Fake Priest, Fake Miracles in Texas

I have known about this fake priest and fake crying statue for many years, but thought it had gone away by now. Not only is it a fake priest and fake miracle but also another story of people using God to molest children.  I want people to pay attention to these things and not accept the appearance of holiness so easily.  Do your research – investigate. Don’t be so easily fooled.  I am convinced God will hold it against you for being mentally lazy and not doing what the bible commands, “Test the Spirit”.

Christ of the Hills Monastery

On a scrubby hilltop in the middle of nowhere, amid a squalid trailer park masquerading as a monastery, the life of Samuel Greene – known to his followers as Father Benedict – came this month to an abrupt conclusion.

Suicide? Could be, says the sheriff. Sam Greene was a convicted pedophile, a purported pothead, an audacious blasphemer, a morbidly obese slob and a thoroughgoing fraud. He was, quite simply, a wretch.

And yet I owe to his life more than I can say.

In 1981, Mr. Greene, a TV real-estate pitchman, declared himself an Eastern Orthodox monk and founded Christ of the Hills monastery – mostly mobile homes near a wooden chapel – in the countryside outside the Hill Country town of Blanco.

Four years later, Father Benedict, as he now called himself, acquired an icon of the Virgin Mary. He and his followers soon claimed the icon was miraculously "weeping" myrrh. Word spread, and soon the multitudes were making their way to the isolated monastery to venerate the icon and pray for miracles of their own.

I was one of them. In the early 1990s, an Austin friend who shared my newfound Catholic faith and interest in mysticism took me to see the icon. Every time I'd go visit him, we'd make a pilgrimage to Blanco. By the middle of the decade, having wearied of the single life, I asked God for a wife. I prayed the rosary fervently for this intention, petitioning the Virgin for her help. In Blanco, I would pray likewise before the weeping Mother of God.

I didn't worry much about the icon's validity. Why would monks lie? But I was young and naive in my faith then, credulous and childishly enthusiastic about signs and wonders.

In the autumn of 1996, I flew from my home in Florida to Austin to meet Frederica Mathewes-Green, an Orthodox writer friend in town for a conference. We would go to Blanco together. At Frederica's bookstore presentation, I met a University of Texas journalism student. I was instantly thunderstruck and, before parting, invited her to go with us to see the weeping icon the next day. The student accepted, and the next morning, I once again stood before the miraculous image, praying silently that if this girl was The One, I would know it in my heart.

Four months and many flights to Austin later, I made my final visit to the Blanco monastery. Inside the chapel, I asked that student to marry me. She said yes. My prayers were answered. Nearly 11 years and three children later, I remain the most blessed of men.

My wife and I hadn't been married long before the Blanco monastic community began to collapse. In 1999, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia severed ties with the monks after allegations of sexual abuse there. Father Benedict pleaded guilty to indecency with a child and received probation. Another monk was convicted and sent to prison.

By then, I figured the icon was fake. Did I feel a fool for believing in it? Sure. But I had faith that my prayers, sincerely offered, had been heard and that heaven had said yes. That was enough, though I winced at the stain on that cherished courtship memory.

Subsequent arrests revealed that the monastery was, in fact, a snake pit. Last year, in secretly taped conversations, Mr. Greene admitted he'd been molesting kids since the 1970s, smoking dope, engaging in reported "deviant sexual contact" and otherwise violating terms of his probation. He also confessed that he'd faked the icon.

Because of all this, Father Benedict faced the prospect of prison. Whether by fate or by his own hand, Sam Greene's last con was cheating justice. In this life, anyway.

I am glad it is not given to me to judge him. By one standard, Father Benedict deserves a millstone lashed to his neck for eternity. That's what I'd have given the old buzzard, but God's a better Christian than I am. And yet, I'm forced to admit that from Sam Greene's wicked deeds, my beloved family sprung. I can't help wondering: no fake icon, no visit to Austin, no meeting my true love.

This mystery throws everything off balance. It offends my sense of order and righteousness to recognize it, but the mere existence of my children is evidence that however miserable and mean and degraded, that dirty old monk, probably in spite of himself, was once an instrument of grace.

Did other good fruit emerge from this poisoned vineyard? Who knows, and who can say whether it counts for anything? But when Sam Greene is judged, there my little family stands, however reluctantly, as silent witnesses for the defense, pleading on his behalf for the same thing every one of us will one day need: mercy.

God can bring good out of evil, but the evil is still evil.  This is very evil and insults God and all Catholics. 

Important Note:

Samuel A. Greene Jr., founder of a Texas monastery mired in child sex scandal dies at 63

September 19, 2007  

BLANCO, Texas -- Samuel A. Greene Jr., the founder of a monastery that closed amid scandal over the alleged sexual abuse of novice monks and a fraudulent weeping Virgin Mary painting, has died. He was 63.

Greene's death was being investigated as a suicide, but officials were waiting for autopsy results before ruling on the cause of death. Greene's body was found Monday morning in his home on the grounds of Christ of the Hills Monastery.

The monastery was allied with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia from 1991 to 1999, but the church broke ties with the monastery when allegations surfaced of indecency by Greene with a juvenile novice monk.

Greene, who founded the monastery in 1981, pleaded guilty in 2000 to indecency and was sentenced to 10 years probation. In 2006, Greene told his probation officer in a secretly taped interview that he had sexual contact with boys over a 30-year period starting in the 1970s.

Greene also reportedly confirmed that the monastery's weeping painting was fake. Authorities seized the icon, which was said to cry tears of myrrh, a sign of divine intervention. It had drawn thousands of visitors, and their donations, to the area.

The interview also prompted authorities to file child sexual assault and organized crime charges against Greene and four other monks in July 2006. Greene maintained his innocence and was released on his own recognizance because of health problems.

Greene was due Friday in court, where prosecutors planned to seek to have his probation revoked. Assistant District Attorney Cheryl Nelson said she would have asked the judge to sentence him to the maximum 20-year term on each of his nine indecency counts.