Apostolic Doctrine

Just whose recipe is it anyway?

One of the most powerful reasons for embracing Orthodoxy is to be found in the Church’s insistence that she holds to the evangelical and apostolic doctrine of the Ancient Church. In an age when everything is up for change, there is a certain security and stability when one institution (the Church) stands firm in her Apostolic Authority, and refuses to allow popular culture or political correctness to influence her rightful role as hospital for the soul.

“It is not lawful to differ even by a single word from the evangelical and apostolic doctrine, or to think otherwise than as the blessed Apostles and our fathers learned and taught concerning the Holy Scriptures (Saint Leo the Great).”

We know from the very foundations of the Church, set down in the Gospels, and in the Apostolic Canons, that the Church exists, not to judge, but to bring healing. Her mission is to make whole those who would enter into her gates, as entering into a hospital. She forces no one, for one who is forced is not open to healing. Yet the Church is also aware that sin is not really a private matter, for all sin affects everyone. She knows that even private sins have an effect on the whole of the cosmos. Therefore, the Church continues, as she has from ancient times, to give witness to the commandments of God, the hope that is found in the Gospel of Christ, and the forgiveness and healing that can lead to wholeness.

The Church may seem to be a backward looking institution, irrelevant for our times, a view that has caused many of the denominations to alter basic foundational teachings in order to please a more liberally leaning society. This has led numerous of the denominations to allow parliaments to enact laws that have forced these religious institutions to ordain women as clergy, perform same sex marriages, and bow down to modern views on abortion that have lead to the death of thousands of innocents.

As an Orthodox monk who stands out in appearance, what with my long white beard and black robe, I demonstrate that I am attempting to live a faith that is not of this world. Like all Orthodox clergy, I teach by my presence in a modern and fallen world, that my faith is an ancient one, and that change is not necessary, for the faith of our fathers is just as relevant today, as it was two thousand years ago. What the Church has to offer today, is just as effective in bringing about the healing of the soul, as in ancient times.

The sad state of American Christianity has as it’s basis, a constant attempt to conform to an ever changing society, and with each change, there is less and less of authentic, ancient Christianity to be seen. It could be compared to using an old family cake recipe, dropping one ingredient, or changing another, with each passing generation. In the end, is it really great great grandmother’s cake recipe, or is it something else?

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: I took this photograph from a hiking trail close to the monastery, showing the Salish Sea, with Mount Rainier off in the distance.

Wednesday January 30, 2019 / January 17, 2019
36th Week after Pentecost. Tone two.
Fast. Fish Allowed
Venerable Anthony the Great (356).
Venerable Anthony, abbot of Dymsk (Novgorod) (1224).
New Hieromartyr Victor priest (1931).
New Hieromartyr Paul priest (1938).
Venerable Anthony of Chernoezersk, monk (16th c.).
Emperor St. Theodosius the Great (395).
Venerable Anthony of Krasny Kholm, monk (1481).
Venerable Anthony the Roman, of Novgorod (1147).
St. Anthony the New, of Berrhia in Macedonia (11th c.) (Greek).
Venerable Achilles the Confessor, hermit of Egypt (5th c.).
New Martyr George of Ioannina (1838) (Greek).
St. Macarius Kalogeras, hierodeacon of Patmos (1737).

The Scripture Readings

Matthew 11:27-30

27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Hebrews 13:17-21

17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Prayer Requested

18 Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. 19 But I especially urge youto do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.

Benediction, Final Exhortation, Farewell

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Luke 6:17-23

Jesus Heals a Great Multitude

17 And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, 18 as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. 19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.

The Beatitudes

20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you poor,
For yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
For you shall be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now,
For you shall laugh.
22 Blessed are you when men hate you,
And when they exclude you,
And revile you, and cast out your name as evil,
For the Son of Man’s sake.
23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. The Monastery is under the omophore of The Most Rev. Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.


