Saturday, February 18, 2012

Post-Christian Era?
The remains of Saint Patrick's Catholic Church
The Decline of Christianity in America

Some twenty five years ago our monastic brotherhood arrived on Vashon Island, establishing ourselves in a rental house near the Village of Dockton. This little village had two churches, built by the original founders of the community. Dockton, in the 1880's, had the largest dry dock north of San Francisco, and was the site for the construction of tall ships. The ship builders were immigrant Croatians and Norwegians, working the docks, and raising their families in a village that could only be reached by boat.

The Norwegians built a Lutheran church, and the Croatians constructed a Catholic parish. The first location for our monastery was, in fact, an old farm house built at the turn of the century by a Norwegian ship builder. Nice place to live for a Norwegian-American like myself! Little did we monks know at the time, but God had planned for our monastery to be permanently located on the hill overlooking the old farm house, Saint Patrick's Catholic church, and the old Lutheran church.

The Lutheran church was eventually to be converted into a house, and Saint Patrick's church was just torn down last week (see photo), having been closed for the past fifteen years. While driving by the pile of rubble, Frank, a Roman Catholic villager, came up to my car window and said, "You are all that's left, Father". Driving away I felt sad, for truly our monastery is now the only remaining religious institution on Maury Island (the smaller island connected to Vashon Island).

Where Have all the Churches Gone?

Driving around Seattle neighborhoods, one is struck by the number of former churches that are now used for purposes other than the worship of God. A few have become mental health clinics, or antique shops, some are coffee houses, or private homes. Many have simply been torn down, replaced by apartment houses, or retail stores.

Zoning laws make it difficult to build new churches, and it is rare to find a church in a newly constructed suburban neighborhood. Mega-churches abound, drawing thousands of people from their neighborhoods, and into buildings that often look more like movie theaters, or entertainment centers. The impact this new trend has on neighborhoods is severe, for families are now forced to live in neighborhoods that are secular, devoid as they are of religious influence.

Mega-churches, because of the high costs required to maintain their "plants", teach a dumbed down form of Christianity, so the people, unchallenged by sermons on repentance and sin, keep coming back, filling the coffers, and paying the huge salaries of clergy have sold out, and betrayed the Gospel of Christ.

America is in need of Orthodox Christianity more than ever, and we Orthodox Christians must find better ways to share our faith with fellow Americans. It is not enough to continue serving ethnic communities, without also reaching out with the Ancient Faith of our Fathers, and building a missionary zeal for America. The life of this country depends on it. Just as the Moscow Patriarchate has established missions to reconvert the Russian people to Holy Orthodoxy, so, too, must we American Orthodox reach out in missionary witness to our peoples.

The influence of Christianity is waning in this country, and the attacks on Christian morality, and Christian values, has increased in dramatic ways. We are now living in a post-christian society, where Christian morality and virtue has given way to paganism. We must become like the Christians of old, and be willing to lay down our lives in witness to the Eternal Truths that are found in our Faith, giving witness to Christ Jesus, and His Church. Now is not the time to operate ethnic preservation societies, or guard our churches from the influence of "those outsiders".

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

All-Merciful Saviour Monastery, above the Village of Dockton

Saturday February 18, 2012 / February 5, 2012

The Saturday of the Dead. Tone two.
Holy Martyr Agatha of Palermo in Sicily (251).
St. Theodosius, archbishop of Chernigov (1696).
New Martyrs Matushka Agatha (1938), and with her Schemamonk Eugene (1939) and Righteous Paramon (1941), of Belorussia.
Virgin-martyr Alexandra, martyr Michael (1942).
Martyr Theodoula of Anazarbus in Cilicia, and with her Martyrs Helladius, Macarius, Boethos, and Evagrius (304).
"Eletsk-Chernigov" (1060), "Sicilian" or "Divnogorsk" (1092) and "In Search of the Perishing" (17th c.) Icons of the Mother of God.
St. Polyeuctus, patriarch of Constantinople (970) (Greek).
New Martyr Anthony of Athens (1774) (Greek).
St. Theodosius of Skopelos in Cilicia (ca. 421).
St. Avitus, bishop of Vienne (525).

We are hoping to be able to retire the mortgage debt of 250 thousand dollars. Your prayers and contributions are most appreciated. 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

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17

The Comfort of Christ’s Coming

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

John 5:24-30

Life and Judgment Are Through the Son

24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. 30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

No comments:

Post a Comment