Saint Sophia Cathedral
Online Resources for our Religious Edification
Topic of the Week: Sent By God: the Life of Geronda Ephraim
Saint Anthony’s Monastery is releasing a 5 volume set of books about the life of Geronda Ephraim:
“In every generation God sends His chosen servants to help those who are searching for eternal life.In the last half century, there was a man who transformed more people’s lives than anyone else in the history of the North American Church. That man was Geronda Ephraim of Arizona. In his honor, Saint Anthony’s Monastery is preparing to publish five volumes featuring the complete life of this sanctified servant of God, told for the first time and mostly in his own words.Few people outside of the Church know that hundreds of thousands of people traveled from around the world yearning to speak with this Greek Orthodox Christian priest-monk living in the American desert. What compelled them to return year after year was the overwhelming and captivating experience of the divine love overflowing from his heart.Geronda Ephraim cherished each and every one of the people who came to him. He was a man who had attained the love of God, the greatest spiritual height accessible to man. Beholding the world from that vantage point, his entire desire was to share this love with everyone, to teach us how to find God within ourselves.It is impossible to fully describe the revitalization that occurred among the multitudes that streamed to him. Every day since the early 1960s Geronda Ephraim took upon his own shoulders the suffering and sorrows of each person who confided in him. He sat patiently with them in confession and unburdened their souls, dispersing the darkness of despair with the light of eternal hope. With the clairvoyant eyes of his heart he knew in detail the entire life story of everyone who came to him. Often before they even said a word, he would reveal to them their secret sins and repressed traumas, healing the wounded souls of these people as they gazed at him in astonishment, their eyes streaming with tears of thanksgiving and joy.Miracles poured forth at his prayers: Thousands were healed of cancers and diseases; barren women conceived; prophecies came to pass. Many witnessed spiritual light and heavenly fragrance pouring forth from his person while they marveled at the purity of his soul. They left his presence joyful, renewed in love, and ready to confront life’s difficulties with the grace they received from God. They returned to their homes truly reborn as spiritual children of one of the greatest spiritual fathers in the history of the Church. To ensure that his salvific work would continue after his passing away to the next life, Geronda Ephraim founded 17 monasteries throughout North America. To this day, faithful Christians year after year make their pilgrimages to the monasteries to find peace in their hearts and salvation for their souls.
Now, three years after his passing, we wish to share with you the life story and teachings of this miraculous healer of souls.”
Excerpted from Sent by God: The Life of Geronda Ephraim | Indiegogo
(To pre-order the set of books, click the link above)
Below is an excerpt from the book – a description by Geronda Ephraim of his mother. As mothers, we would do well to pray his prayer “My Panagia, let me be like her one day” and emulate his mother.
“Everything began and ended with my mother. For me spiritually, everything started with her. On Sundays she would wake up the whole family for church. She never had to wake me up, since I was always dressed and ready to go when she came into our room. My mother would first wake up my brothers, saying, “Get up, it’s time for church!” And inevitably they would always say, “Mother, we’re tired, we worked all night, please let us rest!” But she would pull off their blankets, splash some water on their faces, drag their feet off the bed, and say, “The church bells are ringing, and you’re still in bed? Where did you learn this kind of behavior? Up, up, up! Go and wake your father, too. Hurry! It’s time for church!” So my poor father would get up too, and we would all go to church. This was one of the many ways she led us on the path to God.
…overall, it was mostly my mother who taught me the ascetic life. She kept vigil every night, getting up secretly in the middle of the night so my father would not know, going into the kitchen, locking herself in, lighting the vigil lamp, and praying the Jesus prayer with her prayer rope. For hours on end, she would pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us! Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us! Lord Jesus Christ…” Afterwards she would quietly come into the room where my brothers and I slept, close the door, fall on her knees before the icons, and start weeping and making prostrations. Our room was like a little monastic cell with a tiny chapel in the corner, complete with icons and a little vigil lamp, and all night long she would be there with prostrations and tears, tears and prostrations. I pretended to be asleep, but I would peek out from under my covers, watch her from my bed, and pray, “My Panagia, let me be like her one day.”
One night as I was peeking out from under the covers, I saw demons attacking her! They were trying to keep her from praying, so I covered my eyes with the blanket and also started praying. In the morning, I confessed to my mother that I only pretended to be asleep, but in reality I was watching what she was doing. She said, “Good, because I am preparing you for the Holy Mountain.” My mother was a holy woman….”
Excerpted from https://samonastery.org/
High School:With the Russian Church Abroad
When Geronda Ephraim arrived in New York, he was welcomed as an honored guest among friends by Archbishop Vitaly and the other bishops and clergy of the Russian Church Abroad. On May 19, 1991, Geronda Ephraim was invited to concelebrate the liturgical services of the Feast of Pentecost at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York. About two dozen of his Greek Orthodox spiritual children accompanied him.
The Liturgy was an historic event within the Orthodox Church. Moreover, Athanasios Lykos relates that during Holy Communion, a wondrous miracle occurred:
After the Divine Liturgy, the bishops and monks came out of the church, and as soon as Geronda came out of the church, there were several monks standing outside waiting for him. When they saw Geronda, they started shouting in Greek: “Agios, Agios!” that is, “Saint, Saint!” I didn’t know why they were saying that, but I assumed something had happened inside the altar during the Liturgy.
Later, the abbot of the monastery told us that during the Liturgy, first Archbishop Vitaly received Holy Communion. When it was Geronda Ephraim’s turn to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, everyone in the altar saw him surrounded by the Uncreated Light. He was entirely illuminated–his whole body was radiating and emitting light. That is why when Geronda came out they were shouting, “Agios!” It was an unforgettable sign for them of Geronda Ephraim’s sanctity.
Excerpted from https://samonastery.org/
A Message from Maria Spanos
I am passionate about our Orthodox Christian faith and seek to help others learn as much as they can about it. My purpose here is to share online resources that help strengthen our relationship with Christ and bind us closer to His Church. I believe they are invaluable in learning about our precious Orthodox Tradition, and are a great aid for teaching family members, friends and others about Orthodoxy. ~Maria
Two of my favorite quotes:
“A true Christian behaves in this life so that it may be a preparation for the future one and not only a life here below. In his actions, he does not think what will be said of him here but of what will be said there in heaven; he represents to himself that he is always in the presence of God, of the angels and all the saints, and remembers that someday they will bear witness of his thoughts, words, and deeds.” — Saint John of Kronstadt
“Of all the holy works, the education of children is the most holy.”
— St. Theophan the Recluse