Isolation does not have to be a part of our world

The Church is the Body of Christ and by Her very nature is anything but an institution wherein one can be isolated from others. We only let it be so if we fail to involve ourselves as the people of God, with one another. The greeting given by Orthodox Christians, passing on the holy kiss when we meet one another, or kissing the hand of our priest, are ways we avoid the isolation that dominates the society in which we live. Staying for the coffee hour, or the agape meal, following the Sunday Liturgy, are ways in which we can do battle against the isolation that dominates the rest of our world. Attending midweek services is another way to stave off isolation.

Isolation is a terrible threat to our way of life, and we need to teach our young people the skills that past generations learned from older family members. I am astounded when I think of how much of my grandparents are a real part of who I’ve become. It is not just genetics that they passed on to me, but memories of family history that was long gone when I was born. Even parts of my personality were gleaned from my great grandfather. My study, filled as it is with photographs, icons and collectibles, is a style that became my own, having loved the same clutter and warmth of my grandparents home.

Isolation does not have to be a part of our world. It just takes commitment on our part to build family and community. When people visit the monastery I routinely ask that they turn off their cell phones, so we can all leave isolation behind and connect as family, the children of the Most High. What a wonderful thing it would be if each family had two hours each night when the house phone, cell phones, the TV, and all other outside intrusions were banned. How about an evening of playing Uno, as a family, or putting a puzzle together? Then, end the evening with the whole family standing before the icon corner, doing the evening prayers!

The separation from family and friends that has been foisted on us because of the pandemic, must not be allowed to isolate us from others. Now, more than ever, is a time when we should be calling senior members of our communities. Now is the time when families should be keeping in touch with other members of the neighborhood, even if only waving across the street when we see them, or giving them a call just to let them know we are thinking of them.

Isolation can only become the norm if we let it. Zoom calls can be the link to those we love, even though not the best solution. Caring enough for our friends and neighbors by demonstrating our willingness to keep them in our lives, is a very important way of keeping isolation at bay. We are all in this together, and employing whatever technology we can muster, will help us get through this time of separation and trial.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photos: Abbot Tryphon’s study.

Thursday November 19, 2020 / November 6, 2020
24th Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
St. Paul the Confessor, archbishop of Constantinople (350).
Venerable Barlaam, abbot of Khoutyn (Novgorod) (1192).
New Hieromartyrs Nicitas bishop of Orekhovo-Zuev, Anatoly, Arsenius, Nicholas, Nicholas, Constantine priests, Hieromartyrs Barlaam, Gabriel, Gabriel, Woman Hieromartyrs Nina and Seraphima (1937).
New Hieromartyr Basil priest (1938).
New Martyr Gregory the Cross-bearer (1936).
St. Elias Fondaminskii of Paris (1942).
Synaxis of the New Martyrs of Sarov: Anatole, Basil, Hierotheus, Isaac, and Rufinus.
Repose of St. Herman, archbishop of Kazan (1567).
Venerable Luke, steward of the Kiev Caves (13th c.).
Venerable Barlaam of Keret Lake (16th c.).
Virgin-martyrs Tecusa, Alexandra, Claudia, Matrona, Polactia, Euphrosyne, and Athanasia of Ancyra (303).
Venerable Luke, monk, of Sicily (820).
Venerable Winnocus, abbot (716) (Neth.).
St. Leonard of Noblac (559) (Gaul).
Venerable Illtyd, abbot of Llanilltyd Fawr, disciple of St. Germanus of Auxerre (England) (6th c.) (Celtic & British).
St. Cowey of Portaferry, abbot of Moville (8th c.) (Celtic & British).
St. Demetrianus, bishop of Cytheria in Cyprus (915).

The Scripture Readings

1 Thessalonians 5:1-8

The Day of the Lord

5 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.

Luke 11:47-12:1

47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48 In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ 50 that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.

52 “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.”

53 And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, 54 lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him.

Beware of Hypocrisy

12 In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the[d]leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

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. “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy”.
    I was reading the words of the Prophet Zechariah this morning concerning shepherds, and if I was a shepherd, the Fear of God would certainly be real and I would not want to be accounted as incompetent. (Zechariah 11:4-12:8)
    “Next, the Lord said to me, ‘Now take the gear of an incompetent shepherd. For I am now going to raise an incompetent shepherd in this country. He will not bother about the lost; he will not look for the stray; he will not heal the wounded; he will not support the weary; but he will only eat the flesh of the fat beasts and tear off their hoofs. Trouble is coming to the worthless shepherd who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! may his arm wither entirely, may his eye be totally blinded!’

  2. It occurred to me reading this this morning how powerful it would be for Orthodox Christians to greet each other with the Holy Kiss in spite of the pandemic. We would be communicating just how much more important Christian Love is than bodily health.

  3. My closest male friend is a man quite different than me. In fact I think that the only thing we have in common is our love of Jesus Christ. The list of our differences is massive when I think about it and could easily prevent our friendship. But, God gave us a moment when he was approaching the Church that shattered the isolation seemingly inherent in our differences.
    We each have a heart for God that somehow allows us to minimize the differences. That was shared by us both as I gave him a gift of a book one day. As I handed him the book, a bond was created that was deep. Surprised us both.

    The existential isolation of our time is real in a sense but ultimately unreal.
    Race, politics, disease, wealth disparity, physical distance. All can be overcome — are overcome by God’s grace and mercy. If we are open to it.

  4. A spiritual pearl from St. Abba Poimen the Great (from Archpriest Demetrius Carallas)

    “Most dear Brothers and Sisters in the risen Lord Jesus,

    Although St.Poimen is offering this teaching to his monks, everything that he says applies to each of us as well. Far too many of American and Canadian citizens have replaced fear of God with fear of physical death. And that has resulted in the apparent majority of both clergy and laity surrendering our religious freedom to the rulers of our secular world. May these words of this great Desert Father help us to have more faith and trust in God’s Providence, so that we can cast off the chains of worldly fear that we have allowed our secular governments to place around our souls. Panaghia mou, please lead us out of this self-made demonic quagmire, in which we find ourselves!

    ”We need humble-mindedness and fear of God as much as we need to breathe. The three most important tasks of a monk [And for you and me also, dear ones!] are: to fear God, to pray to God and to do good to his neighbor. When the bees are driven out of their hives by smoke, then the sweet fruit of their labors is taken. In the same way, carnal lust drives away the fear of God from the soul; and destroys all of its good fruits. The beginning and end of the spiritual way is the fear of God. ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ [Psalm 110:10]. And again, when Abraham built an altar, the Lord said to him, ‘Now I know that you fear God’ [Gen. 22:12].?”

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