A Call from the Holy Mountain (Elder Ephraim of Philotheou)

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.”

Bishop Hilarion.
Bishop Hilarion.

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.

The cover of Arch. Haralambos Vasilopoulos'
The cover of Arch. Haralambos Vasilopoulos’ “Jewish Masonry Unmasked.” This book was also removed from monastery bookstores after the KVOA news story.

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:

Geronda Ephraim has recanted his belief in the Protocols as a legitimate document.
Geronda Ephraim has recanted his belief in the Protocols as a legitimate document.

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.

Fr. Markellos worked in St. Anthony's Bookstore in the mid-2000s.
Fr. Markellos worked in St. Anthony’s Bookstore in the mid-2000s.

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.

Ecumenism without a Mask. A 1972 book which explains the Protocols as the blueprint for destroying the Orthodox Church and the Zionist plan for Jewish world domination. This book was removed from the monasteries' bookstores after the KVOA expose.
Ecumenism without a Mask. A 1972 book which explains the Protocols as the blueprint for destroying the Orthodox Church and the Zionist plan for Jewish world domination. This book was removed from the monasteries’ bookstores after the KVOA expose.

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):

DVD: http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/ccp7/index.php?app=ecom&ns=prodshow&ref=1AM01

Book: http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/ccp7/index.php?app=ecom&ns=prodshow&ref=3HOMILIES_ON_REVEL

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.

Elder Ephraim on the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (Orthodox Tradition, 1992)

In a bizarre series of events last year [1991], the Abbot of the Monastery of Philotheou on Mt. Athos, Archimandrite Ephraim, left the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, joined the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, and then subsequently returned to the jurisdiction of Constantinople. While there are conflicting reports about his reasons for doing this, and while his actions have confused and disappointed a number of people, Father Ephraim’s sojourn in the ROCA has left us with a very interesting statement about that Church. 1 Forced to confront polemical and hostile voices from the Greek New Calendarists when he joined the Russian Church Abroad, Father Ephraim wrote a short note on the validity of that Church. Since the Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad Consecrated Bishops for us Old Calendarists when our last Hierarch in Greece reposed, his comments about the validity of their Church are of special importance to us—even more so, since they come from an adherent of the Ecumenical Patriarchate who was compelled by unusual circumstances to speak objectively and truthfully about the ROCA. Such objectivity and truthfulness are rare commodities, indeed, among the modernists, who have so compromised themselves by political self-interest and the demands of the ecumenical movement. We have translated Father Ephraim’s comments from the original Greek text, which was distributed by Father Ephraim last year in the United States.

Geronda Ephraim of Arizona giving a blessing.
In 1991, Geronda Ephraim said the Panagia informed him during prayer to leave the EP and  join ROCOR. Less than a year later, Geronda Ephraim stated that the Panagia informed him in prayer to leave ROCOR and go back with the EP.

My View of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

Apostolic Succession

The Apostolic Succession of the Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad cannot be impugned, since all of the present Bishops hold canonical Consecrations from the Bishops of the pre-Revolutionary era and their successors.

Canonicity

Canonicity (i.e., a local Church’s total conformity to the Holy Canons in its constitution and administrative functioning) is a rare commodity in nearly all of the Patriarchates and the autocephalous Churches today. The synodal system has been seriously weakened by diverse incursions from within and without, and there appears everywhere a move towards despotism among the major Hierarchs or local Synods. Were we to but begin with an examination of canonical impediments to the Priesthood and so on, I do not believe that we would occasion to find absolute canonicity anywhere. I can only say that the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad constitutes an exception to the foregoing, on account of its strict devotion to the Holy Canons and its freedom from the bonds of every worldly power. In response to the allegations which many have made against this Church’s ostensibly uncanonical status as a self-governing Church body, these observations can be made:

Patriarch Tikhon, foreseeing a bleak future for the Russian Church, issued a decree to the Bishops outside Soviet Russia, granting them the right to organize self-governing synodal bodies. Despite this, the exiled Russian Hierarchs, having lived in an atmosphere of utmost loyalty to the law and obedience under the Tsar, insisted, during their first few years of exile, on maintaining contact with their base (Patriarch Tikhon and his successors) and to seek from there approval for their more momentous decisions at least—though this was difficult under their circumstances at the time (persecutions, banishments, etc.). This communion was abruptly cut off by the capitulation of the locum tenens and later Patriarch Tikhon (Stragorodsky)* in his infamous declaration—something totally unacceptable to the Bishops in exile—, assuring the full submission of the Church to the atheist regime and ordering the faithful to show full obedience to and pray for the Soviet authorities. In my opinion, this rupture in communion was justified by the Canons, which provide for the cessation of all commemoration of the first Hierarch of a local Church in the event that he preaches heretical teachings; for Marxism is not only a political system, but entails a secular worldview, indeed a heresy.

