Those of you who monitor the Indiana List may have noticed this link in discussion of Elder Ephraim and the Monastery of St. Antony in AZ:
While I am by no means an “ephraimite,” ie one who follows the Elder blindly and worships him as a living saint, a major part of my Orthodox formation was received at St. Antony’s and was thoroughly patristic and not tainted at all by the conspiracy theories and baiting that this fellow has brought up.
[NOTE: Rotislav showed up in the late 90’s and helped the outside Fathers plant palm trees].
I would begin by saying that Mr. Smith has devoted his life to the study of Scripture and has made his decisions based on how he has understood it, some good, some bad. His approach has been diverse, based on RC bible study, friendships and contacts with Orthodox Jews and Rabbis, and a diverse association with Orthodox of all stripes. This is something for which he should be commended.
Now, I was there at St. Antony’s during the period in question and am well aware of Mr. Smith’s situation, as he was a friend of mine and a confidant. To begin with, Fr. Paisios told Mr. Smith to refrain from sexual relations after his CIVIL MARRIAGE at the Mesa Wedding Chapel UNTIL he was married in the Church. Fr. Paisios does not dissuade sex in marriage in regard to procreation, and his point of view mirrors that of St. Maximos the Confessor, the Kollyvades Fathers, and the best thought of Patristic Scholars of our day.
[NOTE: Under no circumstances does a Geronda give a blessing for any carnal unions that are not blessed through marriage in a canonical Orthodox Church. Furthermore, the rules and canons of the church forbid carnal unions before receiving Holy Communion and on fast days, thus Orthodox couples generally refrain from carnal unions during a large portion of the year (2x 40-day Lents, the Dormition Fast, Wednesdays and Fridays, etc.) Though it varies from Geronda to Geronda, and of course on the disposition of the spiritual child confessing, when a couple passes the child-rearing phase of their relationship, they are given the suggestion or advice that it might be better to cease having carnal relations. Of course, the general advice and suggestions of a spiritual father are essentially an obedience]
I never witnessed not one baptism at St. Antony’s. [NOTE: The baptisms at that time were done in secret, the church was locked, only the priest, the ecclesiastiko, godparent and person baptised were present. There was always a haste to empty the font afterwards and clean up the church so as not to raise suspicion. Hieromonk Gabriel and Father Hieronymos were two of the ekklesiastikoi at that time period. Because adult baptisms at the monasteries were forbidden by the Hierarchy during that time period—and priests were essentially at risk of being defrocked if caught—then it’s obvious that it wasn’t something for public spectacle. This problem was solved later on when a spiritual child of Geronda Paisios offered the creek on his property to be used for baptisms. In rare cases, one may be sent to Mount Athos to be baptized, in other cases, Mt. Athos is just a cover story to direct attention away from the monastery].
Mr. Smith kept on requesting to have his rule increased, not decreased. He frequently did things without the “blessings” he says he needed to obtain, such as getting married outside of the Church, quitting his job because he didn’t feel like working anymore and forcing his wife to do so, moving in with his mother in law, abandoning his apartment, abandoning his vocational training in carpentry and tile laying on the verge of making a career for himself, etc. These were all decisions Mr. Smith made AGAINST Elder Paisios’ advice and were quite the product of his own self-will. When his finances collapsed and his living situation worsened, HE SPECIFICALLY requested the aid of the monastery in Florence for himself and his wife, where they could “get things together living as BROTHER AND SISTER and UNTONSURED MONASTICS IN SEPARATE QUARTERS.” That didn’t seem to satisfy him, and he decided to move himself and his wife to FL to “avoid having his Nissan Pick Up repossessed, so that he could get some help from social services without having to work, and enjoy an occasional toke of marijuana.” Thereafter Mr. Smith disappeared.
[NOTE: As is the case with many a lay people that don’t follow the advice of their spiritual father—i.e. do blind obedience to everything he suggests or advises—when things start going wrong in their life it becomes a cautionary tale that can be used in homilies for other lay people, and in some cases, the monks. As it says in the Ladder: “It is possible to belittle those living in the world out of conceit; and it is also possible to disparage them behind their backs in order to avoid despair and to obtain hope.” The cautionary tales of lay peoples’ misfortunes and miseries are used as a tool to incite monastics to be more grateful that they are in a monastery and not in the world].
I worked planting trees at the monastery during the period in question. I worked almost daily with Elder Ephraim and had hours of contact with him. Fr. Paisios was at one time a spiritual director for me. What I was told to read by Elder Ephraim was St. John Cassian.
