Monday, December 30, 2013

Mary the Mother of God
The Place of the Holy Virgin in our Lives

The Holy Virgin is a stumbling block for many protestants looking into Orthodoxy. The idea that this woman described in the Gospels in such humble terms could be called Mother of God seems unbiblical to them. She was never called Mother of God in the Bible, they say, so why would she be given such an exalted title? She was, they think, simply the mother of Jesus.

From the earliest of times the Church has seen fit to call her exalted among women, even more exalted then the heavenly hosts. Her role in the history of salvation has been seen as pivotal from the time of the very first century for her humility and obedience before God made her the New Eve. Whereby death entered the world through the disobedience of the first mother, Eve, the Holy Virgin became the New Eve the moment she answered, "be it done according to Thy word", agreeing to be the Mother of Christ.
The very first icon was painted depicting Mary holding the child Jesus by none other than the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke. The Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was painted on a board from the table at which the Savior ate together with His All-Pure Mother and Righteous Joseph. The Mother of God, upon seeing this image, exclaimed, "Henceforth, all generations shall call Me blessed. The grace of both My Son and Me shall be with this icon." She was thus recognized by the Church for her pivotal role with the title Theotokos, which means God-bearer.
The Council of Ephesus  decreed in 431 that Mary is Theotokos because her son Jesus is one person who is both God and man, divine and human. To call her only the mother of Jesus was seen as heretical because to do so would be to suggest that Jesus was simply a man, apart from being God at the same time. The balance of being both God and Man was thus preserved by the Church from the earliest of times.
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to announce to the Virgin the birth of the Saviour:  "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou among women."  (Luke 1:28)  This angelic salutation forms a part of the hymn of the Church most frequently sung in her honor, in imitation of the words of this angelic messenger of God.  Elizabeth, the Virgin's cousin, considered it an honor for the Mother of her Lord to visit her.  "And whence is this to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?"  (Luke 1:43)  There is no difference between saying "Mother of God" and "Mother of the Lord".  Surely, God is the Lord! (Psalm 118:27)  During her visit to Elizabeth, the Blessed Virgin spoke the words that form the principal hymn sung in her honor at the Matins service. 

My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.  For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden, for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed."  (Luke 1: 47-48)

Elizabeth, having been "filled with the Holy Spirit", cried out:  "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb."  (Luke 1:41, 42)  This honor given the Theotokos by her cousin is exactly what all generations of the Church do when they call her blessed.  When Jesus beheld His mother and His disciple John standing by the cross, He entrusted him with her care, but He also established a new spiritual relationship between them in saying to the disciple:  "Behold thy Mother!" (John 19:27)  In making this declaration our Lord made His Mother the Mother of all Christians! 

With love in Christ,  
Abbot Tryphon

Monday December 30, 2013 / December 17, 2013
28th Week after Pentecost. Tone two. Nativity (St. Philip's Fast). By Monastic Charter: Food without Oil

Holy Prophet Daniel (600 B.C.) and the Three Holy Youths: Ananias, Azarias, and Misael.
New Hieromartyrs Alexander, Nicholas and Sergius priests (1918).
New Hieromartyrs Peter and John priests (1937).
Venerable Daniel the Confessor (in schema Stephen) of Spain and Egypt (10th c.).
St. Dionysius of Zakynthos, archbishop of Aegina (1622).
New Hieromartyr Paisius, abbot of Turnovo, and Martyr Abbacum the Deacon at Belgrade (1814).
Martyrs Patermuthius, Coprius and Alexander the Soldier of Egypt (361).
St. Sturm, abbot and founder of Fulda monastery (779) (Germany).
Sts. Athanasius, Nicholas, and Anthony, founders of Vatopedi Monastery (10th c.).
New Martyr Nicetas of Nyssa (1300).
St. Misael of Abalatsk, hieromonk (1797).
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 Timothy 2:20-26

20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

Mark 9:42-10:1

Jesus Warns of Offenses

42 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 44 where
‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46 where
‘Their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched.’
47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where
‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

Tasteless Salt Is Worthless

49 “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”

Marriage and Divorce

10 Then He arose from there and came to the region of Judea by the other side of the Jordan. And multitudes gathered to Him again, and as He was accustomed, He taught them again.

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