St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Confessor, 1925
St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Confessor, 1925

The present Bishops of the ROCA, because of their isolation from the other Orthodox Churches, hearken back with genuine spiritual reverence to these events, directives, contacts, etc., which demonstrate the lawful and canonical establishment of their ecclesiastical body.

The most compelling argument in support of the canonicity of the ROCA, one insufficiently emphasized with regard to this issue, is that at the outset the Ecumenical Patriarch and all of the other local Churches maintained good relations with the Synod in Exile, which contained within her bosom, it is worthy of note, the “elite” of the Russian Hierarchs and theologians. Men of the stature of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev, who made a lasting impression with his memorable homilies at the Athens Cathedral and who cannot be likened to the low level of our own [Greek New Calendarist] Hierarchs, evoked respect and de facto recognition from everyone.

The position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate with regard to the ROCA radically changed after the First Pan-Orthodox Conference in 1923, when the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad at the time, Metropolitan Anastassy,** distinguished himself as a leading personality by his resistance to the innovations of the acknowledged Mason Meletios Metaxakis.2 Things were somewhat more improved under the successors of Metaxakis, until the end of World War II and a full break in relations, when Soviet external political forces began, by various means, to urge all of the Orthodox Churches to cease communion with the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and to recognize only the Patriarch of Moscow, who was fully under the control of Soviet political forces and whom these forces used to serve their own ends. The Patriarch of Moscow took the isolation of the ROCA as an opportunity to establish relations with the other Patriarchates and autocephalous Churches: “Either they or we.” Thus for political reasons and out of self-interest, but also for ideological reasons, as we have seen, the Phanar cut off all official relations with the Synod in Exile and, in imitation thereof, so did most of the other local Churches, except for the Churches of Jerusalem and Serbia, which have maintained semi-formal relations with the ROCA to this day.

Patriarch Meletius (Metaxakis)  was known under No. 44 in the Masonic lodge ‘Harmony’, as stated by the Masonic publication ‘Pythagore – Equerre’ (vol. 4, part 7 - 8, 1935).
Patriarch Meletius (Metaxakis) was known under No. 44 in the Masonic lodge ‘Harmony’, as stated by the Masonic publication ‘Pythagore – Equerre’ (vol. 4, part 7 – 8, 1935).

The isolation of the ROCA from the other local Churches—albeit, not a complete isolation (the Blessed Justin [Popovich] and his disciples and the present Patriarch of Serbia have been well disposed toward the ROCA)—can in no way be taken as evidence of doubt about the canonicity of this local Church, since many similar examples can be found in Church history.

Endnotes

1. According to Fr. Germanos Pontikas of St. Nektarios Monastery, “Because Archbishop was refusing him entry into the United States to see his spiritual children, Geronda Ephraim had to flex his muscles, so to speak…And it worked.” (Homily to visitors in the bookstore).

2. According to the literature that was sold in the monasteries before the KVOA exposé, “The Grand Lodge of Greece official Famous Masons list reveals these patriarchs, bishops and others to be among their members, if false it would have been corrected by now: Ecumenical Patriarch Joachim III, Patriarch of Alexandria Photius (George Peroglou), Ecumenical Patriarch Meletius (Manuel Metaxakis), Ecumenical Patriarch Basil III, Patriarch of Jerusalem Benedict (Basil Papadopoulos), Metropolitan of Paronaxia Cherubim (Anninos), Metropolitan of Trebizond, later Archbishop of Athens Chrysanthus (Charilaus Philippides), Prince of Greece Andrew, Prince of Greece Christopher, King of Greece George II, Politician John Kapodistrias (Komis) first ruler of Greece, Politician John Metaxas (Prime Minister).”

* He means, of course, Patriarch Sergius.

** This is an error. Metropolitan Anastassy was not, at the time, First Hierarch of the exiled Bishops.

From Orthodox Tradition, VOL. IX, NO. 1, pp. 17-18.

Who is the Real Elder Ephraim? (Anonymous Author, 1998)

The following article was written by an anonymous author in defense of Geronda Ephraim of Arizona. It appeared in a Christian forum on December 12, 1998.

