"Everything that lives and breathes is sacred and beautiful in the eyes of God. The whole world is a sacrament. The entire created cosmos is a burning bush of God’s uncreated energies. And humankind stands as a priest before the altar of creation, as microcosm and mediator. Such is the true nature of things; or, as an Orthodox hymn describes it, “the truth of things,” if only we have the eyes of faith to see it."
These words of His Holiness Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch, ring so true to me, both as an Orthodox Christian, and as a man who has always loved the outdoors. Some of my earliest memories are the camping trips we would take, as a family, pitching a tent by an idyllic lake in Northern Idaho, cooking over a fire, catching rainbow trout for breakfast (nothing like a freshly grilled trout for breakfast), and hiking mountain trails. When in high school I'd join friends for day long hikes in the nearby mountains, or go swimming in remote areas of Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho's largest lake.
At 65 miles long, and located in the northern pan handle of the State, it is the fifth deepest lake in the United States, measuring 1,150 feet deep in some areas. The lake's 111 miles of uncrowded shoreline, permitted many an adventure, and instilled in me a love of nature, and the great outdoors. The waters of this lake are so pure, many people who have built homes on the lake's many islands, simply pipe their water from the lake, with no treatment necessary.
Every Summer, I try to get away for a few days of bass fishing with my brother, Dwayne, boating up the Clark Fork River, a tributary of Lake Pend Oreille. We feel like our Viking ancestors, as we move ever deeper into wilderness, entering the remote territory of moose, elk, bear, and eagles. We both consider ourselves environmentalists, and as stewards of the natural resources God has given us.
The Redwoods of Northern California are another special place for me. These towering giants have beckoned me since I first entered this primordial forest back in the late 1960's. One Redwood tree is particularly special to me, for it was the first tree I ever hugged (yes, I'm a tree hugger), and I've made it a point to hug that very tree since I was twenty-two, and have photographed many a friend embracing that tree, including priests who will remain anonymous.
Orthodoxy has never viewed the environment, nor the natural resources, for plunder. Orthodoxy has historically viewed the earth as a place to be nurtured, protected, and preserved for future generations. The vast areas of Russia that were plundered and laid waste, happened under the godless Soviets. The great forests that surrounded Athens and Thessaloniki, built by Greeks, who used stone for construction, were cut down by the Turks, who built only with wood.
Our Church has special supplications and litanies for "seasonable weather, for abundance of the fruits of the earth" or for protection in the case of natural disasters. There is even a special prayer from the service said in times of danger from earthquake:
"The earth, is without words, yet groans and cries: 'Why, all people, do you pollute me with so many evils? The Master spares you but chastises me entirely: understand and propitiate God in repentance.'"
Orthodoxy conveys a profound understanding of creation, and the role of humanity as the priesthood of creation. As creatures who are able to alter and reshape the world, we are bound by the Creator to be good stewards. As the whole of the cosmos has worshiped the Creator, we have built churches that represent a microcosm of this very universe. The promise of redemption is for all of creation, and is the gift of salvation wrought by Jesus Christ.
With love in Christ,
Friday June 28, 2013 / June 15, 2013
Afterfeast of Pentecost. Tone seven.
Fast-free Week. Fast-free
St. Jonah, metropolitan of Moscow (1461).
Prophet Amos (8th c. B.C.).
New Hieromartyr Amos priest (1918).
Venerables Gregory and Cassian, abbots of Avnezh (Vologda) (1392) (translation of the relics, 1524).
Martyrs Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia at Lucania (303).
Martyr Dulas of Cilicia (305-313).
Venerable Dulas the Passion-bearer of Egypt.
Venerable Jerome (Hieronymus) of Stridonium (420).
Translation of the relics (9th c.) of Theodore the Sykeote (613).
Great-martyr Tsar Venerable Lazar of Serbia (1389).
St. Ephraim, patriarch of Serbia (1400).
Blessed Augustine, bishop of Hippo (430), and his mother Monica (387).
Venerable Orsiesius of Tabenna, disciple of St. Pachomius the Great (368-380).
Virgin Martyrs Leonis, Libye, and Eutropia, and their mother, who suffered in Palmyra of Syria (305).
St. Michael, first metropolitan of Kiev (992).
St. Symeon, archbishop of Novgorod (1421).
Venerable Abraham, abbot, of Auvergne (477) (Gaul).
Apostles Fortunatus, Achaicus, and Stephen (Greek).
Venerable Joseph, monk, of Bethlehem (Greek).
Martyr Grace (Greek).
St. Cedronus, patriarch of Alexandria (107).
Martyr Hesychius the Soldier of Dorostolum and two others in Moesia (302).
St. Spyridon, patriarch of Serbia (1388).
All New Martyrs of Serbia.
St. Trillo, abbot of Llandrillo.
You can read the life of the saint in red, by clicking 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,
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 for the Day
The Jews Guilty as the Gentiles17 Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, 18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. 21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.
Circumcision of No Avail25 For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
Jesus Forbids Oaths33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
Go the Second Mile38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.
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