After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY


The Balkan Wars video

The Balkan Wars
15 minutes

The Serbs have been the most demonized group of modern times and their side of the story has never been presented to the world. This ethnic group in the Balkans have been unfairly demonized and most of the world have believed the false propaganda and outright lies. The mistreatment and false representation of the Serbs, an Orthodox Christian ethnic group in he Balkans, is a prime example how the media, historians and governments can deliberately distort facts and rally together to target a group and accomplish their greedy objectives and aims.

Get to heaven by using your mind

False elder Paisios 
official saint in world-orthodoxy
teaches positive thinking 
Norman Vincent Peale

"The person, who, under all circumstances, is inclined to have positive thoughts, will always be a winner, his life will be a constant festivity, since it is constantly based on his positive thinking."

Paschal Services in Australia

Be sure to see updates
Paschal Services in Australia

Photos St. John parish in Sydney
Lessons from the Myrrh-bearing Women
Photos from the Annunciation Feast
Concelebration with GOC in Melbourne

Synod Meeting in Odessa

Day Two:
From the website:

The second day began with a drafting of a joint statement from the ROCA and TOC of Greece.  The ROCA bishops then turned to a discussion of internal matters in the Church.  It was decided that all parishes in the USA will be served by Met. Agafangel (when he is in the US) and Archbishop Andronik.  In matters that cannot be resolved, the final authority remains with the ROCA First Hierarch.  Oksana Tatyanenko is named as the treasurer of the Synod of Bishops.  The Synod residence in the US was discussed and it was decided to issue an appeal asking the church members to help pay off the mortgage.  A financial report was approved.  Fr. Andrew Kencis is awarded the right to wear a cross with decorations.  Archpriest Gennadiy Subbotin in Kazakhstan is awarded the right to wear a pailtsa.  Bishop Roman reported on the purchase of a large house in Nazareth, where a chapel will be established and will also include rooms for those on pilgrimages and possibly for monastics.
Thank you, Dimitri Gontscharow, for this translation

Rdr. Daniel sharing
A Human English translation:

In Odessa, on April 28, in the new hall of the Diocesan Synod's home, began a regular meeting of the Synod of Bishops, as participated in by  the First Hierarch of ROCOR, Metropolitan Agafangel, with Archbishops Andronicus and George, with bishops Athanasius, Cyril, Nikon and Roman. Bishop Gregory participated in the Synod via Skype. The first day was attended by the GOC of  Greece: by the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops,  Photios, with Bishops Ambrose and Clement, with the GOC translator,  Father Michael. The recording of the protocol [the minutes of the meeting] was assigned to Archpriest Leonid Plyats.

"The hierarchs of ROCA heard Metropolitan Agafangel’s oral report on the life of our Church during the period between councils, and they shared information concerning events that have occurred in their dioceses. After which, representatives of the Synod of TOC of Greece asked questions [about information] that is disturbing their flock in connection with various publications on the Internet. After a detailed discussion by all the hierarchs, complete oneness of mind was ascertained regarding the questions posed."

Fr. Michael (GOC), Bishop Nikon, Bishop Cyril, Archbishop Andronik, Bishop Ambrose (GOC), Metropolitan Agafangel, Bishop Photios (GOC), Archbishop George, Bishop Clement (GOC), Bishop Afana, Bishop Roman, Archpriest Leonid

Memory Eternal

Archpriest Lev Lebedeff
 16/29 April 1998  †
 A tribute 
Archpriest Lev Lebedeff. 

RocorMP took Kursk Root Icon to Ephraimite monastery

17 Sept 2010


Concept of "Validation" in Ephraimite Monastery cults

Good article found on world-orthodox website:
The author is in world-orthodoxy and anonymous.  But his information here is supported and recognized as well-grounded by at least one Ephraimite victim-escapee I know personally.  
also see:  This article explains several things, including giving a reason for why the Ephraimite escapees live in fear

Concept of "Validation" in Geronda Ephraim's Monasteries
4/28/15 ScottNevinsMemorial blogger

“Validation” is a buzzword that is thrown around frequently in some of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word validate as follows:

2a. To support or corroborate on a sound or authoritative basis.
2b. To recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of.

  In Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries, “validation” is normally used in the context of Geronda Ephraim: what he did or didn’t say, what miracles he performed or didn’t, what he does or doesn’t do, etc. It is quite common to find the “broken telephone” phenomena amongst the monasteries’ pilgrims. It is also common for rumors to spread around, such as, “Geronda Ephraim said the Antichrist has been born during a homily.” Thus the monks and nuns constantly “validate” and do not “validate” the various stories and rumors that spread amongst Geronda Ephraim’s followers.

