Not Athos in America
Pokrov Note: This article was originally published by David Smith, a layman formerly involved with St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Monastery in Florence, Arizona, on his personal Tripod web site. That site has since been moved.
Since the clergy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America have yet to step in and help the victims of the teachings of St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, Arizona, I am providing my personal testimony of being a disciple at St. Anthony’s so that anyone who wants can see what goes on there for real and that it is being allowed by the Orthodox Church to continue, despite many protests. The “Elder’s” book is still being sold by Light and Life Publishing, who refuses to pull the book from circulation even though they have been repeatedly notified of the contents of the teachings and how they are applied by the monastery. Please join the victims of St. Anthony’s in boycotting Light and Life for their support of these non-Orthodox heresies.
To the folks at Athos in America (which is not run by Fr. Theologos Pantanizopoulos, his monastery actually has a layperson running the site for them in his name), you are in violation of the Holy Canons of our precious Orthodox Faith which expressly state:
“If, under the pretence of piety, any children shall forsake their parents, particularly [if the parents are] believers, and shall withhold becoming reverence from their parents, on the plea that they honour piety more than them, let them be anathema.” CANON XVI of the Council of Gangra
No Life of any Saint can override the Holy Canons. You are supporting heresy.
Due to how far beyond the Orthodox Indiana List my personal story has spread, I am removing the personal details and replacing my testimony with a general summary of what I was taught at St. Anthony’s. The full details have been given to the clergy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America who are responsible for acting in this situation.
I have also added corroborating evidence for what I was taught. This has been compiled from personal e-mails and from postings to the Orthodox Indiana List.
While a disciple of the Abbot of St. Anthony’s:
I was taught that the re-Baptism of Catholics, rather than Chrismation, was necessary because you would be blind in heaven without it. I was re-Baptized by St. Anthony’s after the Patriarch had ordered them to stop this.
I was taught to believe in conspiracy theories (some of which were that man never landed on the moon, that America is made up of a shadow government that is run by Masons and Jews) and that the Protocols of Zion are an authentic document rather than racist fiction.
I was told that unless you give up marital relations with your spouse, you cannot be holy in this life, while at the same time being taught that I should ceaselessly struggle to achieve holiness in this life no matter what the cost.
I was taught to flagellate myself with electrical cord when I had sinful thoughts and that this was normal behavior that Saints indulged in.
I was taught to be obedient to my spiritual father as if he were Jesus Christ and that without his prayers I would not make it through the toll-houses when I die. This was the justification used to get me to be obedient to the teachings I have related.
This is an e-mail I received from Father Anthony Coniaris of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in response to my request for their removal of “Elder” Ephraim’s book “Counsels from the Holy Mountain” with reasons for justifying the request:
“Dear Mr. Smith,
Please share the information you sent us with the new Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco. We will remove the book from our catalog if he requests it.
We are aware of the fact that Elder Ephraim’s teachings regarding marriage denigrate the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. They do not represent Orthodox Christian truth and have served to break up marriages blessed by the Church.
The best way to heal this sickness is not by removing a book from a catalog but by alerting the hierarchy to the damage being done to the faith and many parishioners.
The Metropolitans need to alert all bookstores and Orthodox Christians regarding what is being passed off as Orthodox teachings!
Fr. Anthony M. Coniaris”
Posts from the Orthodox Indiana List corroborating what I have stated
“New to me was the Greek promotion of the Protocols of the Learned Elders. I made a phone call after reading this, and my contact confirmed that this literature is promoted to a degree at St. Anthony’s. I didn’t perform a scientific survey; I’m just saying the very first person I called, said, “O yes, they tried to get us to read that.”
More confirmation of the Protocols
Quotes from Counsels from the Holy Mountain[A book by Fr. Ephraim]
“Although struggling to live the Christian life in the world is a godly pursuit, it does not even come close to monasticism in its yield of spiritual wealth and it its closeness to God. “A tree is known by its fruit.” An entire army of monastics has filled heaven. How many Righteous* saints do we have? You can count them on your fingers.”
*The Righteous are the saints who attained sanctity while living in the world and were not clergy, monastics, or martyrs.”
-Counsels from the Holy Mountain, page 92
“Force yourself to be humble, and when you see thoughts of pride, lay hold of a whip and start lashing yourself.”