[NOTE: Elder Ephraim was outside with the tree fathers a lot and gave directions on where things would be planted. He even handed out Snowballs and other treats to the outside fathers; though this caused a conflict of conscience with some of the fathers as Geronda Paisios had forbidden his monks sugar and other sweets. This would also happen when Geronda Joseph—NY Abbot—would bring a cooler of Haagen Daaz bars for all the monks when Geronda Ephraim would give a talk in the Gerontikon].
He never spoke of “conspiracies”: his talks were wrote memory recitations on prayer, perseverence, love straight out of a Gerontikon. Yes, he did advise obedience, but he was quick to understand human failings and provide a word of love. His writings clearly reflect that, and what Mr. Smith has decontextualized is a travesty, for he is indicting Elder Ephraim for paraphrasing such luminaries as Pakhomios, St. John Klimakos, Abba Dorotheos, et al.
[NOTE: Elder Ephraim doesn’t really elaborate on conspiracies as he doesn’t spend a lot of time reading that kind of information. In the early days (70’s, etc.), those kind of books were quite common in Greece (i.e. Protocols, Zionism, Jewish conspiracy for world domination, Freemasonry, Antichrist, etc.). Almost the entire Holy Mountain has this mindset; it’s intertwined with their orthodox world-view.]
Moreover, I NEVER, NOT ONCE, saw Mr. Smith pick up a shovel to help planting a tree.
[NOTE: This was the common monastic insult for those monks and lay people who were lazy and tried to avoid planting trees. Some Sundays, even though it was a day of rest for the fathers, Elder Ephraim would come knocking on the fathers’ doors to plant trees and they asked lay people. Lay people don’t always want to help with the workload, though. Some monks and novices also tried to avoid this work by feigning illness. At that time, it became a standard for the monks that if they did not have a fever, they were ok and capable to work].
He NEVER had contact with the Elder. All of his “knowledge” of the Elder is SECOND HAND and STYLIZED.
[NOTE: Most knowledge of Elder Ephraim is second hand. Those who get a true glimpse of Elder Ephraim, are those he feels safe enough around to be himself and unwind—i.e. those who don’t scandalize easily and those who he allows to get somewhat close. This is usually his cell attendants, his monastic personal drivers, and some of the Gerondas and Gerondissas who are under him. Again, he also fragments the information he disseminates. Thus, he may say something to a Gerondissa. She may or may not share that with her nuns, or maybe just a couple. In turn she may share it with other monastics under Geronda Ephraim, or she may tell her nuns to keep it to themselves. If Elder Ephraim tells her not to mention what he said to anyone, it will remain with her to the grave, unless he says “until after I die.”].
Fr. Paisios never spoke politically with me.
[NOTE: Again, Rotislav is a lay person. Only monks really get to see Geronda Paisios shine when explaining how the Rothschilds seized the world economy, what the Masons or Zionists are doing, how chem-trails affect the monasteries, etc. Amongst monks, Geronda Paisios is known “to have tomorrow’s news today.” During this time period, Geronda Paisios had a short wave radio and would listen to various conspiracy rants. He would reiterate the information in casual talks among the fathers in the kitchenette of the monks’ quarters (lay people were not allowed in this section). At that time, there were cassette holders in the hallways of the monks’ quarters. The amount of “conspiracy theory” homilies in Greek—especially those involving the Antichrist or Book of Revelations—are countless. As well, many times Geronda Paisios may bring DVDs with various conspiracy/political information to the monasteries he visits and will give it to the Abbot/Abbess. Then, it’s up to the head if they allow their monastics to view it, or if they choose to reiterate the information on it. Once again, random lay people are not privy to these things].
He advised reading of the Philokalia, especially St. Hesykhios the Presbyter. The rule he customarily gives I received 3 ropes, not necessarily 300 knot–my rope was 150, to our Lord and one to the Panaghia. He adjusted prostrations accordingly and was flexible as far as the rule was concerned in regard to Holy Communion. Fr. Paisios was LENIENT in regard to attendance of church services and undrstood our human failings, eg allowing me to get to Matins by the Gospel, take rests during an Agripnia, etc. Nephon RECEIVED SUCH DISPENSATIONS. And this is TYPICAL OF FR PAISIOS’ METHODOLOGY. The commentary about the services and their length is quite interesting, as established Orthodox monasteries from Valaam to Trinity-St. Sergius to the Holy Mountain to St. Katherine’s to St. Savas to Jordanville, etc. FOLLOW THE SAME AND/OR SIMILAR order.
