June 28, 2011 / June 15, 2011
3rd Week after Pentecost. Apostles' Fast.
Tone one. Fish AllowedSt. Jonah, metropolitan of Moscow (1461).
Prophet Amos (8th c. B.C.).
New Hieromartyr Amos priest (1918).
Venerables Gregory and Cassian, abbots of Avnezh (Vologda) (1392) (translation of the relics, 1524).
Martyrs Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia at Lucania (303).
Martyr Dulas of Cilicia (305-313).
Venerable Dulas the Passion-bearer of Egypt.
Venerable Jerome (Hieronymus) of Stridonium (420).
Translation of the relics (9th c.) of Theodore the Sykeote (613).
Great-martyr Tsar Venerable Lazar of Serbia (1389).
St. Ephraim, patriarch of Serbia (1400).
Blessed Augustine, bishop of Hippo (430), and his mother Monica (387).
Venerable Orsiesius of Tabenna, disciple of St. Pachomius the Great (368-380).
Virgin Martyrs Leonis, Libye, and Eutropia, and their mother, who suffered in Palmyra of Syria (305).
St. Michael, first metropolitan of Kiev (992).
St. Symeon, archbishop of Novgorod (1421).
Venerable Abraham, abbot, of Auvergne (477) (Gaul).
Apostles Fortunatus, Achaicus, and Stephen (Greek).
Venerable Joseph, monk, of Bethlehem (Greek).
Martyr Grace (Greek).
St. Cedronus, patriarch of Alexandria (107).
Martyr Hesychius the Soldier of Dorostolum and two others in Moesia (302).
St. Spyridon, patriarch of Serbia (1388).
All New Martyrs of Serbia.
St. Trillo, abbot of Llandrillo.
Words from the Abbot:
Purging the Demons of Reactionism
A clarification is in order following my earlier written comments concerning gay marriages. A priest-psychologist friend commented that my earlier post came across to him as based in anger. He felt I'd succumbed to a reactionary response following the move by the State of New York to allow for gay marriages. Although I do not remember having been angry when I wrote those earlier words, the thought that others might have interpreted them in such a way has moved me to revisit the subject. I often fall short in witnessing to the love of Christ and it would seem that this was an occasion for one of those lapses. If you were offended or hurt by my words, I ask your forgiveness.
My heart goes out to homosexual men and women who face a life of discrimination and loneliness. I do not believe the majority of them chose to be homosexual (they'd have to be insane to chose a sexual proclivity that fosters hatred and discrimination). Many authorities, including some esteemed Orthodox psychologists, believe there are genetic and environmental influences that may cause homosexuality.
I believe Orthodox Christians should treat them with loving kindness and should not discriminate against them in the job market or in housing. During my years as a priestmonk I have counseled many young gay men and women who were trying to live chaste lives as Orthodox Christians. Without the support of the Church and the Christian community, the struggle these people face can be devastating and end in defeat.
Many years ago I attended a conference in which one of the speakers presented a hate filled lecture on the subject of homosexuality. Among the people attending the conference was the gay son of this very priest. The young man had been receiving counseling from me, trying as he was to find hope for his future. He was lonely and fearful, afraid he would one day succumb to the strong sexual urgings that were rising up within his body (we all know the sexual urge is one of the strongest of human nature, one that is needed to continue our species).
The young man loved his faith and loved his father, but was filled with self loathing and afraid his family would one day disown him, should they find out about his sexual proclivity. Sitting on the platform I had a clear view of him and could see his face turning red with embarrassment upon hearing his fathers words. Needless to say this young man did not remain in the Church, eventually giving in as he did to defeat and despair. Had his father known of his son's struggles, I have no doubt he'd have given his son the loving assurance that he would always be his son and would never be rejected by his family. I am convinced this young man, had he stayed in the Church, could have received the support and love that was necessary to live a chaste life.
The answer to ALL passions of the flesh can be found within the walls of Holy Mother Church. Just as Her founder, the Church is the fountain of compassion and mercy. It is not Christ's Church that fails people, but sometimes the very therapists (clergy) who can get caught up in the letter of the law rather than being grounded in the mercy and compassion and love that is the foundation of the Church. Christ is the head of His Church and we MUST mirror His image when dealing with the fallen nature of ALL people. Sin, whatever form it takes, is equal in the eyes of God. We must look only at our own sins and be quick to overlook the sins of our neighbors. As priests of the Most High God, we are called to be agents of His mercy and love, ever offering encouragement to those whom God has placed in our pastoral care.
As well, I would like to offer a clarification to my observations regarding the institution of marriage. I stated that marriage was for procreation but failed to mention that the sexual union that takes place in the marriage bed is also about intimacy. I do not believe that sexual intimacy between a husband and wife should only be for procreation. I do not agree with some of the Athonite elders who see marital sexual intimacy as being only for procreation. Their view that a married couple should live as brother and sister after the birth of their children diminishes the role sexual intercourse plays in the deepening of the love bond in a marriage. I've counseled too many older couples to believe their spiritual life would be benefited by living as brother and sister.
Finally, I would like to say that the need for intimacy is often the driving force behind sexual promiscuity. We all need intimacy, but to confuse this need with sex is the main reason why so many people become addicted to sex. The need for intimacy can be fulfilled in deep friendships, but must ultimately find true fulfillment in an intimate relationship with God.
With love in Christ,
Photos of the Day:
Michael Menard's aerial photos of the monastery taken from Edward Pierson's aircam plane.
Scripture Readings for the Day:
14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For 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. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For 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. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But 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. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I 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 Sin1 There 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. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
9 Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10 nor 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. 12 And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, 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!
Click photo to enlarge.