Historic Memory

The importance of preserving our common history

Ridding a country of every memorial to the past is utter foolishness. Watching the news of the statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson being pulled down in Portland, Oregon recently, made me sick. Erasing the past does not make the future better, but only obscures history, making it more probable we will repeat the very history we find so appalling. Rather than ridding all memory of our past, let’s learn from it.

It is from this vantage point that I find it understandable why images of the hammer and sickle appear in some of the frescoes of soldiers depicted on the walls of the new Christ Cathedral just outside of Moscow, in remembrance of the Soviet soldiers who fought against the Nazis. This is why I rejoice that a military once aligned with Communism is now aligning itself with the Orthodox Church, and worshiping together in a newly constructed cathedral dedicated as a military chapel.

Civil War heroes existed on both sides, and it is therefore important that we not allow history to be taught from only the winning side.  Many on the Rebel side were stronger, more committed Christians than were found on the Union side, yet, like all Christians, there were aspects in them that were against God’s law, and called for repentance. Slavery was a terrible sin, not only for the South, but previously part of the culture of our whole nation. To my mind, the removal of all signs and symbols of the Confederacy will only lead to the repeat of our fathers sins, since it is the memory of the errors in our history that helps us not repeat that history. The removal of all signs of the Civil War from either side simply deprives us of our history as a people. That George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves is appalling, but it is still a part of our national history. The memory of this most horrid past must never be forgotten, lest we repeat the sins of our fathers.

It is obvious to me that, as a nation, we have much work to do. Police Departments should make stronger efforts to purge themselves of racist cops, and all our businesses and corporations need to weed out every vestige of discrimination, both based on race and gender. But purging our historical memory is not the answer. All we accomplish as Americans when we rid every memory of our past, will only guarantee the repeat of mistakes of the past. Banning the Confederate flag, and toppling the statues of Confederate war heroes will, ultimately, do nothing to erase the sins of the racism that led to the institution of slavery.

For all the energy that is being spent on ending racism in the United States, as most assuredly needs to be done, does nothing to end the slavery that is still being practiced in Sub-Sahara Africa, parts of Asia, and the Middle East. It is not only the United States that has much to be ashamed of, but much of our world. It is not just Western Civilization that has a tainted past, for we must not forget that the West bought their slaves from Arab slave traders. It was often black Africans who enslaved other black Africans, and sold them to European slave traders, just as some Indiginous tribes of North America enslaved their enemies from neighboring tribes. Even the word Slavs has its historical roots in the slave trade, as Arabs enslaved white Eastern Europeans.

We humans have all fallen short of the image and likeness of our Creator  God, and we are all in need of repentance. Years ago a psychological study was done with college students, where they were divided into two groups, with one given the power over the other group. The cruelty that took over the minds of the group in power spoke volumes, and was a wakeup call for all of us. Everyone of us needs to take a close look at just what we are doing with our lives. We all need to root out the racism that reigns within our core. We also all need to look at how we view those of the oposite sex as somehow beneath us (this can be a view held by both men and women). Young people need to see if they are holding to ageist views, and are discounting older members of society as simply “boomers”.

Racism needs to be expunged from our human consciousness in all its evil forms, and it is only by refusing to forget the evil of our common human history, that all this evil will finally be put aside. Watching a news video of a statue of a Confederate soldier being dragged through the streets of Washington D.C. by an angry mob, and hung by the neck from a tree, brought to mind a flood of images of Orthodox priests being hung by the neck by Croacian Nazi sympathizers during World War II, with Catholic clergy standing with Nazi officers, all with smiles on their faces.

These film clips reminded me of all the thousands of innocent people, including bishops, priests, and monastics, who lost their lives under the Soviet horror. Seeing the historical memorials of our fellow Americans in the South trashed by a “politically correct” mindset, reminded me of the desecration of Orthodox churches in Russia by Marxist dogs who had no sense of justice, or trace of humanity within their darkened hearts. The hanging of that statue reminded me of the sordid history of lynchings that took place of innocent black people in our American cities.

