get some help from social services without having to work, and enjoy an occasional toke of marijuana.” Thereafter Mr. Smith disappeared.
[NOTE: As is the case with many a lay people that don’t follow the advice of their spiritual father—i.e. do blind obedience to everything he suggests or advises—when things start going wrong in their life it becomes a cautionary tale that can be used in homilies for other lay people, and in some cases, the monks. As it says in the Ladder: “It is possible to belittle those living in the world out of conceit; and it is also possible to disparage them behind their backs in order to avoid despair and to obtain hope.” The cautionary tales of lay peoples’ misfortunes and miseries are used as a tool to incite monastics to be more grateful that they are in a monastery and not in the world].
I worked planting trees at the monastery during the period in question. I worked almost daily with Elder Ephraim and had hours of contact with him. Fr. Paisios was at one time a spiritual director for me. What I was told to read by Elder Ephraim was St. John Cassian.
[NOTE: Elder Ephraim was outside with the tree fathers a lot and gave directions on where things would be planted. He even handed out Snowballs and other treats to the outside fathers; though this caused a conflict of conscience with some of the fathers as Geronda Paisios had forbidden his monks sugar and other sweets. This would also happen when Geronda Joseph—NY Abbot—would bring a cooler of Haagen Daaz bars for all the monks when Geronda Ephraim would give a talk in the Gerontikon].
He never spoke of “conspiracies”: his talks were wrote memory recitations on prayer, perseverence, love straight out of a Gerontikon. Yes, he did advise obedience, but he was quick to understand human failings and provide a word of love. His writings clearly reflect that, and what Mr. Smith has decontextualized is a travesty, for he is indicting Elder Ephraim for paraphrasing such luminaries as Pakhomios, St. John Klimakos, Abba Dorotheos, et al.
[NOTE: Elder Ephraim doesn’t really elaborate on conspiracies as he doesn’t spend a lot of time reading that kind of information. In the early days (70’s, etc.), those kind of books were quite common in Greece (i.e. Protocols, Zionism, Jewish conspiracy for world domination, Freemasonry, Antichrist, etc.). Almost the entire Holy Mountain has this mindset; it’s intertwined with their orthodox world-view.]
Moreover, I NEVER, NOT ONCE, saw Mr. Smith pick up a shovel to help planting a tree.
[NOTE: This was the common monastic insult for those monks and lay people who were lazy and tried to avoid planting trees. Some Sundays, even though it was a day of rest for the fathers, Elder Ephraim would come knocking on the fathers’ doors to plant trees and they asked lay people. Lay people don’t always want to help with the workload, though. Some monks and novices also tried to avoid this work by feigning illness. At that time, it became a standard for the monks that if they did not have a fever, they were ok and capable to work].
He NEVER had contact with the Elder. All of his “knowledge” of the Elder is SECOND HAND and STYLIZED.
[NOTE: Most knowledge of Elder Ephraim is second hand. Those who get a true glimpse of Elder Ephraim, are those he feels safe enough around to be himself and unwind—i.e. those who don’t scandalize easily and those who he allows to get somewhat close. This is usually his cell attendants, his monastic personal drivers, and some of the Gerondas and Gerondissas who are under him. Again, he also fragments the information he disseminates. Thus, he may say something to a Gerondissa. She may or may not share that with her nuns, or maybe just a couple. In turn she may share it with other monastics under Geronda Ephraim, or she may tell her nuns to keep it to themselves. If Elder Ephraim tells her not to mention what he said to anyone, it will remain with her to the grave, unless he says “until after I die.”].
Fr. Paisios never spoke politically with me.
[NOTE: Again, Rotislav is a lay person. Only monks really get to see Geronda Paisios shine when explaining how the Rothschilds seized the world economy, what the Masons or Zionists are doing, how chem-trails affect the monasteries, etc. Amongst monks, Geronda Paisios is known “to have tomorrow’s news today.” During this time period, Geronda Paisios had a short wave radio and would listen to various conspiracy rants. He would reiterate the information in casual talks among the fathers in the kitchenette of the monks’ quarters (lay people were not allowed in this section). At that time, there were cassette holders in the hallways of the monks’ quarters. The amount of “conspiracy theory” homilies in Greek—especially those involving the Antichrist or Book of Revelations—are countless. As well, many times Geronda Paisios may bring DVDs with various conspiracy/political information to the monasteries he visits and will give it to the Abbot/Abbess. Then, it’s up to the head if they allow their monastics to view it, or if they choose to reiterate the information on it. Once again, random lay people are not privy to these things].
