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Elder Ephraim of the Holy Mountain and Arizona

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and St Vlassios

Translated into English from the original article in Greek:  Ὁ Γέροντας Ἐφραίμ ὁ Ἁγιορείτης καί Ἀριζονίτης

Elder Ephraim of the Holy Mountain and Arizona

On Saturday 7 December 2019 Elder Ephraim fell asleep in the Lord at the Holy Monastery of St Anthony in Arizona in the USA. His funeral service was held on 11 December 2019 at the same Monastery in the midst of many of his spiritual children, whom he brought to new birth spiritually: clergy, monks and laypeople of all ages and categories.

He was honoured by the Ecumenical Patriarch with a message that was read out during the funeral service by the Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Philotheou on the Holy Mountain, Archimandrite Nikodimos, who afterwards spoke on his own behalf, as well as by the presence of Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, who described his personality and the work that he had accomplished.

I have been linked with the ever-blessed Hieromonk Ephraim in many and different ways over many years, and in this article I shall set out some of my thoughts about the Elder of blessed memory.

1. Hesychast and Teacher of Hesychia

In the decade of the 1960s this radiant star began to rise on the Holy Mountain. From his youth he was numbered among the spiritual company of the great Elder Joseph the Hesychast and Cave-Dweller. He was distinguished from that time by childlikeness and unquestioning obedience, which exalted him.

When I was a student, between 1964 and 1968, I heard about Elder Ephraim. His great Elder, Fr Joseph the Cave-Dweller, had died in 1959, and Elder Ephraim, together with a small community, was continuing the way of life of his Elder in the Kalyvi of the Annunciation of the Theotokos in New Skete.

Archimandrite Spyridon Xenos, who had been the Director of the Hostel in Agrinion where I lived during my years at school, became a monk in New Skete on the Holy Mountain. For that reason, I used to go often at that time to New Skete, and I met Elder Ephraim and those with him, but also some of those who had been with Elder Joseph the Hesychast, including Elder Joseph’s brother Fr Athanasios, the monk Joseph, later of Vatopedi, the monk Theophylaktos, and others. Elder Ephraim was faithfully following the hesychastic life of Elder Ephraim the Hesychast.

Once, as a layman and student in the 1960s, I went to his Kalyvi to meet him and to hear him speak about noetic prayer, about which I was longing to learn. Because I was unfamiliar with his timetable, I went in the morning, when he and his monks were resting after the vigil that they kept each night with the prayer-rope and the Divine Liturgy.

As they did not open the door when I knocked, I remained for a long time outside the door of his Kalyvi praying. After about two hours, they opened the door, and I met Elder Ephraim for the first time.

His face was peaceful, childlike, radiant, and his speech was gracious. I asked him about the Jesus Prayer. I do not remember what he told me, but he continually repeated the words adoleschō and adoleschia,  ‘converse’, ‘pondering’ or ‘meditation’, in the sense that we should continuously converse with God. By this he meant noetic prayer.

This word made an impression on me. It is found in the Psalms of David: “I meditated on Your ordinances” (Ps. 118[119]:48). God’s ordinances are His commandments, which we must put into practice. One of these commandments is vigilance and prayer.

I shall simply add here that I also found the book Adoleschia Philotheos [Devout Converse] by Eugenios Voulgaris, which is a commentary on the Pentateuch. Elder Ephraim, however, used the word in the sense of unceasing prayer, the continuous invocation of the prayer “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon me.”

When, at the beginning of the 1970s I was ordained to the clergy and used to go often to the Holy Mountain, he and those with him moved to the Holy Monastery of Philotheou, and he became Abbot. It was natural that I should visit that Holy Monastery. There one saw young monks who, as well as the sacred services, were occupied in noetic prayer. It was a spiritual beehive, because everywhere one heard the Jesus Prayer being said in a whisper while the monks were working and moving about. But one was also intensely aware of it in the atmosphere of the church, with the services and the Divine Liturgy. Because the Divine Liturgy acquires a different spiritual feeling when it is celebrated by hesychast clergy and hesychast monks are present.

From the spiritual atmosphere of the Holy Monastery of Philotheou three other Monasteries were filled again with monks: the Monastery of Karakallou, the Monastery of Xeropotamou and the Monastery of Konstamonitou.

