Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Abbot and I

Abbot Tryphon and Hammi

Hammi the Norwegian Forest Cat 
and His Norwegian Abbot Friend

Soon after moving our monastery from a rental house and into the temporary quarters of an old trailer house, Hammi arrived. We startled each other midway between the foundations of what is now the library and the trailer. I reached down to him and he came right over to greet me. Picking him up, I took him to the trailer and introduced him to Father Paul. Both of us had talked about the need of getting a cat as a mouser. This cat seemed to be ideal.

Father Paul was less enthusiastic, since we were both allergic to cat dander. Father was a bit upset when I opened a large can of salmon, giving a small portion to this visiting cat, yet within a week the cat was sleeping on Father Paul's bed and we were wondering why we were not having allergic reactions to our new housemate.

From the beginning this cat was a real ham, so we named him Hammi. It was a number of years before we discovered Hammi was a Norwegian Forest Cat, known for having personalities similar to dogs, and NO cat dander. Perfect fit!

Anyone who's ever visited the monastery has been met in the parking lot by our beloved Hammi. He always runs down to greet visitors, accompanying them up the steps to the courtyard. Whenever we are sitting on the porch or in the library, Hammi is usually nearby. If he sees one of us heading into the forest for a walk, Hammi is right there with us.

Hammi the Norwegian Forest Cat

Many Orthodox children are familiar with the book, The Abbot and I, a story told by a cat who resides in the cell of the abbot of a monastery. When children visit with their parents and meet Hammi and the Abbot, they are of course reminded of this book. I have a copy in my study and will gladly read it to visiting children.

Anyone who's ever had a pet knows how important they can be to the life of a family. Children learn to be responsible and compassionate when caring for their pets. Older people, especially whose living alone, find companionship and unconditional love from their pets.

Our lives are enriched when we share our homes with animals, for that special bond which develops between we humans and our pets enriches and sustains us. Truly, pets are gifts from God.

With love in Christ,

Abbot Tryphon

Reading the Abbot and I to the Grant's children
click on photos to enlarge
3 more photos below

Wednesday August 3, 2011 / July 21, 2011
8th Week after Pentecost. 

Tone six.
Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Prophet Ezekiel (6th c. B.C.).
Venerable Symeon of Emesa, fool-for-Christ (590), and his fellow faster Venerable John.
New Hieromartyr Peter priest (1938).
New Hieromartyrs Simo Banjac and Milan Stojisavljevic and his son Martyr Milan of Glamoc, Serbia (1941-1945).
Venerable Onuphrius the Silent of the Kiev Caves (12th c.) and St. Onesimus, recluse of the Kiev Caves (13th c.).
Uncovering of the relics (1649) of Venerable Anna of Kashin (1337).
Martyr Victor of Marseilles.
Martyr Acacius of Constantinople. (Greek).
Venerable Eleutherius of "Dry Hill" (Greek).
St. Parthenius of Radovizlios, bishop (Greek).
St. Anna, mother of Venerable Sabbas the Serbian (Serbia).
Hieromartyr Zoticus of Comana in Armenia (204).
Martyrs Justus, Matthew, and Eugene of the 13 who suffered at Rome together with the Martyrs Trophimus and Theophilus (305).
Martyr Bargabdesian, deacon, at Arbela in Assyria (354)
St. Paul, bishop, and St. John, presbyter, ascetics near Edessa (5th c.).

Hammi the Viking

The Scripture Readings for the Day:

1 Corinthians 10:12-22


12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
Flee from Idolatry
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.
18 Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?

Matthew 16:20-24


20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.

Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection
21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Take Up the Cross and Follow Him
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.


  1. Thank you so much for this post and all the great pictures. That book is dearly loved in our home, as is Hammi. : )

  2. In the bottom picture, was that Nectar of Catnip in the cup drained to the dregs and leaving Hammi pleasantly stunned?
    Blessings on you and on all creatures great and small.

    Michael Mates,
    Chisinau, Moldova

  3. Wonderful to see these. Some I've seen before but when you get to be our age "all things become new!"
    I especially liked the library picture with the Grant children. I hadn't noticed the beautiful, colourful little table coverlet...abr

  4. In my last job as a chapel assistant for the University of Chicago we got a chapel cat that I was at first rather apprehensive towards. However, he soon grew on me and the whole community. It was especially endearing how the cat would receive visits from students who just needed the therapy of critter that reminded them of home.

    Also, just commenting on the size of the lil' bugger, it seems that you don't make your cat observe the rules for fasting :).

  5. On a recent Pilgrimage to the monastery, Hammi was there to greet me and I felt very welcome. As a Swede I appreciated a good Viking greeting.