Friday, December 6, 2013

The Essential Element for the 
Salvific Union of Two People

The western world has seen a terrible downward trend in the number of couples choosing to get married. Of those couples who do, almost fifty percent of their marriages end in divorce. Those marriages that do last, see only a tiny fraction produce more than one or two children. Many couples choose to limit the number of children, or have no children at all, because they want a more economically satisfying life and see children as an obstacle to a comfortable lifestyle. This is in absolute opposition to the views held by our ancestors.

It was recently reported Seattle has been designated as one of the loneliest cities in the United States, and many believe this is directly related to the fact that this great city has the lowest number of children outside of San Francisco. Since couples who have children tend to get involved in local schools and churches, in their desire to support their children, couples without children have fewer options, from the start, where they can cultivate friendships with other couples.

If the social life of a couple is centered around the work place, or the night life, a major source of support for marriage is undermined. Bars, nightclubs, and the work place, hardly cultivate the support of marriages. Whereas, involvement with other committed parents in the Parent Teacher Student Association, and active participation in parishes, bring people together for the common good of children. These two institutions have a long history of supporting couples in committed relationships.

The central problem to the institution of marriage is directly related to an increasingly secularized society that does not value the traditional, biblical way of life. Couples, at an alarming rate, start out their relationships in an intimate manner. Sexual intercourse before marriage is seen as an essential component of their relationship. The idea of saving themselves for the marriage bed, seems old fashioned, and outdated.

Living together before marriage dooms the relationship from the beginning because both the man and the woman are focusing on their own needs, to the exclusion of the "union". Such relationships are based on personal needs and not on the biblical basis for marriage, where procreation is one of the essential components that bounds the couple in a love relationship that is other focused.

This approach to coupling is responsible for the declining populations of Western countries, where only Islamic marriages are producing the number of children that will guarantee the cultural survival of future generations. Western Civilization is dying out as a direct result of this sociological and religious departure from the biblical image of marriage.

The Church's opposition to non-traditional marriage is not about discrimination against gay people. We are not called to judge others, but called to judge only ourselves. We must recognize the daily struggles that are filled with anguish, loneliness, suffering, and self-hatred, for our gay brothers and sisters. As Christians we need to love and support them in their struggles as fellow Christians, to live chaste lives. Many gay people leave the Church because they feel judged, excluded, marginalized, even hated, by their fellow Christians.

It is important to remember that heterosexual Christians are also called to live biblical based, chaste lives, outside marriage. Marriage is not about human rights but about the bringing together of man and woman for the God sanctioned propagation of our species. God gives us sufficient grace to live virtuous lives, and we Orthodox Christians know that salvation is not about ourselves alone, but about all of us together. A loving and supportive Christian community supports all of us on our journey into God's kingdom.

Finally, the key element that makes marriage salvific, is the surrendering of self-will for the common good. The husband and wife, at the very moment the wedding crowns are placed on their heads, should be committed to being obedient to one another. The husband, although head of the household, is not his wife's boss, or overlord. Rather, the archetype for the husband is that of Christ as the Great Bridegroom. The symbol of the crowns is not about a young prince and princess, but symbolic of the crowns of martyrdom, where the wife and husband surrender their self-will, to one another.

The couple who will experience and enjoy a long life together, are the couple whose marriage is centered in Christ, and the give and take that comes from a commitment to the welfare of each other. Just as Christ surrendered His life for the love of His Church, so the husband and wife surrender their lives to one another.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: The Monastery's courtyard ice sculpture.

Friday December 6, 2013 / November 23, 2013
24th Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
Nativity (St. Philip's Fast). By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Afterfeast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple.
St. Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium (394).
St. Gregory, bishop of Agrigentum (680).
St. Alexander Nevsky (in schema Alexis), grand prince of Novgorod (1263).
St. Metrophanes (in schema Macarius), bishop of Voronezh (1703).
New Hieromartyr Seraphim (1931).
St. John confessor (1932).
New Hieromartyr Boris bishop of Ivanonsk, Eleazar Spyridonov of Eupatoria priest, Crimea and Martyr Alexander (1937).
New Martyr Archimandrite Gregory (Peradze) of Georgia, who suffered in Auschwitz, Poland (1942).
St. Sisinius the confessor, bishop of Cyzicus (ca. 325).
Martyr Theodore of Antioch (4th c.).
Venerable Ischyrion, bishop in Egypt and hermit of Scete.
St. Amphilochius of the Kiev Caves, bishop of Volhynia (1122).
St. Anthony of lezeru-Vilcea (1714) (Romania).
Venerable Trudo, abbot (693) (Neth.).
St. Helenus of Tarsus, bishop (Greek).
St. Dionysius I, patriarch of Constantinople (15th c.).
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 5:9-13

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

Various Exhortations

12 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.

1 Thessalonians 5:24-28

24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
25 Brethren, pray for us.
26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.
27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Luke 19:12-28

12 Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’
15 “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16 Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ 19 Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’
20 “Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. 21 For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’
24 “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’ 25 (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) 26 ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 27 But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’”

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