Of Monks and Men: A Response to an Attack on Monasticism in America (Dr. S. Coronis)

Geronda Ephraim in his younger years.
Geronda Ephraim in his younger years.
The four Hierarchs and their clergy gather outside the Katholikon of the Monastery of the Theotokos the Life Giving Spring in Dunlap, California. 2009 Pan-Orthodox Retreat.
The four Hierarchs and their clergy gather outside the Katholikon of the Monastery of the Theotokos the Life Giving Spring in Dunlap, California. 2009 Pan-Orthodox Retreat.

I am unworthy to enter into a discussion of Orthodoxy by people so educated on the subject.  As a lay person, born and baptized into Orthodoxy as an infant, I hope you will consider my perspective on the debate about monasteries in America, and more specifically, about the person who brought them here, Elder Ephraim.

It seems to me a good thing that we are talking about the direction of Orthodoxy in America, because the debate is hitting a raw nerve in some, and therefore, is revealing an area that needs discussion.  What surprises me is how much anger exists in followers of Christ – anger only because they differ on how to express their love of Christ.

If, indeed, Christ is in our hearts in this debate, then why not pray to Christ for a revelation of the truth?  Why such anger because a wise and deeply spiritual monk from Mount Athos is bringing options here in America?  With time, the Lord will reveal the truth.

In the meantime, may I offer that far from being a guru, Father Ephraim offers me an alternative to my imperfect in-the-world church that has many demands placed on it.  The minds of the monks are in prayer and devotion to Christ.  As crowds looked to the Apostles for wise words after Christ’s crucifixion, so Father Ephraim offers an odor of Orthodoxy untainted by wordly concerns.  I know this from my soul, which feels the peace of the Hold Spirit near Elder Ephraim and in the monasteries he started.  He offers spiritual refreshment in the expanding sands of the desert.  He asks nothing of us, only that we love one another.

I would offer a mirror to those who complain loudly about Elder Ephraim and the success of his monasteries in America.  The fact that so many people are finding solace and peace by visiting these monasteries speaks for itself.  It seems the only one who is remaining quiet, offering no defense of himself, is Father Ephraim.

Dr. S. Coronis Alexandria, VA

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