  1. As a woman, I do not like the issue of women in clergy to be lumped with sexual sins and abortion. I find this common action disrespectful to the issue and to women. Women who are struggling for ways to figure out a fuller direction for themselves in the church should not have to be grouped in with things like sexual sin and murder. I am not saying this to advocate the issue in one way or another, only that as a woman, I don’t like this issue being compared to sexual sins and murder of the unborn.

    1. Awesome article. As a woman and a convert, I didn’t feel at all offended. I came out of a Charismatic background where women were “ordained” as prophets, preachers and apostles. When I became skeptical of all that I was seeing, I began to take a good look at the Ancient Church and the roles women played. I find Orthodoxy reveres women more than Protestants and just because they cant serve in the clergy in no way diminishes their role in the Church. I believe what Abbot Tryphon was pointing out is that people keep trying to redefine the church with all sorts of practices thinking the church needs an upgrade to keep up with feminism or whatever ism is present in our day. I did not find this article at all disparaging but the truth of the ever changing American Christianity that doesn’t even resemble the original Church. I came to this same conclusion and this is what led me out of the “American” prosperity gospel-man centered-self-motivational church into the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.

  2. Thank you both for who you are and your special calling in God. None of us are perfect, at times the wrong choices in words can have a undesirable/unwanted outcome in the heart of the reader. As a woman in ministry who loves and serves God with all my heart, I also felt a bit offended when reading that part of the article. This is not to blame, because we all fall short at some point in time, but we use this to learn, adjust, become aware of our words and our intentions. May God continue to bless you both! Keep moving forward.

  3. I appreciate some of the views expressed here. I feel a very strong draw to the Orthodox Church. I love it and attend services regularly even though I’m not yet a catechumen.

    For some reason the role of women in the Church has been nagging at me lately, as a father of two girls who believes they should have the opportunity to share their gifts in whatever capacity they so choose and feel called to.

    Is my feeling that women should be able to do what they want to do at odds with the Church?

    I wouldn’t say I’m an advocate for women’s ordination, I’m just concerned. I haven’t found a satisfactory explanation online other than “Well, Jesus and the Apostles were all men.” So what do I say to my girls when/if I have to explain why they can’t serve behind the altar?

    1. You are a good father to hold such concerns, and I commend you. I’m going to address the subject of women’s ordination in an upcoming blog article. And let me make myself perfectly clear, I am a strong advocate for equality in employment and wages for women. I also have worked with many wonderful women during my many years as a therapist, so I am NOT a man who thinks all women should be home bound. I’ve also written about the importance of men taking responsibility with home chores, including washing dishes, cleaning house, and caring for their children. I’ve also had the pleasure of knowing many strong women within the life of the Church, including my spiritual mother,
      Abbess Markella.

    2. I’m in a similar boat (an inquirer who feels drawn, but not a catechuman). I’ve actually really appreciated how much the church celebrates women, especially holy women. I also have two daughters, and love to see that the person celebrated as the model of sainthood and holiness is a woman: Mary, the Theotokos. She is the example held up to all believers for what we strive for.

      Similarly, so many women saints are celebrated as examples of holiness for all believers. The church where I live is about to build a new chapel dedicated to a saint who is a woman.

      It is true that women are not members of the clergy, nor do they serve at the alter, but only a small number do this anyway. And I personally think holding to tradition, even if we do fully understand its reasons, is a valuable thing to do. I am not Orthodox, but my understanding of the tradition is not just that all the apostles were men, but that they ordained an exclusively male presbytery and episcopate, which is a tradition the church continues to follow.

  4. to me the steadfastness of Orthodoxy is what I hold dear! For 2,000 + years, our canons, dogmas and Holy Father teachings are unaltered and will not be until the end of time. They Are Absolutes. This brings comfort to me- the ‘goal post’ is always the same-theosis. It does not change- your ‘target’ does not change – let us embrace Orthodoxy as presented to us by Christ through His Apostles and Holy Tradition. If the Spiritual medication has brought forth so many Orthodox Saints- including WOMEN- it proves that spiritual ‘ointment’ works- some of us need a lot of it and not change it… God bless you Father Tryphon for your efforts!!!

