True Piety

Pious without stoking the flames of pride

Some converts become experts in canon law and liturgical rubrics, and number themselves among the super correct. Archbishop Averky of Jordanville (of blessed memory) said of converts, “they are like envelopes and have a tendency to come unglued.” None of this is meant to diminish the importance of external piety, nor making the cross properly. Liturgical correctness has it’s place, and we should always avoiding sloppiness in the way we make the sign of the cross. Nor is it necessary to stand in the back of the temple during services. What is important is that we be careful that our piety is not meant to be seen by others.

I once knew a monk who always stood in the back of his monastery’s catholicon, avoiding any public display whatsoever. He told me the temptation to be seen as a pious and holy monk was too strong, so he made a decision to give others no opportunity to witness him in worship.

It should not be construed that I am suggesting everyone stand in the back of the church, less everyone be doing battle for those few spots on a crowded Sunday morning. What I am suggesting is that we remember that we are there for worship. If you become aware that your motives for standing in front of others during worship is an occasion for pride, by all means move to the back. It is the Lord Who should see us, and for Whom our pious external acts of worship should give honor. Externals are meant to be an aid to worship, bringing our bodies into conformity with the heart. For this to happen, we must guard the heart, making sure the externals are not temptations for pride.

The way to make sure our piety takes us deeply into true worship is to express these external acts of worship in the privacy of our homes. Orthodox worship, expressed by standing before our icons, making the sign of the cross with care, and doing prostrations in the privacy of the home, instruct the heart in true worship. If we’ve established a true relationship with the Lord in our home, that which is expressed in the temple, publicly, will become authentic.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Monday September 23, 2019 / September 10, 2019
15th Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
Martyrs Menodora, Metrodora, and Nymphodora at Nicomedia (305).
New Hieromartyrs Ismail, Eugene, John, Constantine, Peter, Basil, Gleb, Basil, John, Nicholas, Palladius priests, Hieromartyrs Meletius and Gabriel, Martyr Symeon, Virgin-Martyr Tatiana (1937).
New Hieromartyr Warus bishop of Lipetsk (1938).
Venerable Paul the Obedient of the Kiev Caves (13th c.).
Venerable Prince Andrew, in monasticism Joasaph, of Kubensk, Vologda (1453).
Synaxis of the Holy Apostles Apelles, Lucius, and Clement of the Seventy..
Martyr Barypsabas in Dalmatia (2nd c.).
Blessed Pulcheria, the Empress of Greece (453).
Sts. Peter (826) and Paul (9th c.), bishops of Nicaea.
Synaxis of All Saints of Lipetsk.
Venerable Cassian, abbot of Spaso-Kamenny and St. Cyril of White Lake Monasteries (1469).
St. Salvius, bishop of Albi (584) (Gaul).
Venerable Finian of Ulster (Ireland), abbot (579) (Celtic & British).
St. Theodaard of Maastricht (668) (Neth.).
Translation of the relics of St. Egvin, bishop of Worchester.
Translation of the relics of St. Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester.

The Scripture Readings

Galatians 2:11-16

No Return to the Law

11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.

14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

Mark 5:24-34

24 So Jesus went with him, and a great multitude followed Him and thronged Him.

25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”

29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”

31 But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ”

32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

Mark 5:24-34

24 So Jesus went with him, and a great multitude followed Him and thronged Him.

25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”

29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”

31 But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ”

32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

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.

Honest Piety

Piety without stoking the flames of pride

Many years ago I remember attending a Liturgy at a parish church and noticing a young man standing near the iconostasis, while making profound bows, and frequent, almost exaggerated signs of the cross. My first thought was that he must be a newly baptized Orthodox Christian. After embracing Orthodoxy, many people fall into the trap of exaggerated piety, having first becoming attracted to the externals of the faith. Coming out of religious traditions that have little in the way of externals, is it any wonder some among us would gravitate towards such outward piety?

Some converts become experts in canon law and liturgical rubrics, and number themselves among the super correct. Archbishop Averky of Jordanville (of blessed memory) said of converts, “they are like envelopes and have a tendency to come unglued.” None of this is meant to diminish the importance of external piety, nor making the cross properly. Liturgical correctness has it’s place, and we should always avoiding sloppiness in the way we make the sign of the cross. Nor is it necessary to stand in the back of the temple during services. What is important is that we be careful that our piety is not meant to be seen by others.

I once knew a monk who always stood in the back of his monastery’s catholicon, avoiding any public display whatsoever. He told me the temptation to be seen as a pious and holy monk was too strong, so he made a decision to give others no opportunity to witness him in worship.

It should not be construed that I am suggesting everyone stand in the back of the church, less everyone be doing battle for those few spots on a crowded Sunday morning. What I am suggesting is that we remember that we are there for worship. If you become aware that your motives for standing in front of others during worship is an occasion for pride, by all means move to the back. It is the Lord Who should see us, and for Whom our pious external acts of worship should give honor. Externals are meant to be an aid to worship, bringing our bodies into conformity with the heart. For this to happen, we must guard the heart, making sure the externals are not temptations for pride.

The way to make sure our piety takes us deeply into true worship is to express these external acts of worship in the privacy of our homes. Orthodox worship, expressed by standing before our icons, making the sign of the cross with care, and doing prostrations in the privacy of the home, instruct the heart in true worship. If we’ve established a true relationship with the Lord in our home, that which is expressed in the temple, publicly, will be be authentic.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: These three men from Vancouver, WA., spent the weekend in retreat.

Monday February 18, 2019 / February 5, 2019
Week of the Publican and the Pharisee. Tone five.
Fast-free Week. Fast-free
Entire week, fast-free.
Holy Martyr Agatha of Palermo in Sicily (251).
St. Theodosius, archbishop of Chernigov (1696).
New Martyrs Matushka Agatha (1938), and with her Schemamonk Eugene (1939) and Righteous Paramon (1941), of Belorussia.
Virgin-martyr Alexandra, martyr Michael (1942).
Martyr Theodoula of Anazarbus in Cilicia, and with her Martyrs Helladius, Macarius, Boethos, and Evagrius (304).
“Eletsk-Chernigov” (1060), “Sicilian” or “Divnogorsk” (1092) and “In Search of the Perishing” (17th c.) Icons of the Mother of God.
St. Polyeuctus, patriarch of Constantinople (970) (Greek).
New Martyr Anthony of Athens (1774) (Greek).
St. Theodosius of Skopelos in Cilicia (ca. 421).
St. Avitus, bishop of Vienne (525).

The Scripture Readings

2 Peter 1:20-2:9

20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Destructive Doctrines

2 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

Doom of False Teachers

4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.

Mark 13:9-13

9 “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.11 But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

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.

Genuine Piety

How to be a pious Orthodox Christian without stoking the flames of pride

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be like the hypocrites, who are fond of standing up in the synagogues and at the corners of streets to pray, so that they may be seen by people. Verily I say to you, they have gotten their reward. (Matthew 6:5)

Many years ago I remember attending a Liturgy at a parish church and noticing a young man standing in the front of the temple, making profound bows, together with frequent, almost exaggerated signs of the cross. My first thought was that he must be a newly baptized Orthodox Christian. After embracing Orthodoxy, many people fall into the trap of exaggerated piety, having first becoming attracted to the externals of the faith. Coming out of religious traditions that have little in the way of externals, is it any wonder some among us would gravitate towards such outward piety?

Some converts become experts in canon law and liturgical rubrics, and number themselves among the super correct. Archbishop Averky of Jordanville (of blessed memory) said of converts, “they are like envelopes and have a tendency to come unglued.” None of this is meant to diminish the importance of external piety, nor making the cross properly. Liturgical correctness has it’s place, and we should always avoiding sloppiness in the way we make the sign of the cross. Nor is it necessary to stand in the back of the temple during services. What is important is that we be careful that our piety is not meant to be seen by others.

I once knew a monk who always stood in the back of his monastery’s catholicon, avoiding any public display whatsoever. He told me the temptation to be seen as a pious and holy monk was too strong, so he made a decision to give others no opportunity to witness him in worship.

It should not be construed that I am suggesting everyone stand in the back of the church, less everyone be doing battle for those few spots on a crowded Sunday morning. What I am suggesting is that we remember that we are there for worship. If you become aware that your motives for standing in front of others during worship is an occasion for pride, by all means move to the back. It is the Lord Who should see us, and for Whom our pious external acts of worship should give honor. Externals are meant to be an aid to worship, bringing our bodies into conformity with the heart. For this to happen, we must guard the heart, making sure the externals are not temptations for pride.

The way to make sure our piety takes us deeply into true worship is to express these external acts of worship in the privacy of our homes. Orthodox worship, expressed by standing before our icons, making the sign of the cross with care, and doing prostrations in the privacy of the home, instruct the heart in true worship. If we’ve established a true relationship with the Lord in our home, that which is expressed in the temple, publicly, will be be authentic.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photos: Our Saint John the Wonderworker Chapel.

Monday September 10, 2018 / August 28, 2018
16th Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
Venerable Moses the Black of Scete (400).
Uncovering of the relics of Venerable Job of Pochaev (1651).
New Hieromartyr Alexis (1918).
New Martyrs Archimandrite Sergius (Zaytsev) and monks of Zilantov Monastery of Kazan (1918) hieromonks Laurecnce (Nikitin), Seraphim (Kuz’min), hierodeacon Theodosius (Alexandrov), monks Leontius (Kariagin), Stephen, brothers Gregory (Timofeev), Hylarion (Pravdin), John (Sretensky), Sergius (Galin) (1918).
New Hieromartyr Alexander, deacon (1918).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1931).
New Hieromartyr Basil priest (1937).
Synaxis of the Saints of the Kiev Caves whose relics repose in the Far Cave of Venerable Theodosius.
Venerable Sabbas, abbot of Krypetsk (1495).
Righteous Anna the Prophetess and Daughter of Phanuel, who met the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem (1st c.).
Martyr Queen Shushaniki (Susanna) of Georgia (475) (Georgia).
St. Amphilochius, bishop of Vladimir, Volhynia (1122).
Righteous Hezekiah, king of Judah (691 B.C.).
Venerable Theodore (Monk Theodosius of the Kiev Caves), prince of Ostrog (1483).
New Hieromartyr Chrysostom, metropolitan of Smyrna (1922) (Greek).
33 Martyrs of Nicomedia (Greek).
Martyrs Diomedes and Laurence (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

Galatians 4:28-5:10

28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

Christian Liberty

5 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

Love Fulfills the Law

7 You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.

Mark 6:55-7:8

55 ran through that whole surrounding region, and began to carry about on beds those who were sick to wherever they heard He was. 56 Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.

Defilement Comes from Within

7 Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. 2 Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.

5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”

6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
7 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

8 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”

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.

Prideless Piety


Resisting the stoking of the flames of pride

After embracing Orthodoxy many people fall into the trap of exaggerated piety, after first becoming attracted to the externals of our ancient faith. Coming out of religious traditions that have little in the way of externals, the Church’s beautiful traditions of expressing the faith with outward signs of commitment and piety are very attractive to the newly illumined. Some even become experts in canon law and liturgical rubrics, and join themselves among the super correct. Archbishop Averky of Jordanville (of blessed memory) said of such converts, “they are like envelopes that have a tendency to come unglued.”

None of this is meant to diminish the importance of external piety. Liturgical correctness has it’s place, for we should always avoiding sloppiness in the way we make the sign of the cross, and our decorum in the divine services should represent the best of the historic Church’s public worship. However, we must take care that our piety does not become something staged to be seen by others.

If we become aware that our motivation for expressing pietism is meant for others to see, we need to remind ourselves that our pious external acts of worship should give honor to God, and not bring attention to ourselves. Externals are meant to be aids to worship, for they bring our bodies into conformity with the heart. For this to happen, we must guard the heart, making sure the externals are not temptations for pride.

The way to make sure our piety takes us deeply into true worship is to express these external acts of worship in the privacy of our homes. Orthodox worship, expressed by standing before our icons, making the sign of the cross with care, and doing prostrations in the privacy of the home, instruct the heart in true worship. If we’ve established a true relationship with the Lord in our home, that which is expressed in the temple, publicly, will be authentic.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Sunday April 23, 2017 / April 10, 2017
Second Sunday of Pascha: Antipascha, St. Thomas Sunday.

“Sladkoe lobzanie” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (9th c.) (movable holiday on the Antipascha).
Martyrs Terence, Pompeius, Africanus, Maximus, Zeno, Alexander, Theodore, and 33 others, beheaded at Carthage (250).
New Hieromartyr Flegont priest (1938).
Martyr Demetrius (1942).
Martyrs James, presbyter, and Azadanes and Abdicius, deacons, of Persia (ca. 380).
New Hieromartyr Gregory V, patriarch of Constantinople (1821) (Greek).
Prophetess Huldah (Olda) (II Kings 22:14).
St. Milteades, pope of Rome.
The Holy Martyrs of the Kvabtakhevi Monastery, who suffered during the invasion of Tamerlane (1386) (Georgia).
New Martyr Demos of Smyrna (1763) (Greek).
Nun-martyr Anastasia, abbess of Uglich and 34 nuns with her (1609).
Monk-martyr Chrysanthus of Xenophontos, Mt. Athos (Greek).
Martyrs Beocca, Hethor and others, at Chertsey.

The Scripture Readings

Matthew 28:16-20

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Acts 5:12-20

Continuing Power in the Church

12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. 13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. 14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. 16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

Imprisoned Apostles Freed

17 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, 18 and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. 19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”

John 20:19-31

The Apostles Commissioned

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Seeing and Believing

24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

That You May Believe

30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

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.

Genuine Piety

How to be a pious Orthodox Christian without stoking the flames of pride

IMG_6614

Many years ago I remember attending a Liturgy at a parish church and noticing a young man standing in the front of the temple, making profound bows, together with frequent, almost exaggerated signs of the cross. My first thought was that he must be a newly baptized Orthodox Christian. After embracing Orthodoxy, many people fall into the trap of exaggerated piety, having first becoming attracted to the externals of the faith. Coming out of religious traditions that have little in the way of externals, is it any wonder some among us would gravitate towards such outward piety?

Some converts become experts in canon law and liturgical rubrics, and number themselves among the super correct. Archbishop Averky of Jordanville (of blessed memory) said of converts, “they are like envelopes and have a tendency to come unglued.”  None of this is meant to diminish the importance of external piety, nor making the cross properly. Liturgical correctness has its place, and we should always avoid sloppiness in the way we make the sign of the cross. Nor is it necessary to stand in the back of the temple during services. What is important is that we be careful that our piety is not meant to be seen by others.

I once knew a monk who always stood in the back of his monastery’s catholicon, avoiding any public display whatsoever. He told me the temptation to be seen as a pious and holy monk was too strong, so he made a decision to give others no opportunity to witness him in worship.

It should not be construed that I am suggesting everyone stand in the back of the church, less everyone be doing battle for those few spots on a crowded Sunday morning. What I am suggesting is that we remember that we are there for worship. If you become aware that your motives for standing in front of others during worship is an occasion for pride, by all means move to the back. It is the Lord Who should see us, and for Whom our pious external acts of worship should give honor. Externals are meant to be an aid to worship, bringing our bodies into conformity with the heart. For this to happen, we must guard the heart, making sure the externals are not temptations for pride.

The way to make sure our piety takes us deeply into true worship is to express these external acts of worship in the privacy of our homes. Orthodox worship, expressed by standing before our icons, making the sign of the cross with care, and doing prostrations in the privacy of the home, instruct the heart in true worship. If we’ve established a true relationship with the Lord in our home, that which is expressed in the temple, publicly, will be authentic.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: Young adults from Saint Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Seattle, made a pilgrimage to the monastery on Saturday.

Sunday April 17, 2016 / April 4, 2016
Fifth Sunday of the Great Lent. Tone five.
Great Lent. Food with Oil

Venerable Mary of Egypt (movable holiday on the 5th Sunday of the Great Lent).
Venerable Joseph the Hymnographer of Sicily (883).
Venerable George, monk, of Mt. Maleon in the Peloponnesus (9th c.).
New Hieromartyrs Archimandrite Benjamin (Kononov) and Hieromonk Nicephorus (Kuchin) of Solovki (1928).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas bishop of Velsk, martyr Mary (1932).
New Hieromartyr John priest (1933).
Martyr John (1943).
Venerable Joseph the Muchailing of the Kiev Caves (14th c.).
Venerable Zosimas, abbot of Vorbozomsk (1550).
Venerable Zosimas, monk, of Palestine (560).
Virgin-martyr Pherbutha of Persia, her sister and servants (343).
New Hieromartyr Nicetas the Serb of Albania, Mt. Athos and Serres (1808).
Venerable Theonas, metropolitan of Thessalonica (1541).
Icons of the Mother of God, named “Gerontissa” and “Deliveress”.
St. Isidore, bishop of Seville (636).
Holy Martyr Kallinikos.
Venerable James of Old Torzhok in Galich, Kostroma (15th-16th c.).
Martyr Basil of Mangazea in Siberia (1602).

Scripture Readings

Hebrews 9:11-14

The Heavenly Sanctuary

11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come,[a] with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Mark 10:32-45

Jesus a Third Time Predicts His Death and Resurrection

32 Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: 33 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; 34 and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”

Greatness Is Serving

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”

36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

37 They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.”

38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

39 They said to Him, “We are able.”

So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; 40 but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.”

41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. 42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

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.

Genuine Piety

How to be a pious Orthodox Christian without stoking the flames of pride

IMG_2705

Many years ago I remember attending a Liturgy at a parish church and noticing a young man standing in the front of the temple, making profound bows, together with frequent, almost exaggerated signs of the cross. My first thought was that he must be a newly baptized Orthodox Christian. After embracing Orthodoxy, many people fall into the trap of exaggerated piety, having first becoming attracted to the externals of the faith. Coming out of religious traditions that have little in the way of externals, is it any wonder some among us would gravitate towards such outward piety?

Some converts become experts in canon law and liturgical rubrics, and number themselves among the super correct. Archbishop Averky of Jordanville (of blessed memory) said of converts, “they are like envelopes and have a tendency to come unglued.” None of this is meant to diminish the importance of external piety, nor making the cross properly. Liturgical correctness has its place, and we should always avoid sloppiness in the way we make the sign of the cross. Nor is it necessary to stand in the back of the temple during services. What is important is that we be careful that our piety is not meant to be seen by others.

I once knew a monk who always stood in the back of his monastery’s catholicon, avoiding any public display whatsoever. He told me the temptation to be seen as a pious and holy monk was too strong, so he made a decision to give others no opportunity to witness him in worship.

It should not be construed that I am suggesting everyone stand in the back of the church, less everyone be doing battle for those few spots on a crowded Sunday morning. What I am suggesting is that we remember that we are there for worship. If you become aware that your motives for standing in front of others during worship is an occasion for pride, by all means move to the back. It is the Lord Who should see us, and for Whom our pious external acts of worship should give honor. Externals are meant to be an aid to worship, bringing our bodies into conformity with the heart. For this to happen, we must guard the heart, making sure the externals are not temptations for pride.

The way to make sure our piety takes us deeply into true worship is to express these external acts of worship in the privacy of our homes. Orthodox worship, expressed by standing before our icons, making the sign of the cross with care, and doing prostrations in the privacy of the home, instruct the heart in true worship. If we’ve established a true relationship with the Lord in our home, that which is expressed in the temple, publicly, will be be authentic.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Sunday May 10, 2015 / April 27, 2015

Fifth Sunday of Pascha: The Samaritan Woman. Tone four.

Hieromartyr Symeon the Kinsman of the Lord (107).
New Hieromartyrs Paul and John priests, Martyrs Peter, Nicholas, Auksentius, Sergius and Virgin-martyr Anastasia (1922).
Virgin-martyr Mary (1938).
New Hieromartyr John priest (1941).
Venerable Stephen, abbot of the Kiev Caves and bishop of Vladimir in Volhynia (1094).
St. Eulogius the Hospitable of Constantinople (6th c.).
Venerable John, abbot of Cathares Monastery at Constantinople (832).
Venerable Simeon the New Stylite of Cilicia.
New Hieromartyr Seraphim, bishop of Phanar (1601).
Burning of the relics of Venerable Sava I of Serbia by the Turks (1595).
New Martyr Elias (Ardunis) of Mt. Athos (1686) (Greek).
St. Pollion the Reader of Cibalis in Pannonia (306).
St. Nicon, abbot of the monastery of St. Gerasimus (6th c.).
St. Floribert, bishop of Luik (746) (Neth.).
Holy Martyrs Poplionus and Lollionus the New.
St. Machalus, bishop of the Isle of Man.

Scripture Readings

Acts 11:19-30

Barnabas and Saul at Antioch

19 Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.

22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

Relief to Judea

27 And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. 30 This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

John 4:5-42

5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.

9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”

17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”

Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”

19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”

26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

The Whitened Harvest

27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”

28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.

31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”

32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”

33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”

34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”

The Savior of the World

39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word.

42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

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.

Genuine Piety


How to be a pious Orthodox Christian
without stoking the flames of pride

Many years ago I remember attending a Liturgy at a parish church and noticing a young man standing in the front of the temple, making profound bows, together with frequent, almost exaggerated signs of the cross. My first thought was that he must be a newly baptized Orthodox Christian. After embracing Orthodoxy, many people fall into the trap of exaggerated piety, having first becoming attracted to the externals of the faith. Coming out of religious traditions that have little in the way of externals, is it any wonder some among us would gravitate towards such outward piety?

Some converts become experts in canon law and liturgical rubrics, and number themselves among the super correct. Archbishop Averky of Jordanville (of blessed memory) said of converts, “they are like envelopes and have a tendency to come unglued.” None of this is meant to diminish the importance of external piety, nor making the cross properly. Liturgical correctness has it’s place, and we should always avoiding sloppiness in the way we make the sign of the cross. Nor is it necessary to stand in the back of the temple during services. What is important is that we be careful that our piety is not meant to be seen by others.

I once knew a monk who always stood in the back of his monastery’s catholicon, avoiding any public display whatsoever. He told me the temptation to be seen as a pious and holy monk was too strong, so he made a decision to give others no opportunity to witness him in worship.

It should not be construed that I am suggesting everyone stand in the back of the church, less everyone be doing battle for those few spots on a crowded Sunday morning. What I am suggesting is that we remember that we are there for worship. If you become aware that your motives for standing in front of others during worship is an occasion for pride, by all means move to the back. It is the Lord Who should see us, and for Whom our pious external acts of worship should give honor. Externals are meant to be an aid to worship, bringing our bodies into conformity with the heart. For this to happen, we must guard the heart, making sure the externals are not temptations for pride.

