Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Lost Sheep
Hieromonk Paul and Bishop George
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

Photo: We have been delighted to be hosting our friend, Bishop George of Mayfield, Vicar Bishop of the Diocese of Eastern America and New York, for a week and a half. Hieromonk Paul is to Vladyka's right.

Saturday May 25, 2013 / May 12, 2013
Third Week of Pascha. Tone two.
St. Epiphanius, bishop of Cyprus (403).
St. Germanus, patriarch of Constantinople (740).
Glorification (1913) of Hieromartyr Hermogenes (1612) the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
New Martyr Abbess Athanasia of the Smolensk Hodigitria Convent, near Moscow (1931).
New Hieromartyr Peter priest (1937).
Venerable Dionysius, archimandrite of St. Sergius' Lavra (1633).
]Second Uncovering of the relics (1992) of Righteous Simeon of Verkhoturye (1642).
St. Sabinus, archbishop of Cyprus (5th c.).
St. Polybius of Cyprus, bishop of Rinokyr in Egypt (5th c.).
Martyr John of Wallachia, at Constantinople (1662).
Martyr Pancratius of Rome (304).
St. Philp Argyrius (Silversmith) (395-408).
Venerable Theodore of Cythera, monk (Greek).
St. Anthony (Medvedev), archimandrite of St. Sergius' Lavra (1877).
You can read the life of the saint in green, by click on the name.

THANKS 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

The Scripture Readings

Acts 9:20-31

Saul Preaches Christ

20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”
22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

Saul Escapes Death

23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.

Saul at Jerusalem

26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.

The Church Prospers

31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

John 15:17-16:2

17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

The World’s Hatred

18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’

The Coming Rejection

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
16 “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.

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