NOTE: The following article is taken from the Local section of the Tucson Citizen, Jan 15, 2007.
FLORENCE – Just before the monk climbed the stairs to ring the 4 p.m. bells, Anastasia Lagos waited below the tower.
In the presence of men who have committed their lives to Greek Orthodox monasticism, Lagos tied a babushka under her chin and wore a long skirt. There must not be any distractions.
The 27-year-old was on a pilgrimage.
She had traveled from her homeland, Greece, to reflect and pray at St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery. Its domed chapels and bell towers rise above the saguaro-studded desert in Florence, a town perhaps best known for its prison complex.
The middle of the desert may seem an unlikely place for a monastery famous among the international Orthodox Christian community. But to the hundreds of pilgrims like Lagos who journey here, even through the torrid heat of summer, the serenity and spirituality here are reminiscent of ancient monasteries.
“In the middle of the desert it’s so quiet. Here you feel like you’re living centuries ago,” Lagos said.
It has been about 10 years since the monastery began to take root here. But the Byzantine-style chapels and churches that rise from the lush landscape of palm trees, saguaros, cholla, greasewood and creosote, look as if the monastery has stood here for hundreds of years.
With the exception of an occasional Federal Express or UPS delivery truck, the monastery fits in with centuries long ago.
Because of its setting in the Arizona desert, the monastery is unique among the 17 Greek Orthodox monasteries in North America.
It is St. Anthony’s spiritual leader, Father Ephraim, who chose the desert outside Florence to build his monastery.
He loved the tranquillity and climate.
Then, the story goes, driving in the desert, looking for land for his monastery, the elder heard bells, recalled Father Markellos, one of St. Anthony’s monks.
And just where the bells came from, no one knows.
“That’s a mystery,” Markellos said.
Father Ephraim seemed to be called by the bells to spread out over the swath of more than 100 acres where the monastery stands today.
Ephraim brought six monks from Athos to the Sonoran Desert to build his monastery.
Side by side, the monks and construction workers first erected the traditional Byzantine style, domed basilica church.
Inside, the Panagia Arizonitissa or the Mother of God of Arizona, the icon special to the monastery, was painted in Greece.
Crosses, rings, necklaces – offerings to the Virgin Mary – hang from the gilded icon.
Outside, pathways meander through lush gardens connecting four more chapels.
Originally, there were six monks. Now there are nearly 40.
Their day begins at midnight with personal prayers, followed by morning prayers.
After a light breakfast and rest, they begin their work.
Father Markellos is tall and youngish-looking but doesn’t reveal his age.
He’s usually the monk near the front gate who checks that the visitors – both men and women – are appropriately covered.
He stresses that the photogenic black-robed monks are off limits photographically.
Some of the monks are in their 80s, including Father Ephraim. They reflect an ageless, youthful quality.
The soft utterances of their prayers can be heard throughout the vegetable gardens, olive grove, citrus orchard, and even in the bookstore where they sell their organic applesauce and red wine vinegar.
What they’ve created, say the monks, is an oasis.
It is not only the quiet that draws Orthodox Christian pilgrims to St. Anthony’s from around the world. Father Ephraim comes from the sacred heritage of Mount Athos, the “Holy Mountain,” a remote monastery in Greece reachable only by boat that has not changed much in the last 10 centuries.
“In the Orthodox world, it’s probably the most well-known monastery in America,” said John Alan Jones, a pilgrim from Kodiak, Alaska. “Greece has Mount Athos. America has St. Anthony’s in Florence. This is a bit of Mount Athos in America.”
The monastery has a global reputation among pilgrims, but St. Anthony’s is also a sanctuary for local Greek Orthodox worshippers.
“Stepping onto monastic grounds such as Florence is stepping out of ordinary time, out of the ordinary world,” said Victoria Keegan, a member of Scottsdale’s Assumption Greek Orthodox Church.
Keegan’s first journey to the monastery was momentous.
“The very first time I went to the monastery, I had a feeling of angst because I was struggling with something,” she said. “When I stepped through the archway, I burst into tears. I felt like I had found a haven.”
Elder Ephraim’s joining ROCOR brought about one of the first translations of his work into English; thus making his teachings available to the English-speaking world of the West. Though the translation was done by someone who doesn’t speak English as their first language, this book was a best seller.
One can find a free pdf copy of this classic here:
In 1991, the year Elder Ephraim joined ROCOR, A Call From the Holy Mountain was translated into English by St. Sarov Press, Blanco, TX (this Monastery would later shut down due to a huge sex scandal; the abbot later committed suicide in jail). The first page states, “Printed with the blessing of His Grace Bishop HILARION, Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.”
The original text is a 1974 publication which the Elder wrote shortly after transplanting his synodeia to Philotheou Monastery on Mount Athos. It was written as an invitation for people to become monastics. At the end, Geronda Ephraim talks about the Antichrist, Ecumenism, Zionism and the Protocols. This would come to bite him later:
“…This pan-heretical alchemy [i.e. Ecumenism] is being inspired through the so-called World Council of Churches. We think that the term is not true to the fact, for it does not concern a World Council of Churches but a World Council of Will Worship. The only god to demand a tribute of worship there will be the fallen Beelzebub who through his representative amongst men, the Antichrist, will try to substitute his own will for the faith and worship of the true God. For in Ecumenism there is no personal God; for consistent ecumenists the doctrine of the Trinitarian God is utterly rejectable.