When I went to the Holy Monastery of Philotheou I used to talk to the Abbot, Fr Ephraim, about subjects that were of interest to me. At that time I really had a great desire to learn about how sacred hesychia could be closely linked with the Divine Liturgy and the pastoral ministry. From everything he said to me from time to time, I retain two points to this day.

Firstly, he talked to me about sacred hesychia, noetic prayer and its method. He actually analysed for me sacred hesychasm in practice, as his Elder, Joseph the Hesychast, lived it, and as he had received it and put it into practice, and afterwards passed it on to his spiritual children. It is a spiritual inheritance.

Secondly, he often spoke to me about the death of his Elder, Joseph the Hesychast. I remember the phrase that “I never saw a more valiant death than the Elder’s.” The way in which he related it was an initiation into a mystery. He has put these things in writing, but the way in which he narrated them, in his thin voice, his slow way of speaking and the contrite atmosphere of the Monastery, particularly after Compline, was unrepeatable.

2. Moving to America

Elder Ephraim’s move to America was an extremely bold action. Although he had due respect on the Holy Mountain from his spiritual children, from Abbots, Hieromonks and monks, he preferred to take a ‘reckless leap’ into the abyss of the New World of Canada and America. He had evidently received a revelation and inner conviction from God.

America had been dominated by a Christianity with scholastic content, as expressed by Roman Catholicism, and with moral-emotional content, as preached by Protestantism. America is mostly a hotchpotch of Protestantism, Enlightenment and Romanticism. These currents have also influenced the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate did not have a developed form of Orthodox monasticism.

The ever-memorable Elder Ephraim discerned this lack, and he took the decision to found Orthodox monasteries, and actually to transfer to America Orthodox Athonite monasticism, which is based on sacred hesychasm, as lived and taught by St Gregory Palamas.

It is right to emphasise that the ever-memorable Fr John Romanides was the first to perceive this lack and to express it in his writings. As he was born and grew up in America – in Manhattan, New York – and he studied at three theological schools (Holy Cross, Boston, Yale University, and St Vladimir’s, New York), he was very familiar with the spirit of the Christianity that dominated in America, and the influences of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism on the Orthodox Church and Orthodox theology. But he was also very well aware of the way out of this secularisation of the Church and theology.

For this reason, he devoted himself to Orthodox theology as it is expressed by the Prophets, Apostles and Fathers, culminating in his thesis The Ancestral Sin, which was submitted to, and approved by, the Theological School of the University of Athens in 1957.

It is significant to note that, before writing his doctoral thesis The Ancestral Sin, he wrote four separate papers as preparation for his doctoral thesis, and submitted then to the Theological Institute of St Sergius in Paris. Two of these contain some points that I wish to underline here.

In his first essay, which he wrote in English in 1954 under the title Original Sin according to St Paul, Fr John reached the following conclusion:

“The mission of Orthodox theology today is to bring an awakening in Western Christianity, but in order to do this, the Orthodox themselves must rediscover their own traditions and cease, once and for all, accepting the corroding infiltration of Western theological confusion into Orthodox theology. It is only by returning to the Biblical understanding of Satan and human destiny that the sacraments of the Church can once again become the source and strength of Orthodox theology. The enemy of life and love can be destroyed only when Christians can confidently say, ‘we are not ignorant of his thoughts’ (2 Cor. 2:11). Any theology which cannot define with exactitude the methods and deceptions of the devil is clearly heretical, because such a theology is already deceived by the devil. It is for this reason the Fathers could assert that heresy is the work of the devil.”

In another study, which he published in English in 1956 with the title The Ecclesiology of St Ignatius of Antioch, he refers among other things to the two aspects of the Church, namely, warfare against the devil, and union and communion with Christ. He writes:

“In other words, the Church has two aspects, one positive – love, unity, and communion of immortality with each other and with the saints in Christ, and one negative – the war against the Satan and his powers already defeated in the flesh of Christ by those living in Christ beyond death awaiting the general (or second)  resurrection – the final and complete victory of God over Satan.  Christology is the positive aspect of the Church, but is conditioned by biblical demonology, which is the key negative factor which determines both Christology and Ecclesiology, both of which are incomprehensible without an adequate understanding of the work and methods of Satan.”