The way to make sure our piety takes us deeply into true worship is to express these external acts of worship in the privacy of our homes. Orthodox worship, expressed by standing before our icons, making the sign of the cross with care, and doing prostrations in the privacy of the home, instruct the heart in true worship. If we’ve established a true relationship with the Lord in our home, that which is expressed in the temple, publicly, will be be authentic.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon
Friday August 29, 2014

12th Week after Pentecost. Tone two.
Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Afterfeast of the Dormition.
Translation of the Image Not-Made-By-Hands of our Lord Jesus Christ from Edessa to Constantinople (944).
Martyr Diomedes the Physician of Tarsus in Cilicia (298).
33 Martyrs of Palestine.
New Hieromartyr Stephen priest (1918).
New Hieromartyrs priest Vladimir and his brother Boris (1931).
New Hieromartyr Alexander priest, Virgin Martyr Anna and Martyr Jacob (1937).
Venerable Cherimon (Chaeremon) of Egypt (4th c.).
Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos of St. Theodore (“Feodorovskaya”) (1239) and “Triumph of Holy Theotokos” (Port Artur) (1904).
Venerable Joachim, monk, of Osogovo and Sarandapor (11th c.).
New Martyr Nicodemus of Meteora (1551) (Greek).
New Martyr Stamatius of Volos, Thessaly (1680) (Greek).
Venerable Anthony the Stylite of Martq’ophi, Georgia (6th c.) (Georgia).
Holy Martyr Kristepore Guruli (Georgia).
New Martyrs King Constantine Brancoveanu of Wallachia and his four sons Constantine, Stephen, Radu, and Matthew, and his counsellor Ianache (1714) (Romania).
Venerable Gerasimus the New Ascetic of Cephalonia (Mt. Athos) (1579) (Greek).
Venerable Nilus, brother of Emperor Theodore Laskaris, who rebuilt the monastery of the Mother of God at Epirus (Greek).
St. Timothy of Chalcedon, archbishop, founder of the monastery of Pendeli (Greek).
Great New Martyr Apostolos of the town of St. Laurence, martyred in Constantinople (1686) (Greek).
Translation of the relics of Martyrs Seraphim, Dorotheus, James, Demetrius, Basil and Sarantis of Megaris (Greek).
Martyr Alcibiades (Greek).
St. Raphael of Banat, Serbia (17th c.) (Serbia).
St. Roman the Sinaite of Djunisa, Serbia (14th c.) (Serbia).
St. Eustathius II, archbishop of Serbia (1309) (Serbia).

You can read the life of the saint by clicking on the highlighted name.

“Blogs and social networks give us new opportunities for the Christian mission…Not to be present there means to display our helplessness and lack of care for the salvation of our brothers.” His Holiness Patriarch Kirill

The Scripture Readings for the Day

2 Corinthians 7:10-16

10For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 12Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.

The Joy of Titus

13Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true. 15And his affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything.

Mark 2:18-22

Jesus Is Questioned About Fasting

18The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”
19And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. 20But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days. 21No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. 22And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”

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.

Genuine Piety


How to be a pious Orthodox Christian
without stoking the flames of pride
Many years ago I remember attending a Liturgy at a parish church and noticing a young man standing in the front of the temple, making profound bows, together with frequent, almost exaggerated signs of the cross. My first thought was that he must be a newly baptized Orthodox Christian. After embracing Orthodoxy, many people fall into the trap of exaggerated piety, having first becoming attracted to the externals of the faith. Coming out of religious traditions that have little in the way of externals, is it any wonder some among us would gravitate towards such outward piety?

Some converts become experts in canon law and liturgical rubrics, and number themselves among the super correct. Archbishop Averky of Jordanville (of blessed memory) said of converts, “they are like envelopes and have a tendency to come unglued.”None of this is meant to diminish the importance of external piety, nor making the cross properly. Liturgical correctness has its place, and we should always avoid sloppiness in the way we make the sign of the cross. Nor is it necessary to stand in the back of the temple during services. What is important is that we be careful that our piety is not meant to be seen by others.

I once knew a monk who always stood in the back of his monastery’s catholicon, avoiding any public display whatsoever. He told me the temptation to be seen as a pious and holy monk was too strong, so he made a decision to give others no opportunity to witness him in worship.

It should not be construed that I am suggesting everyone stand in the back of the church, less everyone be doing battle for those few spots on a crowded Sunday morning. What I am suggesting is that we remember that we are there for worship. If you become aware that your motives for standing in front of others during worship is an occasion for pride, by all means move to the back. It is the Lord Who should see us, and for Whom our pious external acts of worship should give honor. Externals are meant to be an aid to worship, bringing our bodies into conformity with the heart. For this to happen, we must guard the heart, making sure the externals are not temptations for pride.

The way to make sure our piety takes us deeply into true worship is to express these external acts of worship in the privacy of our homes. Orthodox worship, expressed by standing before our icons, making the sign of the cross with care, and doing prostrations in the privacy of the home, instruct the heart in true worship. If we’ve established a true relationship with the Lord in our home, that which is expressed in the temple, publicly, will be be authentic.
Love in Christ,

Abbot Tryphon

Sunday April 21, 2013

Fifth Sunday of the Great Lent. Tone five.
Great Lent. Food with Oil

Venerable Mary of Egypt (movable holiday on the 5th Sunday of the Great Lent).
Holy Apostles of the Seventy: Herodion, Agabus, Asyncritus, Rufus, Phlegon, Hermes, and those with them (1st c.).
New Hieromartyr Sergius priest (1933)
St. Niphont, bishop of Novgorod (1156).
Venerable Rufus the Obedient of the Kiev Caves (14th c.).
Martyr Pausilippus of Heraclea in Thrace (117-138).
St. Celestine, pope of Rome (432).
New Martyr John Naukliros (“the Navigator”) in Thessaly (1699).
Monk-martyrs Josias and Joseph of Mt. Kharasam, Persia (341).
New Martyr John (Koulika) (1564).
St. Philaret of Seminara, Calabria (1070).
Spanish Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (792).
You can read the life of the saint in green, by click on the name.THANK YOU, to all of you who have been able to contribute towards the support of the monastery. These difficult times of economic hardship have impacted the monastery, and those of you who have been able to donate, have been our lifeline. May God bless you for your generosity, and kindness.
With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Scripture Readings:

Hebrews 9:11-14

The Heavenly Sanctuary

11But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Mark 10:32-45

Jesus a Third Time Predicts His Death and Resurrection

32Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: 33“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; 34and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”

Greatness Is Serving

35Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”
36And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
37They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.”
38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
39They said to Him, “We are able.”
So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; 40but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.”
41And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. 42But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

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.

Piety and Hypocrisy

Wild Foxglove, growing abundantly on the grounds of the monastery

Putting Aside all Hypocrisy and Living for ChristHow easy it is to worship with all piety and correctness while standing in a service within an Orthodox temple, yet make no effort to live Orthodoxy during the rest of our week. If we are abusive towards our spouse, abrasive with a coworker, and short tempered with a neighbor, all the piety and liturgical correctness of our Sunday morning is of no value.

If we cheat on our taxes, steal pens from the office, or refuse to point out an error to a clerk who has failed to ring up an item, we will have reduced our life in Christ to no more than membership in a club. If we walk past a child who is being bullied, without intervening, we have become the bully. If we fail to call the police when we hear a neighbor pleading with an abusive husband, not wanting to get involved, we are a wife beater. If we smile at the racist joke of a coworker, we are just as guilty of racism as he.

Being a Christian is far more than adherence to a set of doctrines, or the adaptation of liturgical forms of worship and piety. To be a follower of Christ is not like joining the Elks Club, where paying your dues and attending meetings makes you a member. Taking the name of the Saviour for ourselves, and calling ourselves Christian, must mean that we imitate the Saviour’s life. It must mean that others see Christ in us, each and every hour of our day.

We must be the neighborhood peacemaker, the one who is quick to forgive when wronged, the person who is always looking for ways of being in service to others. If we truly wish to be called a Christian, we must put aside hypocrisy in all its forms, and live Christ. We must work towards changing the world, just as did Saint Seraphim of Sarov, who told us that if we acquire peace in our heart, we will save a thousand around us. Justice and peace does not come with revolution, but comes when the hearts of men and woman are transformed by the Holy Spirit, and this change can only begin, when we put aside all hypocrisy, and replace it with genuine, heartfelt commitment to Jesus Christ, living in imitation of the Saviour.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Friday June 29, 2012 / June 16, 2012

4th Week after Pentecost. Tone two.
Apostles’ (Peter & Paul) Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

St. Tychon, bishop of Amathus in Cyprus (425).
Venerable Tikhon of Kaluga or Medin (1492).
Venerable Tikhon of Lukhov (1503).
Venerable Moses of Optina, founder of the Optina Skete (1862).
New Martyr Hermogenes (Germogen), bishop of Tobolsk, Euphremius, Michael and Peter priests and Martyr Constantine (1918).
Translation of the relics (2002) of St. Theophan the Recluse, bishop of Tambov (1894).
Martyrs Tigrius and Eutropius of Constantinople (404).
Venerable Tikhon of Krestogorsk (Vologda).
St. Mark the Just of Apollonias, nephew of the Apostle Barnabas.
Five Martyrs of Nicomedia (Greek).
Forty Martyrs of Rome (Greek).
St. Kaikhosro the Georgian (1612) (Georgia).
St. Ismael, bishop of Menevia.
You can read the life of the saint in green, by click on the name.

THANK YOU, to all of you who have been able to contribute towards the support of the monastery. These difficult times of economic hardship have impacted the monastery, and those of you who have been able to
Abbot Tryphon

Romans 11:25-36

25For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”
28Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.33Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!34“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”
35“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”
36For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Matthew 12:1-8

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”3But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? 6Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

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.

Genuine Piety


How to be a pious Orthodox Christian
without stoking the flames of pride

Many years ago I remember attending a Liturgy at a parish church and noticing a young man standing in the front of the temple, making profound bows, together with frequent, almost exaggerated signs of the cross. My first thought was that he must be a newly baptized Orthodox Christian. After embracing Orthodoxy, many people fall into the trap of exaggerated piety, having first becoming attracted to the externals of the faith. Coming out of religious traditions that have little in the way of externals, is it any wonder some among us would gravitate towards such outward piety?

Some converts become experts in canon law and liturgical rubrics, and number themselves among the super correct. Archbishop Averky of Jordanville (of blessed memory) said of converts, “they are like envelopes and have a tendency to come unglued.”None of this is meant to diminish the importance of external piety, nor making the cross properly. Liturgical correctness has it’s place, and we should always avoiding sloppiness in the way we make the sign of the cross. Nor is it necessary to stand in the back of the temple during services. What is important is that we be careful that our piety is not meant to be seen by others.

I once knew a monk who always stood in the back of his monastery’s catholicon, avoiding any public display whatsoever. He told me the temptation to be seen as a pious and holy monk was too strong, so he made a decision to give others no opportunity to witness him in worship.

It should not be construed that I am suggesting everyone stand in the back of the church, less everyone be doing battle for those few spots on a crowded Sunday morning. What I am suggesting is that we remember that we are there for worship. If you become aware that your motives for standing in front of others during worship is an occasion for pride, by all means move to the back. It is the Lord Who should see us, and for Whom our pious external acts of worship should give honor. Externals are meant to be an aid to worship, bringing our bodies into conformity with the heart. For this to happen, we must guard the heart, making sure the externals are not temptations for pride.

The way to make sure our piety takes us deeply into true worship is to express these external acts of worship in the privacy of our homes. Orthodox worship, expressed by standing before our icons, making the sign of the cross with care, and doing prostrations in the privacy of the home, instruct the heart in true worship. If we’ve established a true relationship with the Lord in our home, that which is expressed in the temple, publicly, will be be authentic.
Love in Christ,

Abbot Tryphon

Monday December 5, 2011

26th Week after Pentecost. Tone eight.
Nativity Fast. Food without Oil

Afterfeast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple.
Apostles Philemon and Archippus, Martyr Apphia, wife of Philemon, and St. Onesimus, disciple of St. Paul (ca. 109).
Martyrdom of St. Michael, prince of Tver (1318).
New Hieromartyr Vladimir priest (1932).
New Hieromartyr Iosaph bishop of Mogilev, New Hieromartyrs John, Basil, Paul, Jacob, Theodore, John, Ilia, Alexis, Aphanasius priests and Hieromartyr Gerasimus (1937).
Venerable Paraskeva confessor (1952).
St. Yaropolk-Peter, prince of Vladimir in Volhynia (1086).
Martyrs Cecilia, Valerian, Tiburtius, and Maximus at Rome (288).
Martyr Procopius the Reader at Caesarea in Palestine (303).
Martyr Menignus at Parium (250).
Venerable Agabbas of Syria (5th c.).
Righteous Michael the Soldier of Bulgaria (866).
St. Callistus II, patriarch of Constantinople (Mt. Athos) (1397) (Greek).
St. Clement of Ochrid, bishop of Greater Macedonia (916) (Bulgaria).
St. Germanus of Eikoiphinissa in Macedonia (9th c.).
Martyrs Stephen, Mark, and Mark (another) at Antioch in Pisidia (4th c.).
Martyr Agapion of Greece (304).

1 Timothy 1:1-7

Greeting

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,

2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

No Other Doctrine

3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. 5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.

Luke 17:20-25

The Coming of the Kingdom

20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
22 Then He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look here!’ or ‘Look there!’ Do not go after them or follow them. 24 For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day. 25 But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

The podcast is always different than the blog article.

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.

Hollow Orthodoxy

Taking Orthodoxy beyond the self-congratulatory

We must guard against noticing when another parishioner seems careless in the making of the sign of the cross, while we go about demonstrating for all around us, the proper way. Making sweeping signs of the cross that are done in such a way as to be almost a caricature, following up with profound bows, we can end up distracting fellow worshipers in the process. If we make a public display of our fasting, making sure our non-Orthodox family and friends know how strict we are, we miss the point of fasting. If we struggle to make our icon corner the largest and most complete of anyone in the parish, but never stand before it in prayer, we treat it as nothing more than nice art.

If we allow ourselves to become spiritual gluttons, and turn the traditions of Orthodoxy into occasions for sensual and prideful displays, we will not embrace the grace that can be ours through quiet and penitential struggle. If our public displays of piety become distractions for fellow worshipers, we can actually be diverting our attention from the all important confrontation of our personal sin. Externals, while important to Orthodox piety, and the deepening of our faith, must not be allowed to replace the mystery of faith that comes only with the acquisition of a humble and contrite heart.

We must guard against allowing external displays of Orthodoxy to become an end in themselves, and remember these traditions and pious practices were designed to serve as aids for deepening our faith by connecting our whole being, both body and soul, on this journey to God. We must take Orthodoxy beyond the self-congratulatory of being a part of a beautiful faith, with sublime worship practices, glorious temples, and beautiful vestments.

Without giving our full attention to the struggle for holiness, and deepening our prayer time, we will end with a weak form of Orthodoxy, that is beautiful on the outside , but hollow on the inside. Taking simple little steps under the guidance and direction from one’s priest or spiritual father, or by counsel with that pious little old lady, whose face radiates the light of Christ, we will be able to enter into the Kingdom of God, having gained the humility and joy that does not necessitate being extravagant with the externals.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: The ferry leaving for Vashon Island from Tacoma, WA.

Thursday August 13, 2020 / July 31, 2020
10th Week after Pentecost. Tone eight.
Eve of the Dormition Fast.
Forefeast of the Procession of the Precious and Life-giving Cross of the Lord.
Righteous Eudocimus of Cappadocia (9th c.).
New Martyrs Benjamin, metropolitan of Petrograd, and those with him: Archimandrite Sergius and George and John of Petrograd (1922).
Martyr Maximus (1928).
New Hieromartyr Vladimir priest (1937).
New Hieromartyr John priest, Martyr Constantine priest, Virgin-martyr Anna, and St. Elizabeth (after 1937).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1941).
New Hieromartyr Basil, bishop of Kineshma (1945)
Martyr Julitta at Caesarea (304).
St. Germanus, bishop of Auxerre (448) (Celtic & British).
Martyr Dionysius of Vatopedi, Mt. Athos (1822).
Righteous Joseph of Arimathea (1st c.).
Venerable Neot, hermit in Cornwall (877) (Celtic & British).
Twelve Martyrs of Rome (Greek).
Translation of the relics of Apostle Philip to Cyprus. (Greek).
Consecration of the Church of the Most Holy Theotokos of Blachernae (Greek).
St. John the Exarch of Bulgaria (900).
St. Arsenius the Bishop of Ninotsminda (1082) (Georgia).

The Scripture Readings

Matthew 10:16-22

Persecutions Are Coming

16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

21 “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

2 Corinthians 1:1-7

Greeting

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia:

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Comfort in Suffering

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

Matthew 21:43-46

43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”

45 Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.

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.

Planting Orthodoxy

Planting Orthodoxy into the hearts of our children

If we expect our children and grandchildren to grow into adulthood as practicing Orthodox Christians, we must give daily witness to the importance of our faith. If we are lax in our fasting, church attendance, and piety, our children will see by our lack of seriousness, a compartmentalized religion that is ultimately of no value to them.

If they do not see us seriously practicing our faith, Orthodoxy will ultimately be rejected by them as something that is of no personal value. If they do not see us praying, they will not have prayer as a part of their lives. If they do not see us putting the divine services before entertainment, they will abandon Orthodoxy as irrelevant to them. If they do not see Christ in us, they will ultimately reject Christ for themselves.

If they do not see in their parents a Christian who is quick to forgive, quick to show mercy, and quick to give to the poor, they will not see Christ. If they do not see in the parent one who loves his neighbor, as Christ commanded, they will not see the Christ that changes and transforms lives.

Just as a child has to be educated in the art of poetry, reading, painting, and the sciences, so too must a child be taught by the example of his parents, the importance of faith. Saint Isaac the Syrian said, “Faith is the door to mysteries. What the bodily eyes are to sensory objects, the same is faith to the eyes of the intellect that gaze at hidden treasures”.

To educate a child in the humanities and the sciences, but to fail to implant faith by our example, is to ultimately cheat the child of the most important gift of all, the gift of faith.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Friday April 10, 2020 / March 28, 2020
Sixth Week of the Great Lent. Tone one.
Great Lent. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Venerable Hilarion the New, abbot of Pelecete (754).
Venerable Stephen the Wonderworker, abbot of Tryglia (815).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest(1931).
New Hieromartyr Basil priest(1938).
Martyr John (1939).
New Hieromartyr Priest Peter Ochryzko of Chartoviec (Chelm and Podlasie, Poland) (1944).
Martyr Eustratius of the Kiev Caves (1096).
Venerable Hilarion, monk, of Gdov (Pskov) (1476).
Martyrs Jonah and Barachisius and those with them in Persia: Zanithas, Lazarus, Maruthas (Marotas), Narses, Elias, Marinus (Mares), Abibus, Sembeeth (Sivsithina), and Sabbas (330).
Sts. George, bishop, Parodus and Peter, presbyters, and Prince Enravota-Boyan (833), martyrs of Bulgaria (Bulgaria).
St. Hesychius the Theologian of Jerusalem, disciple of St. Gregory the Theologian (434).
Apostle Herodion of the Seventy (Greek).
Sts. Priscus, Malchus, and Alexander in Caesaria of Palestine (259).
St. Dionysius the Merciful, bishop of Larissa (1510).
Venerable Jonah of Kliminetsk (Olonets) (1534).
Venerable John, Bishop of Manglisi (1751) (Georgia).

The Scripture Readings

Isaiah 66:10-24

10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem,
And be glad with her, all you who love her;
Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her;
11 That you may feed and be satisfied
With the consolation of her bosom,
That you may drink deeply and be delighted
With the abundance of her glory.”

12 For thus says the Lord:

“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.
Then you shall feed;
On her sides shall you be carried,
And be dandled on her knees.
13 As one whom his mother comforts,
So I will comfort you;
And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

The Reign and Indignation of God

14 When you see this, your heart shall rejoice,
And your bones shall flourish like grass;
The hand of the Lord shall be known to His servants,
And His indignation to His enemies.
15 For behold, the Lord will come with fire
And with His chariots, like a whirlwind,
To render His anger with fury,
And His rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For by fire and by His sword
The Lord will judge all flesh;
And the slain of the Lord shall be many.

17 “Those who sanctify themselves and purify themselves,
To go to the gardens
After an idol in the midst,
Eating swine’s flesh and the abomination and the mouse,
Shall be consumed together,” says the Lord.

18 “For I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory. 19 I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish and Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. 20 Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the Lord out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,” says the Lord, “as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. 21 And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites,” says the Lord.

22 “For as the new heavens and the new earth
Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord,
“So shall your descendants and your name remain.
23 And it shall come to pass
That from one New Moon to another,
And from one Sabbath to another,
All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord.

24 “And they shall go forth and look
Upon the corpses of the men
Who have transgressed against Me.
For their worm does not die,
And their fire is not quenched.
They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

Genesis 49:33-50:26

33 And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

Burial of Jacob

50 Then Joseph fell on his father’s face and wept over him, and kissed him. 2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. 3 Forty days were required for him, for such are the days required for those who are embalmed; and the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

4 Now when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, please speak in the hearing of Pharaoh, saying, 5 ‘My father made me swear, saying, “Behold, I am dying; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.” Now therefore, please let me go up and bury my father, and I will come back.’ ”

6 And Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear.”

7 So Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8 as well as all the house of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s house. Only their little ones, their flocks, and their herds they left in the land of Goshen. 9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen, and it was a very great gathering.

10 Then they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, and they mourned there with a great and very solemn lamentation. He observed seven days of mourning for his father. 11 And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a deep mourning of the Egyptians.” Therefore its name was called Abel Mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan.

12 So his sons did for him just as he had commanded them. 13 For his sons carried him to the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite as property for a burial place. 14 And after he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers and all who went up with him to bury his father.

Joseph Reassures His Brothers

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” 16 So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.” ’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

18 Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.”

19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Death of Joseph

22 So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father’s household. And Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. 23 Joseph saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation. The children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were also brought up on Joseph’s knees.

24 And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26 So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

Proverbs 31:8-31

8 Open your mouth for the speechless,
In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy.

The Virtuous Wife

10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

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.

“Orthodoxism”

Turning Orthodoxy into an ideological religion

If we allow ourselves to become spiritual gluttons, and turn the traditions of Orthodoxy into occasions for sensual and prideful displays, we will not embrace the grace that can be ours through quiet and penitential struggle. If our public displays of piety become distractions for fellow worshipers, we can actually be diverting our attention from the all important confrontation of our personal sin. Externals, while important to Orthodox piety, and the deepening of our faith, must not be allowed to replace the mystery of faith that comes only with the acquisition of a humble and contrite heart.

Just as we must guard against allowing external displays of Orthodoxy to become an end in themselves, we must also guard against becoming self-congratulatory theologians, thinking ourselves worthy of correcting what we perceive as deficiencies or errors in the teachings of other Orthodox Christians. If we allow ourselves to think we know better than our priest, or even an Orthodox theologian, we will find ourselves stepping off the dock, and into a cesspool of self-righteous behavior, wherein we will lose our soul.

Taking simple little steps under the guidance and direction from one’s priest or spiritual father, or by counsel with that pious little old lady, whose face radiates the light of Christ, is a much safer route than depending on our own wisdom and knowledge. Orthodoxy, if it is to be salvific, must be the road that leads to repentance and humility. Any other road will lead to our spiritual downfall.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Thursday March 26, 2020 / March 13, 2020
Fourth Week of the Great Lent: Adoration of Cross. Tone seven.
Great Lent. By Monastic Charter: Food without Oil
Translation of the relics (846) of St. Nicephorus the Confessor, patriarch of Constantinople (829).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1919).
New Hieromartyr Gregory priest (1921).
New Hieromartyr Michael priest (1938).
Martyr Sabinus (Abibus) of Egypt (303).
Martyrs Africanus, Publius, and Terence of Carthage (3rd c.).
Martyr Alexander of Macedonia (305).
Martyr Christina of Persia (4th c.).
Venerable Aninas the Presbyter of the Euphrates.
Hieromartyr Publius, bishop of Athens and disciple of St. Dionysius the Areopagite (2nd c.).
St. Leander, bishop of Seville (596).
New Hieromartyr Stephen (Bekh), bishop of Izhevsk (1933).

The Scripture Readings

Isaiah 28:14-22

14 Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scornful men,
Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem,
15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
And with Sheol we are in agreement.
When the overflowing scourge passes through,
It will not come to us,
For we have made lies our refuge,
And under falsehood we have hidden ourselves.”

