Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Lost Sheep
The Oregon Coast (click photo to enlarge)
Leaving the ninety-nine for the one

The work of the Church is to seek out the lost sheep, and bring them into the fold. The modern mission of the Church is to go out into the community and find those who are lost. Many who were previously Orthodox, but never made a personal commitment that assured they would remain in the Church, and grow strong in their faith, are out there, waiting to be found. They who've been lost to the Church demonstrate the clear reality that it is not enough to practice the externals, or to know how things should be done, but to know the deeper meaning as to why we do what we do, and why we believe what we believe.

It is not enough that we fill our churches with people if they are not believers. Our people must be made strong in the faith if they are to withstand the secular assaults that are gaining influence in our modern world. The traditions and ceremonies of the Church are meaningless until people have taken in Christ, for themselves. The Lord said, "Marvel not that I said unto you, You must be born again (John 3:7)". Belonging to the Church without understanding the teachings of the Church, and making them our own, is simply not enough.

The clergy fail in their service to Christ's Church if they do not instruct the faithful. "This the the work of the Church: to help man to become aware of his eternal vocation, to draw near to a higher power, to Christ our Savior (Metropolitan Meletios of Preveza and Nikopolis)." Too many clergy fail to look for opportunities to interact with people, being missionaries in our own homeland. The people of the Western World have abandoned Christianity in droves, making it imperative that the Church reach out with a renewed missionary zeal.

Even those who are members of the Church are in danger of becoming lost sheep, being ill prepared for a secular and atheistic society that is increasingly Christianophobic. As priests, we dare not let even one parishioner leave the Church without doing everything we can to bring them back into the fold. Priests must do everything in their power to seek out those who've stopped coming to church and love them back into the life of the Church. Christ Himself demonstrated, as the Good Shepard, the need to leave the ninety-nine sheep, and go out and find the one who has left the fold.

Young people, especially, are turned off to the inauthentic. They can see when their parents, or even their priests, are simply going through the motions of religiosity. They will not commit to a life that demands sacrifice if they do not see it demonstrated, even lived out, in the lives of their elders. Priests must reach out to young people, even going to college and university campuses, with Orthodoxy. We must not cheat today's youth of the knowledge of Christ.

I, like so very many of my brother priests, weep with sadness when I see our youth turn their backs on the Church. I recall an encounter with an Orthodox man who's commitment to the Church had lapsed. He approached me with the request for a blessing, while his grown son stood by with a smile, and pleasant small talk, not asking for a blessing himself. This fine young man, gifted with a wonderful heart and a good mind, is estranged from the Church, and I found myself wanting to grab them both by the scruff of their necks, and usher them before the royal gates of the temple.

I am fully aware of how I've failed in my priestly duties. There are times I've probably given too harsh a sermon, or been parental when I should have been more accommodating. All I can do, in the aftermath, is to pray for those lost sheep, and keep my heart opened wide with the love of Christ. Just like fathers in the flesh, I must leave the door open and not be too harsh. Surely no easy task when you worry about those you love, and who were placed in your pastoral care by God.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

click photo to enlarge

Tuesday January 10, 2012 / December 28, 2011

31st Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
Afterfeast of the Nativity of Christ.
  The 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia, including Glycerius, Zeno, Theophilus, Dorotheus, Mardonius, Migdonius, Indes, Gorgonius, Peter, Euthymius, and the virgins Agape, Domna, Theophila and others (302).
St. Cornelius, monk of Krypets Monastery in Pskov (1903).
New Hieromartyrs Nikodim, bishop of Belgorod and Arcadius deacon (1918).
New Hieromartyr Alexander priest (1920).
New Hieromartyrs Theoctistus, Leonid priests (1937).
New Hieromartyr Aretha priest (1938).
Venerable Ignatius, monk, of Loma (Vologda) (1591).
Apostle Nicanor the Deacon (34).
Venerable Simon the Myrrh-gusher, founder of Simonopetra Monastery, Mt. Athos (1287).
Venerable Babylas of Tarsus in Cilicia.
St. Wunibald, abbot of Heidenheim (1591) (Germany).
Martyr Secundus (Greek).

I wish to thank those of you who have been contributing towards the principle of our mortgage ($250,000.00). For those of you who can't donate due to the depressed economy, please remember to pray for the monastery. It would be such a great blessing if we were able to retire the mortgage debt altogether.

Donations can be made directly to the monastery through PayPal, or you may send donations to:

All-Merciful Saviour Monastery
PO Box 2420
Vashon Island, WA 98070-2420 USA

Click photo to enlarge

Hebrews 12:25-26

Hear the Heavenly Voice
25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”

Hebrews 13:22-25


22 And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. 23 Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly.
24 Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.

Mark 11:11-23


 11 And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.
The Fig Tree Withered
12 Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.”
And His disciples heard it.
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
15 So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 16 And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. 17 Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’
18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching. 19 When evening had come, He went out of the city.
The Lesson of the Withered Fig Tree
20 Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”
22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

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