Friday, May 16, 2014


The Church, like a forest, needs oxygen

Growing up in Northern Idaho, I was surrounded by mountains and forests. I don't remember a time when forests did not tug at my heart and fill my imagination with thoughts of adventure. As a small child my parents took my brother Dwayne, and me, on annual camping trips to a state park on the far northeast side of Lake Pend Oreille. There my dad would make us small toy canoes, complete with sails, out of birch bark. This state park is virtually unchanged since that time, and I try to visit the campground every summer, when I go bass fishing with my brother.

As a high school student I regularly went hiking in the mountains around Sandpoint, Idaho, together with my best friend (now a retired professor of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland). Jim and I would climb to the highest point of a given mountain, and pray together. We could understand the Prophet Moses meeting God on Mt. Sinai, for we too felt the presence of God on the mountain. To this day I feel closer to God when hiking in a forest, and the grandeur of the mountains that surround the Puget Sound inspire me, and lift up my soul.

When we first cleared the land to build the monastery, we cut down as few trees as possible, desiring as we did to have the buildings appear as though cupped like a kitten in the hands of God. We even named our forest after Saint Seraphim of Sarov, who himself sought solitude in a forest. Our forest not only provides that needed solitude, but like the forests throughout the whole world, provides good air to breath, and fills our lungs with the sweet odor that only a forest can provide.

Monks have always had a special place in their hearts for forests. Coptic and Ethiopian monks have been known to plant trees on desert mountains whereupon monasteries have been built, and calling these places, "holy forests". Russian monks sought their solitude in the Northern Thebaid, forests that became their desert.

For me, forests and mountains have always been associated with prayer. My first chapel was at the end of a hidden trail, in a forest that was just a short walk down the beach from our home on
Lake Pend Oreille. I'd constructed a small altar out of driftwood, and nailed a cross made out of tree branches on a tree behind the altar. When in college, my first encounter with an icon took place during the very summer I'd visited the Redwood Forest of Northern California for the first time.

Our temples are like forests in many ways. When we enter into an Orthodox temple we are encompassed in the living presence of God, and our spiritual lungs are filled. It is oxygen for the soul that we breath in, and the forest that surrounds us is none other than the cloud of witnesses, the saints, who join us in worship before the Throne of God. The oxygen we breath in is God's Grace that flows out to all who would seek the safety and sanctuary that awaits us in God's Holy Temple. It is the breath of life that comes in our relationship with Christ.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

click on photo to enlarge

Friday May 16, 2014 / May 3, 2014
Fourth Week of Pascha. Tone three.
Fast. Fish Allowed

Martyrs Timothy the Reader and his wife Maura of Antinoe in Egypt (286).
Venerable Theodosius, abbot of the Kiev Caves Monastery and founder of cenobitic monasticism in Russia (1074).
Venerable Peter the Wonderworker, bishop of Argos (10th c.).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1941).
Venerables Juliana (1393) and Eupraxia (1394) of Moscow.
St. Theophanes of Vatopedi, metropolitan of Peritheorion (14th c.).
Translation of the Dormition Icon of the Mother of God from Constantinople to the Kiev-Pechersk Far Caves (1073).
Pechersk Not-Wrought-by-Hand (1085), "Pechersk" (with Sts. Anthony and Theodosius) (1085), "Sven-Caves" (1288), "Yaskinsky" and Vlakhernsky" Icons of the Mother of God
St. Ansfried, bishop of Utrecht (1010).
Venerable Ecumenius the Wonderworker, bishop of Tricca (Greek).
Translation of the relics of Venerable Luke of Mt. Stirion (Greek).
New Martyr Ahmet the Calligrapher of Constantinople (Greek).
New Martyr Mary of Crete. (Greek).
St. Mamai, Catholicos of Georgia (744) (Georgia).
Venerable Fathers Michael and Arsenius the Georgians (9th c.) (Georgia).
Martyr Paul of Vilnius, Lithuania (17th c.).
Great-martyr Xenia the Wonderworker of Peloponnesus.
St. Glywys of Corwall.
You can read the life of the saint by clicking on the highlighted name.

The Scripture Readings for the Day

Acts 10:44-11:10

The Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentiles

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

Peter Defends God’s Grace

11 Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”
But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying: “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me. When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered me again from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ 10 Now this was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven.

John 8:21-30

Jesus Predicts His Departure

21 Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.”
22 So the Jews said, “Will He kill Himself, because He says, ‘Where I go you cannot come’?”
23 And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
25 Then they said to Him, “Who are You?”
And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. 26 I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.”
27 They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father.
28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” 30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.

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All-Merciful Saviour Monastery is a monastery of the Western American Diocese, under the
omophor of His Eminence Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America. The Monastery is a non-profit 501 C3 organization under IRS regulations. All donations are therefore tax deductible. We depend on the generosity of our friends and benefactors. You can donate to the monastery through PayPal, or by sending donations directly to the monastery's mailing address.
All-Merciful Saviour Monastery
PO Box 2420
Vashon Island, WA 98070-2420 USA

Abbot Tryphon's email address:

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