A Cornerstone in Zion

16 Therefore thus says the Lord God:

“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,
A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation;
Whoever believes will not act hastily.
17 Also I will make justice the measuring line,
And righteousness the plummet;
The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
And the waters will overflow the hiding place.
18 Your covenant with death will be annulled,
And your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
When the overflowing scourge passes through,
Then you will be trampled down by it.
19 As often as it goes out it will take you;
For morning by morning it will pass over,
And by day and by night;
It will be a terror just to understand the report.”

20 For the bed is too short to stretch out on,
And the covering so narrow that one cannot wrap himself in it.
21 For the Lord will rise up as at Mount Perazim,
He will be angry as in the Valley of Gibeon—
That He may do His work, His awesome work,
And bring to pass His act, His unusual act.
22 Now therefore, do not be mockers,
Lest your bonds be made strong;
For I have heard from the Lord God of hosts,
A destruction determined even upon the whole earth.

Genesis 10:32-11:9

32 These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood.

The Tower of Babel

11 Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. 3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Indeed the people areone and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord Scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. 9 Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

Proverbs 13:19-14:6

19 A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul,
But it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil.

20 He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

21 Evil pursues sinners,
But to the righteous, good shall be repaid.

22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,
But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

23 Much food is in the fallow ground of the poor,
And for lack of justice there is waste.

24 He who spares his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

25 The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul,
But the stomach of the wicked shall be in want.

The Ways of Life and Death

14 The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.

2 He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord,
But he who is perverse in his ways despises Him.

3 In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride,
But the lips of the wise will preserve them.

4 Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;
But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.

5 A faithful witness does not lie,
But a false witness will utter lies.

6 A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it,
But knowledge is easy to him who understands.

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.

Orthodox Pharisees

The Orthodox Faith is nothing without transformation of life

If our spiritual life is concentrated only on external practices and traditions, but does nothing to bring about real change, we have gained nothing. Too many people think as long as they keep the fasting rules, do their prayers, and attend the services, they are good Orthodox Christians. Yet if there is no love, no charity, and forgiveness of others, and our life is filled with gossip and judgement, our Orthodox Christian faith is worth nothing.

Christ condemned the Pharisees not because they kept the law and attended to the traditions of the Jewish faith, but because they did so while filled with pride and arrogance. Without sincere repentance and holiness of life, their encounter with God led to an emptiness of heart.

Because our Orthodox faith is one of tradition and liturgical structure, it is easy to fall into the trap of being nothing more than a Pharisee. Being strict in one’s observance of Orthodox practices can easily lead to pride and arrogance. If we find ourself feeling better than others and proud of our piety, we have gained absolutely nothing. The external practice of the Orthodox Christian faith without heartfelt humility and repentance leads down the road of spiritual ruin.

The Church is the hospital of the soul, but healing can only come if we put effort into it. If our doctor prescribes a medication for our condition but fail to follow our doctor’s orders, we will not get well. The Church has all that we need for spiritual transformation, but healing only comes if we cooperate with the healing process.

The goal is holiness (wholeness) and is the direct result of our having submitted in all humility to a life of repentance. When we do this Christ changes us. If we simply go through the motions of our Orthodox faith, we are no better off than the Pharisees whom Christ condemned.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Monday March 9, 2020 / February 25, 2020
Second Week of the Great Lent. Tone five.
Great Lent. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
St. Tarasius, archbishop of Constantinople (806).
New Hieromartyr Alexander, priest, Virgin-Martyr Mstislava (1938).
New Hieromartyr Priest Leo Korobczuk of Laskov (Chelm and Podlasie, Poland) (1944).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1945).
Hieromartyr Reginus, bishop of the isle of Skopelos (355).
Venerable Polycarp.
Martyr Anthony.
Venerables Erasmus and Paphnutius of Kephala, monks, contemporaries of St. Anthony the Great (4th c.).
Martyrs Alexander at Marcionopolis (305) and Hypatius.
St. Ethelbert, king of Kent (616) (Celtic & British).
Venerable Walburga, abbess of Heidenheim (779) (Celtic & British).
St. Maecellus, bishop of Apamea in Syria (Greek).
St. Theodore, fool-for-Chist (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

Isaiah 4:2-5:7

The Renewal of Zion

2 In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious;
And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing
For those of Israel who have escaped.

3 And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. 4 When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, 5 then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. 6 And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.

God’s Disappointing Vineyard

5 Now let me sing to my Well-beloved
A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard:

My Well-beloved has a vineyard
On a very fruitful hill.
2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
He built a tower in its midst,
And also made a winepress in it;
So He expected it to bring forth good grapes,
But it brought forth wild grapes.

3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard.
4 What more could have been done to My vineyard
That I have not done in it?
Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes,
Did it bring forth wild grapes?
5 And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard:
I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned;
And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.
6 I will lay it waste;
It shall not be pruned or dug,
But there shall come up briers and thorns.
I will also command the clouds
That they rain no rain on it.”

7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel,
And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant.
He looked for justice, but behold, oppression;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.

Genesis 3:21-4:7

21 Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Cain Murders Abel

4 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” 2 Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

6 So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

Proverbs 3:34-4:22

34 Surely He scorns the scornful,
But gives grace to the humble.
35 The wise shall inherit glory,
But shame shall be the legacy of fools.

Security in Wisdom

4 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father,
And give attention to know understanding;
2 For I give you good doctrine:
Do not forsake my law.
3 When I was my father’s son,
Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,
4 He also taught me, and said to me:
“Let your heart retain my words;
Keep my commands, and live.
5 Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you.
7 Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
8 Exalt her, and she will promote you;
She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head an ornament of grace;
A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”

10 Hear, my son, and receive my sayings,
And the years of your life will be many.
11 I have taught you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in right paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hindered,
And when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go;
Keep her, for she is your life.

14 Do not enter the path of the wicked,
And do not walk in the way of evil.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
Turn away from it and pass on.
16 For they do not sleep unless they have done evil;
And their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall.
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness,
And drink the wine of violence.

18 But the path of the just is like the shining [b]sun,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
19 The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know what makes them stumble.

20 My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
22 For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh.

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.

The Godparent

The role of godparent is an awesome responsibility

Since many baptisms took place on Holy Saturday, it is a good idea to revisit the important role godparents play in the life of the newly baptized child. Godparents are also expected to play an important role in the religious and spiritual life of adult converts who’ve been received into the Orthodox Church through the Mystery of Baptism.

The institution of godparents (sponsors) is one that dates back to the first century of the Christian Church. Anyone approaching baptism, be they infant or adult, was required to have a godparent. In the case of an infant, it is the godparent that speaks for the child, answering the questions posed by the priest during the baptismal service. But it doesn’t stop there! The godparent is charged by the Church with the duty to make sure the newly baptized is instructed in the teachings of the Church, remains a frequent communicant within the Church and remains active in the Church. In the case of a child, it is to the godparents that the parents entrust their child, knowing that the godparent will remain actively supporting the child within the life of the Church. Should something happen to the parents, it is traditionally the godparents who will make sure the child continues to be taken to church, and remains Orthodox.

Because of the awesome responsibility of godparents, it is all the more important that great care be taken when choosing someone who will take on this role. The Church does not allow anyone to become a godparent who is not Orthodox, for how can one who is not himself a pious, active Orthodox Christian give witness to living a life immersed in the Orthodox faith? The godparent must therefore be a person of high moral character, and able to inspire the newly baptized to fulfill their baptismal vows.

When the newly baptized approaches the holy chalice for the first three consecutive Sundays following baptism, it is the godparent who accompanies them to receive the Holy Mysteries. The godparent must, therefore, be someone who himself/herself is a frequent communicant. Additionally, the godparent must be someone who is active in the life of the Church, supporting the Church with their tithe, keeping the fasts, and otherwise living in all piety and holiness.

The person chosen to act as a godparent must be someone willing to honor their commitment to the newly baptized for a lifetime, and willing to help nourish the spiritual life and development of the child throughout their life. Thus, it is a very bad idea to pick someone as a godparent simply because they are a good friend. Godparents are duty bound to continue giving support to their godchild, even into adulthood. They must be someone who will remember to honor their godson or goddaughter on special occasions, such as a birthday or name day. They should be a part of the godchild’s life during the great feasts of the Church, such as Pascha or Nativity. They should commemorate the anniversary of their godchild’s baptism by giving them a Christian gift, such as a Bible, prayer book, or icon.

Everything should be done to strengthen the bond between the godparent and godchild throughout the ensuing years. They can take each other out to a restaurant for dinner, or receive communion together when possible (if living in different cities). Time should be allotted to cultivate a unique spiritual bond, and the godparents should assist the godchild’s parents whenever possible – especially when doing so enhances the godchild’s commitment to their Orthodox faith.

Because baptism has been called Illumination, and brings us out of the darkness of sin and into the light of Christ, the role of the godparent is critical. The godparent must ensure that the Light of Christ continues to shine in the soul of the godchild. Thus, this role as godparent is an awesome responsibility, and is not to be considered a one-day event. If you’ve been asked to be a godparent, but are unwilling to see this as a lifelong vocation, please decline the honor.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Wednesday January 29, 2020 / January 16, 2020
33rd Week after Pentecost. Tone seven.
Fast. Fish Allowed
Veneration of the Precious Chains of the Holy and All-glorious Apostle Peter.
Blessed Maximus of Totma (Vologda), fool-for-Christ (1650).
New Hieromartyr John priest (1919).
Martyrs the brothers Speusippus, Eleusippus, and Meleusippus, their grandmother Leonilla, and with them Neon, Turbo, and the woman Jonilla (Jovilla), in Cappadocia (ca. 161-180).
Martyr Danax the Reader in Macedonia (2nd c.).
St. Honoratus the Archbishop of Arles and Founder of Lerins Monastery (429).
Venerable Romilos, monk of Mt. Athos and Ravanica (Serbia) (1375), disciple of St. Gregory of Sinai, and with him Sts. Nestor, Martinius, Daniel, Sisoes, Zosimas, and Gregory (Greek).
New Hieromartyr Damascene of Hilandar on Mt. Athos and Gabrovo (Bulgaria) (1771) (Greek).
St. Honoratus, archbishop of Aries and founder of Lerins Monastery (429).
St. Sigebert, king of the East Angles, martyr (635) (Celtic & British).
St. Fursey of Burgh Castle, enlightener of East Anglia and Langy (650) (Celtic & British).
St. James of Tarentaise (429).
New Martyr Nicholas of Mitylene (1777).

The Scripture Readings

James 3:11-4:6

11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

Heavenly Versus Demonic Wisdom

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Pride Promotes Strife

4 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

Mark 11:23-26

23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Forgiveness and Prayer

25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

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.

The Mystery of Death

Death can be a mystery precisely because the triumph over death is not a mystery

As a priest and monk of the Russian Orthodox Church, I am comfortable with the mystery of death, as all Christians should be. Death can be a mystery precisely because the triumph over death is not a mystery. As the Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann wrote, “in essence, Christianity is not concerned with coming to terms with death, but rather with the victory over it.” In the light of everlasting life, in the name of Jesus Christ, the dreadful threat and dark mystery that is death is transformed into a happy and victorious event for the believer, and “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor. 15:54)

Mourning the death of a loved one is an ancient ritual, one in which Jesus Christ participated. For all of us, all people, death is a common element of humanity, the common trait that we share, and the common enemy of our loved ones. And like grief, victory over death binds people together in a larger, more powerful community, the community that is found in the Christian faith. People accuse Christians of being members of a “death cult,” obsessed with a dying savior and focused on the afterlife to the exclusion of the present; but they are wrong. Christianity does not deny life, Christianity affirms life. Christianity affirms life even in death, because for Christians, death does not remove the relationship that exists.

As a priest of many years, I’ve witnessed large numbers of people try to shelter their friends and loved ones from the pain of loss, yet in doing so, making the pain worse. We all need to be there for people who suffer the loss of a loved one, knowing that in doing so, we are indeed helping them. And, as Christians, we must nurture the hope in both others, and in ourselves, that death, ultimately, will not separate us from those we love, for in Christ we have the hope of eternal life. Because of Christ’s resurrection, having conquered the power of death, we will one day be reunited with those who have departed this life before us.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Monday December 16, 2019 / December 3, 2019
27th Week after Pentecost. Tone one.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). Fish Allowed
Prophet Zephaniah (Sophonias) (635 B.C.).
Venerable Sabbas, abbot of Zvenigorod, disciple of St. Sergius of Radonezh (1406).
New Hieromartyr Andrew priest (1920).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1930).
St. Gregory confessor (1960).
Venerable Theodulus, eparch of Constantinople (440).
Venerable John the Silent of St. Sabbas’ monastery (558).
Hieromartyr Theodore, archbishop of Alexandria (606).
Venerable Gregory of Chernik (Romania).
New Hieromartyr Gabriel, bishop of Ganos (1659) (Greek).
St. Birinus, bishop of Dorchester (649-650) (Celtic & British).
New Martyr Angelos of Chios (1813) (Greek).
Venerable Cosmas of St. Anne’s Skete, Mt. Athos.
St. Sola, Anglo-Saxon missionary priest under St. Boniface (790-794) (Germany).
St. Nicetius, bishop of Lyons (Gaul).
St. Lucius, king of Britain who requested missionaries for his people in A.D. 187.
Martyrs Agapius, Seleucus and Mamas (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

1 Timothy 5:1-10

Treatment of Church Members

5 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.

Honor True Widows

3 Honor widows who are really widows. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. 5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. 7 And these things command, that they may be blameless. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

9 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, 10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.

Luke 20:27-44

The Sadducees: What About the Resurrection?

27 Then some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, 28 saying: “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife, and he dies without children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second took her as wife, and he died childless. 31 Then the third took her, and in like manner the seven also; and they left no children, and died. 32 Last of all the woman died also. 33 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become? For all seven had her as wife.”

34 Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36 nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.”

39 Then some of the scribes answered and said, “Teacher, You have spoken well.” 40 But after that they dared not question Him anymore.

Jesus: How Can David Call His Descendant Lord?

41 And He said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is the Son of David? 42 Now David himself said in the Book of Psalms:

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
43 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ’

44 Therefore David calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?”

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.

Authentic Orthodoxy

We must take Orthodoxy beyond the external

We must guard against noticing when another parishioner seems careless in the making of the sign of the cross, while we go about demonstrating for all around us, the proper way. Making sweeping signs of the cross that are done in such a way as to be almost a caricature, following up with profound bows, we can end up distracting fellow worshipers in the process. If we make a public display of our fasting, making sure our non-Orthodox family and friends know how strict we are, we miss the point of fasting. If we struggle to make our icon corner the largest and most complete of anyone in the parish, but never stand before it in prayer, we treat it as nothing more than nice art.

If we allow ourselves to become spiritual gluttons, and turn the traditions of Orthodoxy into occasions for sensual and prideful displays, we will not embrace the grace that can be ours through quiet and penitential struggle. If our public displays of piety become distractions for fellow worshipers, we can actually be diverting our attention from the all important confrontation of our personal sin. Externals, while important to Orthodox piety, and the deepening of our faith, must not be allowed to replace the mystery of faith that comes only with the acquisition of a humble and contrite heart.

We must guard against allowing external displays of Orthodoxy to become an end in themselves, and remember these traditions and pious practices were designed to serve as aids for deepening our faith by connecting our whole being, both body and soul, on this journey to God. We must take Orthodoxy beyond the self-congratulatory of being a part of a beautiful faith, with sublime worship practices, glorious temples, and beautiful vestments.

Without giving our full attention to the struggle for holiness, and deepening our prayer time, we will end with a weak form of Orthodoxy, that is beautiful on the outside , but hollow on the inside. Taking simple little steps under the guidance and direction from one’s priest or spiritual father, or by council with that pious little old lady, whose face radiates the light of Christ, we will be able to enter into the Kingdom of God, having gained the humility and joy that does not necessitate being extravagant with the externals.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: The interior of Holy Virgin “Joy of All Who Sorrow” Russian Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco.

Wednesday November 6, 2019 / October 24, 2019
21st Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Fast. Food with Oil
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “The Joy of All Who Sorrow”(1688).
Martyr Arethas of Omir and with him 4299 Martyrs (523).
St. Zosimas (Verkhovsky), elder of Siberia (1833).
New Hieromartyrs Laurence bishop of Balakhninsk, Alexis priest and Martyr Alexis (1918).
Venerable Aretha (1932).
New Hieromartyrs John and Nicholas priests (1937).
New Martyr Peter priest (1938).
Venerables Aretha (12th C), Sisois (13th C) and Theophil (12th-13th C), Hermits of the Kievan Caves, near caves.
Blessed Elesbaan, king of Ethiopia (553).
Martyr Syncletia and her 2 daughters (6th C).
St. Athanasius, patriarch of Constantinople (1311).
Venerable George the Confessor(1959).
Venerable John, recluse of the Pskov Caves (1616).
Martyr Acacius of Armenia (303).
Venerable Senoch, abbot of Tours (576) (Gaul).
Martyr Sebastiana of Heraclea in Thrace (86).
St. Maglorius, abbot of Sark.

The Scripture Readings

Luke 1:39-49

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

The Song of Mary

46 And Mary said:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.

Luke 1:56

56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

Colossians 1:18-23

18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Reconciled in Christ

19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Luke 11:9-13

Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking

9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

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.

Hollow Orthodoxy

Taking Orthodoxy beyond the self-congratulatory

We must guard against noticing when another parishioner seems careless in the making of the sign of the cross, while we go about demonstrating for all around us, the proper way. Making sweeping signs of the cross that are done in such a way as to be almost a caricature, following up with profound bows, we can end up distracting fellow worshipers in the process. If we make a public display of our fasting, making sure our non-Orthodox family and friends know how strict we are, we miss the point of fasting. If we struggle to make our icon corner the largest and most complete of anyone in the parish, but never stand before it in prayer, we treat it as nothing more than nice art.

If we allow ourselves to become spiritual gluttons, and turn the traditions of Orthodoxy into occasions for sensual and prideful displays, we will not embrace the grace that can be ours through quiet and penitential struggle. If our public displays of piety become distractions for fellow worshipers, we can actually be diverting our attention from the all important confrontation of our personal sin. Externals, while important to Orthodox piety, and the deepening of our faith, must not be allowed to replace the mystery of faith that comes only with the acquisition of a humble and contrite heart.

We must guard against allowing external displays of Orthodoxy to become an end in themselves, and remember these traditions and pious practices were designed to serve as aids for deepening our faith by connecting our whole being, both body and soul, on this journey to God. We must take Orthodoxy beyond the self-congratulatory of being a part of a beautiful faith, with sublime worship practices, glorious temples, and beautiful vestments.

Without giving our full attention to the struggle for holiness, and deepening our prayer time, we will end with a weak form of Orthodoxy, that is beautiful on the outside , but hollow on the inside. Taking simple little steps under the guidance and direction from one’s priest or spiritual father, or by council with that pious little old lady, whose face radiates the light of Christ, we will be able to enter into the Kingdom of God, having gained the humility and joy that does not necessitate being extravagant with the externals.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Saturday September 28, 2019 / September 15, 2019
15th Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
Saturday after the Universal Elevation of the Precious and Life-Creating Cross of the Lord
Great-martyr Nicetas the Goth (372).
New Hieromartyr John priest and Virgin-martyr Eudocia (1918).
New Hieromartyrs Andrew, Gregory, Gregory, John priests (1921).
Venerable Ignatius confessor (1932).
New Hieromartyr Demetrius priest (1935).
New Hieromartyrs John, Jacob, Peter priests and Nicholas deacon, Martyrs Mary and Ludmila (1937).
Uncovering of the relics of St. Acacius the Confessor, bishop of Melitene (257).
Martyrs Theodotus, Asclepiodotus, and Maximus of Adrianopolis (305-311).
Martyr Porphyrius the Mime of Caesaria (361).
Uncovering of the relics of the Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen (415).
Venerable Philotheus the Presbyter of Asia Minor (10th c.).
St. Joseph, abbot, of Alaverdi in Georgia (570) (Georgia).
“Novoniketas” Icon of the Mother of God (372).
St. Symeon, archbishop of Thessalonica (1430).
Sts. Bessarion I and Bessarion II (1540), metropolitans of Larissa (Greek).
New Martyr John of Crete (1811) (Greek).
Venerable Gerasimus, abbot, of Sourvia (1740).
St. Joseph the New of Partos, metropolitan of Timisoara (1656) (Romania).
St. Mirin, abbot of Paisley.

The Scripture Readings

1 Corinthians 4:17-5:5

17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.

18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

Immorality Defiles the Church

5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Matthew 24:1-13

Jesus Predicts the Destruction of the Temple

24 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

The Signs of the Times and the End of the Age

3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these thingsmust come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will befamines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

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.

Hollow Orthodoxy

Taking Orthodoxy beyond the self-congratulatory

We must guard against noticing when another parishioner seems careless in the making of the sign of the cross, while we go about demonstrating for all around us, the proper way. Making sweeping signs of the cross that are done in such a way as to be almost a caricature, following up with profound bows, we can end up distracting fellow worshipers in the process. If we make a public display of our fasting, making sure our non-Orthodox family and friends know how strict we are, we miss the point of fasting. If we struggle to make our icon corner the largest and most complete of anyone in the parish, but never stand before it in prayer, we treat it as nothing more than nice art.

If we allow ourselves to become spiritual gluttons, and turn the traditions of Orthodoxy into occasions for sensual and prideful displays, we will not embrace the grace that can be ours through quiet and penitential struggle. If our public displays of piety become distractions for fellow worshipers, we can actually be diverting our attention from the all important confrontation of our personal sin. Externals, while important to Orthodox piety, and the deepening of our faith, must not be allowed to replace the mystery of faith that comes only with the acquisition of a humble and contrite heart.

We must guard against allowing external displays of Orthodoxy to become an end in themselves, and remember these traditions and pious practices were designed to serve as aids for deepening our faith by connecting our whole being, both body and soul, on this journey to God. We must take Orthodoxy beyond the self-congratulatory of being a part of a beautiful faith, with sublime worship practices, glorious temples, and beautiful vestments.

Without giving our full attention to the struggle for holiness, and deepening our prayer time, we will end with a weak form of Orthodoxy, that is beautiful on the outside , but hollow on the inside. Taking simple little steps under the guidance and direction from one’s priest or spiritual father, or by council with that pious little old lady, whose face radiates the light of Christ, we will be able to enter into the Kingdom of God, having gained the humility and joy that does not necessitate being extravagant with the externals.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: My friend of thirty-three years, Archpriest Basil Rhodes, rector of Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church in Saratoga, CA.

Thursday April 4, 2019 / March 22, 2019
Fourth Week of the Great Lent: Adoration of Cross. Tone three.
Great Lent. By Monastic Charter: Food without Oil
Hieromartyr Basil, presbyter of Ancyra (362).
Martyr Drosida (Drosis) of Antioch, and five virgins (104).
Venerable Isaac, founder of the Dalmatian Monastery at Constantinople (383).
Martyrs Callinica and Basilissa of Rome (2nd c.).
Venerable Euthymius of Constantinople.
“The Izborsk” Icon of the Mother of God (1657).
St. Paul, bishop of Narbonne, Brittany (3rd c.) (Celtic & British).
New Martyr Euthymius of Mt. Athos (1814) (Greek).
New Martyr Basil (Zelentsov) bishop of Priluk (1930).
New Martyr Schema-abbess Sophia of Kiev (1941) and her priest Demetrius Ivanov (1934).

The Scripture Readings

Isaiah 28:14-22

14 Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scornful men,
Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem,
15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
And with Sheol we are in agreement.
When the overflowing scourge passes through,
It will not come to us,
For we have made lies our refuge,
And under falsehood we have hidden ourselves.”

