Friday, July 29, 2011

Ghetto Christianity
Priest Matthew Jackson, of Clinton, Mississippi, assistant priest at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church (OCA), spent a few days with us. Before he left we gave him a tour of Seattle, including the famous Pike Street Market.

Impoverished Institutional Christianity

and the Rise of Islam in the West
The dramatic increase in Islamic immigration in Norway seems to have been the spark that kindled a crazed Norwegian national to murder countless young people, the majority of whom were of Norwegian blood. This evil man was hoping his terrorist act would spark a war against Islam.

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. 

Norway is still to be considered a Christian country. True enough, many people have become quite secular, but as we have seen for this past week, the Lutheran cathedral of Oslo is filled with people all day, every day. They come to light candles and to pray, both young and old, and outside the cathedral there is an ocean of roses. 

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 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


I want to thank all of you who've been able to give financial support to the monastery, and again ask those who can not afford to help us with donations to please pray for our holy brotherhood. By your holy prayers, and with the help of Almighty God, we will get through this present crisis.

With a grateful heart,
Abbot Tryphon


Our hens enjoying a stroll around the monastery. (click to enlarge)

Friday July 29, 2011 / July 16, 2011
7th Week after Pentecost. Tone five.

Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Hieromartyr Athenogenes, bishop of Heracleopolis, and his ten disciples (311).
New Hieromartyrs Seraphim, Theognostus, and others of Alma-Ata (1921).
St. Magdalena, schema-abbess of New Tikhvin Convent in Siberia (1934).
New Confessor Matrona Belyakova, fool-for-Christ of Anemnyasevo (1936).
New Hieromartyr James archbishop of Barnaul and with him Hieromartyrs Peter and John priests, Hieromartyr Theodore and Martyr John (1937).
Hieromartyr Ardalion (1938).
Martyrs Paul and two sisters, Chionia (Thea) and Alevtina (Valentina), at Caesarea in Palestine (308).
Martyr Antiochus, physician of Sebaste (4th c.).
Virgin-martyr Julia of Carthage (440).
"Chirsk" (1420) ("Pskovsky") Icon of the Mother of God.
Commemoration of the Fourth Ecumenical Council (451).
Synaxis of Russian Saints glorified on Moscow Councils in 1547 and 1549.
Martyr Helier of Jersey (6th c.) (Celtic & British).
1,015 Martyrs of Pisidia (Greek).
Martyr Athenogenes (Greek).
New Martyr John of Turnovo (1822).
St. Plechelm, bishop of Odilienberg.
St. Tenenan, bishop of Leon.
Martyr-hermit Hilier of Jersey.

The Scripture Readings for the Day:

1 Corinthians 7:35-8:7


35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.
36 But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. 38 So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.
39 A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment—and I think I also have the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 8


Be Sensitive to Conscience
 1 Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. 2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.
4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.

Matthew 15:29-31


Jesus Heals Great Multitudes

29 Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. 30 Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. 31 So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.

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