He advised reading of the Philokalia, especially St. Hesykhios the Presbyter. The rule he customarily gives I received 3 ropes, not necessarily 300 knot–my rope was 150, to our Lord and one to the Panaghia. He adjusted prostrations accordingly and was flexible as far as the rule was concerned in regard to Holy Communion. Fr. Paisios was LENIENT in regard to attendance of church services and undrstood our human failings, eg allowing me to get to Matins by the Gospel, take rests during an Agripnia, etc. Nephon RECEIVED SUCH DISPENSATIONS. And this is TYPICAL OF FR PAISIOS’ METHODOLOGY. The commentary about the services and their length is quite interesting, as established Orthodox monasteries from Valaam to Trinity-St. Sergius to the Holy Mountain to St. Katherine’s to St. Savas to Jordanville, etc. FOLLOW THE SAME AND/OR SIMILAR order.
[NOTE: There is no catch all methodology for a spiritual father when dealing with lay people. There are common factors, and specific canons that have to be adhered to, but an elder is essentially dealing with numerous personalities and wills and in using the usual Church/Hospital—Spiritual Father/Doctor analogy, each illness requires a different treatment. A lay person cannot take their own personal experience and interactions with an elder and expect other people to have the exact same interactions and treatment. It really depends on the inner disposition of each person. This is the same with monastics to a certain degree].
I NEVER encountered ANY monk speaking of “murdering for the Elder,” but I did encounter how certain converts like Mr. Smith let themselves get carried away ON THEIR OWN.
[No monastic really talks about “murdering for the Elder,” but any serious monastic will attempt to cultivate an inner disposition of being willing to do anything whatsoever the Elder asks, no matter what it is, whether it is illogical, humiliating, even illegal. All the monasteries have their own stories of scandal cover-ups, white collar crime—which isn’t really considered a crime in the monasteries. It cannot be emphasized enough that when a monastic is given an obedience, the objective is not to question, examine, or judge the order given. A monastic must do this obedience unhesitatingly, with a good disposition, believing they will be judged on how they execute the obedience. A perfect example is Abraham. He never questioned God when ordered to sacrifice his son or the desert father who was ordered to throw his child into the river. Both were prevented before actually committing the murder. A monastic is to have this mindset—because the Elder may only be testing their obedience, loyalty and inner disposition. It should also be noted that an oral tradition and rule of the Holy Mountain is that the only time a monastic can be violent is if someone insults his Elder; a monastic is allowed to hit that person].
Likewise, the odious and obvious baiting here used to slander the Elder by mentioning the “Protocols,” the “Serbs and other jurisdictions,” “other secret monasteries,” the “Birchers,” etc. is nothing but innuendo. Now, there are people who visit the monastery who mention these things just as there are in MOST Orthodox Monasteries. The rumor mill they propagate is NOT the orientation of the monastery just as a “homosexual Orthodox activist” or “matthewite” attending say the OCA Washington DC Cathedral and involving himself in their community is NOT the orientation of the Cathedral.
[Considering Geronda Ephraim mentions the Protocols in his 1974 book A Call from the Holy Mountain (translated into English in 1991) as well as some of his earlier Greek cassette homilies—a language Rotislav didn’t understand at that time—how can one claim that even though he said it, he didn’t mean it?]
Neither Elder Ephraim, nor Elder Paisios EVER talked about politics. They felt it was something profane. Elder Ephraim was even troubled by greetings and communiques from the deposed king of Greece and current Greek politicians FOR HE DID NOT WANT TO GET INVOLVED.