A Cornerstone in Zion

16 Therefore thus says the Lord God:

“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,
A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation;
Whoever believes will not act hastily.
17 Also I will make justice the measuring line,
And righteousness the plummet;
The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
And the waters will overflow the hiding place.
18 Your covenant with death will be annulled,
And your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
When the overflowing scourge passes through,
Then you will be trampled down by it.
19 As often as it goes out it will take you;
For morning by morning it will pass over,
And by day and by night;
It will be a terror just to understand the report.”

20 For the bed is too short to stretch out on,
And the covering so narrow that one cannot wrap himself in it.
21 For the Lord will rise up as at Mount Perazim,
He will be angry as in the Valley of Gibeon—
That He may do His work, His awesome work,
And bring to pass His act, His unusual act.
22 Now therefore, do not be mockers,
Lest your bonds be made strong;
For I have heard from the Lord God of hosts,
A destruction determined even upon the whole earth.

Genesis 10:32-11:9

32 These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood.

The Tower of Babel

11 Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. 3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake themthoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Indeed the people areone and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lordscattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. 9 Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

Proverbs 13:19-14:6

19 A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul,
But it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil.

20 He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

21 Evil pursues sinners,
But to the righteous, good shall be repaid.

22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,
But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

23 Much food is in the fallow ground of the poor,
And for lack of justice there is waste.

24 He who spares his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

25 The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul,
But the stomach of the wicked shall be in want.

The Ways of Life and Death

14 The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.

2 He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord,
But he who is perverse in his ways despises Him.

3 In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride,
But the lips of the wise will preserve them.

4 Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;
But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.

5 A faithful witness does not lie,
But a false witness will utter lies.

6 A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it,
But knowledge is easy to him who understands.

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.

Church Etiquette

Proper etiquette upon entering an Orthodox temple

From ancient times, the traditional posture for prayer and worship in the Orthodox Church has been to stand. Traditionally Orthodox churches have no pews, but do provide chairs or benches on the side walls reserved for the elderly and infirm. When worshiping in churches with pews, we need know it is fully acceptable to stand for the entire service. In churches with pews, it is preferable to stand closer to the back, or on the side, so we do not block other worshipers view. If we prefer to sit, it is important to remember that we should always stand during the reading of the Holy Gospel, the Little and Great Entrances, the Anaphora, the distribution of Holy Communion, whenever the priest gives a blessing, and the Dismissal.

Orthodox Christians typically light candles when coming a church, as the candles are a form of offering that accompany our prayers. It is best that we not distract other worshipers by moving about in the service, but keep our private lighting of candles, and our veneration of icons, within those few minutes that take place before the start of the liturgical services.

Arriving before the service is to begin, should be the norm. This modern custom of arriving late for services deprives us of the important moments we should have encountering the Lord in the momentary solitude, while in the temple, for our private prayer and preparation for the Divine Liturgy. If we do arrive late, we must be sure to enter the church quietly and respectfully, making sure we do not distract other worshipers.

Remember, should we find ourselves seated, crossing one’s legs in church is considered very disrespectful. Sitting in church is a concession, and not the normative way of prayer, so if we do sit down we must keep our feet on the floor, ready to stand at attention (which is what “Let us attend” means).

Leaving the church before the Dismissal is rude, and deprives us of the final blessing. Our Orthodox worship has a beginning with the words, “Blessed is the Kingdom…”, and an end, “Let us depart in peace…”. To give into the temptation to leave immediately after receiving the Holy Mysteries (Holy Communion) is to treat the Sacrament like a fast food restaurant where we come and go as we please.

If a woman insists on wearing lipstick to church, she must blot her lips well before venerating a holy icons, taking Holy Communion, or kissing the cross or the priest’s or bishop’s hand, so as not to leave makeup on these sacred objects. It would be better for her to wait until after church to put it on, keeping in mind that God is not impressed with how attractive one looks. Church is the place to adorn ourselves with good works and piety.

Traditionally Orthodox Christian women wear modest dresses or skirts that fall below the knee. Dresses should have backs and not be cut low in the front. We will not impress the Lord with clothing, but we should honor Him with our modesty, respect and piety. As the Holy Scripture say, “Holiness befits Thy House, O Lord, for evermore.” ( Psalm 93:5).

While coat and tie are not mandatory for men, shirts should have collars and be buttoned to the collar. Slacks should be cleaned and pressed, while jeans are too casual for church, especially ones with patches or holes. Shorts should never be worn in God’s House.

It is traditional to eat a piece of antidoron, the bread that was left over after Holy Communion was prepared. While antidoron is not Holy Communion, it is blessed bread and as such, should be eaten carefully so that crumbs don’t fall on the floor. And parents should make sure their children take the antidoron carefully and respectfully.

In an age when we’ve become casual with just about everything, the divine services is the place where Christian piety must rule, and where our respect for God’s House reflects our belief that the temple has been consecrated to the Glory of God. We must always remember that we are in church to worship the Holy Trinity Who is present. The celebrant priest’s words, “With the fear of God and faith and love, draw near”, must be forefront in our minds in the way we approach holy worship. This is the root of good church etiquette.

If we take our Orthodoxy seriously, proper church etiquette will reflect our wiliness to be obedience to the Holy Tradition of the Church of Christ.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Friday January 4, 2019 / December 22, 2018
32nd Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ.
Great-martyr Anastasia of Rome, deliverer from bonds, and her teacher Martyr Chrysogonus, and with them martyrs Theodota, Evodias, Eutychianus, and others who suffered under Diocletian (304).
New Hieromartyrs Demetrius and Theodore priests (1938).
Martyr Zoilus (Greek).

The Scripture Readings for the Royal Hours

Hebrews 1:1-2 Royal Hours – 1st Hour
Matthew 1:18-25 Royal Hours – 1st Hour
Galatians 3:23-29 Royal Hours – 3rd Hour
Luke 2:1-20 Royal Hours – 3rd Hour
Hebrews 1:10-2:3 Royal Hours – 6th Hour
Matthew 2:1-12 Royal Hours – 6th Hour
Hebrews 2:11-18 Royal Hours – 9th Hour
Matthew 2:13-23 Royal Hours – 9th Hour

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.

On Being a Godparent

The role of godparent is an awesome responsibility

It is always a good idea to revisit the important role godparents play in the life of the newly baptized child. Godparents are also expected to play an important role in the religious and spiritual life of adult converts who’ve been received into the Orthodox Church through the Mystery of Baptism.

The institution of godparents (sponsors) is one that dates back to the first century of the Christian Church. Anyone approaching baptism, be they infant or adult, was required to have a godparent. In the case of an infant, it is the godparent that speaks for the child, answering the questions posed by the priest during the baptismal service. But it doesn’t stop there! The godparent is charged by the Church with the duty to make sure the newly baptized is instructed in the teachings of the Church, remains a frequent communicant within the Church and remains active in the Church. In the case of a child, it is to the godparents that the parents entrust their child, knowing that the godparent will remain actively supporting the child within the life of the Church. Should something happen to the parents, it is traditionally the godparent who will make sure the child continues to be taken to church, and remains Orthodox.

Because of the awesome responsibility of godparents, it is all the more important that great care be taken when choosing someone who will take on this role. The Church does not allow anyone to become a godparent who is not Orthodox, for how can one who is not himself a pious, active Orthodox Christian give witness to living a life immersed in the Orthodox faith? The godparent must therefore be a person of high moral character, and able to inspire the newly baptized to fulfill their baptismal vows.

When the newly baptized approaches the holy chalice for the first three consecutive Sundays following baptism, it is the godparent who accompanies them to receive the Holy Mysteries. The godparent must, therefore, be someone who himself/herself is a frequent communicant. Additionally, the godparent must be someone who is active in the life of the Church, supporting the Church with their tithe, keeping the fasts, and otherwise living in all piety and holiness.

The person chosen to act as a godparent must be someone willing to honor their commitment to the newly baptized for a lifetime, and willing to help nourish the spiritual life and development of the child throughout their life. Thus, it is a very bad idea to pick someone as a godparent simply because they are a good friend. Godparents are duty bound to continue giving support to their godchild, even into adulthood. They must be someone who will remember to honor their godson or goddaughter on special occasions, such as a birthday or namesday. They should be a part of the godchild’s life during the great feasts of the Church, such as Pascha or Nativity. They should commemorate the anniversary of their godchild’s baptism by giving them a Christian gift, such as a Bible, prayer book, or icon.

Everything should be done to strengthen the bond between the godparent and the godchild throughout the ensuing years. They can take each other out to a restaurant for dinner, or receive communion together when possible (if living in different cities). Time should be allotted to cultivate a unique spiritual bond, and the godparent should assist the godchild’s parents whenever possible – especially when doing so enhances the godchild’s commitment to their Orthodox faith.

Because baptism has been called Illumination, and brings us out of the darkness of sin and into the light of Christ, the role of the godparent is critical. The godparent must ensure that the Light of Christ continues to shine in the soul of the godchild. Thus, this role as godparent is an awesome responsibility, and is not to be considered a one-day event. If you’ve been asked to be a godparent, but are unwilling to see this as a lifelong vocation, please decline the honor.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photos: Left to right: Matushka Nectaria and Priest Robert Bower, Saint Nectarios Orthodox Church, South Bend, Indiana, Abbot Tryphon, Archpriest John and Matushka Katherine Pierce, Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Tacoma, WA., joined us for the Saint Nicholas Day Liturgy in the monastery’s temple.

Thursday December 20, 2018 / December 7, 2018
30th Week after Pentecost. Tone four.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). Fish Allowed
St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan (397).
Venerable Nilus, monk, of Stolben Island (1554).
Venerable Anthony, abbot of Siya Monastery (Novgorod) (1556).
New Hieromartyrs Sergius, Andronic (1917).
New Hieromartyr Antonius priest (1918).
St. Ambrosius confessor, bishop of Kamenets-Podolsk (1932).
New Hieromartyrs Sergius, Michael and Sergius priests, Nicephore deacon and Hieromartyr Galaction and Gurias, Martyr John (1937).
New Hieromartyrs Peter and Basil priests (1941).
Venerable John, faster of St. Sabbas’ monastery.
Martyr Athenodorus of Mesopotamia (304).
Venerable Paul the Obedient.
St. Philothea of Turnovo (1060), whose relics are in Arges, Romania.
“Seligersk” (Vladimirsk) Icon of the Mother of God.
Venerable Gregory the Silent of Serbia, founder of Grigoriou Monastery, Mt. Athos (1405) (Greek).
Venerable John, faster of the Kiev Caves (12th c.).
Venerable Ignatius, monk, near Blachernae (Greek).
St. Bassa of Jerusalem, abbess (5th c.).
St. Diuma, bishop of the Mercians and Middle Anglians.
Martyr Neophytus (Greek).
Martyr Dometius (Greek).
Martyrs Isidore, Acepsimas and Leo (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

Hebrews 10:35-11:7

35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:

37 “For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
38 Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”

39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

By Faith We Understand

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a goodtestimony.

3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

Faith at the Dawn of History

4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

Luke 21:28-33

28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

The Parable of the Fig Tree

29 Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

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.

Children in Church

“Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:16)

If Orthodox parents think baptizing their children, bringing them to the Divine Services, and making sure they receive the Holy Mysteries, is enough, they are wrong. The truth is that we deprive our children of the fullness of our Orthodox Faith if we decide they will absorb Orthodoxy by osmosis. If their little selves are in church, but in their restlessness they demonstrate they’d rather be anywhere else but in church, we will have failed them.

We may choose to ignore their restlessness in the temple, and dismiss their behavior, even though it is likely distracting other worshippers, but we must admit we wouldn’t allow our children to misbehave in the home of good friends. Nor would we allow them to continue disrupting the classroom, should the teacher bring their bad behavior to our attention. Yet we turn a blind eye to bad behavior that is distracting to other worshippers.

Furthermore, when they are older, children who have not been taught proper behavior in the temple of the Lord, will leave the Church, for they will have never learned to feel the presence of the holy. When they leave Orthodoxy, it is ourselves who will one day be answerable to God for their departure. That the world calls us to indulge our children, and starve their souls while feeding their egos, the Church calls us to allow them to suffer hardship for the sake of their eternal souls. We must not be afraid to allow our children to suffer temporary aggravation, while the world encroaches further into their little lives.

It is our responsibility to instruct our children by our example. They must see in our every thought, word and deed, the reality of God, and the holiness of His temple. We must teach our children basic civilized behavior, without which any further education, either secular or religious, will be impossible.

If we remember that Divine Liturgy should be the culmination of all the prayer and worship that takes place in the home during the week, we must not allow Sunday to be the only day our family gives a thought to God, for to do so will only confuse them, and the church services will only seem out of place to the rest of their week. We dare not let them think that a show of piety is a once a week practice, for to do so will leave them without a personal faith of their own.

A child may see that expanse of carpet in the temple as nothing different then the space in front of the TV at home, but we parents must instill in them, at the earliest opportunity, the importance of that sacred place, and impart to them, out of love, a sense of reverence and attentiveness to the presence of God. And, for the sake of other worshippers, we must do our very best to discourage any behavior in our children that leads our fellow Orthodox Christians to distraction.

Each parent needs to determine at what point their child has become too noisy, and consider removing them for a short time. Furthermore, a parent must not expect other worshippers to take care of their child. As well, parents must not allow their children to speak to, or play with, other children, while in the service. They need to be taught, at a very young age, that the Liturgy is the place we find love and joy, collectively, while focusing on the holy.

If we allow our children to bring along a favorite toy, it should be limited to a teddy bear, or any other toy that will not cause distraction for other people, should the toy be dropped on the floor. And the good parent must especially beware of provoking resentment in children whose parents don’t allow them to play in church, thus undermining their discipline. We don’t want to hear our child say, “Jimmy does it, so why can’t I?”

Every parent should be aware that success with our children’s good behavior in church, has it’s roots in the practice that takes place in the home. Evening prayer, as a family, before our home icon corner, is the perfect place where children learn to stand and be quiet and reverent. Explain that your home icon corner is like a “branch” from the main altar at church, and that that altar deserves even more respect. There are relics embedded in the wooden cross under our altar, and it has been consecrated by our Bishop, who told us that an angel stands there constantly in worship. We adults, as well as our children, need to treat the church, and especially the altar area, with great respect.

Our children may object to our churchly expectations, but they learn to do many things they don’t want, because parents insist on them: brushing teeth, attending school, doing homework, having a regular bedtime, and not eating cookies before dinner. When parents have a firm reverence for the church and insist on these standards, children will meet them.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Friday October 19, 2018 / October 6, 2018
21st Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Fast. Food with Oil
Holy and Glorious Apostle Thomas (1st c.).
New Hieromartyr John priest (1937).
Virgin-martyr Eroteis of Cappadocia.
New Martyr Macarius at Kion in Bithynia (Mt. Athos) (1590) (Greek).
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “O All-Hymned Mother”.
Venerable Cindeus of Cyprus, monk (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

John 21:15-25

Jesus Restores Peter

15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. 18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

The Beloved Disciple and His Book

20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”

22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”

24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.

25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

Colossians 2:1-7

Not Philosophy but Christ

2 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Luke 7:31-35

31 And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying:

‘We played the flute for you,
And you did not dance;
We mourned to you,
And you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has comeeating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is justified by all her children.”

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.

Impoverished Christianity

Impoverished institutional Christianity and the rise of Islam in the West

It has been reported in the press that one out of four people now living in Norway are immigrants from Islamic countries. The response to this dramatic change in demographics is seen in the rise of extremist nationalistic political parties, not unlike the Nazis of World War II. The fear of a cultural decline has led many to become radicalized, with the rise of racism the result.

Norway, like the other Nordic countries, has recognized the Lutheran Church as a State Church for many centuries. Like Greece and many other Orthodox countries, most of the population of Norway were baptized into the State Church, but rarely attend services. The essence of faith, with a foundation in Jesus Christ, had been lost in the confines of an institutional form of Christianity that has lost its essence.

The reports we’ve received about the situation in Norway are not correct and the number of Muslims is highly exaggerated. The actual number of  Muslims in Norway is 163,000 or a little more than 3% of the total population. In Oslo 11% of the population are Muslim. The estimate is that in 2060 the Muslim population of Norway will be between 4 and 11%, provided the same immigrantion rate as today continues, and the birth rate of Muslims remains the same.

Although Norway must still to be considered a Christian country, many people have become quite secular. Yet I believe the cure for the societal, political and demographic decline in Nordic and European countries must not to be found in nationalistic racism, nor in war against foreigners. The cure for all that ails the western world is a return to piety and fear of God.  Spiritual decline has led to the total meltdown of societies that were previously rooted in the Christian faith. What remains of Christianity has been turned into a spiritual ghetto, where ethnic preservation and tradition have replaced the Power of the Imperishable, which is a life in Christ.

Until we in the western world bow our heads in humble repentance before God and restore the source of Western Civilization, Christianity, our world is lost. Attacking foreigners and Muslims will only quicken the end of our culture and societal institutions, for the basis of our very existence must be centered in the power of our life in Christ. In Jesus we can do anything. Violence against people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds is a terrible insult to the teachings of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, who came to save the whole world.

The apostles entered a pagan world and transformed it because they were empowered by the Holy Spirit. They did not remain in an institutional ghetto of religiosity, but went into all the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. It was the essence of this faith that transformed the western world, and it is this essence that can do it again.

What a wonderful world it would be if we lived our lives in total commitment to Jesus and giving witness to our neighbors of the sanctifying and transformational power that can be had in a life in Christ. Rather than fear immigrants of a different faith and race, let us reach out in love, welcoming them into hearts centered in Jesus Christ and devoid of institutional dryness.

Orthodoxy must be vibrant in her evangelical zeal. It is not the Church that is at fault, nor the liturgical worship and dogma of the Church that are in need of change, but rather the hearts and minds of her people. This can only be done with a renewed commitment to the Lord, and the living out of an authentic and transformational Christianity that is truly the center of our daily living. How attractive this Christianity would be to our immigrant neighbors if they could see the love we have for them. Radical Islam within our boarders could be diffused if these new immigrants could see the love of Christ in the way we welcomed them. Instead of fearing them, let us reach out as missionaries, inviting them into the life of the Church that has changed us.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photos: Two couples from Holy Virgin Russian Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco, joined us in our celebration of the Feast of the Protection of the Theotokos.

Monday October 15, 2018 / October 2, 2018
21st Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Hieromartyr Cyprian, Virgin-martyr Justina and Martyr Theoctist of Nicomedia (304).
Blessed Andrew, fool-for-Christ at Constantinople (911).
St. Theodore of Sanaskar (Ushakov), admiral of the Russian Navy (1817).
Virgin-martyr Alexandra (1938).
Venerable Anna of Kashin (1338).
Venerable Cassian, monk, of Uglich (1504).
Martyrs David and Constantine, princes of Argveti, Georgia (740) (Georgia).
Blessed Cyprian of Suzdal, fool-for-Christ (1622).
New Martyr George of Philadelphia in Asia Minor (Mt. Athos) (1794) (Greek).
Venerable Damaris of Athens (1st c.) (Greek).
Great-martyr Theodore (Gavra) of Atran in Chaldia of Pontus (1180) (Greek).
Venerable Theophilus the Confessor (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

Philippians 4:10-23

Philippian Generosity

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Greeting and Blessing

21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Luke 6:24-30

Jesus Pronounces Woes

24 “But woe to you who are rich,
For you have received your consolation.
25 Woe to you who are full,
For you shall hunger.
Woe to you who laugh now,
For you shall mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you,
For so did their fathers to the false prophets.

Love Your Enemies

27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.

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.

Ghetto Christianity

Impoverished institutional Christianity and the rise of Islam in the West

The cure for the societal, political and demographic decline in Nordic and European countries is not to be found in nationalistic racism, nor in war against foreigners. The cure for all that ails the western world is a return to piety and fear of God.  Spiritual decline has led to the total meltdown of societies that were previously rooted in the Christian faith. What remains of Christianity has been turned into a spiritual ghetto, where ethnic preservation and tradition have replaced the Power of the Imperishable, which is a life in Christ.

Until we in the western world bow our heads in humble repentance before God and restore the source of Western Civilization, Christianity, our world is lost. Attacking foreigners and Muslims will only quicken the end of our culture and societal institutions, for the basis of our very existence must be centered in the power of our life in Christ. In Jesus we can do anything. Violence against people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds is a terrible insult to the teachings of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, who came to save the whole world.

The apostles entered a pagan world and transformed it because they were empowered by the Holy Spirit. They did not remain in an institutional ghetto of religiosity, but went into all the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. It was the essence of this faith that transformed the western world, and it is this essence that can do it again.

What a wonderful world it would be if  we lived our lives in total commitment to Jesus and giving witness to our neighbors of the sanctifying and transformational power that can be had in a life in Christ. Rather than fear immigrants of a different faith and race, let us reach out in love, welcoming them into hearts centered in Jesus Christ and devoid of institutional dryness.

Orthodoxy must be vibrant in her evangelical zeal. It is not the Church that is at fault, nor the liturgical worship and dogma of the Church that are in need of change, but rather the hearts and minds of her people. This can only be done with a renewed commitment to the Lord and the living out of an authentic and transformational Christianity that is truly the center of our daily living.

How attractive this Christianity would be to our immigrant neighbors if they could see the love we have for them. Radical Islam within our borders could be diffused if these new immigrants could see the love of Christ in the way we welcomed them. Instead of fearing them, let us reach out as missionaries, inviting them into the life of the Church that has changed us.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Wednesday June 27, 2018 / June 14, 2018
5th Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Apostles’ (Peter & Paul) Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Prophet Elisha (10th c. B.C.).
St. Methodius, patriarch of Constantinople (847).
Finding of the relics (1992) of New Hieromartyr Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev.
New Hieromartyr Joseph priest (1918).
New Hieromartyrs Nicholas, Alexander, Paul priests and Nicholas deacon (1938).
St. Mstislav-George, prince of Novgorod (1180).
Venerable Methodius, abbot of Peshnosha (1392).
Venerable Elisha, monk, of Suma (Solovki) (15th- 16th c.).
Synaxis of All Saints of Diveevo.
Venerable Niphon, monk of Kapsokalyvia, Mt. Athos (1330).
Venerable Julitta (Julia) of Tabenna in Egypt.
St. John (Mavropos), metropolitan of Euchaita (1100).
St. Joseph, bishop of Thessalonica, brother of St. Theodore of the Studion (830).
St. Sabbas the Fool-for-Christ of Vatopedi, Mt. Athos (1349).
St. Dogmael, monk of Pembrokeshire..
St. Cyril of Gortyne.

The Scripture Readings

Romans 15:7-16

Glorify God Together

7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, 9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:

“For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles,
And sing to Your name.”

10 And again he says:

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!”

11 And again:

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles!
Laud Him, all you peoples!”

12 And again, Isaiah says:

“There shall be a root of Jesse;
And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles,
In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

From Jerusalem to Illyricum

14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. 15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 12:38-45

The Scribes and Pharisees Ask for a Sign

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”

39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation andcondemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.

An Unclean Spirit Returns

43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”

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.

Pentecost

The Descent of the Holy Spirit

Fifty days after the Resurrection, while the disciples and many other followers of Jesus Christ were gathered together to pray, the Holy Spirit descended upon them in the form of “cloven tongues of fire,” with the sound of a mighty rushing wind, and they began to speak in languages that they did not know. There were many visitors from the Jewish diaspora to Jerusalem, and they were astonished to hear these untaught fisherman speaking praises to God in their alien tongues. This account is detailed in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2.

The Orthodox Church sees Pentecost as the final fulfillment of the mission of Jesus Christ and the first beginning of the messianic age of the Kingdom of God, mystically present in his Church. It is traditionally called the beginning of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It is also known as Trinity Sunday, and the celebration of the final act of God’s self-disclosure to the world of His creation. Pentecost is not just a celebration of an event in history, but a celebration of our membership in the Church. We, like the Apostles, have lived Pentecost and received “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit” in the sacrament of chrismation.