[NOTE: There is no catch all methodology for a spiritual father when dealing with lay people. There are common factors, and specific canons that have to be adhered to, but an elder is essentially dealing with numerous personalities and wills and in using the usual Church/Hospital—Spiritual Father/Doctor analogy, each illness requires a different treatment. A lay person cannot take their own personal experience and interactions with an elder and expect other people to have the exact same interactions and treatment. It really depends on the inner disposition of each person. This is the same with monastics to a certain degree].
I NEVER encountered ANY monk speaking of “murdering for the Elder,” but I did encounter how certain converts like Mr. Smith let themselves get carried away ON THEIR OWN.
[No monastic really talks about “murdering for the Elder,” but any serious monastic will attempt to cultivate an inner disposition of being willing to do anything whatsoever the Elder asks, no matter what it is, whether it is illogical, humiliating, even illegal. All the monasteries have their own stories of scandal cover-ups, white collar crime—which isn’t really considered a crime in the monasteries. It cannot be emphasized enough that when a monastic is given an obedience, the objective is not to question, examine, or judge the order given. A monastic must do this obedience unhesitatingly, with a good disposition, believing they will be judged on how they execute the obedience. A perfect example is Abraham. He never questioned God when ordered to sacrifice his son or the desert father who was ordered to throw his child into the river. Both were prevented before actually committing the murder. A monastic is to have this mindset—because the Elder may only be testing their obedience, loyalty and inner disposition. It should also be noted that an oral tradition and rule of the Holy Mountain is that the only time a monastic can be violent is if someone insults his Elder; a monastic is allowed to hit that person].
Likewise, the odious and obvious baiting here used to slander the Elder by mentioning the “Protocols,” the “Serbs and other jurisdictions,” “other secret monasteries,” the “Birchers,” etc. is nothing but innuendo. Now, there are people who visit the monastery who mention these things just as there are in MOST Orthodox Monasteries. The rumor mill they propagate is NOT the orientation of the monastery just as a “homosexual Orthodox activist” or “matthewite” attending say the OCA Washington DC Cathedral and involving himself in their community is NOT the orientation of the Cathedral.
[Considering Geronda Ephraim mentions the Protocols in his 1974 book A Call from the Holy Mountain (translated into English in 1991) as well as some of his earlier Greek cassette homilies—a language Rotislav didn’t understand at that time—how can one claim that even though he said it, he didn’t mean it?]
Neither Elder Ephraim, nor Elder Paisios EVER talked about politics. They felt it was something profane. Elder Ephraim was even troubled by greetings and communiques from the deposed king of Greece and current Greek politicians FOR HE DID NOT WANT TO GET INVOLVED.
[NOTE: Elder Ephraim only talks politics in certain situations. Geronda Paisios was told by Geronda Ephraim to lay off on talking conspiracy theories and politics to lay people, especially after the KVOA incident. Nowadays, one will only really hear these kind of conversations if he is a monastic and hangs out with the Abbots at a monastery feast day. Lay people don’t have the same privileges as monastics. Novices do not have the same privileges as rassaphores. Rassaphores do not have the same privileges as hieromonks. There is a hierarchy of knowledge and it is impenetrable by outsiders, novices and rassaphores. If one is allowed into this circle of knowledge by the Abbot or Abbess (and their second-in-commands) then they will know; if not, then they could be in a monastery for years and be clueless. Sometimes there are older monks or nuns “in the know” who lack the self-control to control their tongue. They may leak information they shouldn’t to other monastics or lay people. If this gets back to the Abbot or Abbess (because they may not always confess their transgression), there are usually huge penances meted out].
The “Protocols” were NEVER mentioned. As a matter of fact, a close supporter of the monastery, A. LIKOS, routinely denounced them as “forgeries, not worth talking about” when VISITORS brought them up. He is a spiritual son of the Elder and extremely close to him.
[NOTE: Athanasios Likos has been a spiritual child of Geronda Ephraim for decades. Again, he is as close to Geronda Ephraim as the Elder allows him to be. During that earlier time period, the monastics also had instructions to be careful around him because “he scandalizes easily and he repeats everything he sees or hears.” Pilgrims that scandalize easily and also talk a lot about everything are treated with a special care. They’re usually not exposed to too much, and the information they are allowed to hear, even though it may seem important and special to them, is usually nothing too important and something that if it is leaked wouldn’t come back to harm or damage the monastery. The Abbot or Abbess will usually forewarn their monastics when these sort of pilgrims plan to come to the monastery so they can be on their guard, as many times they like to probe the monastics for information. Though they are potentially very harmful, these sorts of pilgrims many times are useful to the monasteries—either financially, or through the help they give, or through connections they have, thus they’re kept around and tolerated. It should be noted that many lay people have experiences tailor-made for their own individual needs and short comings].