Filotheou Brotherhood ca. 
late 80searly 90s[Geronda Paisios of Arizona, 
kneeling far right, Fr. Germanos of NY 
kneeling opposite]

A standard rule of thumb for the monasteries is that any negative story—whether true or false—is automatically dismissed as “invalid.” If it cannot be outright denied, it is minimized. If someone involved relates the scandal or embarrassing (for the monastery) incident to other pilgrims and spiritual children of Geronda Ephraim, then a system of damage control is put into effect:

1. If the person telling the story (or “gossiping”/”slandering”) is a spiritual child of Geronda Ephraim, then the Geronda or Gerondissa will talk to the individual directly. This will usually start with asking the individual why they repeated such things and ending with an obedience not to repeat the story again. If the individual is resisting the admonitions, they may be told some cautionary tales about all the tragic things that happen to individuals who speak against or go against Geronda Ephraim; “punishments from God.”
2. If the individual “running his mouth” is not close to the monastery, they are easily dismissed to others as “liars,” “deluded,” having “psychological problems,” etc. Though these epitaphs have also been hurled onto close spiritual children of the monasteries who repeated big scandals or very private information to others.
3. The Gerondissa or Geronda will also try to find out how many people were told and if they do not call each one individually to affect damage control, they may call the main persons of those pilgrim circles and ask them to tell the others.
4. The Gerondissa or Geronda will also call all their monastics (or at least the ones who are aware of the scandalous incident) and give them a strict obedience not to talk to anyone about the incident. “If anyone asks, I don’t have a blessing to speak to lay people.” If it is a monastic who has diakonimata where they have to somewhat talk with lay people, they might be told, “If anyone asks, say no (or I don’t know)”; if they keep persisting, tell them to ask the Geronda or Gerondissa. For a monastic, this is not lying or breaking a commandment; it is obedience. The only sin in obedience is not doing obedience.
5. In the cases of former monastics talking about their personal experiences, they are easily dismissed as deluded. “They didn’t do obedience, they hid thoughts from their Geronda or Gerondissa, and the devil gained a foothold in their soul. They became deluded and left.” In some cases, the former monastic will be dismissed as one with lots of psychological problems, or even “possessed.”

Newly baptized converts, Filotheou Monastery.
 [Hieromonk Chrysostoms, Fr. Vasilios 
& Fr. Germanos are on the left under 
over-hanging tree branch]

The above are just a few ways in which the monasteries manoeuvre in order to protect their image, as well as keep the pilgrims in check. Their image must be kept pristine and immaculate, without scandal. Geronda Ephraim has given strict obediences to all his abbots and abbesses, “You must know and see everything that is going on in your monasteries. I do not want scandals, especially in front of lay people. I do not want to hear anything negative or complaints from pilgrims about your monasteries, etc.”

Sometimes the monasteries cannot silence those who reveal their secrets, or simply speak about the things that go on behind closed doors. At this point, a discrediting campaign begins. If this doesn’t work then they will sometimes utilize lawyers as a scare tactic. These tactics were used a day or so before the KVOA TV [Tucson 4] exposé on St. Anthony’s Monastery in 2005. Geronda Ephraim was really saddened that this exposé was being aired, and a call was sent out to spiritual children to call, fax, email, and flood the station anyway they could with support for the monasteries and Geronda. Also, spiritual children of Geronda Ephraim who are lawyers contacted the TV station and threatened them with legal action if there was anything false or slanderous. Spiritual children of Geronda Ephraim and Geronda Paisios began an internet campaign to discredit David Smith and the content of his webpage. David Smith’s webpage was taken down a couple years later, but an archived edition still exists:

Pilgrims who had no knowledge of the inner workings of the monasteries—something only trusted monastics are privy to—began to defend the inner workings of the monastery based on the experiences that were tailor-made for them. Some spiritual children went as far as to threaten David Smith and try to intimidate him to stop talking about Geronda Ephraim.

Thus, true to their cult-like nature, and following the trend of every other cult that tries to silence their accusers, the monasteries and their pilgrims utilize a basic campaign of fear-mongering (“don’t speak against Geronda, it’ll end bad for you;” i.e. possession, losing salvation, etc.); intimidation, smear campaigns of discrediting (“psychological problems,” “deluded,” etc.).

In the monasteries, paranoia and suspicion was ramped up, making the atmospheres tense and suffocating.