In the Old Testament Pentecost was the feast which occurred fifty days after Passover. As the passover feast celebrated the exodus of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt, so Pentecost celebrated God’s gift of the ten commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai.

In the new covenant of the Messiah, the passover event takes on its new meaning as the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection, the “exodus” of men from this sinful world to the Kingdom of God. And in the New Testament as well, the pentecostal feast is fulfilled and made new by the coming of the “new law,” the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ.

When the day of Pentecost had come they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed as resting upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit . . . (Acts 2.1–4).

The Holy Spirit that Christ had promised to his disciples came on the day of Pentecost (Jn 14.26, 15.26; Lk 24.49; Acts 1.5). The apostles received “the power from on high,” and they began to preach and bear witness to Jesus as the risen Christ, the King and the Lord. This moment has traditionally been called the birthday of the Church.

In the liturgical services of the feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit is celebrated together with the full revelation of the divine Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The fullness of the Godhead is manifested with the Spirit’s coming to man, and the Church hymns celebrate this manifestation as the final act of God’s self-disclosure and self-donation to the world of His creation. For this reason Pentecost Sunday is also called Trinity Day in the Orthodox tradition. Often on this day the icon of the Holy Trinity—particularly that of the three angelic figures who appeared to Abraham, the forefather of the Christian faith—is placed in the center of the church. This icon is used with the traditional pentecostal icon which shows the tongues of fire hovering over Mary and the Twelve Apostles, the original prototype of the Church, who are themselves sitting in unity surrounding a symbolic image of “cosmos,” the world.

On Pentecost we have the final fulfillment of the mission of Jesus Christ and the first beginning of the messianic age of the Kingdom of God mystically present in this world in the Church of the Messiah. For this reason the fiftieth day stands as the beginning of the era which is beyond the limitations of this world, fifty being that number which stands for eternal and heavenly fulfillment in Jewish and Christian mystical piety: seven times seven, plus one.

Thus, Pentecost is called an apocalyptic day, which means the day of final revelation. It is also called an eschatological day, which means the day of the final and perfect end (in Greek eschaton means the end). For when the Messiah comes and the Lord’s Day is at hand, the “last days” are inaugurated in which “God declares: . . . I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.”; This is the ancient prophecy to which the Apostle Peter refers in the first sermon of the Christian Church which was preached on the first Sunday of Pentecost (Acts 2: 1 7; Joel 2: 28–32).

Once again it must be noted that the feast of Pentecost is not simply the celebration of an event which took place centuries ago. It is the celebration of what must happen and does happen to us in the Church today. We all have died and risen with the Messiah-King, and we all have received his Most Holy Spirit. We are the “temples of the Holy Spirit.” God’s Spirit dwells in us (Rom 8; 1 Cor 2–3, 12; 2 Cor 3; Gal 5; Eph 2–3). We, by our own membership in the Church, have received “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit” in the sacrament of chrismation. Pentecost has happened to us.

The Divine Liturgy of Pentecost recalls our baptism into Christ with the verse from Galatians again replacing the Thrice-Holy Hymn. Special verses from the psalms also replace the usual antiphonal psalms of the liturgy. The epistle and gospel readings tell of the Spirit’s coming to men. The kontakion sings of the reversal of Babel as God unites the nations into the unity of his Spirit. The troparion proclaims the gathering of the whole universe into God’s net through the work of the inspired apostles. The hymns “O Heavenly King” and “We have seen the True Light” are sung for the first time since Easter, calling the Holy Spirit to “come and abide in us,” and proclaiming that “we have received the heavenly Spirit.” The church building is decorated with flowers and the green leaves of the summer to show that God’s divine Breath comes to renew all creation as the “life-creating Spirit.” In Hebrew the word for Spirit, breath and wind is the same word, ruah.

Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, who hast revealed the fishermen as most wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit: through them Thou didst draw the world into Thy net. O Lover of Man, Glory to Thee (Troparion).

When the Most High came down and confused the tongues, he divided the nations. But when he distributed the tongues of fire, he called all to unity. Therefore, with one voice, we glorify the All-Holy Spirit!(Kontakion).

The Great Vespers of Pentecost evening features three long prayers at which the faithful kneel for the first time since Easter. The Monday after Pentecost is the feast of the Holy Spirit in the Orthodox Church, and the Sunday after Pentecost is the feast of All Saints. This is the logical liturgical sequence since the coming of the Holy Spirit is fulfilled in men by their becoming saints, and this is the very purpose of the creation and salvation of the world. “Thus says the Lord: Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I your God am holy” (Lev 11.44–45, 1 Pet 1.15–16).

A blessed Feast of Pentecost to all of you.
Abbot Tryphon

Sunday May 27, 2018 / May 14, 2018
Pentecost – Trinity Sunday.

“Lesna” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (1696) (movable holiday on the Trinity Sunday).
Holy Fathers and Mothers of Atchara (18th c.) (movable holiday on the Trinity Sunday) (Georgia).
Martyr Isidore of Chios (251).
St. Isidore, fool-for-Christ, wonderworker of Rostov (1474).
New Hieromartyr Peter priest (1939).
Venerable Nicetas, bishop of Novgorod and recluse of the Kiev Caves (1108).
Martyr Maximus, under Decius (250).
Venerable Serapion the Sindonite, monk, of Egypt (542).
St. Leontius, patriarch of Jerusalem (1175).
Trebensk (1654) and Yaroslavl (Pechersk) Icons of the Mother of God (1823).
New Martyr John-Raiko of Shumena, Bulgaria (1802)) (Greek).
New Martyr Mark of Crete, at Smyrna (1643) (Greek).
First opening of the relics (1846) of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk (1783).
St. Aprunculus, bishop of Clermont in Gaul (Gaul).
Sts. Alexander, Barbarus, and Acolythus, martyred at the Church of Holy Peace by the Sea in Constantinople (Greek).
St. Andrew, abbot of Raphael (Tobolsk) (1820).

The Scripture Readings

John 20:19-23

The Apostles Commissioned

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were [a]assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Acts 2:1-11

Coming of the Holy Spirit

2 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Crowd’s Response

5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”

John 7:37-52

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Who Is He?

40 Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.”

But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people because of Him. 44 Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

Rejected by the Authorities

45 Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?”

46 The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!”

47 Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? 48 Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”

50 Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”

52 They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.”

John 8:12

12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

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.

The Godparent

The awesome responsibility of being a godparent


The institution of godparent (sponsor) is one that dates back to the first century of the Christian Church. Anyone approaching baptism, be they infant or adult, was required to have a godparent. In the case of an infant, it is the godparent that speaks for the child, answering the questions posed by the priest during the baptismal service. But it doesn’t stop there! The godparent is charged by the Church with the duty to make sure the newly baptized is instructed in the teachings of the Church, remains a frequent communicant within the Church and remains active in the Church. In the case of a child, it is to the godparents that the parents entrust their child, knowing that the godparent will remain actively supporting the child within the life of the Church. Should something happen to the parents, it is traditionally the godparent who will make sure the child continues to be taken to church, and remains Orthodox.

Because of the awesome responsibility of the godparent, it is all the more important that great care be taken when choosing someone who will take on this role. The Church does not allow anyone to become a godparent who is not Orthodox, for how can one who is not himself a pious and active Orthodox Christian, give witness to living a life immersed in the Orthodox faith? The godparent must therefore be a person of high moral character, and able to inspire the newly baptized to fulfill their baptismal vows.

When the newly baptized approaches the holy chalice for the first three consecutive Sundays following baptism, it is the godparent who accompanies them to receive the Holy Mysteries. The godparent must, therefore, be someone who himself/herself is a frequent communicant. Additionally, the godparent must be someone who is active in the life of the Church, supporting the Church with their tithe, keeping the fasts, and otherwise living in all piety and holiness.

The person chosen to act as a godparent must be someone willing to honor their commitment to the newly baptized for a lifetime, and willing to help nourish the spiritual life and development of the child throughout their life. Thus, it is a very bad idea to pick someone as a godparent simply because they are a good friend.

The godparent is duty bound to continue giving support to their godchild, even into adulthood. They must be someone who will remember to honor their godson or goddaughter on special occasions, such as a birthday or namesday. They should be a part of the godchild’s life during the great feasts of the Church, such as Pascha or Nativity. They should commemorate the anniversary of their godchild’s baptism by giving them a Christian gift, such as a Bible, prayer book, or icon.

Everything should be done to strengthen the bond between the godparent and the godchild throughout the ensuing years. They can take each other out to a restaurant for dinner, or receive communion together when possible (if living in different cities). Time should be allotted to cultivate a unique spiritual bond, and the godparent should assist the godchild’s parents whenever possible – especially when doing so enhances the godchild’s commitment to their Orthodox faith.

Because baptism brings us out of the darkness of sin and into the light of Christ, the role of the godparent is critical. The godparent must ensure that the Light of Christ continues to shine in the soul of the godchild. Thus, this role as godparent is an awesome responsibility, and is not to be considered a one-day event. If you’ve been asked to be a godparent, but are unwilling to see this as a lifelong vocation, please decline the honor.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photos: Addressing the graduating recruits of the South Sound Fire Academy.

Wednesday May 23, 2018 / May 10, 2018
Afterfeast of the Ascension. Tone six.
Fast. Fish Allowed

Venerable Dodo of the St. David-Gareji Monastery, Georgia (596) (movable holiday on the Wednesday of Holy Ascension).
Apostle Simon the Zealot (1st. c.).
St. Simon, bishop of Vladimir and Suzdal (Kiev Caves) (1226).
Martyrs Philadelphus, Cyprian, Alphaeus, Onesimus, Erasmus, and 14 others, in Sicily (251).
Martyr Hesychius of Antioch (4th c.).
Venerable Isidora the Fool of Tabenna (Egypt) (365).
Blessed Thais (Taisia) of Egypt (5th c.).
Blessed Simon of Yurievits and Zharki, fool-for-Christ (1584).
Icon of the Mother of God “Kiev-Bratsk” (1654).
Venerable Laurence, monk, of Egypt (6th c.). Venerable Dionisius of Radonezh (14-15th c.).
Translation of relics (1670) of Martyr Basil of Mangazea (Siberia) (1602).
St. Synesius of Irkutsk, friend of St. Sophronius (1787).
St. Conleth, hermit and bishop of Kildare (520) (Celtic & British).

The Scripture Readings

John 21:15-25

Jesus Restores Peter

15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. 18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

The Beloved Disciple and His Book

20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”

22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”

24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.

25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

Acts 23:1-11

The Jerusalem Jews Plot to Kill Paul

23 Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?”

4 And those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?”

5 Then Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ ”

6 But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”

7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. 8 For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection—and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. 9 Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested, saying, “We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.”

10 Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.

The Plot Against Paul

11 But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”

John 16:15-23

15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

Sorrow Will Turn to Joy

16 “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”

17 Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” 18 They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.”

19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’? 20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep andlament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21 A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

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.

Acquiring Humility

The truly humble man does not consider himself humble

Saint Macarius of Egypt, called The Great by the Church, because of his perfection of the virtues, and his profound humility, and who said of himself that his struggle to acquire humility was not complete, is but one example of the true meaning of humility. Even though this great saint lived in an age of great saints, and even knew the greatest of monastics, Saint Anthony the Great, said that none had achieved a state were they were completely free of at least a grain of pride.

It is easy to see ourselves as being better than other men, marking our piety, charity, and commitment to the divine services, as signs of our humility. Yet as long as pride is lurking beneath the surface, we are falling short of the Glory of God.

The delusional, soul-killing nature of false humility, pretending to be of Christ, is a delusion that plays into the hands of the Evil One, and leads down the road to perdition.

With love in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Wednesday April 18, 2018 / April 5, 2018
Second Week of Pascha. Tone one.
Fast. Fish Allowed

Transation of the relics (1652) of St. Job, patriarch of Moscow (1607).
Martyrs Theodulus, reader, and Agathopodes, deacon, and those with them at Thessalonica (303).
New Hieromartyr Alexis priest (1930)..
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1931).
Venerable Publius of Egypt, monk (4th c.).
Venerables Theonas, Symeon, and Phorbinus of Egypt (4th c.).
Venerable Mark the Anchorite of Athens (400).
Venerable Plato, abbot of the Studion (813).
Venerable Theodora, nun, of Thessalonica (892) (Greek).
New Martyr George of New Ephesus (1801).
Repose of St. Philip the First, metropolitan of Moscow (1473).
Five girls martyred at Neanidor of Lesbos (Greek).
Martyrs Theodora and Didymus of Alexandria (305).
The Martyr Fermus.
New Martyr Argyra at Constantinople (1725).
New Martyr Panaghiotis of Jerusalem (1820).
St. Derfel of Lianderfel.
Venerable Ethelburga, queen and Abbes of Lyminge, Kent.
Martyrs Claudius, Diodorus, Victor, Victorinus, Pappia, Serapion, and Nicephorus (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

Acts 4:13-22

The Name of Jesus Forbidden

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. 14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” 21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. 22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

John 5:17-24

17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”

18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

Life and Judgment Are Through the Son

24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

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.

Teaching Children the Love of God

Children learn the love of God by the example of their parents

Every Orthodox parent wants their children to grow up attending Sunday Liturgies and staying active in the life of the Church throughout their lives. Yet many parents don’t demonstrate the importance of having a relationship with God in front of their children. If we do not make God important, neither will our child. Children observe their parents, and they see hypocrisy when we are not following through with the teachings of the Church during the week.  They hear when we take the Lord’s name in vain, and observe when we don’t make prayer central to our day. They notice if we only speak of God on a Sunday morning, or when our priest pays a house call.

When we make the sign of the cross, and light candles only when attending Sunday Liturgy, teaches our children to compartmentalize their own faith, and leaves them defenseless in a world fulled with temptations and distractions from things that are of a spiritual nature.

If we do not demonstrate the importance of prayer before our children, we will leave them defenseless in a world that hates Christ. Our children need to pray with us, read the scriptures with us, and learn the importance of faith as demonstrated by our own acts of piety.

If we do not make our home a domestic church, our children will be lost to Christ, and Orthodoxy will not be lived out beyond our own grave, and future members of our family will ultimately see the Orthodox Faith of their older family members, as simply quaint practices of a bygone age.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photos: The Monastery’s parlor and library was inspired by the warmth and coziness of the monastic parlors I saw on Mount Athos.

The Feast of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker (Julian Calendar)

Our father among the saints Nicholas of Myra, Wonderworker, was the archbishop of Myra in southern Asia Minor in the fourth century and is also the basis for the Santa Claus legends and imagery which accompany Christmas celebrations in much of the world.
While widely honored and venerated, not only in the Orthodox Church, but throughout most Christian groups, little is known historically of the life of Nicholas. He is known to have been archbishop of Myra and he may have participated in the Council of Nicea in 325. In addition to being honored as the patron saint of many countries, notably Greece and Russia, and of cities, he is the patron of many occupational groups, most notably of sea-farers.

Tuesday December 19, 2017 / December 6, 2017
29th Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). Fish Allowed

St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, archbishop of Myra in Lycia (345).
Blessed Maximus, metropolitan of Kiev (1305).
New Martyr Nicholas of Karamanos in Asia Minor (1657) (Greek).
St. Nicholas, bishop of Patara.
St. Theophilus, bishop of Antioch (181).
St. Abramius, bishop of Cratea in Bithynia (6th c.).

The Scripture Readings

John 10:9-16

9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep,and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

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 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.

Orthodox Pharisees

The Orthodox Faith is nothing without the acquisition of holiness

If our Orthodox spiritual life is concentrated only on external practices and traditions, but does nothing to bring about real change, we have gained nothing. We must not allow ourselves to think that as long as we keep the fasting rules, say our prayers, and attend the services, we are good Orthodox Christians. If there is no love, no charity, and forgiveness of others, and our life is filled with gossip and judgement, our Orthodox Christian faith is worth nothing.

Christ condemned the Pharisees not because they kept the law and attended to the traditions of their Hebrew faith, but because they did so while filled with pride and arrogance. Without sincere repentance, and seeking holiness of life, their encounter with God led to emptiness of heart, and their religion brought forth no fruits.

Because our Orthodox faith is filled with tradition and liturgical structure, it is easy for us to fall into the trap of being nothing more than Pharisees. Being strict in one’s observance of Orthodox practices can easily lead to pride and arrogance. If we find ourselves feeling better than others and proud of our piety, we will have gained nothing. The external practices of the Orthodox Christian faith, without heartfelt humility and repentance, will lead to spiritual ruin, and we will have become Orthodox pharisees.

Although the Church is the hospital of the soul, healing will only come if we put effort into it. If our doctor prescribes a medication for our condition but we fail to follow our doctor’s orders, we will not get well. The Church offers all that we need for spiritual transformation, but healing will come only if we cooperate with the grace that comes from a real relationship with Christ.

Our goal must be nothing less than the acquisition of holiness (wholeness), and holiness will only come as a result of our having submitted in all humility to a life of repentance. When we submit to Christ, He changes us. But if we simply go through the external motions of the Orthodox faith, we will be no better off than the Pharisees whom Christ condemned.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photos: Father Martin and I wandering through Vashon Island’s Farmers Market (photos by Jacob McGinnis).

Friday September 1, 2017 / August 19, 2017
13th Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Martyr Andrew Stratelates and 2,593 soldiers with him in Cilicia (3rd c.).
St. Nicholas priest (1933).
St. Pitirim, bishop of Perm (1455).
Martyrs Timothy, Agapius, and Thecla of Palestine (304).
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Of the Don” (1591).
Uncovering of the relics of Venerable Gennadius, abbot of Kostroma (1565).
Venerable Theophanes, new wonderworker of Macedonia (Mt. Athos) (15th c.) (Greek).
St. Credan, abbot of Evesham.

The Scripture Readings

Ephesians 4:17-25

The New Man

17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Do Not Grieve the Spirit

25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.

Mark 12:1-12

The Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers

12 Then He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a place for the wine vat and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. 2 Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that he might receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the vinedressers. 3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent them another servant, and at him they threw stones, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated. 5 And again he sent another, and him they killed; and many others, beating some and killing some.6 Therefore still having one son, his beloved, he also sent him to them last, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those vinedressers said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard.

9 “Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vinedressers, and give the vineyard to others.10 Have you not even read this Scripture:

‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
11 This was the Lord’s doing,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

12 And they sought to lay hands on Him, but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them. So they left Him and went away.

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.

Fasting

When fasting becomes false piety

I once knew a new convert to Orthodoxy who proudly related to me how he had kept the Fast strictly while visiting family for a major holiday feast. He kept strictly the fast to the point of eating virtually nothing, since even the vegetables had butter in them. Can you imagine the image he left concerning his new faith, with his mother, and other family members, who had gathered together to celebrate a meal that had so lovingly been prepared? Had he been the host for the meal, he could have made sure everything conformed to the Fast, and everything would have been fine with the family. But, he allowed his unbridled strictness to bring focus on his own “piety”, while making his family members sad that he was eating virtually nothing.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Tuesday February 21, 2017 / February 8, 2017
Week of the Last Judgment. Tone two.
Maslenitsa. Meat is excluded

Great-martyr Theodore Stratelates (“the General”) of Heraclea (319).
Prophet Zechariah, from among the 12 Minor Prophets (520 BC).
St. Lyubov of Ryazan, fool-for Christ (1921).
New Hieromartyrs Simeon, Andrew, Sergius and Peter priests (1938).
New Hieromartyr Alexander priest (1942).
St. Sabbas II, archbishop of Serbia (1271).
St. Macarius, bishop of Paphos in Cyprus (Greek).
Martyr Conitus of Alexandria (249).
St. Agathangelus, bishop of Damascus (ca. 325).
Sts. John and Basil of the Kiev Caves.
St. Kew, virgin of Cornwall.
St. Cuthman, hermit of Steyning.
Martyrs Nicephorus and Stephen (Greek).
Martyrs Philadelphus and Polycarp (Greek).
St. Pergetus (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

Jude 1-10

Greeting to the Called

1 Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,

To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ:

2 Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Contend for the Faith

3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Old and New Apostates

5 But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. 9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.

Luke 22:39-42

The Prayer in the Garden

39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. 40 When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

Luke 22:45-23:1

45 When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. 46 Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”

Betrayal and Arrest in Gethsemane

47 And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. 48 But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

49 When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.

51 But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.

52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to Him, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

Peter Denies Jesus, and Weeps Bitterly

54 Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance. 55 Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. 56 And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.”

57 But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

58 And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.”

But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”

59 Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”

60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!”

Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.

Jesus Mocked and Beaten

63 Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him. 64 And having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You?” 65 And many other things they blasphemously spoke against Him.

Jesus Faces the Sanhedrin

66 As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying, 67 “If You are the Christ, tell us.”

But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will by no means believe. 68 And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go.  69 Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.”

70 Then they all said, “Are You then the Son of God?”

So He said to them, “You rightly say that I am.”

71 And they said, “What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.”

Jesus Handed Over to Pontius Pilate

23 Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate.

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.

A New Year

And a new beginning

Today we celebrate the beginning of 2017, a New Year, and with it a chance to recommit ourselves to working harder at making changes in our lives that will lead to spiritual growth. The Lord’s patience never runs out, so we always have the invitation to renew our commitment to Him.

The New Year is that moment in time when we should take a closer look at how we are using this life God has given us. Are we focused on things spiritual or are we strolling through life as though there were no tomorrow? The truth be known, many of us give all kinds of excuses as to why we don’t attend services on a regular basis. We admit that if it were work related we’d be there, but Church is seen as something that is at the bottom of the to do list. We wouldn’t consider going to work only when we felt like it. Nor would you miss family celebrations or social functions with our friends, for we know our loved ones would question our commitment to them.

Relationships are what we put into them, and we know that if we don’t feed a relationship, it will die, just as a vine that is not watered, dies. Likewise, if we don’t place God as the center of our week, and the services in the temple as the central act of the week, we can’t expect to be spiritually healthy.

Let’s make 2017 a year that has focus, and a time for personal renewal. Let’s not sit back waiting for God to do it all, for He’s already done it. Let’s do our part, and let’s make this year the very best we’ve ever experienced!

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photos: With the blessing of my bishop, His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill, and at the invitation of the leadership of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, I served as a spiritual director for the College Conference West.  I’m sharing photos of this retreat that took place at Saint Nicholas Ranch in Dunlap, CA. One of the highlights for me was receiving the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos and Abbess Markella, to service the Divine Liturgy in the beautiful Katholikon (main temple) of the Greek Orthodox Women’s Monastery of the Life Giving Spring.

I treasure the time I had with these wonderful young people, and with my brother priests, Father John (Antiochian Archdiocese) and Father Cassian (ROCOR), together with my sister in the monastic tonsure, Abbess Victoria (OCA).  Their piety inspires me, and their love uplifts me. I also treasure the warmth, affection, and wisdom Metropolitan Gerasimos (Greek Archdiocese) bestowed upon all of us. And, I treasure the friendship and spiritual direction I receive from Abbess Markella, the saintly and wise woman who governs and ministers, with love, her holy nuns.

Sunday January 1, 2017 / December 19, 2016
28th Sunday after Pentecost. Tone three.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). Fish Allowed

Sunday before the Nativity of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, Holy Father
Martyr Boniface at Tarsus in Cilicia (290) and Righteous Aglae (Aglaida) of Rome.
Venerable Elias of Murom, wonderworker of the Kiev Caves (1188).
Martyrs Elias, Probus, and Ares, in Cilicia (308.
Martyrs Polyeuctus at Caesarea in Cappadocia, and Timothy the Deacon in Mauretania (309).
St. Boniface the Merciful, bishop of Ferentino (6th c.).
St. Gregory (Gregentius), archbishop of Omirits (552).
Hieromartyr Capito, bishop of Cherson (4th c.).
Martyra Hermylus and Phocas.
Martyrs Eutyches and Thessalonica and with them 200 men and 70 women (Greek).
Sts. George the Scribe and Sava of Khakhuli (11th c.).


