Sunday, January 8, 2012

Spiritual Progress
Godly Friends and Spiritual Progress

It is easy to feel trapped by our bad habits. We don't like certain behavioral patterns that have become habitual, and we feel helpless in our attempt to change. Growing as Christians is often fraught with failure, and we find ourselves stuck. Our spiritual progress feels more like a treadmill, only seemingly moving forward, yet noticing the scenery is remaining the same.

Sometimes the only way to move forward is to commit to changing our environment. If we have friendships that keep us from growing, perhaps it is time to leave those friendships behind. Back in the 1960's I hung around with a group of friends, in Berkeley, California, where we'd gather in a coffee house, talking about the poetry books we were going to publish, the novels we were going to write, but all we did was talk. One young man shocked the rest of us one day, when he announced he was no longer going to come to the coffee house. He'd decided it was just a waste of time. If he was ever going to make something of himself, he had to make the break. He told us he wanted to go to medical school, and was therefore planning to put all his energy in completing his college degree with the best grades he could possibly get.  We all tried to convince him that he could accomplish all of that without abandoning the coffee house scene, but he wasn't convinced. That was the last evening he'd ever join the rest of us.

His decision haunted me, for deep down I knew he was right. My life was going nowhere, and I was feeling increasingly unfulfilled, both spiritually and intellectually. Within six months I made the decision to move to Po
rtland, Oregon, for a fresh start. Abandoning those friends was the best decision I could have made, for none of us was motivated to go beyond that little coffee house ghetto we'd created for ourselves.

Sometimes the only way to make the changes in our lives that are needed for spiritual growth is to walk away from relationships that are keeping us stuck. As Christians, it does make a difference who we hang out with. If you have friendships with individuals who are simply not interested in things of a spiritual nature, you will find yourself wasting precious moments in your journey to God.

Having friendships with fellow Christians is the only way we can keep ourselves centered in Christ. If you want to deepen your faith, spend time with people who desire the very same thing. Build a stronger relationship with Christ by spending time with people whose values are the same. If you waste your time with people who are only pursuing worldly pleasures, you'll end your life doing the same. The time God has allotted us must not be squandered. If we keep company with people whose goals are of a spiritual nature, and whose lives are centered in Christ, our goals will be the same, and we will grow as Christians.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Sunday January 8, 2012 / December 26, 2011

30th Sunday after Pentecost. Tone five.
Sunday after the Nativity of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, holy ancestors. Righteous Joseph the Betrothed, Holy Righteous David the King, and James the Brother of the Lord (movable holiday on the Sunday after the Nativity of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ).
Second Day of the Feast of the Nativity.
Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Hieromartyr Euthymius, bishop of Sardis (840).
Venerable Isaac II (Bobrikov, the Younger), archimandrite of Optina (1938).
New Hieromartyrs Alexander and Demetrius priests (1918).
New Hieromartyrs Nicholas, Nicholas priests amd Michael deacon (1930).
New Hieromartyrs Leonidas bishop of Mariysk, Alexander priest and Virgin-martyrs Anthisa and Makaria (1937).
St. Russian New Martyr, Andrew, bishop of Ufa (1937) and New Martyr, Valentina, (1937).
New Hieromartyrs Gregory priest and Virgin-martyrs Augusta and Mary, Martyr Agrippina (1938).
Venerable Constantine, monk, of Synnada (9th c.).
Venerable Evaristus of the Studion Monastery (825).
St. Nicodemus of Tismana, Romania (1406).
"Vilen-Ostrabramsk", "Three Joys" or "Merciful", " Barlovsk" (1392) or "the Blessed Womb", "Baibuzsk" (1852) Icons of the Mother of God.
New Hieromartyr Constantius the Russian, at Constantinople (1743).
Venerable Nicodemus the Serbian (Serbia).
St. Archelaus, bishop of Kaskhara in Mesopotamia (3rd c.).
St. Zenon, bishop of Maiuma in Palestine (4th c.).
St. Tathai, abbot of Llantathan.

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

Galatians 1:11-19

Call to Apostleship
11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
Contacts at Jerusalem
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.

Matthew 2:13-23

The Flight into Egypt
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”
14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Massacre of the Innocents
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:
       18 “ A voice was heard in Ramah,
      Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
      Rachel weeping for her children,
      Refusing to be comforted,
      Because they are no more.”
The Home in Nazareth
19 Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” 21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.
22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. 23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”


  1. This seems wise Father, thank you for sharing it.

    Still, I have always admired my brother for maintaining friendships with a quite simple, 'worldly' assortment of friends. He has kept these friends out of love alone- he enjoys their company to an extent but would not choose them as 'journey-mates'. But he has remained so loyal to them, and helped them many times.

    -Mark Basil

  2. Thank you for this confirmation, Father Tryphon. When I was first becoming Orthodox I too had to leave many friends behind. Long after, I had a twinge of guilt which followed me. I knew it was the right thing to do but the enemy used this guilt to eat at me and distract me. I am a happy man now and see how badly I needed to leave all behind to follow Him who created us. How else would I be counted worthy to enter His holy church?
    May the prayers of all the saints be with you and your beautiful monastery. I really loved the picture of you with Fr. Nicholas. Who is the other brother in the photo?
    in Christ Jesus - Germanus+ Strand