Blessings for Belyas

The following picture came from the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate website and was entitled: “Blessing of Elder Ephraim of Arizona.”

However, if you look at the picture, it’s clear the Elder was not performing a blessing. 

Sandwiched between the Belyas’ is Elder Ephram, looking down and away from the camera, saying the Jesus Prayer, which according to Elder Ephraim, “burns the demons.”  


In contrast, this is a picture of our dear Elder Ephraim giving a blessing

His blessing hand is one of the most commonly used hand gestures depicted in Eastern Orthodoxy.  It requires a specific arrangement of fingers that form the letters “IC XC,” which stands for the first and the last letters of the Greek words IHCOYC XPICTOC, meaning Jesus Christ.

* * *

What many don’t understand is that when we ask for a blessing, God will bless us, but only with that which is good for us. 

What is good for us may or may not be what we want or even what we asked for. 



About GShep


  1. What’s the date of the picture?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      It’s dated April 5, 2020, although the Elder reposed 4 months earlier on December 7th, 2019.

      [Revised 8/4/22: the date the picture was posted on the website was April 5, 2020; 4 months after the repose of Elder Efram.)

  2. The article clearly States that this ‘event’ occurred in 2015, well before the mess began.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Yes, Brian, I misread the question. Have since updated my response and included a link in the story.

      I hope people understand that my story has absolutely nothing to do with dates (of when the picture was taken or when it was posted on their website) which is why it wasn’t mentioned in my post.

      I should have just posted a link (which I just did) but I figured people would be able to navigate to a website and see the picture if it was that important to them.

      The point of the story wasn’t about “this particular mess,” nor was any mention made of it.

      The point was about the people who are involved in in “this particular mess” and the fact that Elder Ephraim might have picked up on something then that we now see coming to fruition.

      Just FYI, there is a whole lot more to this story that has yet to be revealed and though I hadn’t thought about it until now, 2015 may fit in there nicely.

  3. The photo looks like the Belyas
    are displaying a prisoner to the world…

  4. Browsing through the vicariate web site, the Beatles’s song, “I’ll Bet You I’m gonna be a Big Star” found its way into my head. Something about being certain of being photographed with all the right people, carefully choreographed to present an air of importance and legitimacy.

    I have a feeling that Elpidophoros, Bartholomew, Belya, and even the the members of the vicariate will live to regret their decision. Those who enter alliances based on a common hatred will turn on each other sooner or later.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I guess in that picture with Elder Ephraim they were trying to “act naturally.”

  5. So, when I first came into the Church I was told of a “web-spinning” story [as describe most eloquently by Ven Father Seraphim Rose-in order for the devil to catch us up] that in order to “prove” their legitimacy, a fringe-schismatic-pseudo-ecumenical-uniate-Orthodox-non-canonical group who wanted to “validate” their brand of Orthodoxy met a canonical bishop at the airport in order to get his “blessing.” Among those who greeted the bishop for his blessing, was this faker/fakir, who amidst the crowd, got the bishop’s “blessing” while his accomplice took a photo to “confirm” the “blessing.” Thus, they could later say: “See, we have the bishop’s blessing!” unbeknown by the bishop, thus “legitimizing” their pseudo-ecumenical-uniate-Orthodoxy. Like the photo displayed, their “photograph” was their “proof” of legitimacy and canonicity…
    Ven Fr. Seraphim describes this passionate decision ‘web-making’ delusional-prelest behavior in a letter he wrote as spinning “A SPIDER WEB OF IDEAS” –
    “the state of prelest called by the Holy Fathers “fancy” or “opinion”—when a web of ideas is spun which has no real contact with reality, which is why when it comes out it seems so very “far out.” A person then acts according to his passions, but thinks he is being logical according to the web of ideas he has spun. Usually, the devil uses one little idea to “catch” us, knowing that it will catch us in something we may be emotional about; and that “catch” is sufficient to get us to weave the whole spider web which trips us up.”
    A SPIDER WEB OF IDEAS Jan. 18/31, 1976 Sts. Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria
    Doxa to Theo, John D.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      This little story explains a LOT about so many things we’ve encountered as of late.

      I’ve seen it work in a backward sort of way, too; like when a person, let’s say someone who greatly admired Saint Seraphim enough to want to follow him, found himself rubbing elbows with thongs of other people who wanted to follow Saint Seraphim, too. It then becomes known these others had done something terrible in the past. The first man didn’t know any of them, wasn’t a part of their past but was believed to be guilty of the same terrible thing they did because he happened to be in the same “picture” [place] at the same time.

      It is extremely difficult to get people to let go of their delusions, even when you prove they are not true.

  6. Timmy Lemur says

    More should be made of the fact that Belya’s lawsuit against ROCOR is being handled by the anti-Christian group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Wow. I didn’t know that.

      • Timmy Lemur says

        Yeah, it looks like they’re trying to use it as a means to weaken or get rid of the ministerial exception, where basically the state isn’t allowed to intervene in how churches hire, fire and promote their ministers. If that happened, the consequences for all US churches would be catastrophic. And yet Elpidophoros is encouraging this whole gambit!