It is the remembrance of our history that will serve as one of the strongest deterrents from further inhuman behavior, not the expulsion of all memories. Removing statues of the Founding Fathers on the grounds that they were slave holders makes us destined to repeat the same sins as our forefathers, for it removes all memory that these historical individuals were products of their age, and that many of them repented, and worked to perminently end slavery.

I am grateful that my own father was a man who respected Native Americans, and who had a whole library on Native American history. That childhood instruction I received from my father contributed to the joy I experienced earlier this year when I had the privilege of accepting the invitation of Archbishop David of Alaska, to deliver the Alaskan Diocesan Clergy Retreat. I found myself bound in love and respect for those clergy, the vast majority of which were indigenous peoples of Alaska.

I feel blessed that I count among my relatives members of the Jewish community, the black community, and the Asian community. I am fortunate to have Father Moses Berry as a close friend, a black man whose own ancestors were slaves, and whose home borders on his ancestral cemetery of slaves.

As a former Marxist (back in the 70’s), I look on at the radical movement sweeping our nation, and fear what may be coming. As a police chaplain, I admit that I removed the police and fire chaplain logo from my vehicle, for fear of being attacked during my recent sojourn into Seattle. I fear for a land whose young people, unemployed because of the pandemic lockdown, are flooding the streets of our American cities, demonstrating for a righteous cause (the end of racism and police brutality), all the while as I witness what looks strongly as an attempt at a radical takeover by those espousing Marxist ideology, and who ultimately are only using racism as a way to destroy our democracy, and replace it with a Marxist-inspired political system that would become an even more terrible slavemaster.

I fear for a nation that has long ago turned away from her common Judeo-Christian foundations, and is desperately trying to reinvent herself on a foundation devoid of Christ, and appears to be increasingly heading toward the brink of civil war. My heart grieves that I am unable to move about our society with a smile, ministering to a populace so in need of Christian love and mercy, all the while forced to wear a mask that hides the joyful smile I have for the love of Christ. I grieve for the fact that I’ve had to cancel so many speaking engagements across the country and in Canada, during the coming months, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, for my missionary heart is happiest when I am sharing the Orthodox faith with others.

So, what am I to do? I pray every day for this country, and for her people. I pray every hour for our world, that the Lord will spare us from that which we all are bringing upon ourselves through our thoughts, feelings and actions. I pray that we will all repent, and turn our common gaze to the Father of Lights. I pray for the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God, and all the saints, our heavenly friends who watch in sadness and horror at a world gone mad, and ever beseech the Lord to turn His wrath from us, and have mercy on us all. I pray that we all repent before our Christ, the Son of the Living God and our loving Saviour and Lord, Who despite all of our largely unexamined weakness, frailty, small-minded, selfish and self-centered ways of living is waiting for us to permit Him to come into our hearts.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Sunday June 21, 2020 / June 8, 2020
2nd Sunday after Pentecost. All Russian Saints. Tone one.
Apostles’ (Peter & Paul) Fast. Fish Allowed
All venerable and holy Fathers of the Holy Mount Athos (movable holiday on the 2nd Sunday of Pentecost).
All venerable and holy Fathers of Bulgaria (movable holiday on the 2nd Sunday of Pentecost).
“Kaluga” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (1771) (movable holiday on the first Sunday of the Apostles’ Fast).
Translation of the relics of Great-martyr Theodore Stratelates (319).
St. Theodore, bishop of Rostov and Suzdal (1023).
Finding of the relics (1501) of Sts. Basil (1249) and Constantine(1257), princes of Yaroslavl.
Venerable Ephraim, patriarch of Antioch (546).
Venerable Zosimas, monk, of Phoenicia (Syria) (6th c.).
“Yaroslavl” (13th c.) and “Uriupinsk” (1827) Icons of the Mother of God.
New Martyr Theophanes at Constantinople (1559) (Greek).
Venerable Atre (Athre) of Nitria (Egypt).
Venerable Naucratius, abbot of the Studion (848).
Venerable Theophilus of Luga and Omutch (1412), disciple of St. Arsenius of Konevits (Valaam).
Martyrs Nicander and Marcian at Dorostulum in Moesia (303) (Romania).
St. Medardus, bishop of Noyon (560) (Neth.).
Translation of the relics of Hieromartyr Alphege, abbot of Canterbury.
Martyr Callopia (Greek).
Venerable Melania the Elder, of Palladius’ Lausiac History (Greek).
Martyr Nicander (Greek).
Martyr Mark (Greek).
New Hieromartyrs Barlaam (1942) and his brother Herman (1937) (Riaschentsov) (1937).
St. Paul the Confessor, of Kaiuma in Constantinople (766).
Holy Hieromartyr Tevdore of Kvelta (1609) (Georgia).
Synaxis of the Church of the Cross at Mtskheta, Georgia (Georgia).
Venerable Naucratius, brother of St. Basil the Great (4th c.).

Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there!

The Scripture Readings

Mark 16:1-8

He Is Risen

16 Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

8 So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Romans 2:10-16

10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.

12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

Read full chapter

Matthew 4:18-23

Four Fishermen Called as Disciples

18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

Jesus Heals a Great Multitude

23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.


Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon is Igumen of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. 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. Lord, bring us mercy, healing and peace…..

    Just learned about a group of Orthodox Christians in the USA called “Expanding the Tent” – I learned a lot from this website and in particular one comment from a video stayed with me – “Our problems will not be resolved in a secular way, but by being centered in Orthodox Christianity.”

    God bless; take care & keep safe!

    1. Not a single mention of Chairman Mao, whose purge of the past in China is at the root of today’s leftist purge of statuary.

      1. Of course you are correct, but my article was something written from my heart. To be honest, my connection with Russia is so strong because I am part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Chairman Mao, and his Marxist purge didn’t even come to mind.

  2. Amen.

    I would argue that since people are now getting shot in this conflict that we are not headed towards a civil war but that we are in a civil war. A big part of the reason that people are so restive is that they have been on lock-down due to the pandemic. By now I think it has been established that Covid-19 isn’t as deadly as people originally made it out to be, with people under the age of 25 more likely to die of the flu. Perhaps a smart way to go about restoring order is to allow people to go back to work/school as quickly as possible. I would hate to have to choose sides in this conflict because it would mean that my own family members, co-workers, and neighbors would necessarily become my enemies. When I was in college 20 years ago I also would have sided with these leftist hooligans, having been brainwashed through the process of education in the liberal arts. That is why I am trying not to look at these mobs as the enemy, but to look on them with compassion as erring people who are out of the Way, who haven’t yet seen the Light of the Glorious Gospel of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

  3. Father when churches are closed, when priest’s have to hide symbols of law and order, which they support, from angry mobs that roam our streets, we should not be astonished. Our Lord warned us of these days. They are here.
    I have begged my two son’s to leave the police force, as they have been abandoned by any sane governing body. 911 being dismantled will result. Risking their lives day in and day out, on every call that they respond to is just not worth it to my family.
    The look of disappointment, and sadness in your photo post is very dis heartening to see.
    May the Lord shorten His return

    1. Amen, Fr Tryphon.
      Why don’t you all come and pay us a visit in the land down under. Our covids sort of under control, and we are having a few protests, but were all able to take a step back and laugh as well.

      1. I’ve heard bishops from two different jurisdictions have voiced interest in having me come to Australia for speaking engagements. It is, however, a very long flight, so unless I was being flown first class I’m not sure I’d fare well, health wise.

        1. Pity, I pray that i might oneday be able to visit you, but it’s just a wish!! If you did come to Australia though, oh man that would be the one of the best days of my life, to get a blessing from Fr Tryphon, let’s pray that it might happen.
          Ps Been saying the occasional prayer for Fr Seraphim Cordoza and Fr Moses, hoping they are well!
          Yours sincerely,
          Victor Yalisheff.

          1. Please continue to pray for Father Seraphim and Father Moses. Father Moses is slowly recovering from having had his left leg amputated, and will be going into rehab for the protheses. Father Seraphim has been loosing a lot of weight, and is not doing well at all. He’s very weak, and unable to walk very far, and even standing is difficult for him. His heart is slowly giving out, I’m afraid.

