Saturday, December 14, 2013

Animals as Gifts from God

Our beloved Norwegian Forest Cat, Hammi, is most happy when the entire monastic brotherhood is gathered together with him in our library and community room. We all consider him an important member of our community, and Hammi is the only cat I know who has his own facebook fan page, started by a woman who'd met him on a pilgrimage to the monastery (if my memory be correct).

I first met Hammi, a large male cat, as I was walking between our old trailer house (now gone) and my cell, some twelve years ago. We startled one another, but as I reached down with extended hand, he came to me. When I picked him up he began purring immediately, so of course I promptly opened a can of salmon, and he decided, then and there, to adopt us.

A month after his arrival I took him to a vet to be checked out, and was told by the veterinarian this cat had likely been dumped by someone from Seattle, as happens frequently when people want to dispose of a pet, making sure the animal can't find it's way back home (impossible from an island).

I often tell people that Hammi domesticated me, since I'd not previously been a cat fancier, being allergic to cat dander, as I am. Little did I know Hammi was a Norwegian Forest Cat, one of the few breeds that are nonallergic.

Norwegian Forest Cats have a very soft, double fur coat, large paws, sweet facial features, and a very loud purr box. They are known to be personable, for they like being around people. Hammi greets everyone who comes to the monastery, escorting them up the steps from the parking lot. Everyone who's ever met him, falls in love. I've lost count of the number of people who've stated they never liked cats, but want to get a Norwegian Forest Cat, after meeting Hammi.

Intelligent breed that they are, Hammi has learned to let us know just what he wants, be it water, food, cuddling, sleep, or just to be left alone. He is a great companion to all of us, even tagging along when one of us takes a walk into the forest on the Valaam Trail. He and I have a special game which we both enjoy. I'll head out on the trail with Hammi running ahead. He'll hide behind a large fern, and even though I know he's waiting ahead, when he jumps out he always manages to scare me. I'll then run ahead and hide behind a tree and jump out when he walks by. We play this game until the end of the trail!

He's slowing down a bit with age, just as am I. We both suffer from arthritis and like to sit by the fire on a cold winter evening, with him cuddling on the sofa, next to the old abbot. I've grown so attached to him I can't imagine what life in the monastery would be like without him.

Animals teach us so much about unconditional love. I'll never forget the day Hammi spotted our newly arrived Rhode Island Reds for the first time. He was sitting on the veranda of the trapeza with me and some guests. Hammi sat up when he spotted the hens, and started walking toward the chicken coop. I followed him, as did  our guests. As we were standing by one of the hens, Hammi crouched down, ready for the kill. All that was needed was for me to say, "No, Hammi, they are our friends". He turned away and walked back to the veranda, leaving me and the guests alone with the chickens. He's never bothered them since that afternoon.

Over the years, there have been many occasions where we are all out, late at night, calling Hammi. We have Great Horned Owls, racoons, and who knows what, hunting at night, so we never allowed Hammi to be out after dark. If Hammi is not in for the night, I start praying for him.

I am the one who lets Hammi out of the library every morning, always waiting until daylight. Hammi cuddles in my arms before I take him outside, and I always give him a blessing for the day. If a priest can bless cattle and bees, he can certainly bless such a wonderful companion as our Hammi!

As a Norwegian-American, living in  a monastery of Norwegian architecture,
it seems clearly evident to me that God sent this Norwegian Forest Cat as a companion for His monks. We named him Hammi, because, from the start, he was a little ham.


With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Saturday December 14, 2013 / December 1, 2013
25th Week after Pentecost. Tone seven.
Nativity (St. Philip's Fast). Fish Allowed

Prophet Nahum (7th c. B.C.).
Righteous Philaret the Merciful of Amnia in Asia Minor (792).
Martyr Ananias of Persia.
St. Eligius, bishop of Noyon (660) (Neth.).
St. Onesimus, archbishop of Ephesus (Greek).
Sts. Ananias and Solochonus, archbishops of Ephesus (Greek).
Venerable Anthony the New, monk of Kios in Bithynia (865) (Greek).
Venerable Ioannicus of Devich (Serbia).
St. Austremoine, first bishop of Clermont and apostle of the Auvergne (3rd c.).
St. Theoclites, bishop of Sparta (870).
St. Botolph, of Boston (England), abbot and confessor (680) (Celtic & British).
St. Tudwal, bishop of Lan Pabu.

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 1:3-10

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Only One Gospel

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

Luke 12:32-40

32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant

35 “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36 and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 38 And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

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