Monday, May 7, 2012

Lay Monasticism
Brother Theofil bringing the bells
Turning the Commute into a Monastic Cell

Over the past thirty years, I have lost count at the number of lay people who have voiced interest in monasticism. Many have told me, had they'd become Orthodox at a younger age, they might have forgone marriage, for the monastic life. These were not people who were unhappy with their spouses, or being married. They simply found themselves drawn to the  rhythms of silence, liturgy, study, prayer and work.

It is certainly true that many pious Christians feel a romantic tug for a lifestyle that seems so peaceful, and worry free. They yearn for what they see as a cloistered, and therefore sheltered, life, where the stresses of the world are kept at bay. They behold the silence and peace that dominates the daily monastic rhythm, and feel a certain amount of envy.  Many yearn for an elusive silence and spiritual depth, and think it impossible for the ordinary layperson to cultivate regular times of deep, undistracted prayer. With the commute and jobs and bills and dinner and children, there is simply no room for the inner life as found in monasteries.

Yet if we really examine the daily pace of life, we can find a lot of time that has been squandered, time that could have been used in that evasive quest for silence and pray. During the daily commute, if you calculate the minutes that have been wasted with cell phone chats, listening to the news, or, if on public transportation, reading the newspaper, you can see sacred time that has been squandered. Rightly used, the commute time can become your sacred time.

Whether you commute by car, train, bus, or bike, your commute offers a monastic cell, a place cut off from the demands and noise of the world. A monk does not find such contemplative moments only in solitude, or in the services chanted in the temple, for the monk is praying even when performing his obediences. The monk is at prayer even when visiting with pilgrims, or working with other monks in the garden, or carpentry shop.

You can decide to turn your commute into your sacred space, and your car or train into a monastery. Instead of zoning out to music, or news broadcasts, you can use the commute as a time to strengthen your faith. An ipod, downloaded with podcasts from Ancient Faith Radio, can be your way of deepening your understanding of the Church's mystical theology, or be instructed in the Art of Pray, by a renowned Orthodox theologian. You can pray The Morning and Evening Prayers, along with our brother monks of Holy Cross Monastery, in West Virginia, who have recorded these services on CD's.

You can listen to the Holy Scriptures, with many wonderful translations now available on CD, and study the Bible as you commute. The myriad of sacred Orthodox music that is available on CD's, or down loadable onto your ipod from, once again, Ancient Faith Radio, can turn your commute into an uplifting event. Sacred music can sweep you into a world where joy and beauty hold sway, and the rush, noise, and stress of the commute disappear.
The Jesus Prayer is the perfect prayer for a commute, for it allows you to enter into a deep form of prayer, one that ushers in peace and joy, and opens your heart wide to Jesus. I've often recommended the Jesus Prayer for commuters who have problems of road rage, and the Prayer has transformed their drive into a peaceful, Christ centered commute. 
There will be days when the very best approach for turning your commute into your monastic cell, will be to simply turn off all outside stimulation, and enter into the silence. We don't always have to have outside stimuli in our lives, and silence allows for that moment when we can begin to listen for the Voice of God. It can initially be scary, for we've become so use to noise, music, and talk, that silence makes us nervous. Yet it is in silence that we can begin to enter into the heart of God, and usher in the Peace of Christ, which will transform the heart, and give us the peace that has alluded us.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Monday May 7, 2012 / April 24, 2012
Fourth Week of Pascha. Tone three.
Martyr Sabbas Stratelates ("the General") of Rome, and 70 soldiers with him (272).
St. Alexis Toth, priest of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania (1909).
Martyr Sergius (1938).
Hieromartyr Branko of Veljusa, Serbia (1941).
Venerables Sabbas (13th c.) and Alexis the Hermit of the Kiev Caves.
Martyrs Pasicrates, Valentine and Julius in Moesia (Bulgaria) (228).
Martyrs Eusebius, Neon, Leontius, Longinus, and others at Nicomedia (303).
Venerable Thomas the Fool of Syria (550).
Venerable Elizabeth the Wonderworker of Constantinople (540).
"Molchensk" Icon (1405) of the Mother of God.
Saint Luke, Tailor of Mytilene (1564).
New Martyr Nicholas of Magnesia (1795).
Martyr Alexander of Lyons (177) (Gaul).
St. Elias (Iorest) (1678) and St. Sava (Brancovici) (1683), metropolitans of Ardeal, confessors against the Calvinists (Transylvania).
St. Joseph the Confessor, bishop of Maramures (1711) (Romania).
New Martyr Doukas of Mitylene (1564) (Greek).
St. Innocent, presbyter on the Mount of Olives (4th c.).
St. Xenophon, founder of the monastery of St. George (Xenophontos) on Mt. Athos (1018).
New Martyr George in Anatolia (1796).
St. Wilfrid, archbishop of York (709) (Celtic & British).
St. Egbert, bishop of Iona (729) (Celtic & British).
St. Mellitus, archbishop of Canterbury. (Celtic & British).
Uncovering of the relict of St. Yvo, bishop. (Celtic & British).

You can read the life of the saint in green, by click on the name.

We are hoping to retire the mortgage debt of $250,000.00. Having this hanging over our heads, and knowing the bank owns the monastery, is not a good thing. Your prayers are most appreciated, as we need a miracle.

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

Acts 10:1-16

Cornelius Sends a Delegation

10 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”
And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?”
So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.

Peter’s Vision

The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”
15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

John 6:56-69

56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”
59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.

Many Disciples Turn Away

60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”
61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”
66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”
68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

I invite my readers to listen to my Ancient Faith Radio podcasts.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Father. Bless. One of the things we almost NEVER hear in sermons is how to live the Kingdom of God in our daily lives. Although I don't subscribe to the Roman Catholic Opus Dei's radical and secretive practices, but the concept of "serving God in our everyday lives" resonates very deeply with me. We look to, forgive me, the idealized monastic "superman" as a standard that we can never fully obtain to and, as you say, miss all these opportunities hidden just below eye level.