Friday, November 29, 2013

The Reality of God

The Importance of  Discovering God for Oneself


At the age of sixty-eight I find myself spending an increasing amount of time on area campuses, and hosting a growing number of young people making a pilgrimage to the monastery. At an age when many of my contemporaries are grandfathers, or even great grandfathers, I've discovered the truth of something I read about while still a college student. Grandparents are often more sympathetic to the burdens and challenges that young people face than their own parents. Age seems to mellow us out and make us more sympathetic to the challenges young people face. We become less judgmental because we've been down the same road and know that, in the end, these young people will come out just fine.

Some time ago I had the mother of a boy of about thirteen arrive at the monastery, son in tow. She was upset because her son had declared himself an atheist and she was afraid he was in danger of eternal damnation. I sat down with the boy and told him that each one of us has to come to a personal awareness of the reality of God for ourselves. Doubting the existence of God, I told him, is all part of building a personal relationship with God. If we simply go through the motions without seeking a real relationship, we might as well be atheists. My own youth was filled with great spiritual struggle, as I sought to fill the void I felt within my heart.

Most young people struggle with questions about things eternal. It is part of relationship building. Like the young lad who visited with his mom, I struggled with doubt. The only difference was that my struggle happened during my college days. It was a period of time when I was filled with anxiety about the future, and fearful of making the wrong decisions. I understand the issues facing young people today because I was a young man with the same fears, and struggling with many of the same issues.

Knowing as I do now the importance of being honest, I told the mother to let her son explore for himself the reality of God. It was better for him to question the existence of God than to simply feign belief. At the same time I told the boy he needed to attend church with his family because it was important to be obedient to his parents and supportive of his younger brother. After all, one does not tell his parents that he's not going to attend school just because he doesn't see his studies as important.

The God this boy was rejecting was the very false image of God that I have long rejected. The God I have come to know personally is not the same god I rejected in my youth. The God revealed in Jesus Christ is the One Whom I've personally experienced and Who first sought me out.

If we are to have a personal relationship with God we must be open and honest and unafraid to question. The Lord wants us to be real with Him. Like the sound relationship that one sees in a long and successful marriage, a relationship with God must first and foremost be based in honesty and truth. Love and trust come with time and experience. Our relationship with God is something that builds over time, like all good relationships, results in a sense of peace.

It is this peace and joy that I want to impart to young people. My personal relationship with Christ is something that I want to share, and not just with Orthodox youth may make a pilgrimage to the monastery. I KNOW God exists because I've experienced His great love in a personal way, and it is this certainty of the reality of God that leads me to reach out to the college students, and faculty, of the Puget Sound's area colleges and universities. They, like me, need to discover God for themselves, and build upon a relationship that began with their conception.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Friday November 29, 2013 / November 16, 2013
23rd Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
Nativity (St. Philip's Fast). By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew (60).
New Hieromartyrs Theodore Korolev priest and with him Martyr Ananius Boykov and Michael Boldakov (1929).
New Hieromartyrs John, Nicholas, Victor, Basil, Makarius and Michael priests, Hieromartyr Panteleimon (1937).
Martyr Demetrius (1938).
St. Fulvianus, prince of Ethiopia, in holy baptism Matthew (1st c.).
Hieromartyr Hipatius bishop of Gangra (360).
Venerable Sergius, abbot, of Malopinega (1585).
St. Eucherius of Lyons (449).
St. Lubuinus, missionary to Friesland (773) (Neth.).
St. Otmar, abbot and monastic founder in Switzerland (759).

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

1 Thessalonians 2:14-19

14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.

Longing to See Them

17 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. 18 Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?

Luke 16:15-18

15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
16 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.
18 “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.

Luke 17:1-4

Jesus Warns of Offenses

17 Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”

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