The Struggle Continues
God willing, a week from today, I and a group of pilgrims from Toronto will be meeting with Fr. Methodios, The Abbot of Esphigmenou Monastery on Mount Athos .
As you all know, the fathers of this monastery have been viciously persecuted for about 40 years because they wish to be faithful followers of the Faith and Canons of the Orthodox Church. In 1964 when the then Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras, met in Jerusalem with the Pope of Rome and publicly announced that their churches had united, the fathers of Esphigmenou announced to the world that they would not follow him. They raised a flag over their monastery that said Orthodoxy or Death, ceased commemorating the Patriarch and broke communion with those who followed him. The persecution quickly followed. At about the same time the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston took the same steps. In 1969, the parish of St. Nektarios was formed for the same reasons and we here in Toronto felt the persecution of the Istanbul Patriarchate which used the Greek Government to enforce its decisions. Thank God, we live in a free country and the attempts to close our parish were of no avail and the Greek Government finally accepted our existence.
The story is different for the fathers of Esphigmenou. For forty years they have been persecuted continuously. Most of you are familiar with what they have endured. One of our parishioners has set up a web site which I believe you will find informative.
The Istanbul Patriarch has not been able to persuade the Greek Government to continue as the Grand Inquisitor and enforcer of its edicts. A new tactic had to be found. The administrative body of Mount Athos , which is made up of two representatives from every monastery, except Esphigmenou, voted to establish a parallel monastic community and recognize it as the legal Esphigmenou. This action will allow all assets (Bank Accounts, supply boats, tractors, property, etc.) to be seized. Fr. Methodios conveyed the latest news to us but also Greece ’s prestigious newspaper Kathemerini has printed two articles concerning this latest tactic. I recommend that you read the last article http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=60398 and email the editor and show your support for the fathers. Please be very careful to write in a calm and reasonable way.
When I return to Toronto , I will post more news and some photos. Please keep us all in your prayers while we are gone. Also, do not forget the fathers of Esphigmenou in your daily prayers.