Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Attempting to Live a Life in Imitation of the Angels

Monastics are an integral part of the Church and should not be seen as independent of the Church Universal. Monks are bound by the same Gospel as other Christians and need to avail themselves to the missionary and pastoral needs of the Church, as needed. Although a primary role of monasticism is to be found in worship and contemplative prayer, monks also have a long history as missionaries.

Many of the great monasteries of Russia, as an example, where founded in remote places but became centers of pilgrimage, attracting countless people. Whole cities often formed around monasteries, precisely because the monks had reached out with the Gospel and worked among the people. Where there was a need, monks responded with charity and evangelical witness.

In these difficult times where people are suffering economic hardship, loss of jobs and foreclosure on homes, monks can bring a different perspective that can give hope to those who’ve lost all hope. Monasteries become centers of spiritual healing and empowerment. People who’ve been struggling to find meaning in their lives can walk away with a new vision, gained through the interior work of the monks who’ve availed themselves as therapists for those who are hurting.

The strength of Orthodox monasticism is not to be found in the sameness of every monastery, for each monastic community has its own expression, often quite different from other monasteries. In Greece and Russian, there are monastic communities that run printing presses, care for the elderly and infirm, run Orthodox bookstores in cities, live as hermits, run large retreat facilities, run schools, and even, on occasion, parishes.

Monasticism is not something that is mastered through academic pursuits, but is rather acquired over many years of struggle, through obedience, long nights of prayer, ascetical practice, and communal life. A monastic, who is true to his vocation, will often see himself as just a beginner, even though he’s been a monk for forty years, for he realized how far he is from the perfection that comes with total surrender to Christ.

Many would wish to see monasticism in a romantic way, with monks quietly and silently living out hidden lives, yet there are monks who work with people as spiritual fathers, preachers, teachers, participating in an active way in service to the world. Each monk, and each monastery is called apart for the service of God and His Church, as God wishes. Thus, it is dangerous ground when we judge a monastery or a monk from our own fanciful image of what we think they should be like, for even on the Holy Mountain of Athos, there are many varieties of monastic expression, none being better than the other, and all based on the prompting of the Holy Spirit, as the monk attempts to live out the evangelical life of the Gospels.

Although the Orthodox Church does not have religious orders as the Latin Church does, there are in Orthodoxy different styles of monastic life, both individually and in community. Generally speaking some monasteries may be more liturgically oriented, while others may be more ascetic, while still others may have a certain mystical tradition, and others be more inclined to spiritual guidance and openness to the world for the purpose of care and counseling. These various styles of monasticism, which take both a personal as well as a corporate form, are not formally predetermined or officially legislated. They are the result of organic development under the living grace of God.

Yet all monastics share the common vows of poverty, chastity, stability, and obedience, ever following the words of Jesus which are the cornerstone for this life, “be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: Monk Moses of All-Mericiful Saviour Monastery

Tuesday January 21, 2014 / January 8, 2014
31st Week after Pentecost. Tone five.

Afterfeast of the Theophany.
St. George the Chozebite, abbot (7th c.) and St. Emilian Bishop of Cyzicus (9th c.).
Venerable Domnica of Constantinople (395).
Venerable Gregory, wonderworker of the Kiev Caves (1093).
Venerable Gregory, hermit of the Kiev Caves (14th c.).
Hieromartyr Isidore and 72 companions at Yuriev (Dorpats) in Estonia, slain by the Latins in 1472.
New Hieromartyr Victor priest (1937).
New Hieromartyr Demetrius priest (1938).
New Hieromartyr Vladimir priest (1938).
Martyr Michael (1938).
St. Michael confessor, priest (1941).
Venerable Paisius of Uglich (1504).
Hieromartyr Carterius of Caesarea in Cappadocia (304).
Martyrs Theophilus the Deacon and Helladius in Libya (4th c.).
Martyrs Julian and his wife Basilissa, and with them Marcionilla and her son Celsus, Anthony, Anastasius, seven children, and twenty soldiers, at Antinoe in Egypt (313).
Venerable Elias the Hermit of Egypt (4th c.).
Martyr Abo the Perfumer of Baghdad, who suffered at Tbilisi, Georgia (786) (Georgia).
Sts. Atticus (425) and Cyrus (714), patriarchs of Constantinople.
Venerable Agatho of Egypt, monk (4th c.)
Holy Virgin Gudula of Brussels (659) (Celtic & British).
St. Gregory of Ochrid, bishop of Moesia (1012) (Bulgaria).
St. Severinus, apostle of Noricum, Austria (482).
St. Theodore of Constantinople (595).
St. Erhard, bishop of Regensburg (Bavaria) (700).
St. Emilian the Confessor, bishop of Cyzicus (9th c.).
St. Macarius (Macres) of Vatopedi, Mt. Athos (1431).
St. Severin, bishop of Cologne (397).
St. Nathalan of Aberdeenshire.
St. Pega, hermitess, of Peakirk.
St. Wulsin, bishop of Sherborne.

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

Hebrews 12:25-26

Hear the Heavenly Voice

25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”

Hebrews 13:22-25

22 And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. 23 Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly.
24 Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.
25 Grace be with you all. Amen.

Mark 10:2-12

The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him.
And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?”
They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.
And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’;  so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
10 In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter. 11 So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12 And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

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