It is well known that the devil-instigated Zionism is coordinating two insidious operations both within and without the Church aspiring to one and the same end; to destroy the fortress known as Orthodoxy.
Papists, Protestants, Jehovah Witnesses, Freemasons, Unionists, Ecumenists and any other “root of bitterness” — all these have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of Lords, and King of Kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (pp. 42-44).
Of course, though the book itself is not about Zionism, the Elder does speak of the Protocols as a legitimate document, something that was very common among Greek Orthodox ecclesiastical writers and preachers during the 70’s, especially on Mount Athos . Geronda Ephraim’s statement is almost a direct quote from the writings of Archimandrite Haralambos Vasilopoulos who wrote extensively about Zionism, the Protocols, Freemasonry, the Vatican, Ecumenism and the Antichrist:
During the first few years of St. Anthony’s Monastery, when Vladimir/Fr. Symeon worked in the bookstore, A Call from the Holy Mountain was on the bookshelves. Most of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries sold this book as well, at least until Counsels from the Holy Mountain was published. Around that time, St. Anthony’s stopped selling the book and Fr. Symeon stated that Geronda Paisios didn’t want it in the bookstore because Geronda Ephraim never gave a blessing for it to be translated. Keep in mind, though, that when this book was translated, Geronda Ephraim was in ROCOR and his Bishop was Hilarion, whom he was in obedience to as his hierarch. This same Bishop Hilarion, who didn’t need a blessing from his subordinate (Geronda Ephraim) gave his blessing for the book to be translated. Furthermore, the Greek edition had been out of print for years, and there were only so many copies published. Where did the Bishop get a copy of this rare booklet?
So while St. Anthony’s boycotted this book, the other monasteries still sold it. In 1999, a huge sex scandal of homosexual child molestation at the ROCOR monastery in Blanco, TX was made public, they also had a fake weeping icon that the monks rigged. After this, it looked really bad that Geronda Ephraim’s name was on a booklet published by this monastery. Some of the other monasteries sold photocopies of this booklet afterwards, but most distanced themselves from the association.
Now after the KVOA news story broke, Fr. Markellos was working in the bookstore, and the story changed to “Geronda Ephraim never even wrote the book.” However, he did, the writing style is the same and there was only one abbot named Ephraim at Philotheou who was a disciple of Elder Joseph the Cave-dweller.
After the KVOA scandal, Geronda Ephraim sent an obedience to all his monasteries to pull any books that speak about Zionsim or the Protocols from their bookstores. And this was done. The obedience was given to all monks and nuns to respond with, “We don’t believe those kind of things” (i.e. Protocols, conspiracy theories, new world order, etc.), if asked by pilgrims. David Smith was explained off as someone with a lot of psychological problems who didn’t do obedience and became deluded and now the demons were using him to attack Geronda.
It is said that at the New York monastery, Geronda Joseph made his monks pull all the garbage bags from the bin and go through each one carefully to look for a piece of paper that could potentially vindicate Geronda Paisios. Apparently, David Smith and written an apology but had sent it to St. Nektarios Monastery. Geronda Joseph didn’t know David Smith and threw it out thinking it was meaningless. The paper was never found.
NOTE: Archimandrite Haralambos Vasilopoulos wrote many books on conspiracy theories. He wrote about the Protocols being a legitimate document. He wrote that blood libel was true. He wrote that the “age old dream of the Jews was world domination.” He wrote that Zionists created Masonry, Theosophy, Chiliasm, Ecumenism, etc., as instruments to destroy the Church and help them obtain a world government to lord it over the nations. His books, though written in Greek, would contain photocopies of neo-Nazi literature in English (publications from The Cross and the Flag, Women’s Voice, etc.).One such book, Theosophy Unveiled, has been translated into English:
Also, though most of the books have been removed from the bookshelves, one can still order mp3s containing similar content about the Protocols being a legitimate blueprint for Jewish world domination and the destruction of Christianity, etc. from St. Anthony’s (as well as other monasteries).
The following are excerpts from the A12 Commentary on the Apocalypse by Fr. Athanasios Mitilinaios. It can be purchased in mp3 or book format from St. Anthony’s Monastery (as well as most of Elder Ephraim’s monasteries):
Rev. 2:9 – I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
“…Since these Jews failed to believe in Christ and became witnesses of the great advancement of the Christian nations, while they seemed to abide under a certain curse, they became extremely jealous and vindictive against the Christian nations.
The Lord prophesies this jealousy in the Parable of the Prodigal Son with the attitude, or psychology, of the older son. This older son represents the Jews who became very jealous when they saw the younger son welcomed, embraced and justified by the Father. The Prodigal Son represents the nations that distanced themselves from the true God and were losing the salvation of their souls—the great inheritance—to sin and idolatry. Now, God calls the nations.
