We have just received a request by the apparent owner of the video we featured here on multiple baptisms at St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence Arizona. This was from a public YouTube account that has since been marked private. We can only conclude that rather than allow you to judge for yourselves, the owner decided that information was “dangerous” to the reputation of the Ephraimite Monastic system. Why else would the request be made for it to be removed?
Strangely, while the owner professed “I’m not an Ephraimite, I bow to one King and accept guidance through obedience from my spiritual father who I do NOT consider a guru or divine guide”, he did not appear to be interested in transparency. If the Baptism was performed under the consent of the local Hierarch, then why ask us to take it down?
We were given notice of these multiple Baptisms a while ago, when a member of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America sent us the following email:
“The Monasteries under the “spiritual guidance” of Elder Ephraim are performing baptisms (again). Under the Uniform Monastery Regulation (Signed and attached below), a sacrament at the Monasteries may only occur under “compelling reasons deemed acceptable by the local Metropolitan”.” The link below (now marked private” showed the full immersion baptism of one infant, while clearly there are two others occurring at the same time as this one.
It is irregular for a monastery to replace the ministries of a local parish. This video foreshadows the “replacement” of the Parish in exchange for the Monastery becoming the preferred place of worship in seeking holiness, and it seems to be offering itself as the epicenter of Parish life, for at least some of the Laity of our faith.
Healthy Monasticism is part of the Orthodox Faith where it serves a separate purpose in conjunction with the parishes. The resulting destruction of the Parish Community, especially in Chicago, is evident in lower stewardship numbers and empty pews in our parishes. The many Monasteries of Elder Ephraim are quickly built with lavish opulence.
When Monasteries permit sacraments to occur such as weddings, baptisms and funerals, in addition to Sunday services with Sunday School and other community-geared events, then a parallel church is created that erodes and devastates the GOA local Parish life. It has been heard that the aim of these particular monasteries is that, “Someday all of our parishes will look like this.”
There is also the question of whether the baptisms are being recorded and where. If they are not being recorded anywhere in the GOA, then there is a much greater issue. Are the monasteries now establishing their own governance, rules and administration? That does not bode well for the GOA – as the very fabric of a single, centralized GOA is already under strain with various Metropolises creating their own strategic plans and fiefdoms. The parallel marches towards a Metropolis-based church in the US (without the GOA) seems to be in opposition to the work of the Synaxis of Primates leading towards the Holy and Great Council of the Church.
As we predicted, once word got out with another video that provided irrefutable evidence of what is ongoing at the Monasteries, it was removed from the public domain.
This email was sent to one of our editors around March 15th of 2016.
Once again truth is hidden and diminished from the Church.
EDITORS’ UPDATE as of 30 March 2016, 16:30 EST:
The owner(s) of the video graciously allowed the video to be viewed publicly on YouTube again, along with his commentary.
Thank you to the owner(s) of this video. Aside from the administrative and protocol issues, the baptisms of these several children are beautiful.
The video that we see here below was publicly posted on 10/10/2015 on YouTube for the general public to see. It illustrates that the Saint Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona has apparently violated the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese GENERAL REGULATIONS FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT AND OPERATION OF HOLY MONASTERIES IN THE GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA. (click to view them)
While Monasticism is an important part of Orthodox Spirituality, it is not the only place where holiness is found. It is also found in the local parish. Therefore it is important to have Monasteries that serve in conjunction with the parameters that they have said they would obey. Monasteries are to supplement the efforts of the parish, but not to serve and compete as parishes. This appears to be quite a profound and blatant disregard of the Regulations that violates one of the basic tenets of Monasticism. The rules that govern our Monasteries require that baptisms only occur there when there is a COMPELLING REASON DEEMED ACCEPTABLE BY THE LOCAL METROPOLITAN. Is it even possible to think of a compelling reason for there to be three different families having their baptisms at the same time and place? Our editors doubt it. Perhaps we will witness a new round of “Deny, Defend and Deflect”(click that title to read strategy) at work by our “leadership”. It is more likely that the Metropolitan in question had no prior knowledge of the baptisms. Is a disobedient Monastery a good example of humility and obedience to the ruling Hierarch and the GOA itself?
The video itself is a simple baptism with a few beautiful babies and beautiful music in a beautiful church at a Monastery. One may ask “what is wrong with that?” In and of itself there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is that it seems that this violates the Monastery Regulations of the Archdiocese (The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) which is based out of New York, and not referring to the confusion that some have by using this term to refer to a “Metropolis” (formerly known as a Diocese)).
This video suggests that the Monastery has violated their agreement and obedience to these Regulations and the Hierarchs of the GOA themselves. Obedience is said to be a big-deal for Monasteries. To have one apparently openly violate this with impunity is also a big deal. That may be why this video was pulled off YouTube.
New article on the website “GOTruthReform.org” asks the question “EXACTLY HOW MANY CANONS AND COMMANDMENTS MUST A PRIEST VIOLATE BEFORE THE CHURCH TAKES ACTION?” Although we are not affiliated with this site, it is a valuable site that addresses similar problems as we do. Evidence that the Voice of the People can bring needed change. Click to read.
A new post on “Greek Orthodox Christian Clergy Laity” comments and links to the state of affairs with the Chicago Metropolis. It’s no wonder so many issues (like the Ephraimite aberrations) are not dealt with. It appears the inability to deal with issues is systemic to some leaders. After all, the fish starts to smell from the head first. Click to read.