  4. Thank you for your words Father. They helped me a great deal. You are right about the Communist ideology behind this. The people pulling the strings behind this are attempting a Communist coup. They used class in Russia and are using race here. There is a great evil behind this, and only our Lord can fight this. There may come a time when we must die for Him in this. When that time comes Iwill stand as the Old Believers did in Russia and say, “I am Christ”.

  5. Fr. Abbot,
    I am someone who is disgusted by where our country has lost itself, and what it has become. Although I know that I should be praying for our country, its leaders, and citizens, I have found it difficult to put this into words. Do you have a prayer which might help?

    1. PRAYER FOR OUR NATIONO LORD JESUS CHRIST OUR GOD: Accept from us, Thine unworthy servants, this fervent supplication, and having forgiven us all our sins, remember all our enemies that hate and wrong us, and render not unto them according to their deeds, but according to Thy great mercy convert them:The unbelieving to true faith and piety, and the believing that they may turn away from evil and do good.By Thine all-powerful might, mercifully deliver all of us, Thy holy Church and our Nation from every evil circumstance.Free our homeland, from all enemies, both visible and invisible and their power; Hearken unto the painful cry of Thy faithful servants who cry unto Thee day and night in tribulation and sorrow, O our most merciful God, and lead their life out of corruption.Grant peace and tranquility, love and steadfastness, and swift reconciliation to Thy people, whom Thou hast redeemed by Thy precious Blood. But unto them that have departed from Thee and seek Thee not, be Thou manifest, that not one of them perish, but that all of them be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth; that all in harmonious oneness of mind and unceasing love may glorify Thy most holy name, O patient-hearted Lord Who art quick to forgive. Amen.

  6. Father, but this marxist responsability for this does not make sense. marxism has been over in the world as a serious option since the fall of Soviet Union. Everybody is just consuming and watching tv since 1989. This is a old mind of cold war to guilt the communist for every evil. Why don´t you not say “Damm masonic conspiracy to take us over?” instead of putting it on marxism? It is very factual that there are more masonic lodges working in USA than communist´ cells of the Communist Party. And ohhhww George Washignton was a mason! and own Washington D.C has a lot of masonic buildings. ohhh the church does not like the marxist, but the masonics are ok? You are in a masonic ruled country and talks about the communist opression in the soviet countries?

    1. From my personal experience, I know Marxism when I see it. Just because these leftist revolutionaries are not publicly calling it for what it is does not mean they are not Marxist.

  7. Wise words Father. Everywhere we look people are letting there emotions guide their thinking into dark places. It seems what is desperately needed now is this kind of emotional sobriety. Thanks!

  8. So very true: … the memory of the errors in our history is what helps us not repeat that history. As quoted George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” As a teacher and lover of history it saddened me to see the attack on and removal of ‘statues’ over the world. History needs to be put in context so we can understand what motivated people to behave as they did. I say this as an ‘indigenous’ Australian and daughter of the ‘stolen generation’. My mother was taken from her mother and bought up in a mission she is a devout christian and went on to be a university lecturer. She taught me to ‘forgive’ as God forgives us for our sins and move towards reconciliation. We should never forget the conflict between the indigenous and European people and know the history of our nations. These events can not be undone but we must not look at the past with modern eyes.

    History should not be sanitised or erased to make people feel better both sides of our nations history should be told. We have a responsibility to teach the facts; and teach all of them so we our future generations do not make the same mistakes again. Matushka Heather

  9. It has been interesting that these mobs of young people condemn the present population of the United States for slavery. Have they forgotten the huge numbers of immigrants which flooded into N America long after slavery was abolished? Many Americans are descended from these refugees from East and Central Europe. after WWII . Remember Staten Island?.
    Before that Russians getting away over time from the U S S R.
    The potato famine leading the Irish to moving West.
    Collective guilt is not a good idea anyway, but if your current citizens are not descended from slave owners this cry for reparations is very strange thinking.
    Much the same in Australia and New Zealand.

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