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Yeah, but in order for that to work they have to demonstrate they are a hierarchal church and they are on pretty shaky ground in that regard.

          • In Belya’s case it is ROCOR that would need to demonstrate that their’s is a hierarchical church, which they clearly are. So, for that matter, is the GOA…just ask Elpidophoros (wink, wink).

        • Joseph Lipper says

          Timmy, it appears to me that ROCOR is improperly appealing to “ministerial exception” in their defense. An appeal to “ministerial exception” might apply if Belya’s suit was about wrongful discrimination and termination of employment, but that’s not the case here. No, Belya’s case is a simple defamation suit.

          I personally have no idea whether Belya forged a document, but even if he did, there’s always a way for the Church to be tactful in dealing with this . Indeed, Holy Synods are usually quite tactful about such things. For example, when clergy are deposed, Holy Synods almost never publicly provide a reason, unless perhaps the details have already been made public.

          Belya’s case accuses various ROCOR clergy of intentional defamation. While it’s certainly possible those clergy’s actual intentions were to protect others from what they saw as a rogue religious figure, that itself may not justify defamation. As the saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right.

          Nonetheless, it’s concerning that ROCOR is perhaps improperly appealing in this case to “ministerial exception”, and thereby putting this religious freedom we have in America in the crosshairs.

          • Timmy Lemur says

            Given the extreme egregiousness of what Belya did, it makes sense that ROCOR wanted to warn the public about him.

            Fourteen state attorneys general have written an amicus brief in support of ROCOR, on the grounds that,”Churches, synagogues, and mosques must be free to communicate about their leaders without fear that secular courts will punish them or otherwise interfere with their decisionmaking.” (source: ), so there’s quite a lot of support for ROCOR’s use of the ministerial exception here.

  7. George Michalopulos says

    They are an anti-Christian group indeed. Just like every other f$%^ing NGO that has plagued this nation for the last 100 years.


    The monasteries should proceed with extreme caution.

  9. deleted the previous petition to oust Elpi so here’s the new one:

  10. Hopefully Metropolitan Sawa of Poland has gotten through to Bartholomew. This gives some insight into Bartholomew’s visit a couple of months ago:–chto-mne-delaty–miryanin-jego-nuzhno-rukopolagaty

    And an additional voice from the Jerusalem Patriarchate:

    Could it be that between Ukraine and all the other controversies recently that he has finally gotten the hint?

    • Joseph Lipper says

      The Cypriot Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos visited the Phanar last month, and he now appears to be reconsidering his previous viewpoint on the OCU. He says the Phanar is releasing an academic study that clarifies the canonicity of the OCU hierarch’s ordinations:

      “Regarding the Ukrainian issue, Pat. Bartholomew ‘and his expert collaborators’ explained the Patriarchate’s stance in detail, with canonical and historical theses, ‘which we will study very thoroughly,’ Met. Isaiah continues. A ‘brilliant academic study’ on the canonicity of the ordinations of the ‘bishops’ of the ‘Orthodox Church of Ukraine’ was also recently produced by the Constantinople Holy Synod, which ‘will clarify and shed a lot of light on this thorny issue, which was also the main cause of our reservations, as well as that of many other bishops in Orthodoxy,’ Met. Isaiah added.”

      • If the Phanar claims to have new “evidence” it’s on him to submit that to the entire Church for proof and reproof.

        Every other Church denies the canonical legitimacy of Dumenko, so if Bartholomew wants to legitimize them he’s going to have to provide the proof to the Church…rather than just one Greek Metropolitan.

        • George Michalopulos says

          There is no “proof.” If we’ve learned anything by now, it’s that the Phanar doesn’t ever play straight. About anything.

      • Joseph Lipper, logic dictates that the Phanar would (should!) have done this a long time ago! After all of the controversy surrounding the fact that the OCU is full of schismatics, deposed clergymen and self-ordained laymen—why are they (i.e., Phanar) now going to release an academic study that ‘clarifies’ the canonicity of the OCU’s [valid] apostolic succession?! It makes no sense at all.

        It seems to me that this is all a smokescreen…the Phanar is using up any remaining ammunition that it has to aim at world Orthodoxy…to convince them that everything is kosher with the OCU. I’m certainly not buying it. Anyone else?

    • The OCU question might be about to solve itself:–mitropolit-savva

      Seems they are getting even closer to union with the UGCC.

      • Petros, this doesn’t surprise me—at all!

      • Joseph Lipper says

        If the UGCC united with the OCU, then they would no longer commemorate the Pope, and they would be in schism with Rome. Metropolitan Epiphany doesn’t commemorate the Pope of Rome.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Joseph, it’s going to be the other way around.

          Rome, for all its heterodoxy, isn’t in the business of swimming across the Bosporus. They already think that they are “Orthodox who are in communion with Rome.”

          • Could it be the plan that that if the UGCC (which is
            in communion with Rome) unites with the OCU
            (which is in communion with Constantinople),
            Constantinople will be in communion with Rome?
            In short, is this a shortcut to Unia?