Elder Ephraim is the spiritual son of the great and saintly Athonite ascetic Elder Joseph the Hesychast and Cave-dweller, who reposed in 1959 and is in the process of being glorified by the Patriarch of Constantinople. Elder Joseph’s story is incredible in itself. The book “Monastic Wisdom” which contains his writings on the spiritual life, the Jesus Prayer, etc. has just been translated from the Greek by the monks at St. Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona. They are now working on the life of Elder Joseph the Hesychast. I have venerated his fragrant relics, have seen icons of him in Greece, and have read hymns written to him (translated into English by Fr. Seraphim of St. Paul’s on Athos who I believe is now the Dikaios at St. Gregory Palamas in OH).  Of course, being the spiritual son of a Saint doesn’t necessarily mean anything, so here is a little about Elder Ephraim:

Fr. Seraphim Dedes, St. Gregory Palamas Monastery in Ohio.
Fr. Seraphim Dedes, St. Gregory Palamas Monastery in Ohio.

Elder Ephraim’s mother (who became Great-Schema nun Theophano) raised her family to fear and love the Lord and His Holy Church. Elder Ephraim answered the calling to become a monk, so he sought the great ascetic at the time, Elder Joseph, and his co-struggler Elder Arsenios. Elder Joseph knew Elder Ephraim by name (Johnny at the time) when he first met him on the Holy Mountain. “Johnny” never met the Elder before, nor did anyone know he was going to visit him. The Elder Joseph prophesied great things would happen because of “little Johnny”, now Elder Ephraim. Elder Ephraim lived from that day on with Elder Joseph and his synodia until the day of Elder Joseph’s death (August 15, 1959). So for 12 years, Elder Ephraim lived the hesychastic life under complete obedience to Elder Joseph. He lived several more years as an ascetic and then he became the abbot of Philotheou monastery and brought the cenobitic life back to it.

Geronda Ephraim's mother, Nun Theophano, holding a piece of the nail from the Cross, at Holy Archangel Michael Monastery, Thassos (a dependency of Philotheou Monastery).
Geronda Ephraim’s mother, Nun Theophano, holding a piece of the nail from the Cross, at Holy Archangel Michael Monastery, Thassos (a dependency of Philotheou Monastery).

If you visit some of the monasteries or talk to some people, you will hear of incredible stories of how they lived. For example, the monks were not allowed to talk during Lent and were severely disciplined if they did. Elder Joseph never used Elder Ephraim’s name when he talked to him (to keep him humble since it was clear that his spiritual progress was amazing). He would call him “Hey you!”, “Hey monk!” but behind his back he had great things to say about him. The lived a truly hesychastic life, having daily vigils of the Jesus Prayer that lasted 8 hours in solitude.

As Elder Joseph has told many people before his death, Elder Ephraim was considered the most obedient of Elder Joseph’s monks and because of this has received tremendous grace and spiritual gifts. This becomes apparent once you meet him and spend some time with him, rather than listening to what others have to say. Several of Elder Joseph’s monks became great abbots of Athonite monasteries, and greatly contributed to its spiritual renewal.

Elder Ephraim has been known for decades in Greece. His name is not new there. He is a very well respected and revered Athonite spiritual father. He was for many years the abbot of Philotheou Monastery on Mount Athos, as well as the spiritual father of several of the other monasteries there. He has established monasteries outside of Athos under his spiritual direction, both male and female, and renewed and renovated some very old and abandoned monasteries. He was informed while in prayer one night to establish Athonite monasteries in the U.S. and just like St. Kosmas of Aitolos (who is from the same monastery as Elder Ephraim, Philotheou) he humbly undertook the mission to leave the monastery for the good of the Church and to help us.

Schema-Monks in obedience to Geronda Ephraim on Mount Athos, 1984.
Schema-Monks in obedience to Geronda Ephraim on Mount Athos, 1984.

Elder Ephraim of Katunakia, also a spiritual son of Elder Joseph, said about his spiritual brother Ephraim “he is much, much greater than I!” before he reposed over a year ago.  He was considered a very holy ascetic on Athos who is believed to have attained theosis, so let’s just say his opinion means something. Elder Porfirios of blessed memory prophesied over a decade ago, that Elder Ephraim would establish monasteries in the U.S., before it was even a thought. The list can go on for a while as to who believes in the holiness of Elder Ephraim and his mission here in the U.S.  Of course, this will rub many people the wrong way, especially non-traditional clergy and laypeople.  The monasteries are mirrors to our souls and perhaps we do not like what we see. Perhaps there is also spiritual envy from other monastics who were not able to do what the Elder has done.

