December 1, 2011

Elder Ephraim of Vatopaidi On Russia, the Antichrist and the Girdle of the Theotokos

November 29, 2011

Abbot of the Vatopaidi Monastery, Archimandrite Ephraim, who accompanied the Belt of the Mother of God from the Monastery to Russian cities, believes in Russia's special spiritual mission.

"Russia won't collapse. On the contrary, it will strengthen and play the leading part in saving Orthodoxy on Earth," the Bulletin of St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation quoted Father Ephraim as saying.

As was reported, a week after the Belt of the Mother of God departed from Russia, belts blessed on the reliquary with the shrine will be distributed in one of Moscow churches.

Father Ephraim advised to wear them as a usual belt.

"You can wash it, but it's better not to pour the first water in canalization, but rather to water a tree as the belt is blessed," he said.

Addressing some Orthodox believers who are expecting the apocalypse soon, the priest recommended to study "Christ, rather than Antichrist."

"You know, it's an unhealthy spiritual condition when people talk much of the Antichrist, the end of the world and so on. Some people are too much involved in the topic," he said.

After visiting St. Petersburg the relic was taken to other Russian cities. The last destination was Moscow. The belt returned to Athos on November 28.

The shrine has left Greece for the first time in the history of its stay in the Vatopaidi Monastery.

For many years Vatopaidi monks have made small belts, blessed them on the belt of the Mother of God and distributed them among believers. As usual they take a bobbin with 300 meters of ribbon, which is blessed on the reliquary with a special prayer. Then the bobbin is handed over to the monks: they divide the fabric for a meter and a half belts, twist them and put them into plastic bags together with a text telling them about the shrine and instructions how to pray and observe a fast.

Orthodox believe that thanks to the intercession of the Holy Virgin these belts help cure female infertility, and bear and give birth to a healthy child. As the belt of the Mother of God is kept on Athos where women are not allowed, Russian women have a rare chance to kneel down before the shrine, pray for granting children, health for relatives and friends, and bring prosperity to Russia.