Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tossed Overboard

The Importance of Regular Spiritual Reading

The past few days I have addressed the issue of young Orthodox Christians and their college experience, suggesting that they must be prepared to defend their faith in a challenging, secular setting. The truth is, all of us need to be prepared to defend our faith, but not just against the occasional person who would challenge our beliefs, or question our involvement in a faith that is so demanding of our time and energy.

Orthodoxy is not like any other form of Christianity. Only in Orthodoxy do we find the challenge of keeping over half the year as periods of fasting. Only in Orthodoxy do we keep the ancient Christian practice of standing for our services, some lasting for many hours. Only in Orthodoxy are we expected to abstain from all food and drink from midnight on, before receiving the Holy Mysteries of Christ's Body and Blood. Only in Orthodoxy are we expected to confess our sins to Christ, frequently, before a witness (the priest).

I could go on, but the point I am trying to make is that Orthodoxy is not "Christianity lite". The Orthodox Church has not attempted to reinvent herself every ten or twenty years. Her teachings, divine services, and way of life have remained virtually unchanged for two millennium, and are not likely to see many changes for next thousand years. If it works, why change it?

Since the Church, ancient as she is, is still set in a modern world, her faithful need to be armed as in combat, ready to live the life that Orthodoxy expects of her faithful, regardless of the influences and temptations that abound at her doorstep. The only way this is possible is if we strengthen our resolve to live our Orthodoxy in this secular environment by educating ourselves about our faith. Blind acceptance of the Church's practices and beliefs is simply not enough. We will ultimately fail in our adherence to our Orthodox Faith if we simply go through the motions without understanding.

Although the services impart the teachings of our faith (provided you understand the liturgical language that is being used), you can not expect to deepen your own understanding by simply attending services. Spiritual reading must be a part of your daily routine. You must see spiritual reading as more important than reading the newspaper, or watching the television. Immersing yourself in the study of the Holy Scriptures, following the daily readings of the Church Year, should be as important as brushing your teeth. Reading books on prayer and the inner life, should be as intricately a part of your day as having a nourishing breakfast before starting work.

Finally, feeding your soul is not just the job of your priest, for that would be like sending your child off to school and not expecting them to do their homework. The Great Ship of the Church is taking you on a wonderful journey into the Heart of God. Be prepared for the storms that abound, that you not find yourself being tossed overboard.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Thursday September 6, 2012 / August 24, 2012
14th Week after Pentecost. Tone four.

Hieromartyr Eutychius (1st c.), disciple of St. John the Theologian.
Translation of the relics of St. Peter, metropolitan of Kiev (1479).
New Hieromartyr Seraphim (1946).
Venerable Aristoclius elder of Moscow (1918).
Venerable Arsenius, abbot of Komel (Vologda) (1550).
Martyr Tation at Claudiopolis (305).
Virgin-martyr Cyra of Persia (558).
Venerable George Limniotes the Confessor of Mt. Olympus (716).
Equal-to-the-Apostles Cosmas of Aitolia (1779).
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos "Petrovskaya" ("of St. Peter of Moscow") (1306).
St. Martyrius, ArchBishop of Novgorod (1199).
Commemorating the appearance of Our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary to Venerable Sergius, abbot, of Radonezh (1385).
St. Dionysius of Zakynthos, archbishop of Aegina (1622).
St. Serapion the Wonderworker, abbot of the Monastery of St. John the Baptist at Garesja, Georgia (1747) (Georgia).
New Hieromartyr Cosmas of Aitolia, Equal-to-the-Apostles (1779).
St. Maxim (Sandovich), martyr of the Lemkos, Poland (1914).

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

THANK YOU, to all of you who have been able to contribute towards the support of the monastery. These difficult times of economic hardship have impacted the monastery, and those of you who have been able to donate, have been our lifeline. May God bless you for your generosity, and kindness.
With love in Christ,  
Abbot Tryphon

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 1:1-10


1 Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Only One Gospel

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

Mark 5:1-20

A Demon-Possessed Man Healed

5 Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.
When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.”
For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” Then He asked him, “What is your name?”
And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country.
11 Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. 12 So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.” 13 And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.
14 So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. 15 Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 16 And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. 17 Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.
18 And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. 19 However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” 20 And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.

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

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