On Matthewite Ecclesiology

Bp. Matthew of Bresthena, founder of the Matthewites

Elder Ephraim of Philotheou

At St. Basil’s Skete in the seclusion of his cell, Geronda [Joseph the Hesychast] often knew what was happening in the outside world better than those who take pains to find out about such things. One day, Fr. Matthew, who was the  leader of the group of zealots to whom Geronda belonged, began professing some extremist positions. He was an accomplished speaker that enticed many with his opinions. But when Geronda heard those views of his, he became concerned and began to pray to God about him. After awhile, God revealed the truth to Geronda in a vision:

I saw that there were two roads that the Fathers had mapped out: the cenobitic and the ascetical. And I saw that brother was following neither the one nor the other road, but said, “I will go here!” Then he went downhill through a thicket that descended to the sea. And there was someone beside him who said to me: “Do you see him? The road he took will take him to the depths!”

At the same time, I also saw that I was at St. Basil’s, up in the skete. I saw a dreadful fire burning the entire skete. So I said with grief: “Who lit this fire which will burn down the entire skete?” Then someone told me: “Fr. Matthew lit it, trying to support his way of thinking!”

The vision made Geronda realize that things were not well with Fr. Matthew’s way of life, and it made Geronda question also his ecclesiastical stance. (My Elder Joseph the Hesychast, pp. 164-165)