It is clear from these two extracts that one of Fr John Romanides’ basic views is that Orthodox theology ought to free itself from the scholasticism of the Roman Catholics and the moralism of the Protestants and acquire its own criterion, which is the victory of Christ and of Christians with the power of Christ against the devil, sin and death.

As a consequence of this, he conceived the idea that an Orthodox monastery should be founded in America, where people would learn how to break free from their servitude to the devil, sin and death.

For this reason, in a letter that he sent to Fr Theoklitos of Dionysiou in 1958, after he had finished his doctoral thesis, he wrote that it was necessary for the Church in America that an Orthodox monastery should be founded, and that a community of monks from the Holy Mountain should be moved there. Among other things, he wrote to Fr Theoklitos of Dionysiou:

“It is precisely because the Church in the world has been cut off from the monastic tradition that the familiar decline in the spiritual life has been observed in our days. Satan has so distorted the theology of the heretics and the so-called Orthodox who are influenced by the West, that some think that salvation is not from the power and hands of the enemy, but from God. God became man in order to save us from Himself! This is why the ascetic life has disappeared in the West. They neither fast nor pray much. They simply pursue happiness…When there is mistaken theology, Christianity is reduced to activity. The monastic life of the non-Orthodox here consists of extremely active orders, who engage in anything except spiritual asceticism as the Orthodox tradition understands it…Unfortunately we do not have a single ascetic or monastery here and there is no living example of the Orthodox life…

I should like to know your opinion concerning the possibilities of transplanting a monastic community of 5 to 10 monks into American territory. Unless something like this is done, Orthodoxy will disappear here, or it will be transformed into something else, as has already happened to a great extent.

I have tried in my book to say the same as you say in yours, but nobody here understands. The Greeks here, you see, have adapted to the eudemonism of the West and in their eyes the pursuit of happiness is God’s will. So why would anyone want to go up on the rocks and do all-night vigils and the like?

I should be very pleased if we could correspond. I think that the devil will be sorry that we do not like the Christianity that he promotes, but what can we do? No one can please him when he wants to please God. St Symeon the New Theologian gives an excellent description of how Satan helps certain people in their prayer and good works…”

One wonders how Fr John Romanides, as early as the 1950s, understood so clearly this problem that exists in the Western world.

This seems to have been one of the fixed ideas of Fr John Romanides: that a monastic community should be transplanted to America from the Holy Mountain. We find it in the letters that he sent to the couple Panagos and Katingo Pateras, who later became monastics with the names Xenophon and Maria Myrtidiotissa. Fr George Metallinos published these letters in his book Protopresbyteros Ioannis Romanides ‘o profitis tis Romiosynis’ prosopografoumenos mesa apo agnosta I ligo gnosta keimena [Protopresbyter  John Romanides ‘the Prophet of Romanity’ portrayed through unknown or little-known texts] (pub. Armos).

In these letters many details are preserved that show Fr John Romanides’ concern that Orthodox monasteries should be founded in America and that they should follow the Orthodox ascetic tradition, which is the basis of Orthodox theology. I shall refer to some extracts.

In one of his letters (14-7-1958), he writes, among other things, that Orthodoxy in the West has become a sort of Protestant Uniatism. A very daring statement!

“Therefore, just as the Romans have Uniatism, now the Protestants too have a form of Uniatism. We follow the Protestants in everything, and Orthodoxy only in the liturgical rituals.”

In another of his letters (27-12-1958), he refers to Elder Joseph the Hesychast, who “is perhaps the best ascetic in noetic prayer.” He adds, “The monks in obedience to him are excellent, and if there is to be a monastery, one of them could lay the foundations.” And he notes: “A good and strict monastic life is the only thing that can show the way for us to escape from this wretched state of Orthodoxy in America. If it [the monastery] is started by monks from the Holy Mountain, we shall have the typikon of the Holy Mountain with vigils etc. and they will be a strong missionary centre, which will invade the centre of Satan’s kingdom and cleanse the atmosphere of demons with Orthodox incense and vigilance. You know that the ascetics left for the desert, not because they were seeking a quiet life, but because the desert was regarded as the pre-eminent kingdom of Satan. For this reason, Christ went first into the desert and conquered the devil in his most powerful fortress. Thus, here too, where for so many years Satan has ruled unhindered, he ought to be confronted.”