Last year, a Tumblr page about St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. (Roscoe, NY) was started and it revealed many of the scandals and indiscretions that have occurred there since its’ foundation, as well as, private details not commonly known by the general public.  The monastery attempted to have the page pulled through numerous complaints to TUMBLR. When that method of harassment didn’t work, they hired a lawyer and accused the TUMBLR page of “impersonating the monastery,” stating that the page “misrepresents the ideological underpinnings” of the monastery’s “tenets.” The monastery’s use of the term “ideology” is quite interesting. In contemporary usage, this word is generally used in the context of politics, though in the case of religion, it refers to fundamentalists and extremists. Furthermore, the effect of an ideology is always to destroy true moral transcendence.1

According to the TUMBLR page, a disclaimer that they were not affiliated with the monastery was required in order to keep the page running. The TUMBLR page also posted the lawyer’s letter.


“This blog is not directly affiliated with St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery (According to the monastery’s lawyers, this blog “misrepresents the ideological underpinnings of their tenets” – 
 http://stnektariosmonastery.tumblr.com/post/103102374101/account-temporarily-terminated-via-letter-from-the )”

It was also noted that shortly after this page appeared, the Monastery’s website added a Notice to Users section stating:

 NOTICE TO USERS: The information on this site is the property of The Holy Monastery of St. Nektarios. This is the only website on the internet that is managed and approved by the monks of The Holy Monastery of St. Nektarios. Information found posted on other internet sites and blogs regarding St. Nektarios Monastery and its monks has not been validated, and in certain instances is inaccurate and misleading. Everyone is free to read and reflect on the information on this site. However, none of the information on this site may be reproduced without the prior written consent of St. Nektarios Monastery. If you wish to use any of the material on this site please contact us. †May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you!

This is a very interesting statement. Essentially, the monastery will decide what stories are valid and which ones are invalid. Even if a story is true, it will be dismissed if it mars the monastery’s image. Thus, the monastery will paint a tailored image of its blameless perfection.


In another interesting twist, the monasteries also use stories that have not been validated in order to promote Geronda Ephraim. Capitalizing on the fame and glory of Saints Porphyrios the Kafsokalavyte and Paisios the Hagiorite, a recent trend in the monasteries is to tell pilgrims how these two Elders highly praised Geronda Ephraim and commented on his holiness, etc. However, none of these statements have been validated by these two Elders’ monasteries, nor are they found in any of the books about these Elders.

St. Paisios the Athonite 
does not mention Elder 
Joseph the Hesychast, 
or his synodia in his book 
on Athonite monks.

In the 90’s and early 00’s however, the stories at Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries were much different. The content of the stories centered on how much difficulty St. Porphyrios and St. Paisios gave Geronda Ephraim in Greece. Both of them were highly critical of Elder Joseph the Hesychast and stated on many occasions to many people that he was deluded. In Elder Paisios book, Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters—in which he gives short biographies of the greatest and holiest monks on Mount Athos—Elder Joseph is nowhere to be found.

Both these saints criticized and disagreed with his methodologies as an Elder. They believed he was deluded and they cautioned people about him. St. Paisios was also very critical of Philotheou Monastery and how things were run there; especially the practise of “yelling the prayer.” St. Paisios would tell pilgrims who were thinking of visiting Philotheou, “Don’t go there, it’s too noisy.”

Both St. Porphyrios & St. Paisios 
believed Elder Ephraim of Arizona 
and his elder were deluded.
In the mid-90’s, Geronda Joseph Voutsas (NY); Gerondissa Olympiada Voutsas (PA) and Gerondissa Melanie Mikragiannis (WI) would tell pilgrims about St. Porphyrios, “Yes, he was very holy but he was also very critical of Geronda Ephraim.” Apparently, all three of them, together with Sister Vryenni, went to visit St. Porphyrios when they were lay people, and heard themselves many negative things come out of St. Porphyrios mouth about Geronda Ephraim, “Things not worth repeating!”

The monasteries’ storyline back then was that both St. Porphyrios and St. Paisios were jealous of Geronda Ephraim; how holy he is, what spiritual heights he has reached, how he has revived the Holy Mountain, and all the thousands of spiritual children that flock to him, etc. Sometimes detailed descriptions were given about how both saints didn’t have the kind of blind obedience Geronda Ephraim had and that rendered it impossible for them to reach the same spiritual heights. Then details of how Apostle Peter and Paul fought, or St. John Chrysostom and St. Epiphanios of Salamis fought and cursed each other were given as analogies.

Due to the above things, plus many more unspoken things that only the Athonite monks here in America know about, certain measures were taken at the monasteries to boycott the two saints. In 1998, at a gathering at the Holy Archangels Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. (TX), Geronda Paisios (AZ), Geronda Dositheos (TX) and Geronda Joseph (NY) decided to boycott the publications of Saints Porphyrios and Paisios—especially Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters, which was a huge slight to both Elder Joseph and Elder Ephraim.