In his letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch, Geronda Ephraim writes that, “he prayed with hot tears streaming down his face, and the Theotokos directed him to leave the EP, and join ROCOR.” to return to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
In his letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch, Geronda Ephraim writes that, “he prayed with hot tears streaming down his face, and the Theotokos directed him to leave the EP, and join ROCOR.”

Elder Ephraim has overcome great obstacles in establishing monasteries here in the U.S. The EP, Archbishop Iakovos, and most of the bishops at the time were adamantly opposed to him even visiting the U.S. to hear confessions, let alone to establish monasteries.  In 1991 he left the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which he called “the proponents of ecumenism and the enemies of monasticism”, to retreat into the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.1 ROCA received him with love and open arms. Following this action, the Patriarchate, the Greek Government (for political reasons), the Holy Mountain (who did not want a schism on the Holy Mountain) and the Archdiocese all violently attacked Elder Ephraim saying that he would be deposed, he was a traitor, etc. They also threatened to revoke his green card so that he could no longer come to the U.S. to see his spiritual children.  To prevent division in the Church, (since he had many followers who were willing to leave the EP for ROCA), he humbly returned to the Patriarchate who then allowed him to start the monasteries.2 As a side note, he still has an excellent relationship with ROCA and its hierarchy, whom he considers to be a canonical synod. There are several monks in the monasteries that were allowed by ROCA to transfer to Elder Ephraim’s monasteries, and many clergy and laypeople attend the services there. There are also some monks from other Orthodox jurisdictions who were given the blessing of their bishop and abbot to join one of Elder Ephraim’s brotherhoods.3

Geronda Ephraim also stated that the Theotokos informed him during his prayer to return to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Geronda Ephraim also stated that the Theotokos informed him during his prayer to return to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

There are now 16 monasteries (counting ones that will officially be opened soon), in the US and Canada: California, 2 in Pennsylvania, 2 in Florida, 2 in North Carolina, 2 in the Chicago area, Texas, Arizona, Washington, Michigan,2 in Canada, and soon one in NY. All of the abbots are either American or Canadian, including one convert.4 The abesses are from his monasteries in Greece, but are trying very hard to learn English (which all now know) Most of the nuns and monks are Americans, and many are converts.5 The services all follow the Athonite Typicon, so they are in Greek.

Hieromonk Chrysostomos, the convert mentioned, was abbot of Panagia Vlahernon in Florida when this article was written (1998).
Hieromonk Chrysostomos, was the convert abbot of Panagia Vlahernon (FL)

In such few years, against the persecution of much of the hierarchy and people, a simple, poor monk, whose only education is that of the Desert, has done for us here in America what we have been thirsting for. I can understand why some of this is difficult for us here in America. We are not used to this. But we should remember that we are a young church here in America and we have a lot to learn from our experienced older brothers and sisters.

Anything you may hear coming from the Elder or his monasteries is traditional Orthodoxy. Nothing is new or made up.6 The Fathers of Church have taught it, contemporary holy Elders around the world have taught it – it is Orthodoxy. Whether the U.S. is ready for it is another story, but we certainly need it.

St. Anthony's Feast Day, January 17, 1997.
St. Anthony’s Feast Day, January 17, 1997.

After Elder Ephraim’s repose (may it be 50 years from now),7 little by little we will all learn more details of his struggles, his blessed life, his miracles, etc. Until then, if you do not know him, meet him. Why would you base your judgement on what others have to say? My father, a typical stubborn Greek man, who vowed never to fast nor confess to a priest, melted like wax upon meeting the Elder and confessed to him his sins and now follows the fasts to the best of his ability and is in a totally different mindset. While visiting the Holy Mountain this past summer, when any monk heard that he was from the U.S. they would ask him, “How is Geronda Ephraim? You better take good care of him there! You don’t know what you have!” And this was not from monasteries under the Elder’s spiritual direction. Don’t expect a “Joint Statement of the 20 Ruling Monasteries of Mount Athos on Elder Ephraim of Philotheou”. This is not how Athos operates.8 The Elder’s work speaks for itself. So the does the fact that no other Athonite has been able to do what he has done.

Do any of you notice how the Elder never defends himself? He never says anything about those that are persecuting him.9 I have asked him about this and his humble reply is “Don’t worry, pray for them. It isn’t their fault, they do not know.” Go and meet the man. Spend some time at any of the monasteries. Talk to the abbot or abbess.  The monasteries are for all of us. Just like you cannot explain to anyone the beauty of Orthodoxy and the worship unless you experience it, the same applies here. Come and see.