Remember the historical evidence of this when Paul spoke to the Jews in Jerusalem and told them God sent him to the nations. As soon as the word ‘nations’ came out of his mouth, they were demonized, throwing soil in the air, ripping their clothes, and yelling to the Roman centurions, “Kill him!”…
The older son’s psychology towards the younger continues to work itself out in history. We see this in the lives of the Apostles. The Jews persecuted Paul everywhere he went. They conspired to kill him. These are the deeds of the unbelieving Jews, full of spite, guile, and murderous attempts…
Do you see the mindset of the Jews back then? In reality, they were demonized against the church; they were possessed by a murderous jealousy against the Christians…
The Jews created the Zionist Movement in order to deal with this frustration [i.e. that their Messiah has not come], which is nothing more than an attempt to take back their rights, punish the nations under the foot of which they were humbled as Hebrews of the diaspora, to hold their heads over the nations and to dominate all these nations…
This is a terrible reality. This is a very dark power with many tentacles which have spread out and embraces the entire world with the sole purpose to subdue and infiltrate the Christian nations mainly. My friends, these are not myths, this is not anti-Semitism, and we are not being prejudiced here…
Let us not forget that Chiliasm (Jehovah’s Witnesses), Freemasonry and Ecumenism are the works of Zionism and they are on their way to grip the entire world…
The Zionists have succeeded in fighting the Christians from within, to turn the Christians against one another, their faith and their own countries, etc.
The fact is, these people infiltrate the political systems of every nation and attempt to hold the economy of these nations in their hands—the stock markets, the government, the press and mass communications… The greatest newspapers of the world are in the hands of the Jews and they offer the news exactly how they want. This is the way they lord it over the nations and this can be seen very clearly in the Protocols of the Wise of Zion, a book published last century. By reading the content of the Protocols, one can easily see that their objectives and schemes against the nations have been fully revealed and met.
The Synagogue of Satan is the most appropriate description of these people because Satan is the one behind this synagogue. If one goes along with Satan, he becomes Satan.”
NOTE: The entire Apocalypse Series by Fr. Athansios is filled with many homilies that speak about International Zionism, Jewish Conspiracies, Blood Libel, Freemasonry, New World Order, and conspiracy theories in general. Though many Greek Orthodox Christians do not share these views, and some official leaders have spoken out publicly against such views (i.e. in the case of Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus’ anti-Semitic tirade in 2010, or in 2011/12 when Greek Orthodox priests were blessing the offices of the neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn), the views expressed above are held by many contemporary Greek and Athonite Elders and subsequently passed on to their disciples, both monastics and lay persons. Fr. Athansios Mitilinaios is considered the ‘New Chrysostom’ in both the spiritual and monastic circles of Greece. He is hailed as the most Patristic-minded and accurate commentator on scripture of the 20th century.
NOTE: The following account is a testimony from a young man who lived as a sub-novice in Arizona for six months. It was written on November 21, 2008 and is found on a forum called Ex-Christian.net. Nikos writes a little bit about Scott Nevins near the end. This blog has elucidated on some of Nikos’ words with “[Ed. Note].”
For anybody that has read my posts, I now have documented evidence of the mind bending that went on with my life, all after doing a simple Google search.
It seems that I was involved with a cult that has not only gained National attention but Global, extending especially back to Greece itself, Mt Athos in particular.
I was 6 months in residence at the monastery when I left, I decided not to become a novice despite the attempts of my Hieromonk and elder monks to convince me to leave the world, not because I didn’t believe their doctrine, I was about as convinced as anyone there of the beliefs, but because I wanted to marry, I wasn’t being healed of my depression or physical pain and because I think some deep part of me knew to run.
This is a video I found of St Anthony’s as they were being investigated, I knew Fr Nikos from seeing him around a lot but I was friends with and worked side by side with Fr Paul (Pavlos) who was conveniently re-named, while I was there, apparently the same time as a lot of inquiries were taking place, I did not know of the controversy nor the inquiries at the time, I believed we called him Father although he was not yet tonsured since he was so in step with the monastery, like an honorary title, when he was tonsured he was given a different name, as is custom, but I know it is to further the disassociation with the self in hindsight…On to the video, it is cut into two parts and i included the link to a webpage because it also exposes the monastery as a cult and was my initial source for the video…… http://pseudo-prophet.tripod.com/[Dead link; there is a back up site here: http://gerondaephraim.tripod.com/backup1.html%5D
Fr Paul, I decline to state his new name out of respect for his adult decision to become a Monk at St Anthony’s, became a quick friend to me due to his sincerity, his friendliness and the fact that before I became involved in the Eastern Orthodox Church I was training to become a Navy SEAL, and Fr Paul had asked for a discharge from the Navy while preparing to do the same thing, he had been a medal winning Swimmer in his high school and I think joined the Navy right afterwards….so we had common ground and that sparked many discussions as we labored in the blazing Arizona sun, planting trees for Jesus, intermittently reciting the Unceasing Prayer, Kyrie Iesou Xpiste Eleisov Me (Lord Jesus Christ Have Mercy On Me).
The other monk I do not know by face as its not fully bearded nor partly covered with a cassock in the picture shown, nor by name as that would have been changed (maybe I missed something)….I have my assumptions though, yet another close friend during my stay.
This is just an insight into my definition of cult mentality when I refer to myself on the forum here, I WAS THERE!!!!!! I lived the life.
I am going to continue to post as I find new information, as for know I would like to get the ball rolling.