The decision to boycott St. Paisios & St. Porphyrios’ 
books occurred during this weekend at Holy 
Archangels Monastery in Texas, 1998.
During this time period, the backrooms of the bookstore at St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. (AZ) were flooded with unopened boxes of books about these two saints which were never going to be put out in the bookstore. Many of the boxes were sent free as a blessing, too. Not all the monasteries were joined in the boycott, but even those that were breached the boycott; there’s good money and profit in selling Geronda Porphyrios and Paisios books.

As these two saints became increasingly popular in the West, and more publications were being made available in the English language, the demand increased greatly. People start asking the monasteries in the boycott to order these books for them. Over time, the boycott slowly faded away, and much profit was made in peddling these two elders’ books. In time, the New York monastery—one of the original boycotters—even distributed a couple Elder Paisios’ books.

Due to increasing popularity in the English-speaking world, via the numerous English translations of their books, some of the monasteries involved in the boycott realized it was a good opportunity to make profit. As well, the monastics couldn’t really tell the pilgrims the books were boycotted, nor the reasons why. The books of these two saints were in high demand, pilgrims kept requesting them and asking if they could place special orders. Thus, giving into the pressure and demand, some of the monasteries lifted the boycott and began to sell Elder Porphyrios and Elder Paisios books. St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY even distributed a couple of the English titles.

Eventually, the old stories—true stories—about how much these two Elders (now officially canonized saints) fought against Elder Ephraim diminished. Then, the new stories came—stories not validated by the monasteries under these two saints, nor mentioned in any publications of these two saints, either validated or not. It’s now being taught that St. Porphyrios called Elder Ephraim the last saint, the last depository of healing, the saint of humility, etc. St. Paisios is now said to have prophesied the monasteries in America and extolled Elder Ephraim for his apostolic efforts.

The biography of Elder Arsenios states St. Paisios retracted his original opinion that Elder Joseph the Hesychast was deluded:

“Elder Paisios admired the life and struggles of our ever-to-be-remembered Elder, Fr. Joseph. He told us:
-‘Oh, what I lost! When I came to the Holy Mountain the blessed Elder was living. I heard of his reputation and one of my acquaintances said to me: ‘Don’t listen. They are all lies. They are in error [πλανεμένοι]’. I believed him and did not go to get to know him and benefit from him. However, when his letters were published and I read them, then I understood what a rare person this was, and what a great treasure I lost.'” (Taken from Elder Arsenios the Cave-Dweller)
The humble grave of St. Paisios 
of the Monastery of St. John 
the Theologian, Souroti

This book was published after both these men were long dead, and neither can validate or refute it; however, the monastery under St. Paisios, St. John the Theologian in Sourouti, has not validated this tale. Up until the mid-2000s, the monasteries here taught the Elder Paisios criticized Elder Jospeh the Hesychast and Geronda Ephraim as deluded, and had many critical things to say about Elder Joseph the Hesychast. This book is published by a monastery under one of Elder Joseph the Hesychast’s disicples, and it states that St. Paisios admired him.
The humble grave of St. Porphyrios, 
Kavsokalyvia, Mount Athos

It  should be noted that neither the disciples of Saints Porphyrios and Paisios have validated any of the stories or prophecies these two supposedly said about Geronda Ephraim of Arizona. It should also be noted that none of the publications in circulation by or about these two saints mention any of the supposed quotes and prophecies about Geronda Ephraim of Arizona.

Thus, an interesting double standard has occurred at Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries:

        a.    Any negative press about Geronda Ephraim and his monasteries is automatically dismissed as invalid. The monasteries will choose which stories are valid and will dictate their history and truth exactly the way they want people to view it. And these validations can only be okayed by the abbot or abbess.
b. Any negative press about Geronda Ephraim and his monasteries that came from the mouths of Geronda Porphyrios and Geronda Paisios is no longer spoken of since they are both officially canonized as saints. It looks bad for the monasteries if two of the biggest contemporary saints after St. Nektarios discredited Geronda Ephraim and his elder (Joseph the Hesychast) as deluded.
c. Today, stories that have not been validated by St. Porphyrios and St. Paisios’ disciples, and were unheard of until recently, are told to pilgrims as validated truth. These “invalidated” stories are capitalizations on the fame and holiness of St. Porphyrios and St. Paisios and are used to promote and validate Geronda Ephraim. Now that these two elders are officially canonized, their words have even more weight and validity in the orthodox world.
d. Thus, the abbots and abbesses choose what stories are valid and invalid for their own monasteries. They also validate invalid stories from other monasteries to further promote their own agenda.

The brotherhood of St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY 
with visiting abbots monks from other monasteries.