  5. I, too, have had questions about the role of women in the Orthodox Church. We live in a society where equality in all things seems to be paramount. When I was baptized 12 years ago one of my “beefs” was that women were not allowed in the altar or on Mt. Athos etc. I asked my Godfather about this and he said, “My dear Goddaughter, you have joined the Orthodox Church!” I quickly learned that, like in life, there are rules and traditions in the Church that we may not understand or agree with and to accept things as they are is to grow in humility Perhaps there are profound reasons why these things are, or perhaps it’s just because “it’s always been this way.” Of course I’d love to have it explained to me and I look forward to your article on this topic, Father Tryphon. And I’d love, even more, to have it sit well with me. But, I suspect, since I am a child of this time and place, that I’ll have more questions and objections and, with God’s grace, I will be able to see that it’s yet another opportunity for me to pray for humility and grow spiritually.
    Thank you so much for your articles and for your love and care for us all.

  6. I remember in the eighties (or whenever) when the Roman Church used the weak argument of : Jesus was a man” to explain the roles of men and women in the Church hierarchy. They’d obviously forgotten a thing or two (or three or four). There are, of course, much more profound reasons, going all the way back to the XY and XX chromosomes why men should lead, and why this is especially true in relation to God’s work. It is a question that has occupied this writer’s mind for almost all his adult life. It is a discussion too long for this blog (or for Abbot Tryphon’s patience, perhaps), but there are some observations I’ve made in this regard since approaching and entering the Orthodox Church a few years ago.
    1. The Church is there for me. I’m not there for the Church. It’s not my job to teach the Church, and if Church’s representatives feel in any given moment that they don’t need to justify the Church to me that’s perfectly fine. It’s my job to try to pay attention, learn and try to understand.
    2. Orthodoxy heightens and broadens Woman, and the feminine side of Spirituality, in ways unimaginable to anyone caught up in the politics of “equality”, as if there ever was or ever will be any such thing, outside of our relationship to God. The great Mystery of Theotokos, the roles of the Holy Mother, Mary Magdalene, Martha and others in the early Church show that the work is far from the that of any artificial or oppressive Patriarchy. My favorite saint, apart from my patron saint, is St. Mary of Egypt. I’d like to meet her someday, and say ‘hi’.
    3. The experience of Liturgy and worship in the Temple leaves absolutely no place for politics, and yet I’ve seen people bring their sexual politics right in through the front door like it was nothing. Perhaps Abbot Tryphon would correct me in this, but this lapsed Unitarian finds the notion of politics in the Orthodox services particularly, and objectively, distasteful. To me, it is lowering something (like an apple from a tree) because one does not understand it.
    4. Over and again, I meet people who appear to have some nascent interest in Orthodoxy, and then choke on the first crumb of humility presented to them. A cautionary image for all of us, I suppose.
    5. Only three years of Orthodoxy, true, but if all ends tomorrow, who’s to know but what I might get paid the same as the Abbott. That’s equality.
    Fifty years of feminism has left us overly sensitive to the sight of any male enclave. It must be broken up! Men (those who aren’t total jerks, anyway) aren’t much impressed by a woman who does what a man can do. So what? We’re impressed by women doing what only women can do. I know. I have two bosses, both of them women. I’ve worked decades for the two of them, (and in the course of it changed more Huggies, I’d guess, than anyone on this blog) and I fear the day I lose their good will. I’ve seen them close up in any and all kinds of situations, some of them quite dire, and I’ve often lain awake at night marveling at their capacities. I doubt either of them could articulate what makes a real woman, yet both demonstrate it on a daily basis. To be a real man? That’s another matter.

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