This is tragic, truly tragic to learn, although the truth is what I want, and need.
For the record,
I was told the Elder Ephraim was taught this by his spiritual Fr on Mt Athos, Father Joseph (Papou Josef) and that one time Fr Ephraim had been plagued with pride and was found beating himself mercilessly with “the cane” in his cell, or a small church on the mountain. The story goes that he was heard to be confessing his sinful pride, beating the shit out of himself while at the same time screaming at himself to “Stop…STOP”, he continued on and was purged of pride and it has never returned to him to this day.
I began to use this practice of caning myself while at the monastery, I continued with it a short while after returning home.
I was also told that martyrdom would be my only salvation unless I was a baptized Orthodox Christian following the standards perfectly, even then I was told martyrdom most likely awaited all of us Orthodox….and that the monks and nuns would be the first to be eradicated by the government and so on. And even then, after death I would be taken to 20 toll booths where I could still fall and be dragged to hell by demons. St John Climacus created an icon depicting the saints ascending the ladder to heaven, while being surrounded by flying demonic presences, being pulled down at different points by failing.
One story that haunted me mercilessly was that of a monk who had died, passed 19 of the tolls and when he had done this looked at Satan and exclaimed “I beat you, you were defeated by me” which resulted in his being cast into the lake of fire for failing the test of the 20th toll, the test of “Pride”.
A MONK!!!!!! Who had devoted his life to Christ and left the world, living a damned near sinless life and working out his salvation to the extreme, wasn’t even safe after death…which by the way, isn’t pretty either, at death your soul is ripped and cut from your body by angels or demons, a myth is that it is so horrible the virgin Mary prayed to her son that she be spared this torment and so was granted to be taken to heaven by Jesus himself as he fended off the harvesting angels (demons).
These are the thoughts I deal with daily, to remove them from their etched position in my mind and heart……years and years of this stuff and i am about 5 weeks out of the box, 5 weeks into de-conversion.
I wonder if any of you had gone this far into your cult? If so please leave a testimony on this thread. Someone asked Nikos: I watched one of the news videos, and they said there were “improper teachings” in the monastery, but I didn’t really get what they were referring to. Do you know what they meant with it?
There are so many…let me add a few I was taught off the top of my head:
• You’re abbot has become Christ for you, if you follow the abbot to the letter you fulfill your requirements as a Christian, if you have done anything wrong under the abbot’s guidance you will not be judged, he will [Ed.Note: In essence, the only way a monk can err in obedience is by doing disobedience. Things that would be considered sins, even ‘minor’ things like lying, white-collar crimes, etc. are not wrong if done under obedience. The elder is responsible for the order given; the monk is responsible and will be judged on whether he did it or not]
• If you disobey the abbot it is the same as disobeying god.
• The more you dedicate your life to Christ, the more accountable you are for your sins, thereby raising the bar hourly of whether you will make it into heaven
• Married couples should live as brother and sister, only engaging in sexual intercourse for the purpose of conception, and having to confess the sexual act nevertheless as a “weakness of the flesh”
• The Aerial Toll Houses, after death you are ripped from your body to the astral plane and are questioned by demons for 2 days each at 20 levels, although this is a conceptual image of a spiritual teaching, it is basically 40 days worth of judgement, the 20 levels being the 7 deadly sins plus 13 extra variations. At anytime you may fail and be cast into the lake of fire. You DO NOT WANT TO GO TO THE ORTHODOX LAKE OF FIRE….it’s the revelation of St peter but worse. Therefore the Orthodox pray for 40-42 days after the death of a baptized Orthodox Christian to assist them in their ascent through the aerial toll houses. Many monks even are said to fail these judgements and be thrown to perdition.
• The Elder can levitate [Ed.Note: Many stories are in circulation of children seeing the Elder walking in the air. As well, there is the story about the woman who went to stab him in the confessional and he was levitating so she couldn’t reach him].
• The Elder can read your thoughts [Ed.Note: This is one of the main things that make new monks and nuns tremble around the Elder; especially if they’re having sinful thoughts].
• The Elder has reached Theoria and already been perfected, he walks as Christ on the earth (this is gleaned but not actually said) [Ed.Note: This is not gleaned, it is outright said. The writer was only a sub-novice and would not have been privy to inner circle knowledge, unless an older monk blabbed things he shouldn’t have].
• The Elder can bi-locate in order to check on his monasteries in different parts of the world [Ed. note: In 2006, Geronda Ephraim was giving a homily to lay people in the Trapeza at St. Anthony’s Monastery. While his explaining this ability to them, he stated, “I’ve already left twice to check on my monasteries while I was talking, and you didn’t even notice.” One Geronda stated, “Geronda isn’t omnipresent like God, but he’s almost like God. He sees and knows everything that happens in his monasteries. He’s watching us and protecting us.”]
• The Elder’s prayers can pretty much guarantee you entrance into heaven [Ed.Note: Furthermore, for the monks, Geronda Ephraim talks about a vision where it was revealed that the monks and nuns who stay with him until the end will be saved. Of course, there is still the clause of doing blind obedience and the other monastic duties, but if a monk and nun remains in the monastery until death, he/she are pretty much guaranteed salvation].