These are terrible words of his, that missionary monks from the Holy Mountain were needed in America, to enter “Satan’s kingdom” and to cleanse the atmosphere of demons “with Orthodox incense and vigilance”, with prayer and watchfulness!

In another letter (19-11-1959) he mentions the community of the ever-memorable Elder Joseph the Hesychast and refers to Elder Ephraim of blessed memory, who eventually went to America: “You had met Joseph’s Ephraim.” As though he were ‘prophesying’ his presence in America.

In another letter (10-12-1960), he dwells on the subject of founding a monastery in America: “The Orthodox here are in great need of a good monastery.” He expresses the desire of the Orthodox in America to acquire a monastery.

In a later letter (15-8-1962), he continues to insist that an Orthodox monastery be established: “Real monasticism must at all costs be strengthened and grow spiritually and from the point of view of teaching and leadership. Otherwise, we are running a great risk.”

He is extremely concerned, because knows that only the Orthodox Church, through hesychastic monasticism, which expresses the tradition of the Philokalia of the Neptic Saints on the purifying, illuminating and deifying energy of God, can be distinguished from the other Christian traditions.

He had become aware that nothing was said at any of the meetings between the Orthodox and other Christians about warfare against the devil, sin and death, which is the basis of Orthodox theology.

As he found no response, he wrote in one of his letters (2-11-1958): “May God take pity on us. Are we so sinful that we have to have heretics as our shepherds? Anyway, if such things happen, I don’t know what the outcome will be.”

He wrote the same things in a letter (11-5-1958) to Fr Georges Florovsky as well. He spoke about the possibility of transplanting a monastic community from the Holy Mountain “to serve as a core for the development of a spiritual life among our people in the traditional path.”

Such were the anxieties of Fr John Romanides, and he asked God to take pity on the Christians of America.

And God heeded his concern and the desire of his people, and sent Elder Ephraim of Philotheou, the disciple of Joseph the Hesychast, to America, to establish nineteen Orthodox monasteries in America and Canada. In them the Orthodox ascetic teaching of the Church and the Christians’ battle against the devil, sin and death is taught.

Elder Ephraim perceived this concern and people’s longing, and after receiving inner assurance from God, he left the calm of the Holy Mountain and set sail into the ocean full of all sorts of currents and waves, to preach “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2) in the desert of the big cities, with saintly, prophetic and apostolic strength and energy worthy of the martyrs.

From my many visits to America, and from my contact with Abbots of the Monasteries that he created, and with many laypeople who were his spiritual children, I have personal knowledge of the great work that he accomplished through the monastic communities that he founded and directed with his unsleeping pure nous.

I think that his spiritual children will write about this great work, which is taking place in America and provides genuine criteria to distinguish the Orthodox Tradition from other Christian and non-Christian traditions.

And all this work is accomplished with signs and miracles, which always accompany the apostolic word, in accordance with Christ’s saying: “And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17-18).

Elder Ephraim of blessed memory was a prophet, an equal to the apostles, a martyr and a saintly ascetic. As such, he entered “the centre of Satan’s kingdom” and taught a kind of monasticism and Christianity that “does not please the devil”, but pleases God.

3. The Art of Salvation

Since the time when Elder Ephraim went to America, we have not met. I did not have the blessing to visit him at the Holy Monastery in Arizona. However, I was, and still am, in contact with his spiritual children. Through them I would ask for his prayers, and he would send me various ‘prophetic words’ and his love.

I used to send him the books that I published, and he was pleased. In fact, he was particularly pleased with one of them, the first book that I wrote about St Paisios of the Holy Mountain, and from the Holy Monastery in Arizona they sent me a photograph of him holding that book in his hands, a sign that he greatly loved St Paisios.

Sometimes I spoke to him on the telephone. I expressed my love and asked for his prayers and his love for my ministry. Gerondissa Photini of blessed memory, the Abbess of the Birth of the Theotokos Monastery (Pelagia), corresponded with him, and the letters show the whole of Fr Ephraim’s personality, and how he guided monks. One day I shall publish this correspondence.

It made a particular impression on me that he asked me, through his spiritual children, to write a foreword to various books of his, which he published in English, such as the book My Elder Joseph, the Hesychast and Cave-Dweller. Because his way of thinking was completely ecclesiastical, he wanted the foreword to be written by a Bishop who loves monasticism.

