Monday, September 16, 2013

Bishops and Priests Must Serve
their People with Simplicity and Christ-like Love

Pope Francis told a gathering of apostolic nuncios, with the same disarming directness with which he paid his hotel bill after his election, that he wanted these key figures to seek out potential bishops who are "close to the people, fathers and brothers" as well as "gentle, patient, and merciful, animated by inner poverty, the freedom of the Lord, and also by outward simplicity and austerity of life." In addition, potential bishops "should not have the psychology of princes." The Roman Pontiff went on to tell the nuncios they should avoid "ambitious prelates who want to be promoted from one diocese to a more prestigious one" and reminding them of "the ancient view that bishops 'are married to a Church' and should not be 'in constant search for another.' "

The Roman Catholic pope has aimed a blow at a whole hierarchy built on a system with the higher clergy in elevated positions, while "peasant" clergy, and the laity, remain at the very bottom. By looking for pastors who live closely with their people rather than clergy who feel they are entitled to live above them, this pope has taken aim at a hierarchical structure that has made clericalism and all its charms and privileges possible. This call for simplicity chills the very hearts of the purebred clerics who fear that a whole way of life in the Roman Catholic Church may be coming to an end.

Orthodoxy has traditionally avoided clericalism, yet in more recent times this very corruption of priestly service has enter the doors of the Orthodox Church. It has led some clergy to seek out, for personal gain, even the heavy burden of hierarchical service to Christ's Church. Motivated by their desire for princely honor, their sight is clouded so as to endanger not only their own souls, but the souls of the laity who are in need of humble, fatherly, pastoral care, and who will suffer under their "pastoral" guidance.

This quest for honor has led many clergy to participate in a culture of abuse, where they even turn on one another in their sad attempt at aligning themselves with "officialdom". The culture of abuse that is encouraged and fomented by refusing to live in adherence to the simplicity and humility of Christ's example, is not much different than that of the grade school pecking order where the bully builds alliances based on fear.

It is the same culture that chooses to ignore destructive behavior which undermines the message of the Church, and displaces the ministry of healing, replacing it with a worldly culture not unlike that of the fiefdoms of medieval Europe. It is a culture that can only be destroyed by implementing the same reforms that the Pope of Rome is calling for within the Roman Catholic Church.

As the Church founded by Christ, we Orthodox need to return to the basics. Our bishops need to put off all royal pretensions and princely ways, and give themselves over to being loving fathers to their priests and people. Our bishops need to lead their dioceses with biblical standards based on love of their people, and love of Christ, and not rule by fear and tyranny. Priests need to lead their people as loving fathers, and not as local governors appointed by Caesar.

We are living in dangerous times, and the people of God must be given the spiritual tools needed to thrive as society falters, and Christianity itself is under increased attack. The road ahead requires bishops and priests to be more than religious officials, they must be holy men who lead their people as loving, caring, and merciful pastors.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photos: High fiving a young non-Orthodox visitor to the monastery.

click on photo to enlarge

Monday September 16, 2013 / September 3, 2013
13th Week after Pentecost. Tone three.

Hieromartyr Anthimus, bishop of Nicomedia, and those with him: Martyrs Theophilus deacon, Dorotheos, Mardonius, Migdonius, Peter, Indes, Gorgonius, Zeno, the Virgin Domna, and Euthymius (302).
Venerable Theoctistus (451), fellow-faster with St. Euthymius the Great.
Blessed John "the Hairy," fool-for-Christ at Rostov (1580).
New Hieromartyr Pimen (Belolikov) bishop of Vernensk and Semirechensk, Sergius, Basil, Philip, Vladimir priests, martyr Meletius (1918).
New Hieromartyrs Basil and Parthenius priests (1919).
New Hieromartyrs Andrew and Theophan priests (1920).
New Hieromartyrs Vladimir amd Michael priests (1921).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1923).
New Hieromartyr Euthymius priest with 4 martyrs (1924).
New Hieromartyr Romanus priest (1929).
New Hieromartyr Alexis and Elias priests (1937).
New Hieromartyr Peter Deacon (1953).
St. Phoebe, deaconess at Cenchreae near Corinth (1st c.).
Martyr Basilissa of Nicomedia (309).
Hieromartyr Aristion, bishop of Alexandria, in Syria (3rd c.).
St. Ioannicius II, first patriarch of Serbia (1349).
The Pisidia Icon of the Mother of God (608).
New Martyr Polydorus of Cyprus (1794) (Greek).
Emperor Constantine the New (Greek).
Martyrs Chariton and Archontinus (Greek).
St. Remaclus, bishop of Maastricht (677) (Neth.).
St. Aigulphus of Provence (676) (Gaul).
St. Edward, martyr and king of England (978) (Celtic & British).

You can read the life of the saint in blue, 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,  
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 for the Day

2 Corinthians 8:7-15

But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.

Christ Our Pattern

I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others.For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
10 And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; 11 but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. 12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.
13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”

Mark 3:6-12

Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.

A Great Multitude Follows Jesus

But Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea. And a great multitude from Galilee followed Him, and from Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and beyond the Jordan; and those from Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they heard how many things He was doing, came to Him. So He told His disciples that a small boat should be kept ready for Him because of the multitude, lest they should crush Him.10 For He healed many, so that as many as had afflictions pressed about Him to touch Him. 11 And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But He sternly warned them that they should not make Him known.

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

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