• You must confess your thoughts. Whereas most Xtian teachings condemn behavior and make mention of lustful thoughts and prideful thoughts….at the monastery you are to confess your every thought, good or bad. [Ed.Note: Elder Ephraim has repeatedly told the story from Agapios’ Salvation of Sinners about the nun who was virtuous and seemed holy. After she died she appeared to her Gerondissa and told her she was in hell because she didn’t confess a thought out of embarrassment].
• I was taught that the day the Roman Catholic Church was allowed to hold mass in Constantinople, the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) who had been protecting the city from the Turkish invasion, left and that is why Constantinople fell.
• I was also taught that within the walls of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, where this occurred, there was a secret Liturgy going on hidden inside the walls, Turkish soldiers stormed in and as the sword was about to pierce the presiding Priest time was frozen in such a manner that special Orthodox who are completely gifted with the holy spirit have spiritually visited this room and seen over the centuries that there is a slight movement of the sword towards the priest, we were taught that when the sword strikes the priest time will unfreeze, this will be like the last martyr and this announces the reign of the Antichrist. [Ed.Note: The marble king myth is not a teaching accepted or taught by the Orthodox Fathers. It originates in gnostic and apocryphal texts, and was taught to Geronda Ephraim by the bishop who ordained him. However, in some homilies, the Elder mentions he has seen it, or he gives updates on how far the sword is out of the sheath].
• Demons are everywhere, especially at the monasteries, since the world is already run by the devil.
• I was told of a 3 month exorcism that took place and met the man who this was done to. I do not know if he was severely mentally disturbed during this time and brought back to sanity or what the hell happened because everybody backs up what they saw and heard, I am at a loss with this one, this was a biggie when I was there.
• I was taught that during this exorcism, many saints including Paul and Michael the Archangel joined in the exorcism fighting the demons within this man, but that the Elder’s Elder, from Mt Athos wielded the most power (no shit hah?)
• Priests were “worldy” if they trimmed their beards
• Women should be avoided as they caused the fall
• Women are blessed by the theotokos as she brought the Savior into the world
• Mirrors are forbidden [Ed.Note: This stems from the teachings of St. Nikodemos On Guarding the Sense of Vision: “I beseech you, dear friend, have nothing to do with such vanity and condemnable pleasure. Have nothing to do with such mirrors. And if you happen to have them, please have them taken away as altogether improper for the Christian way of life.” This is why all the mirrors are covered in the monastery bathrooms. Also, monks or nuns who remove corners of this covering get huge canonas when they confess this sin-or if it is discovered first through the random cell searches the Abbot and Abbesses perform]
• Orthodox chanting and Classical music are only allowed (thank the lord I brought my Bach and Wagner)
• Wake up is at 12 AM, you are to pray and meditate performing prostrations and.or work until the morning service begins at 3AM, Liturgy follows immediately lasting until 7-8 AM then there is breakfast and work, lunch (trapeza) is around noon, then work, there is church again at 3 or 4 until dinner around 630 then compline service until approx 730, 8PM-12AM is quiet time.
• That’s about all I care to remember for now, I have to watch the video again, I thought it and the website offered more info.
TBH, there is so much in Orthodoxy that most ExCs here wouldn’t even know due to lack of exposure that I am probably passing over what are considered to be small scale erroneous teachings to them but outrageous to a protestant or Catholic in the first place…..let me find some links and I will post them as I can, believe me when I say the followers of Elder Ephraim do a lot within the church to stop members of the Orthodox Church from speaking against him, and not many non-orthodox know anything about him or the monasteries.
I believe I am moving forward and facing the past. I know my first few weeks of de-conversion, right when I started here on ExC I was very bitter and enraged, confused, frightened full of hatred and blame. I took a few days off from even talking about it, I think almost a week, which for me these days is a long time. I tried to find some peace, make some sense and decided to look towards solutions more than looking at the problems, I think I am doing well in widening the gap between the two. I also am finding moments where I feel a peace, just for a moment and I remember what life was like before Xtianity. And at other times I feel a sense of “now” that I can live with, it is my hope I can experience these moments for a longer duration. When I am in them I feel a distance from what I can only describe as living in a nightmare, and in those moments I feel the nightmare may be ending. I’m only a handful of weeks into the deprogramming state and its been a rough battle finding the proper information out there to help me as a guide, when you’ve thought one way about everything for so long, there’s nothing really to revert to, so I need a lot of outside stimuli.
So as far as leaving it all behind, I cannot learn from what I have been through and undo the thinking patterns I was taught, nor get out of it if I don’t know what I am getting “out of”, thus the search, the questions, the confusion.
I don’t hate the people at the monastery, in fact I have more love in my heaRt for the monks than anything, I don’t believe they know what is happening to them at all, and the ones that do realize or see what is going on are the ones stepping forward. I don’t want to blame them I want to see them for who they really are and the things they teach for what they really are.
They are of the nicest, caring, loveable humans I have ever met, and there is definitely a “presence” of some sort there at the monastery, it’s a very peaceful feeling, a loving feeling, it’s quite tangible, I don’t know how to describe it other than to say when I got there, I believed that to be “God”, and now that I don’t believe the same things I am hard pressed to define it, but whatever it is it is beautiful and they are a part of it.