I don’t normally read this newsgroup, but after hearing of what was going on, I decided to say something. If anyone replies to this, I will not see it unless you email me personally.

If anyone is interested, there is are series of tapes by Constantine Zalalas called “Elder Joseph the Hesychast – The Grandfather of Greek-American Monasticism”.10 It describes the life and teachings of Elder Joseph based on what some of his monastic spiritual children have said and written. Included are some stories about Elder Ephraim. You can pick them up at some of the monasteries or I would be willing to copy them (I have permission) and send them to anyone (for free). Email me if you are sincerely interested.

Forgive me for any errors that I may have reported. This is all based on my personal recollection and knowledge. I am by no means an authority on this.

God bless!

NOTES:

1) In his letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch, Geronda Ephraim writes that, “he prayed with hot tears streaming down his face, and the Theotokos directed him to leave the EP, and join ROCOR.”

2) Geronda Ephraim stated that the Theotokos informed him during his prayer to return to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

3) In 1997, Hieromonk Gregory came from St. Tikhon’s Monastery (OCA) with a man named Vladimir, who was later tonsured and given the name Symeon. Geronda Ephraim initially told the monks, that Hieromonk Gregory was a sanctified man. Geronda Ephraim gave him 3 simple obediences: “Don’t sleep during the Church services, come to the Church services on time and no more exorcisms.” Hieromonk Gregory did not obey and continued to perform exorcisms. He eventually left the monastery and his departure was used as a cautionary tale about the importance of obedience. Fr. Symeon later returned to the world.

4) Geronda Paisios (AZ) is from Vancouver, BC; Geronda Dositheos (TX) is from Toronto, ON; Geronda Joseph (MI) is from Montreal, QC; Geronda Nektarios (NC) is from Toronto, ON; Geronda Akkakios, (IL) is from New York; Geronda Joseph (NY) is from Thessaloniki, Greece; and the convert, Hieromonk Chrysostomos was abbot at the first property of Panagia Vlahernon in Fairfield, FL, at the time this was written (’98)

5) A large number of the monks and nuns are actually Canadian. When this was written (98), some monasteries were all Canadian (i.e. NC), or almost all Canadian (NY except for two monks), etc.

6) A lot of political theories which circulate in the monasteries which don’t have anything to do for Orthodoxy. In 1998/99, many monks had Valley Fever, and many more would succumb to it. This was attributed to government planes spraying the monasteries with chemicals. The monks were also not allowed to get vaccines due to the secret toxins put in them. Only non-fluoride toothpaste was bought for the monks. Coffeemate was like “chemical warfare,’ same goes with sugar, aspartame, and other sweeteners.

7) Interesting that he mentions the Elder Porphyrios prophecy about monasteries, but not the prophecy that Geronda Ephraim would die when he was 90. The latter was circling among lay disciples since the early 90s.

8) This was a big topic in the mid-late 90s. Who is Geronda Ephraim’s spiritual Father? Who does he answer to? And more specifically, did Mount Athos bless him, or is there a statement from the monasteries, etc. Essentially, the 4 monasteries that are under obedience to him (Philotheou, Karakallou, Xeropotamou, and Konstamonitou), plus the 2 monasteries under obedience to his spiritual brothers (Dionysiou and Vatopaidi), as well as the monasteries of his close spiritual companions, Abbots Aimilianos, Parthenios and George (Simonospetras, St. Paul’s and Gregoriou) would’ve vouched for him.

9) Lay people don’t get to hear the things monks do. Geronda Ephraim is much different with his monks. But this also has a hierarchy so to speak. Novices are kept out of the loop for the most part, unless an older monk idle talks about things he doesn’t have a blessing to talk about. Tonsured rassaphore monks are more privy to information that novices and lay people will never hear. But there is also an inner circle of the hieromonks, abbots, abbesses, and trusted monks who have been with Geronda for years, who hear things that others will never hear, and they also talk amongst themselves at feast days and exchange information, stories, etc.