The “Holy Manna Relic”
Former seminarion 
Vasili Datch now 
monk Panteleimon 
at St. Nektarios 
Monastery (NY)
 For over a decade, one of the reliquaries of St. Nektarios Monastery had a “piece of Holy Manna” from the Old Testament. For over a decade, people venerated this “relic” with reverence, not realizing that is was a biblically impossible miracle for manna to last for more than a day, let alone 3,400 years or so. The Israelites were instructed to eat only the manna they had gathered for each day. Leftovers of manna stored up for the following day “bred worms and stank”: the exception being the day before the Sabbath (Preparation Day), when twice the amount of manna was gathered, which did not spoil overnight; because, Exodus 16:23-24 [states] “This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’ So they saved it until morning, as Moses said was commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it.” A novice with a theological degree finally convinced the abbot that it was impossible for the fragment to be true manna from the Old Testament. Initially there was resistance, but the abbot finally decided the authority of the Old Testament was more valid than the word of the person who gave him the “relic.” The abbot ordered a new reliquary from Greece and did not include a space for the manna.

Stylianos Kementzetzidis and his fabricated Crypto-Christians of Turkey persecution and miracle stories
The monasteries have had a long history of “validation” issues. They validated and promoted Stylianos Kementzetzidis, a long-time spiritual child of Geronda Ephraim, and retold all his “miracle” and “vision” stories to visiting pilgrims. When it came to light that it was all an elaborate hoax to raise money for his ailing publishing house, Orthodox Kypseli, the monasteries stopped telling pilgrims these stories, but also tried to hide the fact that they were a lie, so as not to “weaken the faith of the faint-hearted.”

The monasteries that were involved in selling his “Crypto-Christian” miracle books and retelling his hoax stories to numerous pilgrims did not issue a disclaimer about the lie. They simply pulled the books and any literature from the bookstores and stopped repeating the stories. Certain monastics who had blessings to talk with lay people were given obediences not to tell pilgrims these stories were a hoax and lie, so as “not to scandalize them or create a stumbling block to their faith.”


The miracle in Syria: Chopped up dead man sewn back together and resurrected
The monasteries also promoted the “Miracle in Syria,” even distributing falsified letters from the Jerusalem Patriarchate “validating” the miracle. Once it turned out to be a hoax that went away to. The flyers detailing the miracle were pulled and the monastics simply stopped relating the “miracle” to pilgrims.


Persistent frontal suture misrepresented as exclusive orthodox miracle
 The monasteries claim that priests on Mount Athos have crosses on their skulls; i.e. “an extra suture that runs down the front of their skull which is scientifically impossible and is only a miracle in orthodoxy,” etc. This “miracle” validates Orthodoxy as the only truth. Yet, it is well documented in medical literature and occurs throughout the world in both male and female populations; it’s called metopic (or persistent) frontal suture. The simplest spin on this, “Well, that’s the tradition passed down on Mount Athos.”


In the monasteries, it is taught that 
Fr. Seraphim’s disciples manipulated
 his corpse to make it look peaceful.
A pilgrim once asked an Athonite monk at one of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries about Fr. Seraphim Rose. The response was an issue about him only being chrismated (cannot be holy or a saint without orthodox baptism); there was an issue about him being idiorhythmic; there was issue of him saying things like there are no more elders (Geronda Ephraim was stated to be the holiest man alive and one of the greatest Elders in the history of the church). The pilgrim was told Fr. Seraphim Rose was deluded and issues of homosexuality were witnessed at his monastery while he was alive (apparently pilgrims to the monastery during those years later became monks at Philothoeu Monastery and told the other monks about the homosexual vibe they witnessed there).

Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi 
L: Repose with mouth open. 
R: Afterwards, mouth closed and “smiling.”
When the pilgrim asked about Fr. Seraphim’s repose and his smiling corpse with a peaceful expression, the Athonite monk responded that it was said that he had a very difficult death and that his disciples manipulated the body so it looked like he had a blessed repose. Yet, Geronda Joseph of Vatopaidi—whom Geronda Ephraim has mentioned in homilies did not have complete obedience and was problematic—has a similar smiling corpse and peaceful look on his face.

Thus, one is to surmise that Fr. Seraphim Rose’s death is not blessed—since Geronda Ephraim’s monks have not validated it as miraculous—but Geronda Joseph of Vatopaidi’s repose is blessed because it has been validated by the monks. The pilgrim also asked about Geronda Paisios (abbot of St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, AZ), who praised Fr. Seraphim Rose in anOrthodox Word article as someone converts can look up to, etc. The monk chuckled and said, “That’s not what I’ve heard him say,” and left it at that.