Perhaps by a power or just the workings of nature they are rewarded for being such kind and loving people in spite of what they believe I do not know.
They have a leader and this leader was raised in Greece in a strong Orthodox home, I believe he went to live on the mountain of Monks at 19 and came to America in the early ’90s, he’s like 78 or so now, so he probably spent 40 years as an Athonite Monk, and they really have no outside influence except the select few daily visitors (all male) which are restrained by regulations not to discuss certain things anyway…so the man knows only this life, its like he’s in spiritual Flatland. He probably believes and practices what he preaches to the bone, but i am giving him the benefit of the doubt. The Orthodox Church has a pretty rigid hierarchy and he has people to answer to.
The abbot of the monastery is a different story, I felt he was very political rather than spiritual to be honest and he is one sharp tack so I wasn’t impressed by his evasive answers or his snobbery when I was in confession, but he did me no harm personally ever….that I know of.
I guess what I am working through here is that I believe you are correct in that they are just as lost as I was, except the possibility of a couple of the elders, they are mostly all True Believers IMHO. So that is why these things need to be discussed and talked about, the controversies surrounding the monastery are also vehicles to bring these matters to the attention of the spiritual leaders of the Monastery and thus the “innocence” begins to wane and they become more and more accountable for their actions, so far there has been no change in the workings of the place, the last I heard while I was there was that when the Elder hears of people who denounce him or accuse him he claims that Christ will “Give me more crowns”….perhaps he is absolutely convinced and yet another pawn of this Religious structure……
Sorry for being so “long winded”, I have to really work through these things when I write of them and I want to be as accurate and open minded as possible because I want the truth and I share a responsibility to others reading this that I will not deceive them as well concerning these matters.
As for the positive things I took from the Monastery, the Byzantine Chanting is friggin’ awesome…the head Cantor was handpicked by the Elder and he is a master of sound, I used to refer to his singing as being “Not of this world” and I meant it, I would love to be able to find my St Anthony’s Vigil CD that they sell at the bookstore, it’s all in Ancient Greek, the words are written in English and Greek inside the jacket and if you don’t know Greek, it won’t indoctrinate you =)
Mind you this man is speaking for the entire Orthodox Church and he is not of the cloth, this isn’t Protestantism, this is the Orthodox Church, they go by the book, not going before the unbelievers, they try to keep everything “In-house”….I just found this youtube series and will be watching it and posting according to what I know, I know it will be a healthy way to separate the wheat from the chaff =) in my head
This may give you some insight into the “Don’t think, just follow” mindset of Orthodoxy, as far as I know they are the strongest proponents in Christianity concerning blind obedience to the Clergy, I’ve never seen anything like it in Christianity.
… Women have very strict dress codes in many of the churches, depending on the Priest or the Abbott if it’s a Monastery and I’ve kinda seen them treated as “necessary functions” in the human race, instead of well…women.
I was told by the Abbot of St Anthony’s Monastery that marriage was only necessary in order to create a way for me not to sin, absolutely bewildered by what I was hearing I said “If nobody had sex, the human race would end, in fact it would have ended before Christ could be born..IN FACT Christ’s mother wouldn’t have been born in order to bear Jesus, so I don’t understand”…I was told that the necessity for sexual relations occurred at the fall, when I asked “Then how could Adam and Eve be fruitful and multiply?” I was told that it would have been done without sexual intercourse. I said “How?” and I was kinda scoffed at and told “God is God, He can make a way for life to be reproduced without sexual relations, don’t ask me how, I don’t know how because we never made it that far so we have no way of knowing”……
I was like ….UHHHHHHH????
The Orthodox, like the Catholic Church allow no women to be clergy, only the exception of female monastics in higher ranks than the common nun, in any other case they are forbidden to teach.
Im sure there are exceptions as this is a worldwide organization but this is the general rule.
Men are over women, as Paul stated, they go by the book on that one.
And they are treated with respect, mind you, but there is a lot of unspoken rules and regulations concerning this, but here in America it pretty much remains unspoken, but the general answer you will get when asking about a woman’s status is that she is less than the man and that Woman brought sin upon the man.
Now the reason I put the statement about the Theotokos in Juxta-position to that is going to be something unknown to you unless you had been in these circles, so I apologize again for not being clear, like I said, I was in this so long I sometimes forget what is and isn’t “normal’ in mainline Xtianity.
Besides God, the Theotokos is THE MOST VENERATED SAINT, but they claim so much more knowledge and revelation about her…to be honest, this is the one part of discussing this that makes me uneasy, I always have and still do have love for the idea of Mary, and my daughter who passed away was named after her because of the love I was given for her while Catholic (Never confirmed, only went through Catechism partially), and then more so in Orthodoxy, she is probably the most overwhelming Archetype for me due to personal reasons.
In Orthodox Iconostasis you will always find Jesus, the Saint the building or site is named after and an icon of the Theotokos. And the emphasis about her is due, considering the belief that God brought salvation into the world through a human mother…they go into great detail about her life and how she was THE ONLY WOMAN who could have bore the Christ child, so in that sense you would get the impression that they see women as equals or even as greater like we see in some cultures and religious practices, but you don’t get that, you get the dirty, sinful, necessity of the woman in order to produce children.