I was even more impressed when he sent me the type-written book that he intended to publish entitled The Art of Salvation, which consists of homilies that he delivered at the Holy Monastery of Philotheou and in America. With his characteristic humility, he asked me to read it and to identify any points that ought to be corrected, to make sure it did not deviate from Orthodox theology. I read it in draft form with very great inspiration, and I sent him some points that he might be able to correct.

After that, he sent me a letter saying that everything that I suggested to him was acceptable, and he urged me to make any other changes, even without informing him, and to send they direct to the printers for publication. This shows the humility of a great and experienced Father. He also asked me to write a foreword to that book in Greek.

I cite below the foreword to that book, which was written in 2003, sixteen years ago, because it shows my view of Elder Ephraim many years ago. I wrote in the preface:

*

“I consider it to be a special and exceptional honour to write a preface for the first volume of the homilies of Elder Ephraim, formerly Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Philotheou on the Holy Mountain, at his own request, and at the request of the fathers of the Holy Monastery of St Anthony in Arizona, America. This sense of honour stems from the fact that Elder Ephraim is an experienced teacher of the neptic life of our Orthodox Church.

I met Elder Ephraim on the Holy Mountain, when he was living as an ascetic in New Skete, and I retain vividly in the memory of my heart the image of the fervent ascetic who had unceasing remembrance of God and spiritual inspiration. He was an ascetic who lived the spiritual life in practice, and knew from experience what the passions are and how they are overcome; what communion with God is, and how it can be acquired. At the same time he is an experienced and discerning spiritual father, and, as an expression of the ecclesiastical way of thinking that characterises him and every real hesychast monk, he also respects the Bishop, whom he asks, in his extreme humility and his greatness that cannot be humbled, to write a foreword to these homilies of his.

Here we see the link between two charismata within the Church, between the life of the monk and the ministry of the Bishop. This reminds me vividly of the relationship, but also the humility on this same matter, between St Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain and Bishop Hierotheos of Euripos, as shown in the letters between the two that are published at the beginning of the Handbook of Spiritual Council: The Guarding of the Five Senses.

The texts included in this book are homilies to monks, and cenobitic monks in particular, mainly, as I understand it, homilies to the monks of the Holy Monastery of Philotheou of the Holy Mountain, who are his spiritual children whom he leads in the spiritual life.

The key feature of these homilies is that they bring together theology and the pastoral ministry. Of course, by theology I do not mean academic knowledge, which is useful in some circumstances in the historical life of the Church, but theology as charisma, as experience of God and knowledge of God’s mysteries, as knowledge of the uncreated words that are subsequently passed on as teaching through created words and concepts.

Elder Ephraim himself was obedient to a hallowed Elder, Elder Joseph the Hesychast. He lived noetic prayer, under the guidance of this Elder, who was a desert-dweller and hesychast. He experienced the “first grace” and subsequently the “second grace”, as Elder Joseph used to say so wisely, and afterwards he acquired the discernment of spirits, which is the true theological charisma.

This theology subsequently becomes pastoral expertise, which is offered for the pastoral guidance of spiritual children. Such a theologian, therefore, knows from his experience what the state of Adam was before his disobedience and the fall, because at that time he was in the state of illumination of the nous. He knows what the terrible consequences of the fall were, as the divine image was obscured, the nous was darkened and all the powers of the soul, which began to move contrary to their nature, were perverted, with the result that the passions, as we know them today, were created. Subsequently, such a theologian knows the ascetic-neptic-hesychastic method, in other words, obedience, spiritual vigilance, prayer, noetic hesychia, through which the human being is freed from the dominance of the devil, death and sin, and acquires communion with God “in the person of Jesus Christ”, and actually reaches the point of beholding the glory of God in the human flesh of the Word, which is Paradise.

There is obviously a close connection between theology and the pastoral ministry, between spiritual knowledge and serving people pastorally. Only those who have empirical knowledge of God’s mysteries are able to help people to be liberated from the dominance of the passions, the devil and death. This constitutes the true pastoral ministry of the Church. If someone does not meet these pre-conditions, when he speaks he will simply utter fine words instead of theology, and teach aesthetics instead of asceticism.