10) http://saintnicodemos.org/about.php

Ephraim Plans to Break Up the Archdiocese (Theodore Kalmoukos, 1991)

Reprinted from the National Herald, Wednesday, April 17, 1991

[Boston] Following almost two years from the day that our newspaper uncovered (N.H. 6-5/6-89) the “extra ecclesiastical and improper” movements and activities of the Mt. Athos monk Ephraim to the Omogeneia* which, among others, include groups of extra-ecclesiastical organizations, purchase of property, in specific at the location “Poconos” of Pennsylvania with intent to establish monasteries, confessions at people’s homes, etc., we uncover today that the monk Ephraim resigned from the position of abbot in the Philotheou monastery of Mt. Athos and has united with the Russian “church” of America. This “church” is considered “non-existent” to the Ecumenical Orthodoxy, that is, it does not have any blessed society or any relation to the Orthodox Patriarchate and the self-sustained churches. That’s why nowhere is it referenced basically because it is considered divisive.

"Bishop" Ilarion confirmed our information that monk Ephraim on March 4 signed the agreement with that church and now belongs to their "jurisdiction."
“Bishop” Ilarion confirmed our information that monk Ephraim on March 4 signed the agreement with that church and now belongs to their “jurisdiction.”

After communicating with the representative of the “church” in question, “bishop” Mr. Ilarion confirmed our information that monk Ephraim on March 4 signed the agreement with that church and now belongs to their “jurisdiction.” In addition, Ilarion stated that a few days ago he informed by letter the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The N.H. is in a position and knows that up to the point that this article is written, that is, Tuesday, April 18, that letter has not reached the Patriarchate, but the Patriarchate knows of the situation. In accordance always with the “bishop” Mr. Ilarion, the monk Ephraim at this moment is in Greece and is expected to return to America in the next few weeks. His purpose is to establish monasteries, something that Mr. Ilarion confirmed, and in addition, in cities with organized Greek communities, such as is in New York, Boston, Pittsburgh. With the excuse of confessions, he will create parishes, and other extra-ecclesiastical organizations which means breaking up the Omogenia. Ephraim is planning to expand his activities in Canada where he has already created a home base by forming extra-ecclesiastical organizations. The Russians wish to pay special attention to Astoria and for that fact, they are planning to establish “parishes” so that the followers of Ephraim can gather and reinforce the flock of the Cathedral of St. Demetrios.

"Ephraim is always accompanied by his subservient monk Savvas, a medical doctor by profession."
“Ephraim is always accompanied by his subservient monk Savvas, a medical doctor by profession.”

We would like to remind you that Ephraim already, since 1984, has created in Astoria a home base since he is “the elder” of the extra-ecclesiastical organization “Panaghia Glykofilousa” which, as a matter of fact, maintains a store of religious items with the same name. According to a communication with today’s president of the above organization, Mr. Theodore Kalokathis confirmed that Ephraim is the spiritual father of the organization; however, he stated that he was not aware that Ephraim has united with the Russians although he knew that Ephraim resigned from the monastery Philotheou of Mt. Athos. Unfortunately, we were not able to communicate with Ephraim himself.

Break Up – Secret Meeting

According to information that our newspaper has obtained, Ephraim is planning to bring about 15 monks and some female novices who will become nuns. As a matter of fact, a few months ago, he has brought some of these “female novices” with him to visit a building in Pittsburgh, which the novices decided was not appropriate. We will take this opportunity to mention that Ephraim is always accompanied by his subservient monk Savvas, a medical doctor by profession.

The Ephraim Phenomenon

About 10 years ago the monk Ephraim started visiting the United States and Canada with the excuse at first of therapy for his leg and later to have confessions with those he has been “spiritually connected.” Most of the times, he came without the proper ecclesiastical permission from the Archdiocese using the sneaky way of the “stolen permit” as follows: He would come into Canada first and then he would enter the United States to Astoria by choice, and later he would appear at the Archdiocese, placing the Archbishop Mr. Iakovos in a difficult position who, however, showed him love and affection, but at the same time, always reminded him of his omission [of asking for a permit]. The proper thing for the Archbishop would have been to have rejected him, and this way he would have observed the penalties required by the rules of the Church. “For jumping in and performing inappropriate parish activities not in accordance with the regional bishop.” Fr. Ephraim whom some followers consider a “spiritual and proper person” had his long-term plans, as are now confirmed by his actions, and that’s why he made sure he obtained a green card of permanent residence (N.H. 6-5/6-89 interview) while he was still the abbot of Philotheou monastery at Mt. Athos. During the time he was “healing,” he promised to stay at the monastery until his last breath and not to end up staying in America nine months and only three months in the place of his tonsure.

we uncover today that the monk Ephraim resigned from the position of abbot in the Philotheou monastery of Mt. Athos and has united with the Russian "church" of America.
we uncover today that the monk Ephraim resigned from the position of abbot in the Philotheou monastery of Mt. Athos and has united with the Russian “church” of America.