[NOTE: Elder Ephraim only talks politics in certain situations. Geronda Paisios was told by Geronda Ephraim to lay off on talking conspiracy theories and politics to lay people, especially after the KVOA incident. Nowadays, one will only really hear these kind of conversations if he is a monastic and hangs out with the Abbots at a monastery feast day. Lay people don’t have the same privileges as monastics. Novices do not have the same privileges as rassaphores. Rassaphores do not have the same privileges as hieromonks. There is a hierarchy of knowledge and it is impenetrable by outsiders, novices and rassaphores. If one is allowed into this circle of knowledge by the Abbot or Abbess (and their second-in-commands) then they will know; if not, then they could be in a monastery for years and be clueless. Sometimes there are older monks or nuns “in the know” who lack the self-control to control their tongue. They may leak information they shouldn’t to other monastics or lay people. If this gets back to the Abbot or Abbess (because they may not always confess their transgression), there are usually huge penances meted out].
The “Protocols” were NEVER mentioned. As a matter of fact, a close supporter of the monastery, A. LIKOS, routinely denounced them as “forgeries, not worth talking about” when VISITORS brought them up. He is a spiritual son of the Elder and extremely close to him.
[NOTE: Athanasios Likos has been a spiritual child of Geronda Ephraim for decades. Again, he is as close to Geronda Ephraim as the Elder allows him to be. During that earlier time period, the monastics also had instructions to be careful around him because “he scandalizes easily and he repeats everything he sees or hears.” Pilgrims that scandalize easily and also talk a lot about everything are treated with a special care. They’re usually not exposed to too much, and the information they are allowed to hear, even though it may seem important and special to them, is usually nothing too important and something that if it is leaked wouldn’t come back to harm or damage the monastery. The Abbot or Abbess will usually forewarn their monastics when these sort of pilgrims plan to come to the monastery so they can be on their guard, as many times they like to probe the monastics for information. Though they are potentially very harmful, these sorts of pilgrims many times are useful to the monasteries—either financially, or through the help they give, or through connections they have, thus they’re kept around and tolerated. It should be noted that many lay people have experiences tailor-made for their own individual needs and short comings].
Lastly, I have witnessed Fr. Paisios and Elder Ephraim address their Bishops on bended knee and in full humility and obedience. They are Constantinople loyalists, and it is here where I have found my issue. Mr. Smith had no access to the books of the monastery and his knowledge of budgets, etc. is dubious at best. The monastery and Fr. Paisios provided them with the support they could. St. Antony’s is our American Optina and must treasured as such.
[NOTE: At that time, almost the entire monastery was banned from the office. Even if they knocked on the door because they needed something, the monastic would not be allowed to enter if he was not one of the few fathers with a blessing. At that time, it was basically Geronda Paisios, Fr. Silouanos, Fr. Chrysostomos, Akakios, Nektarios and Fr. Ilarion who had access to the office, as well as Irakles/Fr. Epifanios who later went to New York. Thus, David Smith would not know much about budgets other than basic things of a cost of a palm tree multiplied by however many were planted, or if he overheard other fathers talking about costs of certain projects].
In closing, Mr. Smith has issues, and I hope for him and his family he resolves them. He is gifted and could add to Orthodox learning. His biblical research into the Nazorite Vow, for instance, is astoundingly brilliant. He simply needs a rudder. Orthodoxy is not about joining civil rights movements and the like and their secular concerns. He needs to decide who he is once and for all and grow in that direction. Is he an Old Calendarist, an Antiochian, a Byzantine Catholic, a Hassidim wannabe, a Black Muslim sympathizer, a member of ROCOR , the Serbs, or the GOA?! “Yes” to the above question simply will not do. Such dissonant views definitely drive one to psychotropic drugs as mentioned when they are not reconciled. He is in need of our prayers, for he bears a heavy cross. I ask the forgiveness of all for bringing these things up and that people discount who am I in homage to the truth.
Pray for me, the unworthy sinner…
Rostislav Mikhailovich Malleev-Pokrovsky
PS Fr. Theologos is a friend of mine, and he is one of the most happy and ardent Orthodox Christians I have ever met. His ardour amongst Protestants would be seen AS LIVING A GODLY LIFE, but certain Orthodox and others use him to advance an agenda. At 18, he chose to become a monk. I wonder if certain people would be so alarmed at his ADULT life decision if he chose to be homosexual, become an atheist, or join a rock band. It is shameful what they are putting him through.
