By dogcatcher on February 25th, 2012


Most people will tell you that a fallacy is a false or mistaken idea. The reality is that a single or multiple fallacies can serve as the basis of an individual’s incorrect understanding of his or her own faith. As we have opened a door to a debate about the Ephraimite Monasteries one thing is clear, misinformation is being used as a tool to falsely educate their followers. We begin by looking at some of the constant claims made by the Ephraimites in support of their peripheral movement within our Church and follow with our responses to their false claim by pointing out the major differences between the Monasteries on Mount Athos and the Monasteries of Elder Ephraim. Their Claim Elder Ephraim has merely brought “Anthonite Monasticism” to North America. Or, people are only upset with this form of Monasticism because they don’t understand it. OUR RESPONSE First, one has to understand that even a claim that there is a universal form of Anthonite Monasticism is a fallacy. The various Monasteries of Mount Athos are not carbon copies of each other. There are 20 different Monasteries and 12 Sketes on Mount Athos. A Skete is a small Monastic community housed on the grounds or property of a larger Monastery. There are some similarities that do exist among the vast majority of these religious enclaves. The first similarity is the schedule of the Divine Liturgy. Let’s use this as a starting point to tell our readers why the claim that the Ephraimite Monasteries are bringing an “Anthonite Monasticism” to North America is a fallacy. Schedule of the Divine Liturgy Mount Athos Monasteries: These monasteries conclude their liturgies by 6:00am. The reason is simple; this is done to accommodate the schedules of the Monks. The Monks generally wake up at 2:00am and begin a long process of worship geared to their own lives. They are required to turn their total focus to God. Ephraimite Monasteries: These monasteries generally begin their liturgies at 9:00am. The reason is simple; this is done to accommodate the general public. While the Monks of Mount Athos pray with few visitors in attendance, the Ephraimites welcome and accommodate guests and their own Parishioners. We are increasingly hearing people identify their home parish as one of the Ephraimite Monasteries. The visitors at the Ephraimite Monasteries outnumber the Monastics in attendance. Ask yourself, why is it so important to accommodate guests? Have the Ephraimite Monasteries been established to aid Monastics in their mission of coming into union with God, of spiritual development that theologians call “Theosis” or “Deification”? Why do Ephraimite Monasteries celebrate Liturgy at the same time as nearby Parishes? Visitors Mount Athos Monasteries: The Holy Mountain requires that a visa be issued in order to gain access onto the peninsula where the Monasteries of Mount Athos are located. There is a quota system that allows less than 100 Eastern Orthodox visitors a day and only 10 visitors a day of other religious affiliations are allowed entry on to the Holy Mountain. If you divide that by the number of Monasteries and Sketes, each has fewer than 4 new visitors each day. Only men are allowed to enter the Holy Mountain. Ephraimite Monasteries: No visa is required, both men and women are allowed entry. According to the Ephraimites’ own numbers, Saint Anthony’s alone receives 50,000 visitors a year. This demonstrates that Saint Anthony’s in Florence, Arizona out draws all of the 20 Monasteries and 12 Sketes on the Holy Mountain by over 14,000 visitors every year. Their Role in the Life of the Laity Mount Athos Monasteries: The Monks of the Holy Mountain pray for all of our souls. It is important to realize that they have left society and their role is important to the rich life of the Church. They do not compete with local parishes or with the Clergy. They do not encourage the Laity to have sacraments at their monasteries. They do not direct the Laity to certain friendly Ephraimite Priests. They do not create friction and division among the Laity based on heretical teachings. Ephraimite Monasteries: They claim to pray for all of us, but one wonders where do they find the time? They have not chosen to leave society, but become entrenched in it. They did not go into the dessert far away from society like the founder of Monasticism, Saint Anthony. Nor did they go on to a baron peninsula as did the Monks that found refuse on the Holy Mountain at Mt. Athos. The Ephraimites have placed themselves in the middle of major metropolitan areas in order to draw in society. By some accounts, they have placed 18 Monasteries within easy driving distance of 50% of all Greek Orthodox Christians in the United States. They regularly host baptisms as well as other sacraments. They now have a legion of followers that rely on the monks for “spiritual fathers” and their religious education and now many see these facilities as their New Parish homes. Involvement in the operation of businesses on Monastery grounds Mount Athos Monasteries: These monasteries do not operate internet businesses, mail order businesses, nor do they operate “gift shops” on the Holy Mountain. Real Anthonite Monastics are not concerned with “business” nor should they be concerned with property ownership by the individual Monks or their respective Monasteries. Metropolitan Isaiah, while he was a Priest, wrote on the topic of Orthodox Monasticism (see article