Monday, September 30, 2013

World as Sacrament
Humans are as Priests before the Altar of Creation

"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 All 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 waist, 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,
Abbot Tryphon

Monday September 30, 2013 / September 17, 2013
15th Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
Afterfeast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
Martyrs Sophia and her three daughters: Faith (Vera), Hope (Nadezhda), and Love (Lyubov), at Rome (137).
New Hieromartyrs Paul, Theodosius, Nicodemus and Seraphim (1918).
Virgin-martyr Irene (1931).
Martyr John (1941).
Virgin-martyr Alexandra (1943).
Martyr Theodota at Nicaea (230) and Agathoklea.
156 Martyrs of Palestine, including bishops Peleus and Nilus, the presbyter Zeno, and the noblemen Patermuthius and Elias (310).
St. Joachim, patriarch of Alexandria (1567).
"Tsaregrad" (1071) and Makar'evsk "Directress" (1442) Icons of the Mother of God.
Uncovering of the relics of St. John of Shanghai.
Martyrs Lucy, and her son Geminian of Rome (303).
Hieromartyrs Heraclides and Myron, bishops of Cyprus (1st c.).
Martyrs Socrates and Stephen.
St. Lambert, hieromartyr of Maastricht (704) (Neth.).
100 Martyrs of Egypt. (Greek).
Venerable Anastasius of Perioteron in Cyprus (12th c.) (Greek).
Venerable Eusipius of Cyprus (Greek).
Martyrs Charalampus, Panteleon and others (Greek).

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

Galatians 2:11-16

No Return to the Law

11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

Luke 3:19-22

19 But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, 20 also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison.

John Baptizes Jesus

21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. 22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”

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1 comment:

  1. Well, the picture certainly brings new meaning to the term "tree hunger".