[Interestingly, Fr. Theologos returned home in 2007 right after the St. Anthony’s Monastery Feast Day. Instead of flying back to his monastery in Harvard, he had a ticket arranged to take him home to Tennessee. Now he is married with children. It should also be mentioned that in reality, monks don’t have “friends,” they’re suppose to be dead to the world. A monastic is required to show love to lay people, be polite, have a good disposition, speak respectively even if they have logismoi or character conflicts with the said individual. This does not mean, however, that the monastic is a “friend” or “buddy” of the lay person. Many times, a monastic will exhibit this behavior with lay people they don’t like—not that they’re suppose to have dispositions of dislike—but they force themselves to be nice and kind as it is their Christian duty. In some cases, an Abbot or Abbess may give an obedience to one of their monastics to work with a lay person or monastic whom they dislike or have thoughts against so they can overcome these passions and unchristian dispositions. A perfect example from this time period are the novices Athanasios (Fr. Makarios) and Ioannis (Hieromonk Ioannikios). Almost daily they were giving each other prostrationsduring Orthros and asking forgiveness for whatever they did or said to each other during their diakonimata. They had a character conflict].
PPS Isn’t it strange of the environment of compromise inaugurated into ROCOR by the Lebedeff camarilla is now manifesting itself by having new insurgent voices and their kit like “Indiana List” manifest anti-monasticism, anti-traditionalism, a let’s be modernist as fast as we can attitude. This, my friends, is why the compromise ROCOR made is so fatal, for they opened up the floodgates and they can’t stop the bleeding now. Moreover, the whole policy of guilt by accusation and innuendo WITHOUT the other side getting as much as a hearing, well, I hope we can appreciate the gravity of the situation, for it’s rolling down hill now. It wasn’t so much what they did, as it was the way they manifested it–MORAL RELATIVISM. Just like his mentor who left the port of Odessa in the middle of the night, ABANDONING his parishoners to the bolsheviks, this is what the Lebedeff camarilla is doing to the legacy of ROCOR and they are too ignorant or apathetic to do anything about it.
NOTE: This newspaper article is taken from The Daily Courier, July 16, 1996.
20 monks inhabit St. Anthony’s
FLORENCE (AP)—The town long synonymous with prisons and barbed wire now has a new claim to fame: It is also home to North America’s newest Greek Orthodox monastery.
About 20 monks now inhabit the red brick walls of St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox monastery, which has been under construction since October and is scheduled to be completed in August.
It lies about 14 miles south of Florence on Pinal Pioneer Parkway and east on Paisano Drive, an old bumpy dirt road, with hundreds of cactus on either side and only a handful of homes in the area.
The first thing that can be noticed while driving down the dirt road to the monastery are the huge copper domes covering the chapel and bell tower.
The chapel dome, constructed with steel and covered with plywood then copper, weighs in at more than 9,000 pounds. The chapel is nearly finished, and is expected to finished by August, construction superintendent Manuel Tavares said.
[Note: The architect, Chris Ganos (d. 2001) of Ganos Associates Architects and his architectural drafter, John McClain, also worked on the St. Anthony’s Monastery project during this time period].
The monastic community was founded last year by Father Ephraim, a spiritual elder from the homeland of Mount Athos, Greece. Ephraim believed this desert area was ideal for the monastery because of the remote location away from the distractions of the outside world. The solitude would better allow the monks to focus on spiritual devotion.
Ephraim also is responsible for opening nine other monasteries around the United States, seven being women’s monasteries.
The day-to-day business at St. Anthony’s is run by Father Paisios, the elder at the monastery. Paisios described the schedule the monks follow on a daily basis: Their day starts at midnight when they wake and have personal prayer time until 3:30 in the morning.
At 3:30 a.m., they all meet in the chapel and have church services until 7:30, followed by breakfast. Around 8:30 a.m., they lie down for a 2 ½ hour nap.
The monks then wake and have indoor-and-outdoor chores until lunch, which the cook announces by walking out into the courtyard and striking a bell.
After lunch, the monks then do more outside work like installing a new underground watering system for their landscaping and orchard, which surround their chapel and dormitories.