Scroll down for more photos

Scripture Readings

Luke 24:36-53

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.

The Scriptures Opened

44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

The Ascension

50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.

Hebrews 11:9-10

9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Hebrews 11:17-23

The Faith of the Patriarchs

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.

The Faith of Moses

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.

Hebrews 11:32-40

32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

Matthew 1

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king.

David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife[a] of Uriah. 7 Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. 8 Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. 9 Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. 11 Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. 14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. 15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. 16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.

Christ Born of Mary

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.

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.

The Promised Land

The Church is the Promised Land

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My entrance into the Orthodox Church was my personal escape from Egypt, in that I took refuge from the fallen world of my former secular existence. Coming into Orthodoxy was like the crossing the Jordan for me, for I beheld Orthodoxy as the land promised by God from the beginning of time. The Fathers of the Church characterized the Christian’s life as one of struggle for a life with Christ in the Heavenly Kingdom, and in Orthodoxy I came face to face with this Christ of the Gospels, and met Him in the Holy Mysteries of the Eucharist.

This encounter with Orthodoxy was not one of theoretical, philosophic inspection, but rather an immersion in the Church’s liturgical life, where I was to encounter a piety based on a true dogma, unchanged by the passing of time, and linked to the Ancient, Apostolic Church of Our Fathers. That Orthodoxy has preserved the biblical faith from any change or perversion, has quickened my soul, and begun the process of purifying my heart. The darkness of my previous existence, which stood as a barrier between me and knowledge of the living God, was banished by the waters of baptism, and a frequent encounter with Christ in the reception of His Holy Body and Blood in the Divine Liturgy.

Orthodoxy has preserved the faith of the early Church in the same form as received from the beginning, and has neither added nor subtracted from the faith, once delivered to the saints. She has understood the words of the book of Revelation about he who adds to or removes from this book as applying to anybody who adds or removes any of the dogmas of the New Testament, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life (Rev. 22:18-19).”

As an Orthodox believer, I struggle with all my might to enter into a deeper knowledge of the Orthodox faith, not in an abstract or intellectual manner, but in an ongoing pursuit to enter into the mystery of Jesus Christ. Since I know I cannot be saved without the truth, I cleave to the Church, for I am compelled by the knowledge that the mystery of the Orthodox faith, the living body of Christ, is the Church Christ founded. And only within the Church can the pure love of Jesus Christ burn within me. Within the Church, I have found the Promised Land.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: My spiritual father, Archimandrite Dimitry (Egoroff) of blessed memory.

Friday November 25, 2016 / November 12, 2016
23rd Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
Fast. Food with Oil

St. John the Merciful, patriarch of Alexandria (620).
Venerable Nilus the Faster of Sinai (451).
New Hieromartyrs Constantine, Vladimir, Alexander, Matthew, Demetrius priests (1937).
New Hieromartyr Boris (1942).
Blessed John “the Hairy,” fool-for-Christ at Rostov (1580).
Prophet Ahijah (Achias) (960 B.C.).
St. Nilus the Myrrh-gusher of Mt. Athos (1651).
“The Merciful” Icon of the Mother of God.
New Martyr Sabbas Nigdelinus of Constantinople (1726) (Greek).
New Martyr Nicholas of Constantinople (1726).
St. Leontius, patriarch of Constantinople (1143).
Venerable Emilian of Vergegio in Iberia.
Venerable Lebuinus, missionary monk of the Netherlands (Netherlands).
St. Machar, bishop of Aberdeen (Scotland) (6th c.) (Celtic & British).
St. Sinell of Cleenish (6th c.) (Celtic & British).
St. Cadwaladr, king of the Welsh (664) (Celtic & British).
New Hieromartyr priest Theodore Gidaspov.
Synaxis of the Russian New Martyrs of Optina: Anatolius, Barnabas, Dositheus, Nectarius, Panteleimon and Vincent.

Scripture Readings

1 Thessalonians 2:14-19

14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.

Longing to See Them

17 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. 18 Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?

Luke 13:31-35

31 On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to Him, “Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.”

32 And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ 33 Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.

Jesus Laments over Jerusalem

34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”

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.

Hollow Orthodoxy

Taking Orthodoxy beyond the self-congratulatory

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We must guard against noticing when another parishioner seems careless in the making of the sign of the cross, while we go about demonstrating for all around us, the proper way. Making sweeping signs of the cross that are done in such a way as to be almost a caricature, following up with profound bows, we can end up distracting fellow worshipers in the process. If we make a public display of our fasting, making sure our non-Orthodox family and friends know how strict we are, we miss the point of fasting. If we struggle to make our icon corner the largest and most complete of anyone in the parish, but never stand before it in prayer, we treat it as nothing more than nice art.

If we allow ourselves to become spiritual gluttons, and turn the traditions of Orthodoxy into occasions for sensual and prideful displays, we will not embrace the grace that can be ours through quiet and penitential struggle. If our public displays of piety become distractions for fellow worshipers, we can actually be diverting our attention from the all important confrontation of our personal sin. Externals, while important to Orthodox piety, and the deepening of our faith, must not be allowed to replace the mystery of faith that comes only with the acquisition of a humble and contrite heart.

We must guard against allowing external displays of Orthodoxy to become an end in themselves, and remember these traditions and pious practices were designed to serve as aids for deepening our faith by connecting our whole being, both body and soul, on this journey to God. We must take Orthodoxy beyond the self-congratulatory of being a part of a beautiful faith, with sublime worship practices, glorious temples, and beautiful vestments.

Without giving our full attention to the struggle for holiness, and deepening our prayer time, we will end with a weak form of Orthodoxy, that is beautiful on the outside , but hollow on the inside. Taking simple little steps under the guidance and direction from one’s priest or spiritual father, or by council with that pious little old lady, whose face radiates the light of Christ, we will be able to enter into the Kingdom of God, having gained the humility and joy that does not necessitate being extravagant with the externals.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Thursday October 20, 2016 / October 7, 2016
18th Week after Pentecost. Tone eight.

Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus in Syria (290-303).
St. Jonah, bishop of Manchuria (1925).
New Hieromartyr Priest Valentine Sventsitsky of Moscow (1931) and Priest Nicholas Kazansky (1931).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1942).
Venerable Sergius the Obedient of the Kiev Caves (13th c.).
Venerable Sergius, abbot of Nurma (Vologda) (1412) , disciple of Venerable Sergius of Radonezh.
Uncovering of the relics (1514) of Venerable Martinian, abbot of Byelozersk (White Lake) (1483).
Martyrs Julian, presbyter, and Caesarius, deacon, at Terracina (1st c.).
Virgin-martyr Pelagia of Tarsus (287).
Martyr Polychronius of Gamphanitus (4th c.).
Pskov Icon of the Mother of God named “Tenderness” (1524).
Martyrs Eusebius and Felix at Terracina.
St. Dubtach, bishop of Armagh (Scotland) (513) (Celtic & British).
Holy Martyr Princess Osyth of Chich (England) (ca. 700) (Celtic & British).
99 Fathers of Crete (Greek).
St. Leontius the Governor (Greek).
Venerable Joseph, elder of Mokhevi, wonderworker of Georgia (1763) (Georgia).

Scripture Readings

Ephesians 5:33-6:9

33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Children and Parents

6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,”which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Bondservants and Masters

5 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.

9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

Luke 7:17-30

17 And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.

John the Baptist Sends Messengers to Jesus

18 Then the disciples of John reported to him concerning all these things. 19 And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus,[a] saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”

20 When the men had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’” 21 And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.

22 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. 23 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

24 When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written:

‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’

28 For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

29 And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.

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.

A Missionary People

Imparting the faith as a missionary people

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Two Byzantine brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius, brought Orthodox Christianity to the Slavs in the ninth century, and the brilliance of their missionary outreach, as opposed to that of the Latin Church, was in the very use of the vernacular. These great saints who became known as the Apostles to the Slavs, left the Slavs with a liturgical language that was understandable to them. The services were not imparted in the Greek language, as though it alone was sacred enough to be used in Divine Worship, but in a language they understood.

The first missionary monks to North American came to a land where Christianity had never been. They encountered the native people with respect, and not as pagans whose experience of God was nonexistent. They did not greet their new neighbors as pagans, but as people whose knowledge of God was limited, yet nevertheless holding to beliefs that were true, yet not complete. In sharing with these indigenous people the Orthodox monks came to know that the native Alaskans did not worship totem poles, but used them as tools for passing on family and tribal history. The Orthodox monks honored the indigenous people, and befriended them. But more important, the Russian monks greeted them as fellow children of God.

Orthodox Christians, to this day, are duty bound to share the faith with others, for Christ is for everyone, and His Church is meant to be the hospital for all. Thus the missionary mind of the Orthodox Church must be rekindled in our time, and we must reach out to our neighbors with the warmth of friendship, and open their hearts to the Orthodox faith, just as our ancestors spread the Faith by their love and openness. Visitors to our temples must be greeted with open arms and hearts, and made to feel welcome.

A Roman Catholic friar once told me he’d gone to an Orthodox church to attend his first Divine Liturgy. As the first service had concluded, and the clergy were walking down the steps, they looked right through him, as though he were invisible, even though he was wearing his Franciscan habit. He’d felt so unwelcome, he turned and left, and was deprived of what would have been his first experience of Orthodox worship. What kind of witness was this? Had these clergy reduced Orthodoxy to the status of a private club? Did they see the Church only in ethnic terms? What if Saints Cyril and Methodius had treated the Slavs in such a manner? What if the Jewish Christians of the first century had treated their gentile neighbors in such a manner?

We Orthodox clergy must remember that we  are the first line of witness for the Faith, and if we hold ourselves aloof while wearing our cassocks and crosses in public, we are in essence slamming the door in the faces of potential converts to our faith. And, as priests belonging to different jurisdictions, we must cooperate in the foundation of new missions, so we don’t undermine the ability of any one mission to support a full time priest, and raise the necessary funds to construct a permanent church.

Having numerous little mission parishes without proper facilities and full time priests, is counterproductive to the overall goal of a mission, because the witness it gives to the community at large is one of disunity, and promotes the view we Orthodox  are multiple denominations.

When we ignore those among us who are not ethnically like us, a part of our social network, or fall short of our standard of piety, we can hardly call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ. Our Orthodox faith is not about exclusivity, but of being a united  family of believers. If we as parishioners make our church family ingrown, and closed off to “outsiders”, we will not be numbered among the parishes that are outward focused and growing. Parishes that are inward focused are dying, and sadly enough, much of Orthodoxy, including hierarchs, priests and laity, is inward focused, but not in a Palamite manner.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

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Wednesday October 5, 2016 / September 22, 2016
16th Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Prophet Jonah (9th c. B.C.).
Hieromartyr Phocas, bishop of Sinope (117).
Venerable Jonah the Presbyter (9th c.), father of St. Theophanes the Hymnographer and St. Theodore Graptus.
Blessed Parasceve od Diveevo (1915).
New Martyr Benjamin bishop of Romanovsk (1930).
Venerable Jonah, abbot of Yash Lake (1589).
Venerable Macarius, abbot of Zhabyn (1623).
Synaxis of All Saints of Tula.
Martyr Phocas the Gardener of Sinope (320).
St. Peter the Tax-collector of Constantinople (6th c.).
Hieromartyr Theodosius of Brazsk (1694) (Romania).
The 26 Martyrs of Zographou Monastery, Mt. Athos, martyred by the Latins (1284) (Greek).
Martyrs Isaac and Martin.
Venerable Theophanes the Silent, recluse of the Kiev Caves.
Venerable Cosmas, desert-dweller of Zographou, Mt. Athos (1323) (Greek).
Hieromartyr Emmeram, bishop in Gaul, martyred at Regensburg (690) (Bavaria)..
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “She Who is Quick to Hear” (14th C).

Scripture Readings

Galatians 6:2-10

2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load.

Be Generous and Do Good

6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Luke 4:1-15

Satan Tempts Jesus

4 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.

3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

4 But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”

5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”

8 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan![e] For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”

9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:

‘He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you,’

11 and,

‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ”

13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.

Jesus Begins His Galilean Ministry

14 Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. 15 And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

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.

Priorities

Setting sensible priorities 

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We all need to set sensible priorities, making sure we pay attention to our health, our family, and our spiritual life. We must not let our life be so full of work that we don’t allot time to focus on the things that bring us joy. We may think we don’t have time to visit an art museum, have lunch with a friend, or take a day hike with our children, but lasting fulfillment requires time for play, for fun, and for spiritual contemplation.

Focusing only on work can lead to a restless sense that something is missing in our life. Thoughts of where we’d rather be living, or the job we’d rather have, displace any joy that could be ours. Most of us, if we really think about it, already have everything we need for happiness right in front of us. We mustn’t wait to enjoy what you already have.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

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Photos: On Sunday afternoon I visited Abbess Gabriela, whom I’ve known for many years, and spoke to her nuns. Dormition Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan, is a beautiful, holy place, and I was deeply moved by the piety of the community.

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Monday March 28, 2016 / March 15, 2016
Third Week of the Great Lent. Tone two.
Great Lent. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Martyrs Agapius, Publius (Pauplios), Timolaus, Romulus, two named Dionysius, and two named Alexander, at Caesarea in Palestine (303).
New Hieromartyr Demetrius priest (1938).
New Hieromartyr Michael priest (1940).
Hieromartyr Alexander of Side in Pamphylia (270-275).
Martyr Nicander of Egypt (302).
Venerable Nicander, monk, of Gorodets (Novgorod) (1603).
New Martyr Manuel of Crete (1792) (Greek).
St. Hebarestes.
St. Zachariah, pope of Rome (752).

Scripture Readings

Isaiah 8:13-9:7

13 The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow;
Let Him be your fear,
And let Him be your dread.
14 He will be as a sanctuary,
But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense
To both the houses of Israel,
As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
15 And many among them shall stumble;
They shall fall and be broken,
Be snared and taken.”

16 Bind up the testimony,
Seal the law among my disciples.
17 And I will wait on the Lord,
Who hides His face from the house of Jacob;
And I will hope in Him.
18 Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me!
We are for signs and wonders in Israel
From the Lord of hosts,
Who dwells in Mount Zion.

19 And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

21 They will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22 Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness.

The Government of the Promised Son

9 Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
And afterward more heavily oppressed her,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
2 The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.

3 You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4 For You have broken the yoke of his burden
And the staff of his shoulder,
The rod of his oppressor,
As in the day of Midian.
5 For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle,
And garments rolled in blood,
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire.

6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Genesis 6:9-22

Noah Pleases God

9 This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.

The Ark Prepared

13 And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. 15 And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive. 21 And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them.”

22 Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.

Proverbs 8:1-21

The Excellence of Wisdom

8 Does not wisdom cry out,
And understanding lift up her voice?
2 She takes her stand on the top of the high hill,
Beside the way, where the paths meet.
3 She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city,
At the entrance of the doors:
4 “To you, O men, I call,
And my voice is to the sons of men.
5 O you simple ones, understand prudence,
And you fools, be of an understanding heart.
6 Listen, for I will speak of excellent things,
And from the opening of my lips will come right things;
7 For my mouth will speak truth;
Wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
8 All the words of my mouth are with righteousness;
Nothing crooked or perverse is in them.
9 They are all plain to him who understands,
And right to those who find knowledge.
10 Receive my instruction, and not silver,
And knowledge rather than choice gold;
11 For wisdom is better than rubies,
And all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.

12 “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
And find out knowledge and discretion.
13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverse mouth I hate.
14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom;
I am understanding, I have strength.
15 By me kings reign,
And rulers decree justice.
16 By me princes rule, and nobles,
All the judges of the earth.
17 I love those who love me,
And those who seek me diligently will find me.
18 Riches and honor are with me,
Enduring riches and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold,
And my revenue than choice silver.
20 I traverse the way of righteousness,
In the midst of the paths of justice,
21 That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth,
That I may fill their treasuries.

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.

Conspired Against

When we are judged and maligned

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Within the life of the Church we sometimes see jealousy, envy, and slander taking center stage. The history of the Church is filled with sad occasions where brothers have heaped attacks on their brothers, with bishops conspiring against bishops, priests conspiring against priests, and monastics being judged and maligned. The lives of the saints are filled with such tales, for accepting the slander of others is what makes saints. Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Nektarios of Pentapolis, and Saint John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, are but three examples of great saints who suffered slander and persecution during their lifetimes.

The key to receiving the salvific benefit of such attacks has always been found in our willingness to accept such treatment as God allowed. Gaining humility of heart must always be the goal, and it is only in having gained a humble and contrite heart that we will see the Gates of Paradise opened wide for us. The praise of others does nothing to further the cause of our soul’s transformation. Slander, when received with a peaceful heart, is of greater value than all the congratulatory words, and the praise of others. When we don’t react, when we don’t resent, and when we guard our inner peace, we are clinging to the Co-Suffering Saviour, Who Himself was conspired against, slandered and maligned.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  —Philippians 3:8-11

The labours of the farm do not seem strange to the farmer; the storm at sea is not unexpected by the sailor; sweat causes no wonder to the hired labourer; and so to those who have chosen to live the life of piety the afflictions of this world are not unforeseen. Nay, to each of the aforesaid is joined a labour that is appropriate and well known to those who share it—a labour that is not chosen for its own sake, but for the enjoyment of expected blessings. For hopes, which hold and weld together man’s entire life, give consolation for the hardships which fall to the lot of each of these.   — St. Basil the Great (330?-379), Saint Basil, the Letters

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: The Nativity Liturgy here at the monastery.

Friday January 8, 2016 / December 26, 2015
32nd Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
Sviatki. Fast-free
Second Day of the Feast of the Nativity.
Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Hieromartyr Euthymius, bishop of Sardis (840).
Venerable Isaac II (Bobrikov, the Younger), archimandrite of Optina (1938).
New Hieromartyrs Alexander and Demetrius priests (1918).
New Hieromartyrs Nicholas, Nicholas priests amd Michael deacon (1930).
New Hieromartyrs Leonidas bishop of Mariysk, Alexander priest and Virgin-martyrs Anthisa and Makaria (1937).
St. Russian New Martyr, Andrew, bishop of Ufa (1937) and New Martyr, Valentina, (1937).
New Hieromartyrs Gregory priest and Virgin-martyrs Augusta and Mary, Martyr Agrippina (1938).
Venerable Constantine, monk, of Synnada (9th c.).
Venerable Evaristus of the Studion Monastery (825).
St. Nicodemus of Tismana, Romania (1406).
“Vilen-Ostrabramsk”, “Three Joys” or “Merciful”, ” Barlovsk” (1392) or “the Blessed Womb”, “Baibuzsk” (1852) Icons of the Mother of God.
New Hieromartyr Constantius the Russian, at Constantinople (1743).
Venerable Nicodemus the Serbian (Serbia).
St. Archelaus, bishop of Kaskhara in Mesopotamia (3rd c.).
St. Zenon, bishop of Maiuma in Palestine (4th c.).
St. Tathai, abbot of Llantathan.

Scripture Readings

Hebrews 2:11-18

11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying:

“I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”

13 And again:

“I will put My trust in Him.”

And again:

“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”

14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Matthew 2:13-23b

The Flight into Egypt

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”

14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

Massacre of the Innocents

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”

The Home in Nazareth

19 Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” 21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. 23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

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.

Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker

Archbishop of Myra in Lycia

kokkari_nicholas_wonderworking

Saint Nicholas, the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia is famed as a great saint pleasing unto God. He was born in the city of Patara in the region of Lycia (on the south coast of the Asia Minor peninsula), and was the only son of pious parents Theophanes and Nonna, who had vowed to dedicate him to God.

As the fruit of the prayer of his childless parents, the infant Nicholas from the very day of his birth revealed to people the light of his future glory as a wonderworker. His mother, Nonna, after giving birth was immediately healed from illness. The newborn infant, while still in the baptismal font, stood on his feet three hours, without support from anyone, thereby honoring the Most Holy Trinity. St Nicholas from his infancy began a life of fasting, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he would not accept milk from his mother until after his parents had finished their evening prayers.

From his childhood Nicholas thrived on the study of Divine Scripture; by day he would not leave church, and by night he prayed and read books, making himself a worthy dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. Bishop Nicholas of Patara rejoiced at the spiritual success and deep piety of his nephew. He ordained him a reader, and then elevated Nicholas to the priesthood, making him his assistant and entrusting him to instruct the flock.

In serving the Lord the youth was fervent of spirit, and in his proficiency with questions of faith he was like an Elder, who aroused the wonder and deep respect of believers. Constantly at work and vivacious, in unceasing prayer, the priest Nicholas displayed great kind-heartedness towards the flock, and towards the afflicted who came to him for help, and he distributed all his inheritance to the poor.

There was a certain formerly rich inhabitant of Patara, whom St Nicholas saved from great sin. The man had three grown daughters, and in desparation he planned to sell their bodies so they would have money for food. The saint, learning of the man’s poverty and of his wicked intention, secretly visited him one night and threw a sack of gold through the window. With the money the man arranged an honorable marriage for his daughter. St Nicholas also provided gold for the other daughters, thereby saving the family from falling into spiritual destruction. In bestowing charity, St Nicholas always strove to do this secretly and to conceal his good deeds.

The Bishop of Patara decided to go on pilgrimage to the holy places at Jerusalem, and entrusted the guidance of his flock to St Nicholas, who fulfilled this obedience carefully and with love. When the bishop returned, Nicholas asked his blessing for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Along the way the saint predicted a storm would arise and threaten the ship. St Nicholas saw the devil get on the ship, intending to sink it and kill all the passengers. At the entreaty of the despairing pilgrims, he calmed the waves of the sea by his prayers. Through his prayer a certain sailor of the ship, who had fallen from the mast and was mortally injured was also restored to health.

When he reached the ancient city of Jerusalem and came to Golgotha, St Nicholas gave thanks to the Savior. He went to all the holy places, worshiping at each one. One night on Mount Sion, the closed doors of the church opened by themselves for the great pilgrim. Going round the holy places connected with the earthly service of the Son of God, St Nicholas decided to withdraw into the desert, but he was stopped by a divine voice urging him to return to his native country. He returned to Lycia, and yearning for a life of quietude, the saint entered into the brotherhood of a monastery named Holy Sion, which had been founded by his uncle. But the Lord again indicated another path for him, “Nicholas, this is not the vineyard where you shall bear fruit for Me. Return to the world, and glorify My Name there.” So he left Patara and went to Myra in Lycia.

Upon the death of Archbishop John, Nicholas was chosen as Bishop of Myra after one of the bishops of the Council said that a new archbishop should be revealed by God, not chosen by men. One of the elder bishops had a vision of a radiant Man, Who told him that the one who came to the church that night and was first to enter should be made archbishop. He would be named Nicholas. The bishop went to the church at night to await Nicholas. The saint, always the first to arrive at church, was stopped by the bishop. “What is your name, child?” he asked. God’s chosen one replied, “My name is Nicholas, Master, and I am your servant.”

After his consecration as archbishop, St Nicholas remained a great ascetic, appearing to his flock as an image of gentleness, kindness and love for people. This was particularly precious for the Lycian Church during the persecution of Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Bishop Nicholas, locked up in prison together with other Christians for refusing to worship idols, sustained them and exhorted them to endure the fetters, punishment and torture. The Lord preserved him unharmed. Upon the accession of St Constantine (May 21) as emperor, St Nicholas was restored to his flock, which joyfully received their guide and intercessor.

