Friday, December 16, 2011

The Religious and
Secular Divide
Civilization Needs Unity Between Religion  
and the Secular State
The great divide between the secular state and religion has grown substantially during my lifetime. Gone are the days when our nation was based on Christian values and where religion played an important role the public life of this country. The notion that we must separate Church and State has gained such momentum as to have emboldened many to a state of Christianophobia. It was never the intent of the Founding Fathers for religion to be kept quiet and forced into the back streets of our nations political life. Rather, they simply intended that no one religion would gain the status of a State Church.

As we get closer to the celebration of the Birth of Christ, we are seeing increasing attacks by avowed atheists, bent on destroying any form of public display of the historic meaning of Christmas. Books being written by atheists, along with public mocking of the beliefs of Christians as being myths, has become more and more militant. The atheists have turned their radical beliefs into another form of religious bigotry. In their attacks on Christians, they've turned atheism into a militant form of religion, with the demand that it become a sort of state church, not unlike that which happened during the militant atheism of the Soviet Union.

The response of Christians can not be to simply surrender, for this is truly a wholesale assault on Christianity. Our society would no more sit back and allow billboard attacks on Judaism or Islam, and the slander of their beliefs, or billboards promoting racist attacks on minorities. Yet our government and judicial institutions are allowing slanderous attacks on the beliefs of millions of Christians. This will continue until we Christians decide enough is enough. We must stand firm in our witness to Christ, and take hold of our constitutional right for free expression of our faith, including the right to bear witness in the public square.

If our nation is to justly care for her poor and disenfranchised, Christians must be allowed to continue to influence our governmental and legal institutions in the light of our Christian Faith . The separation of religion from the public square is breeding defeat, and undermining the very values that have made our nation strong. 
We must reclaim our vision as one nation under God. Our focus on consumption and personal comfort, together with a low birth rate that is the direct result of selfish me-first secularism, has been made manifest by a disenfranchised Christianity that can no longer offer religious input and leadership in  promoting moral and biblical values. This is dooming our nation to utter collapse. 

Part of the problem stems from the fact that so much of American protestant Christianity has itself become secularized. In an attempt to become more relevant to today's culture, they've lost the leaven that can truly transform lives and make a difference with how the greater culture around us can be brought back to the basic values and religious standards that have kept America morally and spiritually strong. We've lost our way as a nation because the majority of our denominations have lost the pure essence of Christianity.

While this has happened, our Orthodox Church is often so caught up in just trying to survive as ethnically centered communities, we've failed to reach out with the same power and authority of our forefathers in the faith. Satisfied with doing the services correctly, and meeting the needs of our people, we've forgotten our duty to the greater community around us. We've fallen down on the job of transforming the society around us with the leaven that resides within the Church. We fail daily to reach out to the society at large with the truth of Ancient Christianity, preserved fully within the Orthodox Church.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

click photo to enlarge

Friday December 16, 2011 / December 3, 2011

27th Week after Pentecost. Tone one.
Nativity Fast. Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

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).
Venarable Gregory of Cherniksk (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. Bobiface (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).

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Abbot Tryphon's cell (Norwegian Barn Red)
2 Timothy 1:1-2
 1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,

2 To Timothy, a beloved son:

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

2 Timothy 1:8-18

Not Ashamed of the Gospel
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
Be Loyal to the Faith
13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
15 This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. 16 The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; 17 but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. 18 The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day—and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus.

Luke 20:19-26


19 And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people—for they knew He had spoken this parable against them.
The Pharisees: Is It Lawful to Pay Taxes to Caesar?
20 So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor.
21 Then they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth: 22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
23 But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test Me? 24 Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?”
They answered and said, “Caesar’s.”
25 And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
26 But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent.

The PodCast is always different than the blog article.


  1. One of the great lessons of 20th century Russia is the purity in Christ which emerges from the fires of persecution and suffering. There is nothing that man can do to change the reality that He is everywhere present. Christ cannot and will not be defeated. In death, He leads us to Life. In loss, He shows us gain. In suffering, we find His joy and peace. In our poverty, we find His abundance. Rather than the despair we see in the failure of our American way of life, perhaps, we need to celebrate the victory in Christ we can still experience in the midst of these failures. I see this as the revolutionary 'all things new' message I believe should on the tip of our lips as we hear many of the observations and experiences you discuss in this post. I see many Christians preoccupied in the despair of what is temporary rather than finding there is no human condition which can prevent the Light of Christ when we cooperate with His will and He unites us in His mercy and grace. Rather than all the formulas to fix what is on the outside, I believe we should be in praise and celebration regardless of our earthly condition. These conditions can serve as His rich soil if we are willing to endur the persecution and suffering which is required of Life in Him in the midst of these circumstances. It seems to me that the real message is that our American way of life has lead us away from a belief in the value of this suffering and persecution as a means of purifiying our life and our journey with Christ. Our American way of life (for far too long) has promoted the heresy that more is more ANDl more is both needed and inevitable. Life in Christ allows us to see more clearly that less of the world is more and as we empty ourselves from the preoccupation with what is material and dying; we have a chance to find what is Eternal, Unchanging, yet somehow always new.

    Your own words in your recent bodily suffering post; remind us that the issue is not what external condition we find ourselves in but rather how effectively we discover and strengthen our relationship with Christ in the context of these transitory conditions.

    Heaven and Hell are a condition of relationship with God that is either theosis or perdition. The lake of fire and heaven occur within the same realm, both being not about places, but about relationship. For one who hates God such a place as in the presence of God, will be eternal suffering. The Orthodox Church teaches that Heaven and Hell are in the same realm, and that Hell is not separation from God symbolically or physically, Hell is a place chosen.

    Thank you for all you are doing with this blog. I am convinced that in the failures of our American way of life, we have an amazing opportunity to discover Christ. The collapse of our economy and our morality may be the key pathways to the purification and rediscovery of a Christ who can sustain us in the midst of our confusion, suffering, and weakness. We should not lose track of this central reality as we attempt to 'fix' what is wrong on the outside...the real Truth I believe is that what we are seeing on the outside is largely a result of what we lack as foundations on the inside in Him and the 'rottenness' of the preoccupation with what is material and temporary which lies at the core of much of what we describe as the American way of life.

  2. Dear Father Tryphon,

    I listen to your Morning Offerings in Moscow, Russia. Similar worrisome trends are creeping into my country. Your talks inspire me to stand up and defend my faith. I rejoice when I hear words of Orthodox Christian wisdom with references to our Holy Fathers coming from the other side of the world — an amazing spiritual oneness.
    Thank you very much