I have never seen women treated cruelly though, it’s just an underlying atmosphere of women being less than men, and some off the wall shit from certain people that make them look like they almost shouldn’t exist….I’m guessing the Abbott had something in mind like that movie where Arnold was pregnant….CREEPY.
Hope that clears that up…yes it is a contradiction.
I also saw in many cases where women were respected very much so it’s all about who’s doing the teaching and what church you are in…it’s not written in stone exactly, it’s one of those things you pick up when you’re amongst them.
…In Orthodoxy you don’t get personal opinions on the true gospel, you join the Orthodox Church only if you swear to adhere to the teachings of the church, if you don’t believe their version of it then you don’t become a member, so I am guessing that you can have two improper views this way
An improper view within Orthodoxy being contradicted by the Monastery and Improper according to a personal belief of anybody that doesn’t believe the gospel according to the Monastery, but what is in question amongst the Orthodox who are saying this is former, the monastery is deviating from what the Orthodox church teaches, therefore if the Lady is orthodox, she has it within her stance as a baptized member of the Church to cite Canon law against the teachings of anybody within the church, in this case the Monastery.
… the Eyewitness news reporter “For the past 8 months, the Eyewitness News 4 investigators have been documenting several families claims of brainwashing and inappropriate teachings at St Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery…..” … she’s reporting on THE DOCUMENTATION OF SEVERAL FAMILIES CLAIMS OF BRAINWASHING AND INAPROPRIATE TEACHINGS AT ST ANTHONY’S GREEK ORTHODOX MONASTERY.
She’s reporting on the claims of the 3 families. She later stated that 3 families had come to them, 2 of which are Greek Orthodox, this would be the families of Nikos Pantanizopoulos and Paul Aleck.
The Orthodox families are part of the Church proper, so they can state that the teachings of the Monastery are inappropriate in both ways, any way that is dehumanizing to their child, and in the realest sense, inappropriate as determined by Orthodox Canon Law. The reporter never spoke for her own opinions, she is speaking on their behalf, and speaking OF THEM.
The other father, the non-Orthodox can certainly find out what Orthodox proper teaches and ascertain that his son is being taught inappropriate teachings according to the Orthodox church simply by speaking with clergy on the matter, and again, his son is beating the shit out of his thigh with a wooden stick for having imperfect thoughts, believing in the aerial toll houses where the demons are judging the souls of baptized Orthodox Xtians, being taught that the Elders of Sion are plotting against the Monastery and the Orthodox Church etc., etc.
Again, she isn’t taking a stance, she’s speaking on behalf of the families….Also, inappropriate isn’t judged by 30,000 denominations, the Orthodox Church doesn’t even consider Protestants to be Xtians, they consider them heretics, schismatics, a Protestant must go through Catechism and baptism, including an exorcism before becoming Orthodox, they believe that only the Orthodox Eucharist is truly the body and blood of Christ due to their sole claim of Apostolic Succession and their belief that the Holy Spirit doesn’t bless the Communion of the schismatic Roman Church, in their eyes the Protestants are completely lost and know nothing of the Gospel and need to find true salvation though the Orthodox Church, and the Roman Catholics were a Patriarchate until 1054 AD when the final blow, the Filioque clause was added to the Nicene Creed and the Patriarch of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople Ex-communicated each other, later the land of Rus was brought in to create the missing 5th Patriarchate and in their eyes Rome is worse than being a Protestant.
They don’t care about any gospel but the Orthodox gospel, anything they deem as inappropriate is deemed so by looking into their own Tradition and Teachings collected over the past 2000 years and if it is out of whack then it is labeled heresy and is worthy of ex-communication.
They are so strict and rigid for a reason, they are in no way like the Protestants who have now come up with 30,000 sects in 450 years. They don’t believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, they believe in the inerrancy of the Orthodox Church, in their eyes, the Xtians wrote the gospels and epistles, passed them through Apostolic succession until the council of Nicea and the Orthodox Church voted on the Canon of scripture, the Orthodox Church preserved it through the ages by copying manuscripts, spreading the gospel and by shedding the blood of the martyrs to preserve the faith, right on through the Great Schism with Rome in 1054, through the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, right up to this very day….There is no Sola Scriptura or Sola Fide, there is Ortodoxon Xristianon. BTW I just realized who Scott Nevins is, the non-Orthodox convert.
I was at the Monastery when he came back from Mt Athos, that’s when I met him. He was made a novice while I was there…holy shit..we sat for hours on end telling stories about the Xtian life and about becoming monks, he lost so much weight it was frightening during the 49 days of fasting in Lent, thats why they make special mention of his photographs. He took on this real brooding appearance, began to walk in a hunched posturing for humility or something, barely ate, shit he cut out tomatoes, potatoes and peppers because the man that was supposedly exorcised there for 3 months said that since those food belong to the nightshade family they are neuro-toxins, which they are, AT TRACE LEVELS, so he had to eat even less of the little food allowed for thos entering the novitiate or the rest of the monks AND it was during Great Lent with all the food regulations, he got real pale and gaunt, he was dragging his boots as he walked, none of us knew he was entering the novitiate, he kept that to himself, out of humility I guess….I never understood why he thought that. Then one day he was a Man In Black.