Despite his great gentleness of spirit and purity of heart, St Nicholas was a zealous and ardent warrior of the Church of Christ. Fighting evil spirits, the saint made the rounds of the pagan temples and shrines in the city of Myra and its surroundings, shattering the idols and turning the temples to dust.

In the year 325 St Nicholas was a participant in the First Ecumenical Council. This Council proclaimed the Nicean Symbol of Faith, and he stood up against the heretic Arius with the likes of Sts Sylvester the Bishop of Rome (January 2), Alexander of Alexandria (May 29), Spyridon of Trimythontos (December 12) and other Fathers of the Council.

St Nicholas, fired with zeal for the Lord, assailed the heretic Arius with his words, and also struck him upon the face. For this reason, he was deprived of the emblems of his episcopal rank and placed under guard. But several of the holy Fathers had the same vision, seeing the Lord Himself and the Mother of God returning to him the Gospel and omophorion. The Fathers of the Council agreed that the audacity of the saint was pleasing to God, and restored the saint to the office of bishop.

Having returned to his own diocese, the saint brought it peace and blessings, sowing the word of Truth, uprooting heresy, nourishing his flock with sound doctrine, and also providing food for their bodies.

Even during his life the saint worked many miracles. One of the greatest was the deliverance from death of three men unjustly condemned by the Governor, who had been bribed. The saint boldly went up to the executioner and took his sword, already suspended over the heads of the condemned. The Governor, denounced by St Nicholas for his wrong doing, repented and begged for forgiveness.

Witnessing this remarkable event were three military officers, who were sent to Phrygia by the emperor Constantine to put down a rebellion. They did not suspect that soon they would also be compelled to seek the intercession of St Nicholas. Evil men slandered them before the emperor, and the officers were sentenced to death. Appearing to St Constantine in a dream, St Nicholas called on him to overturn the unjust sentence of the military officers.

He worked many other miracles, and struggled many long years at his labor. Through the prayers of the saint, the city of Myra was rescued from a terrible famine. He appeared to a certain Italian merchant and left him three gold pieces as a pledge of payment. He requested him to sail to Myra and deliver grain there. More than once, the saint saved those drowning in the sea, and provided release from captivity and imprisonment.

Having reached old age, St Nicholas peacefully fell asleep in the Lord. His venerable relics were preserved incorrupt in the local cathedral church and flowed with curative myrrh, from which many received healing. In the year 1087, his relics were transferred to the Italian city of Bari, where they rest even now (See May 9).

The name of the great saint of God, the hierarch and wonderworker Nicholas, a speedy helper and suppliant for all hastening to him, is famed in every corner of the earth, in many lands and among many peoples. In Russia there are a multitude of cathedrals, monasteries and churches consecrated in his name. There is, perhaps, not a single city without a church dedicated to him.

The first Russian Christian prince Askold (+ 882) was baptized in 866 by Patriarch Photius (February 6) with the name Nicholas. Over the grave of Askold, St Olga (July 11) built the first temple of St Nicholas in the Russian Church at Kiev. Primary cathedrals were dedicated to St Nicholas at Izborsk, Ostrov, Mozhaisk, and Zaraisk. At Novgorod the Great, one of the main churches of the city, the Nikolo-Dvorischensk church, later became a cathedral.

Famed and venerable churches and monasteries dedicated to St Nicholas are found at Kiev, Smolensk, Pskov, Toropetsa, Galich, Archangelsk, Great Ustiug, Tobolsk. Moscow had dozens of churches named for the saint, and also three monasteries in the Moscow diocese: the Nikolo-Greek (Staryi) in the Chinese-quarter, the Nikolo-Perervinsk and the Nikolo-Ugreshsk. One of the chief towers of the Kremlin was named the Nikolsk.

Many of the churches devoted to the saint were those established at market squares by Russian merchants, sea-farers and those who traveled by land, venerating the wonderworker Nicholas as a protector of all those journeying on dry land and sea. They sometimes received the name among the people of “Nicholas soaked.”

Many village churches in Russia were dedicated to the wonderworker Nicholas, venerated by peasants as a merciful intercessor before the Lord for all the people in their work. And in the Russian land St Nicholas did not cease his intercession. Ancient Kiev preserves the memory about the miraculous rescue of a drowning infant by the saint. The great wonderworker, hearing the grief-filled prayers of the parents for the loss of their only child, took the infant from the waters, revived him and placed him in the choir-loft of the church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) before his wonderworking icon. In the morning the infant was found safe by his thrilled parents, praising St Nicholas the Wonderworker.

Many wonderworking icons of St Nicholas appeared in Russia and came also from other lands. There is the ancient Byzantine embordered image of the saint, brought to Moscow from Novgorod, and the large icon painted in the thirteenth century by a Novgorod master.

Two depictions of the wonderworker are especially numerous in the Russian Church: St Nicholas of Zaraisk, portrayed in full-length, with his right hand raised in blessing and with a Gospel (this image was brought to Ryazan in 1225 by the Byzantine Princess Eupraxia, the future wife of Prince Theodore. She perished in 1237 with her husband and infant son during the incursion of Batu); and St Nicholas of Mozhaisk, also in full stature, with a sword in his right hand and a city in his left. This recalls the miraculous rescue of the city of Mozhaisk from an invasion of enemies, through the prayers of the saint. It is impossible to list all the grace-filled icons of St Nicholas, or to enumerate all his miracles.

St Nicholas is the patron of travelers, and we pray to him for deliverance from floods, poverty, or any misfortunes. He has promised to help those who remember his parents, Theophanes and Nonna.

Wishing all of you a blessed Feast of Saint Nicholas the Wonderwork of Myra.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Saturday December 19, 2015 / December 6, 2015
29th Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). Fish Allowed
St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, archbishop of Myra in Lycia (345).

Blessed Maximus, metropolitan of Kiev (1305).
New Martyr Nicholas of Karamanos in Asia Minor (1657) (Greek).
St. Nicholas, bishop of Patara.
St. Theophilus, bishop of Antioch (181).
St. Abramius, bishop of Cratea in Bithynia (6th c.).

Scripture Readings

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 you to 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 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.

Blind to the Sins of Others

We must accuse ourselves, blame ourselves, judge ourselves

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We see people’s sins, but we don’t know whether they have made peace with God. We don’t know if the person who has sinned regrets it, but we are not called to judge them, but only to forgive them. As we become aware of our own sins, and begin to realize how much forgiveness and mercy we need, we are less likely to see the sins of others.

If we find ourselves judging others, we must simply turn it around, and judge only ourselves. Abba Dorotheos’ Practical Teaching on the Christian Life, (the one published in Athens, Greece), is a book every Orthodox Christian should own, and one that should be our constant companion, in our struggle to truly forgive others, and turn our gaze on our own need for change.

We must accuse ourselves, blame ourselves, judge ourselves, and get our focus off the other person. The only way we can overcome the sin of judging others, is to see only the sins of ourselves. True repentance comes only when we work on our own fallen nature.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

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Photos: Nun Eisodia (Asquith), of Washington D.C., visited the monastery this weekend. With the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Mother Eisodia is traveling the country in preparation for a book that will be aimed at pilgrims looking for monasteries and other holy places, as destinations for quiet retreat and contemplation. While staying with us, Mother instructed Monk Martin in the art of tailoring. Additionally, we were blessed to have David Stobbe, a member of Saint Vincent of Lerins Orthodox Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, spend a few days with us in retreat.

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Monday November 30, 2015 / November 17, 2015
27th Week after Pentecost. Tone one.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). Fish Allowed

St. Gregory the Wonderworker of Neo-Caesarea (266).
Venerable Nikon, abbot of Radonezh, disciple of St. Sergius (1426).
Venerable Lazarus the iconographer of Constantinople (857).
Martyr Gobron (Michael) and 133 soldiers of Georgia (914) (Georgia).
Venerable Longinus of Egypt (4th c.).
St. Maximus (Maximian), patriarch of Constantinople (434).
Venerable Gennadius, abbot of Vatopedi, Mt. Athos (14th c.).
St. Gregory, bishop of Tours, and with him Venerable Aredius, abbot of Limoges and Venerable Vulfolaic, stylite of Trier (Gaul).
Venerable Hilda, abbess of Whitby (680) (British).
Martyrs Zachariah the Cobbler and his wife, Mary (3rd c.) (Greek).
Hieromartyr Basil, bishop of Hamah (282).
Martyrs Gregory, Victor, and Geminus of Heracleon in Thrace (304).
150 philosophers converted by St. Catherine, and who suffered in Alexandria (305).
St. John the Cobbler of Olumba, Cairo, and Sinai (7th c.).

Scripture Readings

1 Timothy 5:1-10

Treatment of Church Members

5 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.

Honor True Widows

3 Honor widows who are really widows. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. 5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. 7 And these things command, that they may be blameless. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

9 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, 10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.

Luke 14:12-15

12 Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

The Parable of the Great Supper

15 Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

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.

The Arrow Prayer

A short prayer used in personal devotion

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Many Church Fathers taught the use of the “arrow prayer”, deliberately short prayers for personal devotion that were easily remembered, and could communicate one’s love for God, while seeking His help. They were like arrows being shot into the air, wholeheartedly demonstrating our sincerity in asking God’s help. One of my personal favorites is an arrow prayer attributed to Saint Gregory Palamas.

“Lord enlighten my darkness, Lord enlighten my darkness, Lord enlighten my darkness…..”

This is the perfect prayer when seeking God’s help in keeping His commandments, and doing battle with habitual sins. By this prayer we are asking that grace abound and transformation take place. It is a prayerful plea for God’s mercy, and that He make us holy by coming quickly to our aid.

It is the perfect prayer to utter at the very moment we are receiving the Holy Mysteries of Christ’s Body and Blood, the hot coals that burn within and bring about healing of body and soul, and illumine our heart. It is a prayer in which we confess before God that we are living in a state of darkness, and asking Him to dispel all that darkness which keeps us from attaining holiness, and communing with Him.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

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Photos: My last talk in the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania (OCA), was held in Saint Mark Orthodox Church, Wrightstown, PA. Father Martin Browne is the rector.

I am grateful for all the kindness extended to me by the clergy and faithful of Eastern Pennsylvania. Although I leave the region exhausted, I am lifted in spirit, having basked in the piety and love of my wonderful hosts, enjoying, as I have, the fellowship of my countrymen in Christ. Please pray for my safe journey back to the monastery, this evening.

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Friday October 23, 2015 / October 10, 2015
21st Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Fast. Food with Oil

Martyrs Eulampius and Eulampia at Nicomedia and 200 Martyrs with them (296).
St. Innocent, bishop of Penza (1819).
Venerable Ambrose of Optina (1891).
New Hieromartyr Theodore (Pozdeev) archbishop of Volokolamsk (1937).
Saint Amphylochius, Bishop of Vladimir-Volyn (1122).
Synaxis of the seven Saints of Volhynia: Sts. Stephen and Amphilocius (1122), bishops of Vladimir in Volhynia; St. Theodore (in monasticism Theodosius), prince of Ostrog (1483); St. Juliana Olshanskaya (1540); Venerable Job of Pochaev (1651); Hieromartyr Macarius, archimandrite of Kanev (1678); and St. Yaropolk-Peter, prince of Vladimir in Volhynia (1086).
Blessed Andrew of Totma, fool-for-Christ (1673).
Martyr Theotecnus of Antioch (4th c.).
Venerable Bassian of Constantinople (ca. 458).
Venerable Theophilus the Confessor of Bulgaria (716).
Martyrdom of the 26 Martyrs of Zographou Monastery on Mt. Athos by the Latins: Abbot Thomas, monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Micah, Simon, Hilarion, Job, James, Cyprian, Sabbas, James, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Paul, Menas, Ioasaph, Ioannicius, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian, Parthenius, and four laymen (1284).
St. Paulinus, archbishop of York (644) (Celtic & British).
St. Pinytus, bishop of Knossos in Crete (2nd. c.).
Zographou Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Of the Akathist”.
Synaxis of the Saints of Optina: Leo (1841), Macarius (1894), Moses (1862), Anthony (1865), Hilarion (1873), Ambrose (1891), Anatolius (1894), Isaacius (1894), Joseph (1911), Barsanuphius (1913), Anatolius (1922), Nectarius (1928), Nicon (1931), and Isaacius (1936).
Martyrs of the Theban Legion along the Rhine: Sts. Cassius and Florentius at Bonn, Sts. Gereon and Companions at Cologne, and Sts. Victor and Companions at Xanten (Germany) (304).

Scripture Readings

Colossians 2:1-7

Not Philosophy but Christ

2 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Luke 7:31-35

31 And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying:

‘We played the flute for you,
And you did not dance;
We mourned to you,
And you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is justified by all her children.”

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.

Christian Pharisees

The Orthodox Faith is nothing without transformation of life

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If your spiritual life is concentrated only on external practices and traditions, but does nothing to bring about real change, you will have gained nothing. Too many people think as long as they keep the fasting rules, do their prayers, and attend the services, they are good Orthodox Christians. Yet if there is no love, no charity, and no forgiveness of others, and your life is filled with gossip and judgement, your Orthodox Christian faith is worth nothing.

Christ condemned the Pharisees not because they kept the law and attended to the traditions of the Jewish faith, but because they did so while filled with pride and arrogance. Without sincere repentance and holiness of life, their encounter with God led to an emptiness of heart.

Because our Orthodox faith is one of tradition and liturgical structure, it is easy to fall into the trap of being nothing more than a Pharisee. Being strict in one’s observance of Orthodox practices can easily lead to pride and arrogance. If you find yourself feeling better than others and proud of your piety, you have gained absolutely nothing. The external practice of the Orthodox Christian faith without heartfelt humility and repentance leads down the road of spiritual ruin.

The Church is the hospital of the soul, but healing can only come if we put effort into it. If your doctor prescribes a medication for your condition but you fail to follow your doctor’s orders, you will not get well. The Church has all that you need for spiritual transformation, but healing only comes if you cooperate with the healing process. The goal is holiness (wholeness) and is the direct result of our having submitted in all humility to a life of repentance. When you do this Christ changes you. If you simply go through the motions of your Orthodox faith, you are no better off than the Pharisees whom Christ condemned.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Sunday June 7, 2015 / May 25, 2015

1st Sunday after Pentecost. All Saints. Tone eight.
Eve of Apostles’ (Peter & Paul) Fast.

Synaxis of Hieromartyrs of Kholmsk and Podliash (movable holiday on the Sunday after May 19th).
Icons of the Mother of God “the Consoler of angry hearts” and “the Unbreakable Wall” (movable holiday on the Sunday of All Saints).
Third Finding of the Precious Head of St. John the Baptist (850).
Virgin-Martyr Helen (1938).
New Hieromartyr Tavrion (1939).
St. Innocent archbishop of Cherson (1857).
Hieromartyr Therapon, bishop of Cyprus (4th c.).
St. Dodo, prince of Georgia (6th c.).
Synaxis of Saints of Volhynia: Saints Yaropolk, Stephen, Macarius, Igor and Juliana.
Commemoration of the reunion of 3,000,000 Uniates with the Orthodox Church at Vilna in 1831.
Martyrs Pasicrates, Valentinian, Julius and others at Dorostolum (302).
St. Aldehelm, bishop of Sherborne.
Martyr Celestine (Greek).
St. Olbian, monk (Greek).

Scripture Readings

Hebrews 11:33-12:2

33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted,[a] were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

The Race of Faith

12 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Matthew 10:32-33

Confess Christ Before Men

32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 10:37-38

37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

Matthew 19:27-30

27 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”

28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.CHRISTIAN PHARISEES

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.

Imitate the Publican

The saints should be models for how we live our lives

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Our Orthodox Christian life is not designed to be invented as we go, for by the very nature of the Church we are instructed to use as our model of living, the lives of the saints that have gone on before us. Their lives are held up before us as examples of holiness. Their charity is to become our model of charity. Their sacrifice is to become the model of our sacrifice. Their asceticism is to be the model of our own asceticism. Their humility must be the model by which we are to lead lives in all humility. Their love of God and neighbor must become the supreme example for our own struggle to love God above all else, and to love our neighbor as our self. Their willingness to suffer persecution for Christ’s sake, must be the model by which we are willing to face persecution, and even martyrdom, for our faith.

Saint Syncletica, a 4th century desert mother, said, “Imitate the publican and you will not be condemned with the pharisee. Choose the meekness of Moses and you will find your heart which is a rock changed into a spring of water.” Whereas the pharisee was proud before God and men for his piety and accomplishments, even boldly standing in the temple in all arrogance, thanking God that he was not like other men, the publican stood afar, head lowered, beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner! (Luke 18:13).” The Lord Jesus Christ told his disciples that the publican went away justified.

We must take care whom we set as the model for our own living, that we not take as our example the man who is worldly, self-centered, greedy, unloving, and devoid of any interest in the spiritual life. Rather, we must look to the saints as examples of how to live, and how to love, that we, like the publican, will stand before God having been justified.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: Looking south over the Village of Dockton, with our monastery in the forest. (click on photo to enlarge)

Health Update
I have good news to report. Thanks to all your prayers, my cardiologist reports that there is now no sign of congestive heart failure. Furthermore, he plans to attempt another cardioversion on the 10th of June, and if that fails will admit me to Swedish Hospital for an overnight, where they will do a chemical procedure that can be used to reverse atrial fibrillation. Dr. Peter Demopulos, son of the late Father Homer Demopulos, is considered the best cardiologist in the region, and I am blessed that he offered to help me. Thanks again, dear ones, for your prayers. They have made a difference!
With a grateful heart,
Abbot Tryphon

Friday May 29, 2015 / May 16, 2015

Apososis of the Ascension. Tone six.
Fast. Fish Allowed

Venerable Theodore the Sanctified (368), disciple of St. Pachomius the Great.
Translation of the relics (1545) of Venerable Ephraim, abbot of Perekom (1492).
St. Matthew, Hieromonk of Yaransk in Vyatka (1927).
Venerables Cassian (1537) and Laurence (1548), abbots of Komel (Vologda).
St. Alexander, archbishop of Jerusalem (3rd c.).
Martyrs Vitus, Modestus and Crescentia at Lucania (303).
Blessed child Musa of Rome (5th c.).
Monk-martyrs of the community of St. Sava the Sanctified (610).
St. George II, bishop of Mitylene (842).
Martyr Abdiesus, bishop, and companions in Persia (418).
St. Nicholas Mystikos, patriarch of Constantinople (930) (Greek).
New Martyr Nicholas of Metsovo, whose relics are at Meteora (1617) (Greek).
Martyrs Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia at Lucania (303).
Venerable Brendan the Voyager, abbot of Clonfert (577) (Celtic & British).
Martyr Peter of Blachernae (Greek).
St. Euphemia near Neaorion (Greek).
Hieromartyr Theodore of Vrsac in Banat, Serbia (1595).
St. Carantoc of Carhampton.
Martyr Vukasin of Serbia (1941).

Acts 27:1-44

The Voyage to Rome Begins

27 And when it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment. 2 So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us. 3 And the next day we landed at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him liberty to go to his friends and receive care. 4 When we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. 5 And when we had sailed over the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. 6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board.

7 When we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone. 8 Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.

Paul’s Warning Ignored

9 Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.” 11 Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. 12 And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there.

In the Tempest

13 When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. 14 But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon. 15 So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive. 16 And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda,[b] we secured the skiff with difficulty. 17 When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis[c] Sands, they struck sail and so were driven. 18 And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship. 19 On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands. 20 Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.

21 But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. 22 And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. 26 However, we must run aground on a certain island.”

27 Now when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land. 28 And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little farther, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms. 29 Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come. 30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off.

33 And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. 36 Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves. 37 And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship. 38 So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea.

Shipwrecked on Malta

39 When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. 40 And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore. 41 But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.

42 And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape. 43 But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, 44 and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.

John 17:18-26

18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will[a] believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

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.

The Godparent

The role of godparent is an awesome responsibility

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Since many baptisms took place on Holy Saturday, it is a good idea to revisit the important role godparents play in the life of the newly baptized child. Godparents are also expected to play an important role in the religious and spiritual life of adult converts who’ve been received into the Orthodox Church through the Mystery of Baptism.

The institution of godparents (sponsors) is one that dates back to the first century of the Christian Church. Anyone approaching baptism, be they infant or adult, was required to have a godparent. In the case of an infant, it is the godparent that speaks for the child, answering the questions posed by the priest during the baptismal service. But it doesn’t stop there! The godparent is charged by the Church with the duty to make sure the newly baptized is instructed in the teachings of the Church, remains a frequent communicant within the Church and remains active in the Church. In the case of a child, it is to the godparents that the parents entrust their child, knowing that the godparent will remain actively supporting the child within the life of the Church. Should something happen to the parents, it is traditionally the godparent who will make sure the child continues to be taken to church, and remains Orthodox.

Because of the awesome responsibility of godparents, it is all the more important that great care be taken when choosing someone who will take on this role. The Church does not allow anyone to become a godparent who is not Orthodox, for how can one who is not himself a pious, active Orthodox Christian give witness to living a life immersed in the Orthodox faith? The godparent must therefore be a person of high moral character, and able to inspire the newly baptized to fulfill their baptismal vows.

When the newly baptized approaches the holy chalice for the first three consecutive Sundays following baptism, it is the godparent who accompanies them to receive the Holy Mysteries. The godparent must, therefore, be someone who himself/herself is a frequent communicant. Additionally, the godparent must be someone who is active in the life of the Church, supporting the Church with their tithe, keeping the fasts, and otherwise living in all piety and holiness.

The person chosen to act as a godparent must be someone willing to honor their commitment to the newly baptized for a lifetime, and willing to help nourish the spiritual life and development of the child throughout their life. Thus, it is a very bad idea to pick someone as a godparent simply because they are a good friend. Godparents are duty bound to continue giving support to their godchild, even into adulthood. They must be someone who will remember to honor their godson or goddaughter on special occasions, such as a birthday or namesday. They should be a part of the godchild’s life during the great feasts of the Church, such as Pascha or Nativity. They should commemorate the anniversary of their godchild’s baptism by giving them a Christian gift, such as a Bible, prayer book, or icon.

Everything should be done to strengthen the bond between the godparent and the godchild throughout the ensuing years. They can take each other out to a restaurant for dinner, or receive communion together when possible (if living in different cities). Time should be allotted to cultivate a unique spiritual bond, and the godparent should assist the godchild’s parents whenever possible – especially when doing so enhances the godchild’s commitment to their Orthodox faith.

Because baptism has been called Illumination, and brings us out of the darkness of sin and into the light of Christ, the role of the godparent is critical. The godparent must ensure that the Light of Christ continues to shine in the soul of the godchild. Thus, this role as godparent is an awesome responsibility, and is not to be considered a one-day event. If you’ve been asked to be a godparent, but are unwilling to see this as a lifelong vocation, please decline the honor.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Thursday April 16, 2015 / April 3, 2015

Bright Thursday.
Bright Week. Fast-free

Venerable Nicetas the Confessor, abbot of Medikion (824).
Virgin-martyr Theodosia of Tyre (307-308).
Venerable Illyricus of Mt. Myrsinon in the Peloponnesus.
Martyrs Elpidephorus, Dius, Bithonius, and Galycus (3rd c.).
Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos “The Unfading Flower”, and Iveron.
New Martyr Paul the Russian at Constantinople (1683).
Venerable Nectarius, abbot, of Bezhetsk (1492).
Martyr Ulphianus of Tyre (306).
Venerable Joseph the Hymnographer, of Sicily (883) (Greek).
Martyrs Cassius, Philip, and Eutychius of Thessalonica (304).
Martyrs Evagrius, Benignus, Christus, Arestus, Kinnudius, Rufus, Patricius, and Zosima at Tomis (310).
St. Fara (Burgondofara) of Eboriac or Faremoutiers (7th c.).