When his plans were uncovered in June 1989, such as purchase of land for monasteries, extra-ecclesiastical organizations, unauthorized meetings, and barricades, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is his religious authority since Mt. Athos reports to the Patriarchate, asked Ephraim to return immediately to Mt. Athos and provide the Patriarchate with the required explanations. Ephraim went to the Patriarchate and kneeling pleaded for forgiveness from the Patriarch and reported that everything has stopped, and that’s how he escaped a defrocking. During his interview on June 6, 1989, among other things, he mentioned “I made a mistake and I repent.” In answer to our question “Does the fact that you could have been the reason to break up the Church here scare you?” he answered in his own words: “No, I will never do this. Even if I lose my blood I will defend the Church. I respect the Archbishop, and I love him as well as all the clergy. I prefer to leave 1000 times and not have something like that happen which will not happen….”

However, what we see with the development of things today Mr. Ephraim simply was playing games with us; he pretended to have repented while at the same time he was making agreements with the Russians. As a matter of fact, some followers of his offered to defend him with paid advertisements. Here I shall mention Mr. George Dimopoulos (N.H. June 19, 1989) who at the time was the president of the “Astoria Brotherhood of Panaghia Glykofilousa” and who was also threatening “further actions,” and also mention the names of Demetrios and Angeliki Voutsouri (N.H. June 23). Just symptomatically, let’s ask what happened between Mr. Dimopoulos and Panaghia Glykofilousa?

During the time he was "healing," he promised to stay at the monastery until his last breath and not to end up staying in America nine months and only three months in the place of his tonsure.
During the time he was “healing,” he promised to stay at the monastery until his last breath and not to end up staying in America nine months and only three months in the place of his tonsure.

The ever memorable Metropolitan of Stavroupolis Maximos mediated by letter with Archbishop Mr. Iakovos to have him accept the monk Ephraim and tell him to establish a monastery for the Archdiocese. The Archbishop, again responding with superiority and forebearance, accepted him (monk Ephraim) in his office; as a matter of fact, he took him to the St. Basil Academy where he showed him the location for a monastery and told him he has his complete cooperation, to the point that he asked Ephraim to make the plan and present it to him. All financial expenses would have been assumed in whole by the Archdiocese; however, no such thing happened because Ephraim had his own direction already planned which finally led him to the Russian extremists.

Repentance or Defrocking

To the point that this monk Ephraim has led this situation, there are only two solutions: first, to declare repentance and no association with the Russians and remain within the Mt. Athos practicing obedience with some penalty that the Patriarchate will specify (as an example not to leave the place where he belongs for 10 years), and second, defrocking him and returning him to the laity so that others can use this example and all those that carry the same mind as Ephraim who with their actions become the reason for break-up of truth and the unity of the Church. The Omogenia is not a vineyard without a fence. It has some ecclesiastical and some “national” boundaries which Ephraim did not respect, and that is why he became one with the rest of the high-handed gang of all types of “magicians” and those who meet in secrecy. That’s all for today, and we will be back.

* Omogenia=native born or fellow Greeks

Diocesan clergy refuse to Support the Archbishop (Theodore Kalmoukos, 1998)

Note: This article is taken from The National Herald, November 21, 1998.

BOSTON. – The Clergy Brotherhoods of the Detroit and Chicago Dioceses refused to throw their support behind Archbishop Spyridon in his effort to fight off open defiance by the five Metropolitans of the Eparchial Synod of America, by a significant part of the clergy and wide segments of the laity. In particular, the two regional clergy organizations refused to endorse a letter put forth by the National Presbyters Council in opposition to previous statement signed by 73 priests which contained a scathing condemnation of the Archbishop’s policies (The National Herald, Nov. 7-8,1998).

Archbishop Spyridon gave Geronda Ephraim the blessing to open 8 new monasteries in 1998 [2 in NC, 2 in FL, 1 in MI, 1 in IL, 1 in TX, 1 in NY].
Archbishop Spyridon gave Geronda Ephraim the blessing to open 8 new monasteries in 1998 [2 in NC, 2 in FL, 1 in MI, 1 in IL, 1 in TX, 1 in NY].
At a Tuesday meeting of the Clergy Brotherhood meeting of the Detroit Diocese, 16 out of the 42 diocesan priests present also questioned the tactics of their Brotherhood’s president Fr. George Matsis, of Toledo, Ohio, who tried to promote the letter supporting the Archbishop. Sources told The National Herald that Fr. Matsis was unable to overcome the opposition and that, after a motion by one of the objecting priests, the proposal was tabled. A telephone message by the Herald to Fr. Matsis has not returned.

