EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH
Revelations on the Calendar to Elders Joseph the Hesychast (+1959)
& Ephraim of Katounakia (+1998), Holy Mount Athos, Greece
“When the New Calendar entered into the life of the Church after 1924, the entire Holy Mountain, for reasons of tradition, maintained the use of the Old Calendar, without severing communion with and maintaining dependency upon the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and consequently, with the other Orthodox Churches.
Because of this calendar change, some Athonite Monks -the self-titled “Zealots”- broke their spiritual communion with the Patriarchate and the rest of the Holy Mountain. They would participate neither in Liturgies, nor in festal celebrations, nor even communicate with the rest of the fathers.
Katounakia was one of the centers of the Zealots and Papa Ephraim was one of them. Moved by spiritual zeal, both he and Elder Joseph the Hesychast initially joined the extremist party of the so-called “Matthewites”. When an issue arises concerning the faith, naturally fanaticism will rise up.
The grandiose Matthew, who so occupied Athonite monasticism, proceeded from another Matthew, a Cretan monk. Matthew had obvious rebellious tendencies, and thus they readily induced him to take hold of some authority on account of the calendar disorder.
Increasingly the degree of fanaticism surrounding the calendar change, and depicting the Church as lapsed, Matthew created that which pleased him. He became “super-orthodox” and worked up his followers with sermons and demonstrations. This still occurs today with some of his followers – a Fresh wound to the bosom of the Church.
As always, every source of scandal creates fanaticism and unrest – mostly from ignorance – until the true state of affairs is revealed. It was natural for the fathers in the desert areas to be found among the fanatics, since anxiety and ignorance were prevalent, and because they had an acute fear that perhaps they would betray their faith.
Then, in opposition to the Matthewite harshness, the Florinite moderation appeared. The Florinites avoided the severity of the Matthewites, maintaining a milder stance, even though they were still “zealots”. The fathers then turned towards this faction. They chose the “lesser of two evils” as the better even though they were still not at peace with this.
The living Church, unjustly cast aside, was protesting with their consciences, causing them unrest. The solution for them was prayer.
Elder Joseph [the Hesychast] turned with insistence to his sure refuge of prayer, seeking an answer from on high. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me” (Ps. 48:15 LXX), something that the blessed Elder knew well from his ascetic life.
Falling to his face with tears, pain of heart, and deep humility, he pleaded:
“We have sinned and trespassed against You, O Lord, and we have betrayed Your Most Holy will. Justly You have turned Your face from us, for we have confused and mocked the light of Your Truth. We have closed our eyes to the bedrock of the Truth, Your unswerving and unshakable Church, Your All-Holy Body, which You established amongst us through Your own presence, and which we have handed over to the conjectures of human thoughts and speculation. Remember, All-Good One, Your compassion and mercy towards us, for they are from the ages unto ages.”
With pain and persistence, he continued knocking on the doors of God’s compassion and mercy, and the All-Good One did not turn away from his humble supplication. As our blessed Elder Joseph related to us:
“During this intense petition, I was overcome by sleep. I discovered myself suddenly alone on one piece of the mountain of Athos that was separated from the rest. It stood in the oceans trembling from moment to moment, in danger of sinking into the sea. I was frightened and thought to myself, ‘Since Continue reading “Revelations on the Calendar to Elders Joseph the Hesychast (+1959) & Ephraim of Katounakia (+1998), Holy Mount Athos, Greece”