Scripture Readings

Acts 2:38-43

38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

A Vital Church Grows

40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

John 3:1-15

The New Birth

3 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”

10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

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.

Hypocrisy

Putting aside all hypocrisy and living for Christ

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How easy it is to worship with all piety and correctness while standing in a service within an Orthodox temple, yet make no effort to live Orthodoxy during the rest of our week. If we are abusive towards our spouse, abrasive with a coworker, and short tempered with a neighbor, all the piety and liturgical correctness of our Sunday morning is of no value.

If we cheat on our taxes, steal pens from the office, or refuse to point out an error to a clerk who has failed to ring up an item, we will have reduced our life in Christ to no more than membership in a club. If we walk past a child who is being bullied, without intervening, we have become the bully. If we fail to call the police when we hear a neighbor pleading with an abusive husband, not wanting to get involved, we are a wife beater. If we smile at the racist joke of a coworker, we are just as guilty of racism as he.

Being a Christian is far more than adherence to a set of doctrines, or the adaptation of liturgical forms of worship and piety. To be a follower of Christ is not like joining the Elks Club, where paying your dues and attending meetings makes you a member. Taking the name of the Saviour for ourselves, and calling ourselves Christian, must mean that we imitate the Saviour’s life. It must mean that others see Christ in us, each and every hour of our day.

We must be the neighborhood peacemaker, the one who is quick to forgive when wronged, the person who is always looking for ways of being in service to others. If we truly wish to be called a Christian, we must put aside hypocrisy in all its forms, and live Christ. We must work towards changing the world, just as did Saint Seraphim of Sarov, who told us that if we acquire peace in our heart, we will save a thousand around us. Justice and peace does not come with revolution, but comes when the hearts of men and woman are transformed by the Holy Spirit, and this change can only begin, when we put aside all hypocrisy, and replace it with genuine, heartfelt commitment to Jesus Christ, living in imitation of the Saviour.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Sunday January 25, 2015 / January 12, 2015

33rd Sunday after Pentecost. Tone eight.

Sunday after the Baptism of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ
Afterfeast of the Theophany.

Martyr Tatiana of Rome (226-235).
St. Sava I, first archbishop of Serbia (1235).
Venerable Martinian of White Lake, abbot (1483), and Galacteon, his disciple (1506).
Martyr Mertius of Mauretania (284-305).
Martyr Peter Apselamus of Eleutheropolis in Palestine (309).
Venerable Eupraxia of Tabenna in Egypt (393).
Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos “Akathist” and “The Milk-giver”.
Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos “Popskaya”.
Virgin Martyr Euthasia.
Venerable Benedict Biscop, abbot of Wearmouth (689-690) (Celtic & British).
Eight Martyrs of Nicaea (Greek).
St. Elias the Wonderworker, of the Paradise (Greek).
St. Theodora of Alexandria, instructress of nuns (5th c.).
Martyr Philotheus of Antioch (ca. 305).

Daily Scripture Readings

1 Timothy 4:9-15

9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. 10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. 11 These things command and teach.

Take Heed to Your Ministry

12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.

Luke 19:1-10

Jesus Comes to Zacchaeus’ House

19 Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him,[a] and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. 7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”

8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”

9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

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.

The Internet

Where we find the good, the bad, and the ugly

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I often google topics that interest me, finding information that would have required hours in a research library in the past. I’ve visited Russian monasteries, watched videos of monks chanting in Greek monasteries, viewed Orthodox patriarchs serving the Divine Liturgy, all by going on the Internet. I’ve read the writings of some of the world’s most gifted Orthodox theologians, and read the blogs of some of my favorite fellow clergy. I’ve received the photographs of pilgrimages to some of our brother monasteries, and articles concerning topics that are of a pastoral nature, and of interest to me as an Orthodox priest.

Yet for all the good that one can find on the Internet there is also a dark side. The internet can become the vehicle by which young men entertain pornography, and where our young people view music videos of half naked female pop singers that a generation ago would have been confined to topless joints. All this trash contributes to the destruction of childhood innocence for a growing number of our children. Young people who have failed to develop the social skills that would normally have come from personal interaction with others, that are now missing, all because they spend too much time with “friends” whose faces they’ve only seen in photos on their ipads. Evil men looking for innocent young people to sexually exploit while masquerading as young people themselves.

I’m convinced the Internet has become the major vehicle for the workings of the Evil One, and our children are not the only vulnerable ones. Many men have become so addicted to the Internet that they spend more time on line than with their wives and children. There are women who ignore the needs of their kids because they, too, have become addicted.

Why, then, would the abbot of an Orthodox monastery use the Internet? Why would I post daily blog articles, and upload Podcast recordings for Ancient Faith Radio? Why would I continue posting blog articles on two facebook pages in spite of hearing the criticism of some of my fellow priests and monastics? It is because I take seriously the council of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, who said, “Blogs and social networks give us new opportunities for the Christian mission…Not to be present there means to display our helplessness and lack of care for the salvation of our brothers.”

The Internet is a vast network that does a lot of harm, yet it is also a tremendous vehicle for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Internet is a vehicle by which we can teach others the Orthodox Faith, while sharing the ancient Christian path that is virtually unknown in the Western world. The internet is also a wonderful vehicle for connecting Orthodox Christians, creating friendships and support for living a life that is in opposition to that of this world. The fact is, it is easier to live the otherworldly life of an Orthodox Christian when we receive support and love from those who are doing so themselves. It is inspiring for those of us who live in a free society, when we become facebook friends with Orthodox Christians living under persecution, or in remote areas of our own land, where the nearest Orthodox church is hours away.

The internet allows all of us to become missionaries by forwarding on articles that touch our lives and quicken our faith. The hearts of family, friends and strangers we’ve met through the Internet can be transformed by one little inspirational article we’ve passed on. We can help young people know of Jesus Christ by sharing the Good News through this medium that has become such a normal part of their everyday lives.

I labor in this vineyard for the Lord, Whom I believe has called me to this online ministry. I post my blog articles, together with the daily scripture readings, because I care from the depth of my heart for the next generation. I upload daily podcasts to Ancient Faith Radio because, like the wonderful Christians who produce this on line radio station that reaches 156 countries with Holy Orthodoxy, I care deeply about our world. I labor for the love of Jesus Christ, Whom I serve.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon


Monday December 8, 2014 / November 25, 2014

27th Week after Pentecost. Tone one.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). By Monastic Charter: Food without Oil

Apodosis of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple.
Hieromartyr Clement, pope of Rome (101).
Hieromartyr Peter, archbishop of Alexandria (311).
New Hieromartyrs Seraphim archbishop of Smolensk, Gregory, John, Basil, Cosmas, John, Simeon, Hilarion, Iaroslav, Alexander, John, Voctor, Andrew priests and Martyr Paul (1937).
Martyr Nicholas (1938).
Venerable Peter the Silent, of Galata, Syria (429).
St Clement, Bishop of Ochrid and Enlightener of the Bulgarians.
Great-martyr Catherine of Alexandria (305) (Greek).

Scripture Readings for the Day

1 Timothy 5:1-10

Treatment of Church Members

5 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.

Honor True Widows

3 Honor widows who are really widows. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and[a] acceptable before God. 5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. 7 And these things command, that they may be blameless. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

9 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, 10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.

Luke 19:37-44

37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying:

“ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”

40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

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.

Pan Orthodox Youth Retreat

Okanagan, British Columbia

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I am in Okanagan, British Columbia, leading a Pan Orthodox Youth Retreat, taking place in a lakeside church camp. I will be returning to the monastery, God willing, on Tuesday evening. Due to the remoteness of the camp, I do not have cell phone service, but I do have wifi in the main building. The camp is a whole lot further from the US/Canadian border than I imagined. The five hour drive has taken me further north then I’ve ever been. The jagged mountains, high desert, and remoteness of the region, is absolutely breathtaking.

There are some seventeen young people attending this Pan Orthodox retreat, and I am already impressed by their diversity, piety, and commitment to the Orthodox faith. I’ll be celebrating the Divine Liturgy for them this morning. Please keep all of us in your holy prayers.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

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Sunday November 9, 2014 / October 27, 2014

22nd Sunday after Pentecost. Tone five.

Martyr Nestor of Thessalonica (306).
New Hieromartyr Sergius (1942).
Venerable Nestor the Chronicler of the Kiev Caves (1114).
Uncovering of the relics (1539) of St. Andrew, prince of Smolensk (1390).
Martyrs Capitolina and Eroteis of Cappadocia (304).
Martyr Mark of the isle of Thasos (304).
St. Cyriacus, patriarch of Constantinople (1390).
St. Procla, wife of Pontius Pilate (1st c.).
New Hieromartyr Seraphim (Samojlovich) bishop of Uglich.
St. Demetrius of Basarbov in Bulgaria (12th-13th c.).
St. Odran, monk of Iona.
St. Ia, virgin of Cornwall.
Hierarch Alexander, Bishop of Guria and Samegrelo (1907) (Georgia)

The Scripture Readings for the Day

Galatians 6:11-18

Glory Only in the Cross

11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! 12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom[a] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.

Blessing and a Plea

16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Luke 8:26-39

A Demon-Possessed Man Healed

26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes,[a] which is opposite Galilee. 27 And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes,[b] nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” 29 For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.

30 Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?”

And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.

32 Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. 33 Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.

34 When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36 They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed. 37 Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes[c] asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned.

38 Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

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.

Christian Pharisees

The Orthodox Faith is nothing without transformation of life

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If our spiritual life is concentrated only on external practices and traditions, but does nothing to bring about real change, we have gained nothing. Too many people think as long as they keep the fasting rules, do their prayers, and attend the services, they are good Orthodox Christians. Yet if there is no love, no charity, and forgiveness of others, and our life is filled with gossip and judgement, our Orthodox Christian faith is worth nothing.

Christ condemned the Pharisees not because they kept the law and attended to the traditions of the Jewish faith, but because they did so while filled with pride and arrogance. Without sincere repentance and holiness of life, their encounter with God led to an emptiness of heart.

Because our Orthodox faith is one of tradition and liturgical structure, it is easy to fall into the trap of being nothing more than a Pharisee. Being strict in one’s observance of Orthodox practices can easily lead to pride and arrogance. If we see ourselves as better than others and proud of our piety, we have gained absolutely nothing. The external practice of the Orthodox Christian faith without heartfelt humility and repentance leads down the road of spiritual ruin.

The Church is the hospital of the soul, but healing can only come if we put effort into it. If our doctor prescribes a medication for our condition, but we fail to follow his orders, we will not get well. The hospital that is the Church has all we need for spiritual transformation, but healing only comes if we cooperate with the healing process.

The goal is holiness (wholeness) and is the direct result of our having submitted in all humility to a life of repentance. When we do this Christ changes us, but if we simply go through the motions of our Orthodox faith, we are no better off than the Pharisees whom Christ condemned.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photos: I am grateful to God for these two very special friends. Sheriff Paul Pastor, head of the Pierce County Sheriffs Department, and Dr. Robert Fouty, M.D., a renowned pathologist living on Vashon Island. These two committed Christians have been important figures in my life.

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Saturday November 1, 2014 / October 19, 2014

21st Week after Pentecost. Tone three.

Demetrius (Parental) Saturday. Remembrance of the dead.
Prophet Joel (800 B.C.).
Martyr Warus and seven monk-martyrs in Egypt (307).
Translation of the relics (1195) of Venerable John, abbot of Rila in Bulgaria (946).
St. Gabriel, abbot of St. Elias Skete, Mt. Athos (1901).
Righteous John, Wonderworker of Kronstadt (1908).
New Martyr Priest Alexis (Stavrovsky) of Petrograd (1918).
New Hieromartyr Sergius priest (1937).
Blessed Cleopatra (327) and her son John, in Egypt.
Hieromartyr Sadoc (Sadoth), bishop of Persia, and 128 Martyrs with him (342).
Crown Prince Demetrius of Moscow (1582).
Venerable Leontius the Philosopher of St. Sabbas monastery (624).
St. Prochorus, miracle-worker of Pchinja (Serbia) (10th c.).
Venerable Frideswide of Oxford, abbess (ca. 735) (Celtic & British).
St. Mnason, bishop of Cyprus (1st c.) (Cypriote).
New Monk-martyr Nicholas Dvali of Jerusalem (1314).
Hieromartyr Felix and Deacon Eusebius (Greek).

The Scripture Readings for the Day

2 Corinthians 3:12-18

12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Luke 7:2-10

2 And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. 3 So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, 5 “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.”

6 Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

9 When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” 10 And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick.

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.

Imitate the Publican

The saints as models for our lives

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Our Orthodox Christian life is not designed to be invented as we go, for by the very nature of the Church we are instructed to use as our model of living, the lives of the saints that have gone on before us. Their lives are held up before us as examples of holiness. Their charity is to become our model of charity. Their sacrifice is to become the model of our sacrifice. Their asceticism is to be the model of our own asceticism. Their humility must be the model by which we are to lead lives in all humility. Their love of God and neighbor must become the supreme example for our own struggle to love God above all else, and to love our neighbor as our self. Their willingness to suffer persecution for Christ’s sake, must be the model by which we are willing to face persecution, and even martyrdom, for our faith.

Saint Syncletica, a 4th century desert mother, said, “Imitate the publican and you will not be condemned with the pharisee. Choose the meekness of Moses and you will find your heart which is a rock changed into a spring of water.” Whereas the pharisee was proud before God and men for his piety and accomplishments, even boldly standing in the temple in all arrogance, thanking God that he was not like other men, the publican stood afar, head lowered, beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner! (Luke 18:13).” The Lord Jesus Christ told his disciples that the publican went away justified.

We must take care whom we set as the model for our own living, that we not take as our example the man who is worldly, self-centered, greedy, unloving, and devoid of any interest in the spiritual life. Rather, we must look to the saints as examples of how to live, and how to love, that we, like the publican, will stand before God having been justified.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Saturday October 25, 2014 / October 12, 2014

20th Week after Pentecost. Tone two.

Martyrs Probus, Tarachus, and Andronicus at Tarsus in Cilicia (304).
Venerable Cosmas the Hymnographer, bishop of Maiuma (787).
St. Euphrosyne (Mezenova) the Faster, schema-abbess of Siberia (1918).
New Hieromartyr John (1930).
New Hieromartyr John (Pommer) bishop of Riga (1934).
Venarable Laurence (1937).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas confessor mitropoliten of Alma-Ata (1955).
New Hieromartyr Alexander priest (1940).
Venerables Amphilochius (1452), Macarius, and Tarasius, abbots, and Theodosius, monk, of Glushitsa Monastery (Vologda).
Martyr Domnina of Anazarbus (286).
St. Martin the Merciful, bishop of Tours (397).
Translation from Malta to Gatchina of a part of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, together with the Philermia Icon of the Mother of God, and the right hand of Saint John the Baptist (1799).
“Jerusalem” (48), “Yaroslav-Smolensk” (1642), “Rudensk” (1687) and “Kaluga” (1748) Icons of the Mother of God.
St. Mobhi of Glasnevin (544) (Celtic & British).
St. Edwin, king and martyr (633) (Celtic & British).
St. Wilfrid, archbishop of York (709) (Celtic & British).
Venerable Anastasia of Rome (250) (Greek).
St. Theodotus, bishop of Ephesus (Greek).
St. Jason, bishop of Damascus (Greek).
Venerable Symeon the New Theologian (1021) (Greek).
Venerable Theosebius the God-bearer of Arsinoe in Cyprus (Greek).
Martyrs Malfethos and Anthea (Greek).
Hieromartyr Maximilian, bishop of Noricum (284).

The Scripture Readings for the Day

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Delivered from Suffering

8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does[a] deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our[b] behalf for the gift granted to us through many.

Luke 6:1-10

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

6 Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands. 2 And some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?”

3 But Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?” 5 And He said to them, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”

Healing on the Sabbath

6 Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him. 8 But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Arise and stand here.” And he arose and stood. 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?” 10 And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.

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.

Christian Pharisees

  The Orthodox Faith is nothing
without transformation of life

If your spiritual life is concentrated only on external practices and traditions, but does nothing to bring about real change, you have gained nothing. Too many people think as long as they keep the fasting rules, do their prayers, and attend the services, they are good Orthodox Christians. Yet if there is no love, no charity, and forgiveness of others, and your life is filled with gossip and judgement, your Orthodox Christian faith is worth nothing. Christ condemned the Pharisees not because they kept the law and attended to the traditions of the Jewish faith, but because they did so while filled with pride and arrogance. Without sincere repentance and holiness of life, their encounter with God led to an emptiness of heart.

Because our Orthodox faith is one of tradition and liturgical structure, it is easy to fall into the trap of being nothing more than a Pharisee. Being strict in one’s observance of Orthodox practices can easily lead to pride and arrogance. If you find yourself feeling better than others and proud of your piety, you have gained absolutely nothing. The external practice of the Orthodox Christian faith without heartfelt humility and repentance leads down the road of spiritual ruin.

The Church is the hospital of the soul, but healing can only come if we put effort into it. If your doctor prescribes a medication for your condition but you fail to follow your doctor’s orders, you will not get well. The Church has all that you need for spiritual transformation, but healing only comes if you cooperate with the healing process. The goal is holiness (wholeness) and is the direct result of our having submitted in all humility to a life of repentance. When you do this Christ changes you. If you simply go through the motions of your Orthodox faith, you are no better off than the Pharisees whom Christ condemned.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Tuesday June 24, 2014

3rd Week after Pentecost. Tone one.
Apostles’ (Peter & Paul) Fast. Fish Allowed

Holy Apostles Bartholomew and Barnabas (1st c.).
Venerable Barnabas, abbot of Vetluga (1445).
Uncovering of the relics (1572) of Venerable Ephraim, abbot of New Torzhok (1053).
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “It is Truly Meet” (“Axion Estin”) (10th c.).
Translation of the relics of Venerable Arcadius, monk of Vyazma and New Torzhok (1077).
St. Niphont patriarch of Constantinople (Romania).
Commemoration of the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel (10th c.) to a monk on Mt. Athos, and the revelation of the hymn “It Is Truly Meet” (Axion Estin).
St. Barnabus of Basa near Limasol in Cyprus (Greek).
Martyr Theopemptus and four otherss (Greek).You can read the life of the saint by clicking on the highlighted name.

“Blogs and social networks give us new opportunities for the Christian mission…Not to be present there means to display our helplessness and lack of care for the salvation of our brothers.” His Holiness Patriarch Kirill

The Scripture Readings for the Day

Romans 7:14-8:2

14For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
21I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

Free from Indwelling Sin

8There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Matthew 10:9-15

9Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.
11“Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12And when you go into a household, greet it. 13If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!

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.

The Godparent

The role of godparent
is an awesome responsibility

Since many baptisms took place on Holy Saturday, it is a good idea to revisit the important role godparents play in the life of the newly baptized child. Godparents are also expected to play an important role in the religious and spiritual life of adult converts who’ve been received into the Orthodox Church through the Mystery of Baptism.

The institution of godparents (sponsors) is one that dates back to the first century of the Christian Church. Anyone approaching baptism, be they infant or adult, was required to have a godparent. In the case of an infant, it is the godparent that speaks for the child, answering the questions posed by the priest during the baptismal service. But it doesn’t stop there! The godparent is charged by the Church with the duty to make sure the newly baptized is instructed in the teachings of the Church, remains a frequent communicant within the Church and remains active in the Church. In the case of a child, it is to the godparents that the parents entrust their child, knowing that the godparent will remain actively supporting the child within the life of the Church. Should something happen to the parents, it is traditionally the godparent who will make sure the child continues to be taken to church, and remains Orthodox.

Because of the awesome responsibility of godparents, it is all the more important that great care be taken when choosing someone who will take on this role. The Church does not allow anyone to become a godparent who is not Orthodox, for how can one who is not himself a pious, active Orthodox Christian give witness to living a life immersed in the Orthodox faith? The godparent must therefore be a person of high moral character, and able to inspire the newly baptized to fulfill their baptismal vows. 

When the newly baptized approaches the holy chalice for the first three consecutive Sundays following baptism, it is the godparent who accompanies them to receive the Holy Mysteries. The godparent must, therefore, be someone who himself/herself is a frequent communicant. Additionally, the godparent must be someone who is active in the life of the Church, supporting the Church with their tithe, keeping the fasts, and otherwise living in all piety and holiness. 

The person chosen to act as a godparent must be someone willing to honor their commitment to the newly baptized for a lifetime, and willing to help nourish the spiritual life and development of the child throughout their life. Thus, it is a very bad idea to pick someone as a godparent simply because they are a good friend. Godparents are duty bound to continue giving support to their godchild, even into adulthood. They must be someone who will remember to honor their godson or goddaughter on special occasions, such as a birthday or namesday. They should be a part of the godchild’s life during the great feasts of the Church, such as Pascha or Nativity. They should commemorate the anniversary of their godchild’s baptism by giving them a Christian gift, such as a Bible, prayer book, or icon.

Everything should be done to strengthen the bond between the godparent and the godchild throughout the ensuing years. They can take each other out to a restaurant for dinner, or receive communion together when possible (if living in different cities). Time should be allotted to cultivate a unique spiritual bond, and the godparent should assist the godchild’s parents whenever possible – especially when doing so enhances the godchild’s commitment to their Orthodox faith.   Because baptism has been called Illumination, and brings us out of the darkness of sin and into the light of Christ, the role of the godparent is critical. The godparent must ensure that the Light of Christ continues to shine in the soul of the godchild. Thus, this role as godparent is an awesome responsibility, and is not to be considered a one-day event. If you’ve been asked to be a godparent, but are unwilling to see this as a lifelong vocation, please decline the honor.

With love in Christ, Abbot Tryphon

Notice: In previous postings on this blog, I wrote that the monastery is not supported by the Western American Diocese, of which we are a part. This statement was incorrect, and in fact our diocese holds a special collection each year for its two main monasteries, of which All-Merciful Saviour Monastery is one, and parishes all throughout the diocese, which are often themselves extremely poor, offer what they are able on our behalf. Additionally, the diocese has in the past offered us additional financial support in cases of extreme need, and has even this year made adjustments to its collections to help bring funds to us earlier in the year. As a monastery of the Western American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, we are grateful to the diocese, and to its parishes and many faithful who contribute to our life in this way–whose small but heartfelt contributions join with those of our many other benefactors to make our life here possible.

Thursday April 24, 2014

Bright Thursday.
Bright Week. Fast-free

Hieromartyr Antipas, bishop of Pergamus (92), disciple of St. John the Theologian.
Martyrs Peter and Prokhor (1918).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1938).
Venerable James, abbot of Zhelezny Bor (1442), and his fellow-ascetic St. James.
St. Barsanuphius, bishop of Tver (1576).
Martyrs Processus and Martinian of Rome (67).
Venerable Pharmuthius, anchorite of Egypt (4th c.).
Venerable John, disciple of Venerable Gregory of Decapolis (820).
Venerables Euthymius (1456) and Chariton (1509), abbots of Syanzhema (Vologda).
St. Callinicus of Cernica, bishop of Rimnic in Romania (1868) (Romania).
Venerable Guthlac, hermit of Crowland (714) (Celtic & British).
Hieromartyr Domninus, bishop of Salona in Dalmatia, and eight soldiers with him (100).
St. Philip, bishop of Gortyna, Crete (180).
You can read the life of the saint by clicking on the highlighted name.

The Scripture Readings for the Day

Acts 2:38-43

38Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

A Vital Church Grows

40And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

John 3:1-15

The New Birth

3 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
3Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
5Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
10Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

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.