Feel free to visit anytime, just call ahead to reserve a cell, ask for Pater Markellos, he’ll do you right up
Kyrie Iesou Xpiste Eleisov Me
Eper Ayia Theotoke Soson Emas.
Click on the little doo wah ditty button on the left for a sample of their chanting, the best thing to come out of that place……. http://www.stanthony…y.org/index.php
Tais tov tha criov sou roes….
I was just checking this thread to find the Youtube link to my Home Church priest, see I had a home Church cult and then the Monastery, so I actually left 2 cults at the same time, one is Antiochian Orthodox and the other was the Greek Orthodox, they are both in communion so there was no qualms about me having the Ant. as my home base church and also become a Greek Orth. monk.
Back when things were real bad, while I was a catechumen the priest-monk told me not to seek medical care in certain instances, I was pushed away from seeing a psychiatrist or even any counselling. I was told that the Nous, the eye of the soul which is the power, the I in Greek understanding was energetically destroyed and fragmented, that Satan had 100% rights over me and that I COULD NOT become psychologically well until baptism, they dangled baptism over my head for more than 3 years, I was forced to confess many sins that were committed due to my physical and psychological imbalances then had the cure withheld from me, by telling me not to seek secular help as well as not baptizing me.
So I was basically being broken down on purpose.
It was officially confirmed that I needed an exorcism of my house, and my home priest never even got around to doing it, a priest in a neighboring city came by to perform the rituals. I was told by my priest-monk that the Elder of the monastery wanted me to be so spiritually strong that I could be sitting in my house with things flying around the room like in the movie Poltergeist, and sit without being affected and be able to repeat the Jesus prayer non-stop, I was told by my priest-monk that this was my spiritual goal. Therefore the exorcism was done by my request in secret at my home base.
So I was being told that on the one hand I was to become a spiritual warrior and NOT have the proper Orthodox exorcisms and cleansings and be immediately baptised to protect me…….then I was being told that I had absolutely no power to do so because of the condition of the Nous before baptism.
I was told all psychological problems were to be spiritually healed, yet I was denied the healing which is Exorcism of the Catechumen, denouncing Satan, having hands laid on, being baptized and born of the spirit immediately aligning the Nous, then receiving the “True Eucharist”, the body and blood of Christ which would absolve me of every single sin committed, all this on the day of baptism.
In fact talking about it now, my mind is saying “You are deceived, you are now in the dark, you were so close and you blew it….” That’s how powerful they made my becoming Orthodox seem to me.
For years I was enticed with what would happen at that event, how i would become alive from the dead.
I was told so many stories of miraculous baptisms, the Orthodox pride themselves concerning their spiritual powers…I was told numerous miracle stories about first communion, that the neophyte would experience total catharsis as well as euphoria, I was told that at baptism I would be absolutely in touch with god until the first sin committed after baptism, which would begin the cycle of sin/confession/absolution/communion. The stories of baptism are so amazing that many plan ahead to go and be alone somewhere for days and weeks after baptism in order to retain the full blown connection with God, pray for all their needs at this time and they would be answered, read books and know their meaning, read scripture and be instantly enlightened. I was to be baptized at the Monastery when the time came and was to spend weeks alone in my cell with pre picked books, audio tapes, CDs and food brought to me.
As I have found out how much psychological damage was done to me now that I have learned what it was they were doing and teaching and how it affected me, I am trying to find a specialist in de-programming….to be honest, I am going to post this but I am sure i will have to EDIT a lot of it later today, I can actually feel my mind fighting itself and becoming confused.
I am willing to bet this entire post is fragmented and hard to follow…I can’t get my thoughts straight, the words aren’t coming out the way I would normally be able to.
I am going to post it as a testimony to the power of the brain washing and finish it up later, hopefully it made I have sent numerous emails to the monastery and have received no replies
As far as I know, they know nothing of my de-conversion, these attempts to contact them were made over the last year, I think that they somehow got wind of me telling my home priest to shine on and have labeled me a paraya (sp?).
I think I am going to get a professional involved as well as contact the media who have already looked into the problems there, I want some closure and I want my voice heard.
I want to be able to put this behind me and I can’t do that without making my story heard, they need to know and I need to know that they know. enough sense for you to understand how much control they had over me. http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/27554-st-anthonys-greek-orthodox-monastery-now-im-on-psych-meds/#.VHkCCmfp-Sp
In 2011, a lay disciple of Geronda Ephraim, using the name zealot777, posted the following: “Saint Anthony’s Monastery is in perfectly good standing with the Greek Archdiocese and World Orthodoxy as a whole. There is nothing cultic about them. If they were operating in an independent fashion outside their jurisdiction, yet claiming to belong to it, then I might have some concerns. But everything they do is Orthodox. The author of this thread is probably just unfamiliar with the Orthodox ascetical lifestyle. I have visited the monastery twice. They’re wonderful people. That the author is now on psych meds, does not prove the monastery is to blame.”
Chikirin responded, “We are ex christians therefore we believe all of Christendom is a cult (at least I do any way)”
And a moderator reiterated the forum rules: “Christians are not allowed to evangelize or debate their beliefs in the Testimonies Forum. The Lions Den forum on this site is open for that. Please carefully read and respect the rules of this forum before posting in here”
The forum is now locked.