The homilies of Elder Ephraim belong within this framework. It is clear that the material that he uses comes from Holy Scripture, which is the words of the Prophets and Apostles, of the eye-witnesses of the unincarnate and incarnate Word; from the writings of the holy Fathers of the Church, the successors to the holy Apostles and the bearers of the revelational experience of Pentecost; from the Sayings of the Fathers and the Synaxaria of the Church, which show the life of the real and sanctified members of the Church, who are members at the same time, not of the mystical, but of the real Body of Christ; and from accounts of, and about, hallowed ascetics on the Holy Mountain. Above all, these texts are created within the personal experience of Elder Ephraim, and for that reason they are offered with authenticity, simplicity, serenity and meekness, which are the fruits of Orthodox hesychia.

I read the homilies that are published in this first volume attentively and prayerfully, most of them in the peace and quiet of the Holy Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos Ambelakiotissa in my Holy Metropolis. Reading these texts brought me spiritual benefit and created a state of prayer within me. Most of all, I saw that they described what the human being was like before the fall, what became of him after his fall, and how he can be delivered from the power of death.

These homilies are really full of life; they wake us up and create inspiration and repentance, which are the characteristics of true Orthodox teaching. These homilies, as is the case with the words of people who have the Holy Spirit and have acquired communion with Christ through sacred hesychia, convey the feeling that the nous of the one who is speaking goes beyond human things. They orientate the reader to another sense of things, beyond the energy of the passions and death, in the full spiritual meaning of this word and this state.

When I finished reading these homilies the passage from St Paul came into my mind: ‘Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God’ (Col. 2:18-19).

The Apostle Paul is speaking here about a situation at that time relating to the worship of angels. However, we can state that today, too, there are many religions of angels-demons, which rely on the puffing up of the fleshly mind, on imaginary speculations, demonic visions and sociological schemes, and not on the authentic teaching that flows from being united with Christ, the Head of the Church. Thus, the words of the Apostle Paul are also valid here: ‘Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations?’ (Col. 2:20).

Living in such a secularised society, which often influences even the ecclesiastical situation, we must struggle humbly, and with all the Orthodox ecclesiastical presuppositions described in the teachings of the saints, the real members of the Body of Christ, to be closely united with the Head of the Church, Who is Christ, and, as members of the Body of Christ, to be nourished by the Head, to be joined together by Him, and to grow spiritually. In other words, our whole being must ‘grow with the increase that is from God.’ The aim of our life should be to grow according to God, and to advance from our fallen state as far as Paradise, from our dependence on the devil as far as deification, which is the increase that is from God.

These homilies of Elder Ephraim also contribute to this spiritual increase. They reminded me not only of authentic monastic teaching, but also of the ‘spirit’ of the Holy Mountain, as I encountered it in the 60s and 70s, and as I encounter it even today in hallowed monks of the Holy Mountain who live the ascetic and hesychastic life.

I feel the need to thank the venerable Elder Ephraim for the labours he has undertaken to acquire the knowledge of God, of which these homilies are the succulent fruit. I ask him to pray for me and for all those involved in the pastoral service of people, that we may not lose the deeper and more essential aim of the pastoral ministry, which is to lead people, and first of all ourselves, from being in God’s image to being in His likeness, from darkness of the nous to illumination and deification. Because we must grasp firmly that Christianity does not simply aim to perform a social task, but, according to the apt statement of St Gregory of Nyssa, ‘Christianity is the imitation of the divine nature.’” (August 2003)

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Elder Ephraim of the Holy Mountain and Arizona, and the universal teacher of hesychia, has proved to be, as a blessed monk said to me, and as is clear from everything I have written already, a saintly ascetic with a hesychastic tradition and life; an equal to Christ’s apostles, who illuminated America with hesychastic Athonite monasticism; a martyr, because he made war on satanic forces under many different names; but also a prophet, because he saw with his clear-sighted nous the problems that exist today between Christians, and he dealt with them “in the spirit and power” of Elijah the Prophet. God will uphold the works of his hands, the Monasteries that he laboured to create and direct.

I humbly ask for his blessings and prayers to the Lord for all Orthodox Christians, clergy and laity, and among them also for me, the least of men. The remembrance of him will remain eternally in those who loved him, but above all in the memory of the Church.

December 2019

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