entitled “Orthodox Monasticism: A Brief Study for the Layman, at: http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/monasticism/isaiah_orthodox_monasticism.htm). In this article he discusses “Poverty: The Third Rule” of Monasticism. He sets his sites on property ownership by Monastics. He states: “The third rule of monasticism is non-acquisition or poverty, as western Christianity calls it. It is certainly obvious that if a monastic acquires material things, his mind and heart are still with the things of the world. For one to be able to practice pure prayer, his total attention must be upon God”. There it is in a nutshell, on the Holy Mountain our Monks pray for us, they do not run concession stands at their Monasteries. They don’t worry about sale items, hiring accountants to fill out sales tax returns, shipping costs or any of the worldly concerns that affect those of us that have chosen a life in society. They are the real Monastics of our faith. Ephraimite Monasteries: One only needs to visit their local Ephraimite Monastery to see the Monks and Nuns at work creating trinkets for sale. Really, does Anthonite Monasticism call for an environment of Monastics working to have to create inventory for their website based businesses? Perhaps you did not realize that such website businesses existed. So, for your edification here are some examples: 1. http://www.stchrysostomoscrafts.com/ The available items seem endless; St. John Chrysostomos Monastery, Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. 2. http://www.holytransfigurationmonastery.com/ Here you can order Beeswax Candles, Clerical Clothing, Handicrafts, Crosses, and Icons; The Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Harvard, Illinois. 3. http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/ccp6/index.php -Products include , Books , Recorded Homilies , Music , Videos , Postcards, Prayer Ropes and Incense; The St. Anthony Monastery Florence, Arizona. Thus, the analogy used by the supporters of the Ephraimite Monasteries that they have merely brought “Anthonite Monasticism” to North America is clearly wrong. It is another attempt to define the mission of these places in a way that makes it difficult for the unsuspecting or underexposed to assess their true purpose. In other words, it is a sound bite used to mislead their followers. List of Differences There are many other reasons why these Monasteries can not be accurately portrayed as Anthonite. We have compiled a sampling of the differences in the following list: 1. You do not send your Wedding Crowns to Mt. Athos for blessings; 2. You do not bring your spouse to Mt. Athos for marriage counseling; 3. You do not bring your future spouse to Mount Athos to receive a pre-nuptial approval from your Spiritual Father; 4. Mount Athos does not have followers host dinner dances, ask their vendors for free goods to support their efforts, nor do they send followers out into society soliciting funds; 5. They do not set up Kiosks at the local Church Picnics and events raising money; 6. Monastics on Mount Athos do not act as local Parishes or clergy to the detriment of neighboring Greek Orthodox; 7. They do not walk into local Greek owned businesses and convince the owners to sell their merchandise like candles and baked goods; 8. There is no public cemetery on Mt. Athos. Only the Monks are buried there. The Ephraimite Monasteries will take anyone and it has been reported to us that some families have been charged as much as $10,000 for a burial; 9. The Mt. Athos Monastics will not spend their time and energies classifying Priests as “spiritual” or “western” thereby destroying the peace of the Church by dividing the Laity; 10. The Monasteries of Mt. Athos were not all founded by the same “Elder” who acts as a “spiritual guide” or are under the “spiritual guidance” of one Elder. 11. The Monasteries of Mt. Athos do not host symposiums. They do not invite in the general public, have television Cameras there and have it all promoted by the local “Greek Television Show”. They do not string together a group of Fundamentalist theologians, including the local Ephraimite Priests to pick and choose laundry lists of topics in order to pollute those who are novices in their understanding of Orthodoxy. These symposiums create an army of Pharisees thereby encouraging schismatic confrontations among the Youth of our faith; 12. The Monasteries of Mt. Athos are not relentlessly promoted in the Metropolis of Chicago in the manner that the Ephraimite Monasteries are so promoted. For example, go to the website of Hellenic Heartbeat which appears to be owned by Hellenic Broadcasting Company at: http://www.hellenicheartbeat.com/index.shtml Here not only will you find the link to two monasteries under the spiritual guidance of Elder Ephraim, but an example of an internet business operated by the St. John Chrysostomos. That Monastery states on its home page: “This site is brought to you by the friends of St, John Chrysostomos and we encourage you to contact us or the Monastery to support the important work they are doing” Copyright 2003 –2010 Hellenic Broadcasting Company Is it unusual that the “friends” that hold the copyright to and bring you the site of St. John Chrysostomos Monastery is a for profit Illinois corporation? Why? 13. The Monasteries on Mt. Athos do not host, nor do they operate camps. Why are the Monasteries of Elder Ephraim competing with our Metropolis camps? 