Monday, May 23, 2011

May 23, 2011 / May 10, 2011

Fifth Week of Pascha. Tone four.
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).

Words from the Abbot:

The very first time I entered an Orthodox church, I felt drawn to Her. There was a tangible, inner tug, and an overwhelming sense of peace, holiness, and awe, emanating from the very walls of the temple. The serving clergy were not the focus of the service, as I'd experienced in my protestant upbringing, but seemed to be moving within the walls of their temple, as if servants, or, given the beauty of their vestments, courtiers to an emperor. The focus was not on men, but on the holiness of God. I felt an overwhelming desire to be a part of this religion, but, at the time, allowed the ethnic, and language, differences to keep me from returning.

Eventually, as is evidenced by my present vocation, I did return, and can not even imagine how I could have stayed away, for some twenty years, after having tasted "the heavenly realm." Orthodoxy is like that, for it seems almost familiar to many first timers, as though we've known this faith from our very conception.

I remember seeing my very first hand painted icon. It was an icon of Christ, and I felt drawn into it, wanting to embrace it (or, perhaps more correctly, being embraced by it.) This first encounter was in 1968, and in the small, private chapel of a friend. This encounter came about a month after I'd driven through Northern California's Redwood National Forest, beholding the thousand year old, towering trees. Both the icon, and the Redwoods, had an enormous impact on my young soul. They both seemed to offer me sanctuary, and a sense of peace. Both made me feel I'd encountered something precious, ageless, and sacred. I still feel the same, as an aging monk.

We humans are material beings, having been given bodies by our Creator. This Creator God has placed us in a material world, surrounded by things we can touch, see, smell, taste, and hear. Orthodox temples, by their very nature, allow us to commune with this very God, Who has given each of us the ability to touch, see, smell, taste, and hear. It is through the material world that God has chosen to unite Himself to us, His creatures. The Logos (The Word), Christ Himself, by Whom everything that is, came into being, has come down from heaven, and embraced us, as His own.

My last trip through the Redwoods, brought back memories of my first encounter with an icon of Christ. How could they not, for it is the very Christ, depicted in the icon, Who created the Redwoods, and all that is beautiful, and sacred.

Photos of the Day:

Photos by Michael Menard.

Scripture Readings for the Day:

Acts 12:12-17

So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. 15 But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.”
16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” And he departed and went to another place.

John 8:42-51

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”
Before Abraham Was, I AM
48 Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”
49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

1 Corinthians 4:9-16

9 For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.
Paul’s Paternal Care
14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.

Matthew 13:54-58

54 When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” 57 So they were offended at Him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” 58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

Click photo to enlarge.

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