[Note: What is missing here is the bed time and evening sleeping hours. Lights out was generally 8pm. The fathers awoke at 12am and chugged a room temperature coffee–if their empty stomach could handle it–in order to help them through their vigil. So daily, a monk was allowed 6 1/2 to 7 hours sleep broken up into 2 segments]
During the whole time the monks are working outdoors they wear the traditional garb of long, dark robes and tall hats. As they walk or work they can also be heard praying, or seen making prayer ropes.
Paisios said that the monastery owns about 107 acres and plans to build a woman’s monastery in the future. They also have plans for a bigger church and more dormitories in order to have all of the other monks in the country come together for special occasions.
But for now the monks will be happy just to get their chapel finished in order to start having their church services in a much bigger area than they have been in since last year. The public is welcome to join in the church services when the chapel is completed in August, Paisios said.
According to Corporation Records, “Abbot Paisios” (no last name) is the Principal for St Stephens Foundation.
According to Charity Records, St. Stephens Foundation is in the care of Dr. Constantine Moschonas, MD from Scottsdale, AZ. The address for the St Stephens Foundation is a house on Sycamore St. owned by the Koulouris Family. The phone # is listed as 520-836-9322 (This happens to be the number for Alan Crockett, which is a financial advisory firm for tax return preparation: 1266 E. Florence Blvd., Ste. 6, Casa Grande, AZ)
St Stephens Foundation is a tax-exempt charitable organization. Contributions are deductible. St Stephens reported $300 in assets as of year-end, placing it as one slightly smaller than the average organization. However, the reported income for St. Stephens Foundation was $1.63 million, which makes it one of the highest income nonprofits.
Records of the directors show the following:
Dr. Constantine Moschonas, MD, from Scottsdale, AZ is listed as President.
George Giannaris, from Regina, SK (Canada) is listed as Secretary.
Pete Koulouris of Florence, AZ is listed as Treasurer. Pete replaced George Koulouris as Treasurer in 2012. George Koulouris replaced Fr. Ilarion (St. Anthony’s accountant, originally George Skyriotis from Bethlehem, PA) in 2006. [Pete Kouloris also owns Mount Athos Restaurant & Cafe in Florence, AZ: http://mountathoscafe.com
On January 16th, 1999, the following individuals were elected to office as Additional Members of the Board of Directors:
John Mitchell of West Virginia
Theophanis Tsolitsos of Astoria, NY
Maria Tsolitsos of Astoria, NY
George Giannaris of Regina, SK (Canada)
George Koulouris of Whitestone, NY
Efstratios Madina of Mesa, AZ
Alex Trigonis of Santa Barbara, CA
The May 1st Foundation in Brookfield, WI, is a payee of the St Stephens Foundation.
In 2001, the following individuals were elected to office:
Dr. Constantine Moschonas, MD of Scottsdale, AZ
Bernie Dvorak of Gilbert, AZ
Basic info – 2012
Name ST STEPHENS FOUNDATION
Contact % DR CONSTANTINE MOSCHONAS
Address 104 S SYCAMORE ST
Ruling date 200002
Tax period 201012
Deductability Contributions are deductible
Foundation descrip Organizations operated solely for the benefit of and in conjunction with organizations described in 10 through 16 above. 509(a)(3)
Fr. Ephraim Willmarth is a convert from Modesto, CA. He was a novice at St. Anthony’s Monastery in the early 2000’s. His return to the world was surrounded by unsubstantiated rumors, as is usually the case when no explanation is given to the brotherhood (or sisterhood) of why a monk or nun left (or, in some cases, was sent home).
One monk at St. Anthony’s (who has also returned to the world) told other monks that he drove him home to California, that he was possessed so Geronda sent him home, he was also able to see demons out and about, etc. However, not long after leaving St. Anthony’s, he entered Jordanville Seminary. Not long entering the seminary he was also making pilgrimages with other seminarians to Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries in the north eastern States.
On July 17, 2014, Fr. Ephraim Willmarth was ordained to the Priesthood by His Eminence Gabriel, Archbishop of Montreal & Canada. Fr. Ephraim is a graduate of Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary and currently is the Administrative Assistant at the Seminary.
The Russian Orthodox Directory gives the following contact information:
Priest Ephraim Willmarth
1991 Co. Hwy 33
Cooperstown, NY 13326
Cell: (415) 816-8254