The biologically natural process of corpses returning to their pre-Rigor condition misrepresented as an exclusive Orthodox monastic miracle
“A Monk’s Funeral: 30 hrs after death, the corpse 
retains its flexibility” [Athonite Moments, p. 200]
 Furthermore, the Athonite monks in Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries talk about a miracle on Mount Athos where monks do not experience rigor mortis—thus another “miracle exclusive to Orthodoxy.” However, depending on which monk one talks to, this is either exclusively Athonite monks, all orthodox monks throughout the world, or unsure. However, every mortician knows the technique of “breaking the rigor mortise.” Basically, you bend the limbs back and forth a few times and the joints will loosen up. This “breaks” the stiffness and the body is back to normal. Surely, Athonite monks know this trick if they’re teaching pilgrims that faces of corpses can be manipulated to look like they are smiling. Also, contrary to common perception the process of Rigor Mortis actually does reverse and the body returns to a flaccid state; the muscles losing their tightness in the reverse of how they gained it: i.e.: those larger muscles that contracted last will lose their stiffness first and return to their pre-Rigor condition. Thus, if a monastic is left out long enough before burial, it is natural for him to return to his pre-Rigor condition. No miracle, just natural process.


NOTES: 1 http://www.frontpagemag.com/2010/jamie-glazov/symposium-when-does-a-religion-become-an-ideology

Living Orthodoxy #202

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Sample issue

Enthronement Address GOC Bp. Auxentios

Enthronement Address of His Grace,
Bishop Auxentios of Etna and Portland 
13 April 2015 (Old Style)

The theme of the address is Bp. Auxentios' perspective on "the ills that plague the Church today and the challenges, correspondingly, that confront us."

excerpt from address:

... Slowly, the reverberations of these traumatic events crept into the Church and provoked the aforementioned disruptions within Her internal life.  Most recently, we saw with our own eyes what many had thought impossible: the capitulation of the venerable Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia to the Moscow Patriarchate in the most unprincipled way and under humiliating terms.

Let no one dismiss this event as insignificant.  This was a Church with a treasury of spiritual resources: pious and devout laity, true monastics, martyrs, ascetics, intellectual giants, undaunted apologists, saints, and holy hierarchs.  On the international stage and in the New World, no Church, let alone one of such relatively few numbers, gave such a clarion witness to Orthodoxy.  Her magnificent Churches reflected the priorities and sacrifices of her clergy and faithful.  In contrast to the comfortable pews, theatrically inspired architecture, and - musical organs,  of the surrounding modernist Orthodox Churches, Her traditional architecture and iconography and her open naves, free of the seating of the theatre and filled with faithful either standing or prostrating in repentance, reflected the Church’s genuine ascetic ethos, testifying to the externals of tradition that bespeak the Church’s internal authenticity.  Similarly, her clergy and faithful, more than any other jurisdiction, respected the clergyman’s rason (cassock), his uncut beard and hair, and the proper, modest apparel appropriate to the prophetic ministry of the Priesthood and to the peculiar, otherworldly calling of the people of God, the Royal Priesthood. 

Again, unlike any other Orthodox Church, ROCOR’s mission, proclaimed by her Hierarchy and apologists, was crystal clear.  First she was to preserve and share, in the diaspora, the legacy of the same Orthodoxy into which Rus’ had been baptized, producing a millennium of sanctified believers now populating heavenly mansions.  And second, she was to facilitate the restoration of Orthodoxy in Russia by the Church’s traditional means: repentance and a salvific Orthodox confession that would include, among other things, a disavowal of the atheistically inspired betrayal of Sergianism that so compromised the soviet Church’s internal life. 

Sadly, the union of the ROCOR with Moscow, at a time when its strong witness and observance of the Faith had begun to wane, was anything but “crystal clear.” Issues of repentance and Orthodox confession were obfuscated, principles were compromised, and even though it was muffled by the distractions and confused rhetoric of the dialogues, ROCOR suffered a violent rupture with her past.  By her union with Moscow, she annulled her previous Synodal acts and proclamations and committed to a course of historical revisionism.  Having been a Sister Church of our former Synod in Resistance for ten years, it broke relations with us, as its more forthright Bishops told us, because Moscow demanded this.  Of course, our Bishops would not have agreed to a union with Moscow under any circumstances anyway.  But the dictated rupture in communion was significant.

We are still witnessing and measuring the consequences of this tragedy, an event that Bishop Photiy of Triaditza, from our Sister Church of the Old Calendarists in Bulgaria, likens to a descent from the Cross — a dreadful seduction by the last temptation that our immortal enemy hurled at our Lord at the time of His crucifixion.  His Eminence’s analysis is haunting: 

To me, this was the cruelest truth: becoming convinced that these people had begun to resemble internally, in spirit, the Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate. This means cunning; it means aspirations towards the benefits of officialdom and of worldly recognition, towards material profits and advantages. ...