14. The Monasteries of Mt. Athos do not have an army of Ephraimite Priests that bring bus loads of unsuspecting Orthodox Christians to their Monasteries. These visitors have an experience that resembles a theme park more than a Monastery. The visit always ends in the gift shop. 15. In our investigation of donations made to local non for profit charities and organizations, we could not find, for example, any record of the St. John Chrysostomos Monastery in Pleasant Prairies, Wisconsin supporting any one else’s “important work”. It would seem that their important work has more to do with flying in Priests and theologians that promote the Ephraimite agenda. Please, if you have any information to the contrary, email it to us. Just send us verifiable documentation of good works that have been initiated by these Ephraimite Monasteries or have benefited other nonprofit organizations or society in general. Your Call to Duty: Do not become an Accessory to the Radicalization and Distortion of the Greek Orthodox Faith We could go on with even more distinctions which seem endless. Each and every one of you must begin to question your Parish Priest and your local Hierarch. There is a serious problem and ignoring it will not fix solve the dilemma we all face as Greek Orthodox Christians. Let us suggest a step that will aid many of you in a complete understanding of the issues presented by the Ephraimites. Please purchase or borrow the book that was written by Archpriest John W. Morris. This book is titled “Orthodox Fundamentalists: A Critical View” (Light and Life Publishing P.O. Box 26421, Minneapolis MN. 55426-0421 Copyright 1997 ISBN 1-880971-40-2 it can be ordered at their website; http://www.light-n-life.com/) Although the book was published more than 10 years ago, it is still the best single resource we have found that analyzes the problems generated by, and the issues that surround the growing Fundamentalist and fringe elements within our Church which include the Ephraimites. In his concluding remarks Morris makes the following observations: “Thus, the Orthodox fundamentalists have turned Orthodoxy into a legalistic religion of rules, not Faith. They are like the Pharisees of whom Christ said, ‘Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.’ (St. Matthew 23:15) They dogmatize customs that have changed as society changes instead of concentrating on the preservation of the unchanging truth of Orthodoxy. Some Orthodox fundamentalists create schism after schism as one leader after another shows their pride by setting themselves up as the ‘true’ Orthodox Church.” Fr. John Morris, Orthodox Fundamentalists: A Critical View, Light and Life Publishing 1997, page 78 For those that have lived through the implosion of their Parishes when an Ephraimite Priest was assigned, the words of Fr. Morris ring with truth that has yet to be heard by our Hierarchs. We wait and we watch. No longer will we be silent about the abuses perpetrated against our beloved faith. Please continue to visit our website, send us your comments and feel free to criticize us. In the beginning of this article under the section entitled “Their Claim”, we stated the Ephraimite position that “….people are only upset with this form of monasticism because they don’t understand it.” The problem with the Ephraimites is that they are practicing their own form of monasticism. It is one that is unrecognizable. They make their own rules based on legalistic interpretations of our father’s teachings and on quote mining. Our objections are not based on ignorance or our inability to understand. We are trying to protect the Greek Orthodox faithful from buying into a warped form of monasticism that does not fit in nor represent our Orthodox faith. There is another reason why the misnomer “Athonite” is used by the Ephraimites to describe their form of monasticism. The mere word “Athonite” constructs a barricade in one’s mind. It is common knowledge that real Athonite monks are isolated and beyond the grasp, control or influence of society. The Ephraimites use the word “Athonite” as a shield to prevent access to the young monastics by their parents until their conversion and alienation process is completed. If the world of Ephraim’s monasteries was so good and pure, then, could it not withstand these parents from having contact with their children? Instead there are parents that go weeks, months and even years before the heads of these pseudo monasteries allow parents to see their children. The word “Athonite” is used to facilitate the segregation of parents from their children who have just fled to the monastery. Go to you tube to see a video of some parents who have lost their children to Ephraim’s monasteries. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZLXa7zLMk4 We hope we have given our readers something to think about. In future articles we will analyze the “Myths” that have been generated by the followers of Elder Ephraim and his surrogates. Please do not take things at face value. God gave each of us the gift of individual discernment and free will for a reason. It is your duty to educate yourselves about the true Orthodox religion instead of just relying on your spiritual father. If you just rely on your spiritual father’s teachings, you risk willingly becoming an accessory to the radicalization and distortion of our Orthodox faith thereby contributing to the schism that is occurring within the Greek Orthodox Church of America.