Monday, September 23, 2013

Standing in the Way
When the Doors of Mercy are Slammed Shut

This world is filled with people who are suffering, and estranged from God. People who need the healing that the Church has to offer, are often excluded from the very place that can bring about wholeness, often because we exclude them from our midst. We exclude them because we judge  them for their perceived unworthiness. They are either from the wrong side of town, or the wrong race of people, or otherwise seen as unfit to be standing beside us in church. 

A few years ago a person wrote, asking if I would be willing to talk to a friend of his who had been told by an Orthodox priest that there was no place for her in his parish. This woman was an inquirer, and had decided she wanted to become Orthodox. When she shared with this priest that she was a lesbian, the priest told her there was no place for her in his parish. Despondent, she walked away. The hospital of the soul was closed to her before the therapy could even begin. (She never did call me.)

I know of another situation where a priest told a young man he should consider the protestant church down the street, because the parish was Greek Orthodox, and since he was not Greek, he'd feel more "comfortable" with those other Christians.

I personally witnessed someone manning a candle stand, who swiftly ushered a homeless man out the door, preventing him from entering into the temple. He was dirty, and might offend other worshipers with his appearance, and "he smelled", the attendant told me. I rushed out the door, and asked the man to please come in, and invited him to stand with me for the remainder of the Vigil Service.

We spend a lot of time talking about the Orthodox Church being the true Church, yet construct walls to keep "certain people" from entering. We spent a lot of time talking about the truth and beauty of Orthodoxy, but are quick to turn the Church into a private club, where anyone who is not like us, is to be excluded. Christ's Church is good for us, but the doors are slammed shut for people who are not like us.

It is imperative that we let the Church be what she was founded to be, the Seat of Mercy. By practicing mercy we drive out the passions that diminish our love for God and neighbor, and bring healing to ourselves and those around us. By practicing mercy, we open the doors for an abundance of grace to bring salvation to everyone, and, in the process, flood our own hearts with God's love. By welcoming everyone, we recognize our own unworthiness, and see everyone else as our brothers and sisters. We wish for them, what we already have for ourselves. 

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Monday September 23, 2013 / September 10, 2013
14th Week after Pentecost. Tone four.
Afterfeast of the Nativity of the Theotokos.
Martyrs MenodoraMetrodora, and Nymphodora at Nicomedia (305).
New Hieromartyrs Ismail, Eugine, John, Constantine, Peter, Basil, Gleb, Basil, John, Nicholas, Palladius priests, Hieromartyrs Meletius and Gabriel, Martyr Symeon, Virgin-Martyr Tatiana (1937).
New Hieromartyr Warus bishop of Lipetsk (1938).
Venerable Paul the Obedient of the Kiev Caves (13th c.).
Venerable Prince Andrew, in monasticism Joasaph, of Kubensk, Vologda (1453).
Synaxis of the Holy Apostles ApellesLucius, and Clement of the Seventy..
Martyr Barypsabas in Dalmatia (2nd c.).
Blessed Pulcheria, the Empress of Greece (453).
Sts. Peter (826) and Paul (9th c.), bishops of Nicaea.
Venerable Ioasaph, monk, of Kubensk (Vologda) (1453).
Venerable Cassian, abbot of Spaso-Kamenny and St. Cyril of White Lake Monasteries (1469).
\St. Salvius, bishop of Albi (584) (Gaul).
Venerable Finian of Ulster (Ireland), abbot (579) (Celtic & British).
St. Theodaard of Maastricht (668) (Neth.).
Translation of the relics of St. Egvin, bishop of Worchester.
Translation of the relics of St. Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester.

You can read the life of the saint by clicking on the highlighted 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 12:10-19

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Signs of an Apostle

11 I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing.12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. 13 For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong!

Love for the Church

14 Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.
16 But be that as it may, I did not burden you. Nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you by cunning! 17 Did I take advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus, and sent our brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps?
19 Again, do you think that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ. But we do all things, beloved, for your edification. 

Mark 4:10-23

The Purpose of Parables

10 But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable.11 And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12 so that
‘Seeing they may see and not perceive,
And hearing they may hear and not understand;
Lest they should turn,
And their sins be forgiven them.’”

The Parable of the Sower Explained

13 And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. 18 Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”

Light Under a Basket

21 Also He said to them, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

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


  1. I couldn't agree more, with one exception. As an outcast myself, I know what it is to be excluded like a leper in the Scriptures. The major difference is that lepers are innocent and were only preceived as being unworthy because of a social norm. I, on the other hand, have committed grievous sins, crimes against society, and I accept being excluded from normal Church life. In the early Church, a repentant sinner could expect to be kept out of the doors possibly for years. I was not anticipating to be welcomed with open arms when I approached the Church confessing my sins and seeking "a hospital bed." I have heard others that are like myself, but feel turned away because in their opinion the Chruch was not being Christ-like in embracing them openly regardless of their past deeds. Absolutely, yes, the members of the Church and especially the leaders should not be standing in the doors like a screen or filter, but they are in my opinion to be a guard at the side of the door, a watchman. I have waited three years to come into communion and in all obediance to my spiritual father will wait in patience until the time comes.
    An unworthy pilgrim.

  2. Father: Amen! There is a puritanical streak in us somewhere that in truth resists casting ourselves as unrepentant sinners, and so we wall off the church from those whose sins we don't understand... because we don't really want to understand our own either. I wonder whether it's confusion or fear that drives this? Perhaps if we felt our communities could manage the ambiguity better... we might begin to break down the wall within ourselves? Perhaps as well if we were as confused and puzzled by our own sins and admitted to our helplessness before them... we might begin to understand others and in ceasing to fear what their privations mean to us, might begin to see them in ways that would heal us both by caring about what they mean to God... and precious He sees their efforts at repentance.