Fr. George Matsis. While in Toledo, he was one of 18 priests who were invited to Constantinople to be received at an audience by Patriarch Bartholomew I.
Fr. George Matsis. While in Toledo, he was one of 18 priests who were invited to Constantinople to be received at an audience by Patriarch Bartholomew I.

In private conversations some priests expressed fears about the climate of divisiveness among the clergy which is fostered by the Archdiocese. Just last weekend the Archbishop visited Detroit and had spoken against the Eparchial Synod of the Metropolitans in front of both the clergy as well as the lay Parish officers (see article, page 3).

In Chicago, where Fr. Chris Kerhulas, the President of the National Presbyters’ Council serves as priest at the Parish of St. Basil, the local Clergy Brotherhood was called to a meeting on Friday, November 13. The meeting was attended by only eight outof the 55 diocesan priests. Fr. Kerhulas raised the issue of his letter in response to the statement by his 73 colleagues against Archbishop Spyridon. Participants in the meeting vehemently rejected Fr. Kerhulas proposal– Fr. Kerhulas was unable even to read his letter. (Fr. Kerhulas discusses this issue extensively in an interview published in this issue of the National Herald).

Fr. Chris Kerhulas. Robert Krantz's movie "Do You Wanna Dance" (1999) was based on the life and ministry of Father Chris Kerhulas, who served St. Basil Church in Chicago for many years.
Fr. Chris Kerhulas. Robert Krantz’s movie “Do You Wanna Dance” (1999) was based on the life and ministry of Father Chris Kerhulas, who served St. Basil Church in Chicago for many years.

The influential Fr. Ephraim

In the early 90's, Fr. Ephraim joined the Russian synod in exile after receiving a "directive" from God as he proclaimed at the time. However, when he was threatened by the Ecumenical Patriarchate that he would be defrocked, he received another "directive" from God and abandoned the Russians.
In the early 90’s, Fr. Ephraim joined the Russian synod in exile after receiving a “directive” from God as he proclaimed at the time. However, when he was threatened by the Ecumenical Patriarchate that he would be defrocked, he received another “directive” from God and abandoned the Russians.

Other sources told the National Herald that at a meeting of the National Presbyters Council Fr. Kerhulas proposed to invite the controversial priest-monk Ephraim, a former abbot from the Athos, the monastic enclave in northern Greece, as speaker at a retreat of the Clergy of the Archdiocese but was forced to abandon the plan when some of the members of the Council opposed it. Fr. Ephraim who came to America under nefarious circumstances in the early 90’s first joined the Russian synod in exile after receiving a “directive” from God as he proclaimed at the time. However, when he was threatened by the Ecumenical Patriarchate that he would be defrocked, he received another “directive” from God and abandoned the Russians.

Fr. George Passias is a long-time spiritual child of Geronda Ephraim. His time as chancellor in the mid-90's was instrumental in helping the Elder expand his monastic vision here in America.
Fr. George Passias is a long-time spiritual child of Geronda Ephraim. His time as chancellor in the mid-90’s was instrumental in helping the Elder expand his monastic vision here in America.

Ephraim has established a string of monasteries in America and, under through intense confessional activity, has created many personal loyalties. Typical of his activity the case of 16-year-old Angelo Lenekakis who acknowledges Fr. Ephraim is his “role model” as published the “Orthodox Observer,” the official newspaper of the Archdiocese (October 20,1998). Fr. Ephraim and his followers try to attract youths in order to fill his Monasteries.

Angelo Lenakakis (Orthodox Observer Youth Spotlight, Oct 20, 1998, p. 21)
Angelo Lenakakis (Orthodox Observer Youth Spotlight, Oct 20, 1998, p. 21)

Fr. Ephraim has significant influence in the administration of the Archdiocese. The current Chancellor, Fr. George Passias, happens to be one of the Ephraim’s most loyal followers. Ephraim is also admired by the new President of the Theological School, Archimandrite Damaskinos Ganas, who, according to sources, wants to invite Fr. Ephraim to hear confessions from students. Fr. Ganas did not respond to the Herald’s offer for an interview.

V. Rev. Damaskinos Ganas, Presiding Priest at Kimisis Theotokou Church, Brooklyn, NY.
V. Rev. Damaskinos Ganas, Presiding Priest at Kimisis Theotokou Church, Brooklyn, NY.

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