Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Gym

The Similarities Between the
Trainer and the Spiritual Director

Just after my graduation from college I moved to Portland, Oregon, where I worked at various jobs, including waiting tables in an upscale restaurant (to this day, I'm a good tipper), bartender in a small Irish pub (I'm one quarter Welsh), and working as an orderly in a trauma center. All these jobs contributed in important ways to my ultimate vocation as a priest and a monk. (I'll leave it to my readers to figure this one out.)

Shortly after my move to Portland, I decided that I wanted to work out at a local weight lifting gym (what young man doesn't want to be buff?). After asking around, I discovered Laprinzi's Gym, a Portland institution to this day. Laprinzi's has always been known for having some of the best trainers, and I knew that success at weightlifting would require professional help and direction.

Being a skinny college grad, I felt somewhat intimidated as I walked into a gym filled with Olympic style weightlifters, but I was soon made to feel at ease after one of the trainers approached me, offering to help me get started. Grateful for the direction, I began what was to be a mainstay of my physical exercise for years to come. I didn't stop weight lifting until I'd become a monk, and have regretted the decision to stop until this very day. Long distance running was my other passion, leading ultimately to hip replacement surgery some seven years ago, according to my surgeon.

The very day I walked into Laprinzi's Gym, another young man walked in for his first try at weightlifting. But, unlike myself, he was too prideful to accept direction from anyone. He stupidly turned down the offer of a trainer, and proceeded to weight lift without professional guidance. Some six months later, my trainer quietly pointed to the other young man, saying, "David, do you notice the difference between your body and his? Since he has been his own trainer, he sees only his front side, so his muscle development is concentrated in his upper arms and chest. His back muscles and legs are underdeveloped, so he looks like a skinny ape".

I share this story because of the saying in Orthodoxy, "The man who is his own spiritual director, becomes the disciple of a fool.” When we embark on the spiritual path, we need the direction and foresight of someone who is experienced, for there are all sorts of traps ahead, including pride. In choosing a spiritual father or mother as our guide, we are directed on the path to Christ by someone who knows us, and is able to point out those traps that would snare us. This guide, like the trainer described above, sees us from a perspective that is otherwise hidden from us, and like the weightlifter who desires to look buff, the man on a quest for spiritual transformation, needs a spiritual father can point to those sins and omissions that need our attention.

"A priest is a spiritual physician. Show your wounds to him without shame, sincerely, openly, trusting and confiding in him as his son; for the confessor is your spiritual father, who should love you more than your own father and mother; for Christ's love is higher than any natural love. He must give an answer to God for you (Saint John of Kronstadt, 'My Life in Christ')."

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Sunday February 16, 2014 / February 3, 2014
Sunday of the Prodigal Son. Tone one.

Afterfeast of the Meeting of Our Lord.
Holy and Righteous Symeon the God-receiver and Anna the Prophetess (1st c.).
St. Nicholas, enlightener of Japan (1912).
New Hieromartyr John, Timothy, Adrian priests and Martyrs Vladimir, Michael (1938).
St. Romanus, prince of Uglich (1285).
St. Symeon, first bishop of Tver and Polotsk (1289).
Prophet Azarias (10th c.B.C.).
Martyrs Papias, Diodorus, and Claudianus at Perge in Pamphylia (250).
Martyrs Adrian and Eubulus, at Caesarea in Cappadocia (310).
Martyr Blaise of Caesarea in Cappadocia (3rd c.).
St. Ansgar, bishop of Hamburg, enlightener of Denmark and Sweden (865).
St. Laurence of Canterbury, bishop (619) (Celtic & British).
Venerable Werburga of Chester, abbess (700) (Celtic & British).
St. Ia, virgin of St. Ives.
St. James, archbishop of Serbia (1292) (Serbia).
Martyr Paul the Syrian, who suffered under Diocletian (4th c.).
St. Sviatoslav-Gabriel and his son St. Dimitry of Yuriev (1253).
St. Sabbas of Ioannina (15th c.).
St. Ignatius of Mariupol in Crimea, metropolitan of Gothia and Kafa (1786).
Greek New Martyrs Stamatius and John, brothers, and Nicholas their companion, in Chios (1822).

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 Corinthians 6:12-20

Glorify God in Body and Spirit

12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Luke 15:11-32

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’
20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’
28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

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