Of course, not only the ROCOR hierarchy was harmed.  A venerable and seemingly invulnerable institution had fallen in the believers’ eyes, and their faith was shaken.  For every believer who looked to the “Synod” — even from outside her jurisdictional boundaries — for inspiration and guidance, the tragedy begs important questions: If a bastion of Orthodoxy can suffer such a fall, who is safe? Were we wrong to have such high expectations for the ROCOR hierarchy, counting on them always to follow the right course and to set the golden standard?  Were we wrong to trust our hierarchy?  One can imagine the same tempting spirit that assailed our Lord now screaming with delight, “No one is safe; your expectations were naive; your trust unfounded!  The Church this Nazarene founded is broken, schism and disunity will prevail!” 

The challenge of our generation of Orthodox will be to rediscover and reaffirm the Church’s answer to these difficult questions and to refute the slanderous replies of the tempter.  Since the Apostolic Succession of our own Church derives directly from the ROCOR, this challenge is especially important for us. ...

Request help compose life of Fr. Valentin

from Internet Sobor

Photo from 2008, with newly departed, Fr. Valentin, and a request from Vl. Agafangel for someone who knew him, to compose his life and share it-

 RE: ROCA: reposed in the Lord Archpriest Valentin Iwaszewicz -  METROPOLITAN AGAFANGEL  04/26/2015 22:11
We would like to have someone who knew Fr. Valentin, who would publish here some detailed material about him, and his life. Father deserves to be remembered always. In the photo: during a visit to Trinity Church in Argentina, Vl. Agafangel, at a clergy meeting of the South American Diocese on  August 22, 2008. http://sinod.ruschurchabroad.org/080831.htm

Fr. Valentin front right

Eternal Memory

Bishop Daniel of Erie
April 13/26, 2010 

Blessed Repose of priest in ROCOR

The Lord will redeem the souls of His servants...

Father  VALENTIN has passed on-
Christ is Risen!
By the will of God,  on the Thursday morning of April 10/23, 2015, at the  Holy Protection Church in KAPONESE, Misiones, Argentina, went to the Lord our spiritual father and Rector,  Archpriest Valentin Iwaszewicz. To fulfill  the wishes of the deceased,  his body  will be buried near the church which he built, The Holy Protection Church, in Kaponese, Misiones, Argentina. The funeral service will be on Saturday 12/25, 7pm, and he will be  buried on the 13/26 of April, Sunday after the Divine Liturgy.  Worship in Misiones will be chaired by His Eminence Gregory, Bishop of San Paulo and South America.
Therefore, worship during these days at HOLY TRINITY CATHEDRAL CHURCH are canceled and will not be held.

Letter of condolence from Vladyka Agafangel
Christ is Risen!

According to the information received reposed rector of Trinity Church in Buenos Aires (Argentina), archpriest Valentin Iwaszewicz.

Another irreplaceable loss for our Church.

I express my deepest condolences to the family and the congregation of the newly-reposed Valentine.

Eternal memory!

+ Metropolitan Agafangel

Two Letters from Etna:
 - invitation to the faithful to share in the blessing by offering prayers
 - condolences sent to the family 

11 April 2015 (Old Style)

Dear Clergy, Faithful, and Friends 
of the Diocese of Etna and Portland:

Christ is Risen!

On behalf of our Bishop-elect and our brotherhood, I sent the following letter of condolence to Reverend Father Pablo Iwaszewicz and Archpriest Father Alejandro Iwaszewicz. Both are married Priests and the sons of the newly reposed servant of God, Archpriest Valentin Iwaszewicz. The former lives in the U.S., the latter in Argentina. Both were reared in the Russian émigré community in Buenos Aires, where their father served the magnificent Russian Cathedral there.

I would ask all of our faithful to remember Father Valentin in their prayers and for the clergy to commemorate him for forty days in the Divine Liturgy. The Iwaszewicz family is part of our Sister Church, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and His Grace and I have enjoyed spiritual contacts with Father Paul and Father Alejandro.

Most of you know Father Alejandro because of his incarceration in a notorious Uruguayan prison, to which he was taken from his home in Argentina on trumped up charges of financial impropriety—of which he was exonerated—essentially made against him at the instigation of Moscow, which has extended its international aims to South America, insinuating itself into the political world of several countries.

In addition to my comments, below, about Father Valentin, I would like to add that I learned this morning that he reposed while resting after Liturgy in the rectory of the Church that he built in sub-tropical Amazonia (in the province of  Misiones, in Argentina).  Such is, of course, a paradigmatic holy repose. As well, Father Pablo reported the following to me as he was leaving to attend the funeral, which will be this Sunday:

"When I was making the travel arrangements, an overwhelming and pleasant fragrance suddenly filled the room.  I calmly went to the Icon corner. Then I said in a loud voice, "Dad?"  The fragance became stronger, and suddenly vanished.  What can I say? Glory to God and the Theotokos.  I thank my father for visiting during his first day in the New Life….  Later, people asked if I had some rose oil with me.  So, it was not my imagination. 

