Almost twenty-five years ago I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain of Athos, where I was able to visit seven ancient monasteries. Upon my return to the United States, I asked by spiritual father, the Ever-Memorable Archimandrite Dimitri, for a blessing to return to Mt. Athos, where I said I'd like to spend the remainder of my life in monastic repentance. Father Dimitri told me that I must stay here, that my "salvation is on Vashon Island".
At the time I thought it rather peculiar that Father Dimitri had not quickly granted his blessing, for what better place to live as a monk, than the Holy Mountain? A monastic republic of such great historical and spiritual significance to the whole of the Orthodox world, and Father Dimitry thought I should remain on Vashon Island? As well, we didn't even own the old farm house we were renting. We had no money, no regular income, and neither of us was a priest, so we were required to leave the island for various parishes, when we wanted to attend the Divine Liturgy.
Yet, I also knew the importance of monastic obedience to one's spiritual father. I knew that Arcimandrite Dimitri was known as a living saint, and clairvoyant (one blessed with great spiritual gifts of discernment and prophecy). So, by God's grace, I received this word from my Elder as a clear sign from God, and I was obedient, and remained on Vashon Island.
Years later, I remember asking Abbess Susanna, my spiritual sister, and a woman known by all, as a living saint herself, if she might not be tempted to sell their property, and find a more suitable and beautiful setting for the Kazan Skete. Mother looked at me with her sweet and humble smile, and said, "But, Father, this is my holy mountain".
Abbess Susanna's words reminded me of the words of Saint Gregory of Nyssa, where he wrote in his great work, "On Pilgrimages", the following:
"We confessed that the Christ Who was manifested is very God, as much before as after our travel to Jerusalem; our faith in God was not increased afterwards any more than it was diminished. Before we saw Bethlehem we knew God made man by means of the Virgin; before we saw His grave we believed in His Resurrection from the dead; apart from seeing the Mount of Olives, we confessed that His Ascension into heaven was real. We derived only this much profit from our traveling there: namely that we came to know by being able to compare them, that our own places are far holier than those abroad. Wherefore, you who fear the Lord, praise Him in the places where you now are. Change of place does not effect any drawing nearer to God, but wherever you may be, God will come to you, if the chambers of your soul be found of such a sort that He can dwell in you and walk in you. But if you keep your inner man full of wicked thoughts, even if you were on Golgotha, even if you were on the Mount of Olives, even if you stood on the memorial-rock of the Resurrection, you will be as far away from receiving Christ into yourself, as one who has not even begun to confess Him."
In Orthodoxy, there is no primacy of place, merely primacy of honor (if one is going to argue that one place is superior to another then one might as well be Roman Catholic). The Orthodox interpretation of Matthew 16:13-20 ("Who do you say that I am?") is all bishops are equal "as Peter." In other words--where Christ is proclaimed, there the Church resides. While one place might be given higher honor, this is in no way diminished in place.
With love in Christ,
|click on photo to enlarge|
Friday August 16, 2013 / August 3, 2013
8th Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
Dormition (Theotokos) Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Venerables Isaac, Dalmatus, and Faustus, ascetics of the Dalmatian Monastery, Constantinople (5th c.).
Venerable Anthony the Roman, abbot (Novgorod) (1147).
New Hieromartyr Viacheslav deacon (1918).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1938).
Protomartyr Rajden of Tsromi and Nikozi, Georgia (457) (Georgia).
Venerable Cosmas, eunuch and hermit of Palestine (6th c.).
Holy Myrrh-bearer Salome.
Venerable John, confessor, abbot of Patalaria Monastery (Greek).
Venerable Theoctistus the Wonderworker of Optimaton (Greek).
Venerable Theodora of Thessalonica (Greek).
Nine Kherkheulidze brothers, their mother and sister, and 9,000 others, who suffered on the field of Marabde, Georgia (1625) (Georgia). 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
1 Corinthians 11:8-22
13 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.
Conduct at the Lord’s Supper17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.
11 Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. 12 But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.
A Boy Is Healed14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
I invite my readers to listen to my
Ancient Faith Radio podcasts.
Ancient Faith Radio podcasts.