Lastly, I have witnessed Fr. Paisios and Elder Ephraim address their Bishops on bended knee and in full humility and obedience. They are Constantinople loyalists, and it is here where I have found my issue. Mr. Smith had no access to the books of the monastery and his knowledge of budgets, etc. is dubious at best. The monastery and Fr. Paisios provided them with the support they could. St. Antony’s is our American Optina and must treasured as such.
[NOTE: At that time, almost the entire monastery was banned from the office. Even if they knocked on the door because they needed something, the monastic would not be allowed to enter if he was not one of the few fathers with a blessing. At that time, it was basically Geronda Paisios, Fr. Silouanos, Fr. Chrysostomos, Akakios, Nektarios and Fr. Ilarion who had access to the office, as well as Irakles/Fr. Epifanios who later went to New York. Thus, David Smith would not know much about budgets other than basic things of a cost of a palm tree multiplied by however many were planted, or if he overheard other fathers talking about costs of certain projects].
In closing, Mr. Smith has issues, and I hope for him and his family he resolves them. He is gifted and could add to Orthodox learning. His biblical research into the Nazorite Vow, for instance, is astoundingly brilliant. He simply needs a rudder. Orthodoxy is not about joining civil rights movements and the like and their secular concerns. He needs to decide who he is once and for all and grow in that direction. Is he an Old Calendarist, an Antiochian, a Byzantine Catholic, a Hassidim wannabe, a Black Muslim sympathizer, a member of ROCOR , the Serbs, or the GOA?! “Yes” to the above question simply will not do. Such dissonant views definitely drive one to psychotropic drugs as mentioned when they are not reconciled. He is in need of our prayers, for he bears a heavy cross. I ask the forgiveness of all for bringing these things up and that people discount who am I in homage to the truth.
Pray for me, the unworthy sinner…
Rostislav Mikhailovich Malleev-Pokrovsky
PS Fr. Theologos is a friend of mine, and he is one of the most happy and ardent Orthodox Christians I have ever met. His ardour amongst Protestants would be seen AS LIVING A GODLY LIFE, but certain Orthodox and others use him to advance an agenda. At 18, he chose to become a monk. I wonder if certain people would be so alarmed at his ADULT life decision if he chose to be homosexual, become an atheist, or join a rock band. It is shameful what they are putting him through.
[Interestingly, Fr. Theologos returned home in 2007 right after the St. Anthony’s Monastery Feast Day. Instead of flying back to his monastery in Harvard, he had a ticket arranged to take him home to Tennessee. Now he is married with children. It should also be mentioned that in reality, monks don’t have “friends,” they’re suppose to be dead to the world. A monastic is required to show love to lay people, be polite, have a good disposition, speak respectively even if they have logismoi or character conflicts with the said individual. This does not mean, however, that the monastic is a “friend” or “buddy” of the lay person. Many times, a monastic will exhibit this behavior with lay people they don’t like—not that they’re suppose to have dispositions of dislike—but they force themselves to be nice and kind as it is their Christian duty. In some cases, an Abbot or Abbess may give an obedience to one of their monastics to work with a lay person or monastic whom they dislike or have thoughts against so they can overcome these passions and unchristian dispositions. A perfect example from this time period are the novices Athanasios (Fr. Makarios) and Ioannis (Hieromonk Ioannikios). Almost daily they were giving each other prostrationsduring Orthros and asking forgiveness for whatever they did or said to each other during their diakonimata. They had a character conflict].
PPS Isn’t it strange of the environment of compromise inaugurated into ROCOR by the Lebedeff camarilla is now manifesting itself by having new insurgent voices and their kit like “Indiana List” manifest anti-monasticism, anti-traditionalism, a let’s be modernist as fast as we can attitude. This, my friends, is why the compromise ROCOR made is so fatal, for they opened up the floodgates and they can’t stop the bleeding now. Moreover, the whole policy of guilt by accusation and innuendo WITHOUT the other side getting as much as a hearing, well, I hope we can appreciate the gravity of the situation, for it’s rolling down hill now. It wasn’t so much what they did, as it was the way they manifested it–MORAL RELATIVISM. Just like his mentor who left the port of Odessa in the middle of the night, ABANDONING his parishoners to the bolsheviks, this is what the Lebedeff camarilla is doing to the legacy of ROCOR and they are too ignorant or apathetic to do anything about it.