"Fr. Valentin's body is in the Church now, and some pious farmers mentioned that he shows a smile ."

I found these comments very moving and significant. 

Memory eternal!

Least Among Monks, † Bishop Chrysostomos


10 April 2015 (Old Style)
Holy Martyr Patriarch Gregory
of Constantinople, Hanged
by the Turkish Sultan

Dear Father Pablo and Father Alejandro:

Христосъ Воскресе! Благословите!

I just heard this evening of the repose of your venerable father in the flesh, Archpriest Father Valentin. His Grace, Bishop Auxentios and I, our Abbot, Archimandrite Father Akakios, and our brotherhood extend to both of you our condolences and heartfelt sadness at your loss.

However, I believe that you can both take solace in the fact that your father reposed during Paschaltide, in the shining Grace of the Timeless Pascha, which is an immense blessing, and that he left as his legacy two servants of the Church. Without doubt, his soul certainly soared immediately into the Heavenly Realm and rests in the bosom of Abraham.

My profoundest condolences to the rest of your family. We will remember your Father in daily Liturgy for forty days. We will do a Trisagion (memorial service) for him tomorrow morning and on the third day after his repose.

Вечная память!

Least Among Monks, † Bishop Chrysostomos
Most Reverend Chrysostomos,
former Archbishop and
Metropolitan emeritus
of Etna

Thursday April 23, 2015

Vechnaya Pamyat! and Memory Eternal! The Repose in Argentina, of Father Valentin Iwaszewicz
 Today died in Argentina,  Father Valentin Iwaszewicz.

Pray for the repose of his soul. May God grant peace to his family.

Prayers are asked for his soul, and when we receive more information, we will share it.
Rd. Daniel in Oregon

This sad news, just now received and shared by Constantino Bussyguin.

May newly reposed Father Valentin find  rest with the saints!

Repetitious Orthodoxy

Again and again...

The Religious Spirit of the Slavs (1916)
 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic

Downloadable E-Book 

excerpt page 10-11

In no other Churches are there so many repetitions, in no other so many symbols, as in the Orthodox Church.  The whole worship is a continual repetition for thousands of years.  In Byzantium was fixed the image of Christ, His mission, His worship.  The whole system of belief and worship came, fixed and accomplished, over to us Slavs.  To keep that system intact for ever was the first duty taught us by those who brought it.  Its tendency was to impress the image of Christ in the imagination and heart of the generations as much as possible and always in the same way.  We are living in a world of evil; Christ is leader of the struggle against this evil.  Men lived thousands of years wavering between good and evil, worshipping good and evil.  Now they must be for good.  They are educated and accustomed to weighing things for themselves.  Therefore it has become necessary to ask them every day, every hour even, to confess that they are with Christ.  They must repeat it again and again, in prayers, in signs, in symbols, until it becomes a new custom, a new education, a new blood and spirit, a new man, a new earth.  They must be reminded in every place and at all times that they are soldiers of Christ and not of Perun.  Churches, shrines, chapels, ikons, candles, processions, priests, bells, monasteries, travelling preachers, every day's saints, fast seasons – everything is the repetition of the same idea, namely, that Christ is the ruler of life and we are His followers.  Christ must be expressed everywhere, indoors and outdoors.  Many Englishmen have remarked that the Bible is read very seldom in the home in Russia and Serbia.  That is true.  People read the Bible more in symbols, pictures and signs, in music and prayers, than in the Book.  Our religion is not a book religion, not even a learned religion.  It is a dramatic mystery.  The Bible contains the words, but in this dramatic mystery there is something higher and deeper than words.  Slav Christianity is something greater than the Bible.  Looking at an ikon, a Russian mujik perceives the Bible incarnated in a saint's life-drama.  Mystery of sin, mystery of atonement, mystery of heroic suffering, mystery of the daily presence of Christ among us in holy wine, in holy bread, in holy water, in holy word, in holy deed, in every sanctified substance, even in matter as in spirit, mystery of communion of sins and of virtues – all are recorded once in the Bible, and all are recorded and repeated also in our daily life – that is what we call our Slav Orthodoxy.  We take the mystic outlines of the Bible and do not care about the details.  In those mystic outlines we put our daily life, with its details of sins and sufferings.  We conceive the Christian religion neither so juristic as the Roman Catholics, nor so scientific as the Protestants, nor even so reasonable and practical as the Anglicans, but we conceive it rather as dramatic.