Friday, August 29, 2014

Genuine Piety

How to be a pious Orthodox Christian
without stoking the flames of pride

Many years ago I remember attending a Liturgy at a parish church and noticing a young man standing in the front of the temple, making profound bows, together with frequent, almost exaggerated signs of the cross. My first thought was that he must be a newly baptized Orthodox Christian. After embracing Orthodoxy, many people fall into the trap of exaggerated piety, having first becoming attracted to the externals of the faith. Coming out of religious traditions that have little in the way of externals, is it any wonder some among us would gravitate towards such outward piety?

Some converts become experts in canon law and liturgical rubrics, and number themselves among the super correct. Archbishop Averky of Jordanville (of blessed memory) said of converts, "they are like envelopes and have a tendency to come unglued." None of this is meant to diminish the importance of external piety, nor making the cross properly. Liturgical correctness has it's place, and we should always avoiding sloppiness in the way we make the sign of the cross. Nor is it necessary to stand in the back of the temple during services. What is important is that we be careful that our piety is not meant to be seen by others.

I once knew a monk who always stood in the back of his monastery's catholicon, avoiding any public display whatsoever. He told me the temptation to be seen as a pious and holy monk was too strong, so he made a decision to give others no opportunity to witness him in worship.

It should not be construed that I am suggesting everyone stand in the back of the church, less everyone be doing battle for those few spots on a crowded Sunday morning. What I am suggesting is that we remember that we are there for worship. If you become aware that your motives for standing in front of others during worship is an occasion for pride, by all means move to the back. It is the Lord Who should see us, and for Whom our pious external acts of worship should give honor. Externals are meant to be an aid to worship, bringing our bodies into conformity with the heart. For this to happen, we must guard the heart, making sure the externals are not temptations for pride.

The way to make sure our piety takes us deeply into true worship is to express these external acts of worship in the privacy of our homes. Orthodox worship, expressed by standing before our icons, making the sign of the cross with care, and doing prostrations in the privacy of the home, instruct the heart in true worship. If we've established a true relationship with the Lord in our home, that which is expressed in the temple, publicly, will be be authentic.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon


Friday August 29, 2014 / August 16, 2014
12th Week after Pentecost. Tone two.
Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Afterfeast of the Dormition.
Translation of the Image Not-Made-By-Hands of our Lord Jesus Christ from Edessa to Constantinople (944).
Martyr Diomedes the Physician of Tarsus in Cilicia (298).
33 Martyrs of Palestine.
New Hieromartyr Stephen priest (1918).
New Hieromartyrs priest Vladimir and his brother Boris (1931).
New Hieromartyr Alexander priest, Virgin Martyr Anna and Martyr Jacob (1937).
Venerable Cherimon (Chaeremon) of Egypt (4th c.).
Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos of St. Theodore ("Feodorovskaya") (1239) and "Triumph of Holy Theotokos" (Port Artur) (1904).
Venerable Joachim, monk, of Osogovo and Sarandapor (11th c.).
New Martyr Nicodemus of Meteora (1551) (Greek).
New Martyr Stamatius of Volos, Thessaly (1680) (Greek).
Venerable Anthony the Stylite of Martq'ophi, Georgia (6th c.) (Georgia).
Holy Martyr Kristepore Guruli (Georgia).
New Martyrs King Constantine Brancoveanu of Wallachia and his four sons Constantine, Stephen, Radu, and Matthew, and his counsellor Ianache (1714) (Romania).
Venerable Gerasimus the New Ascetic of Cephalonia (Mt. Athos) (1579) (Greek).
Venerable Nilus, brother of Emperor Theodore Laskaris, who rebuilt the monastery of the Mother of God at Epirus (Greek).
St. Timothy of Chalcedon, archbishop, founder of the monastery of Pendeli (Greek).
Great New Martyr Apostolos of the town of St. Laurence, martyred in Constantinople (1686) (Greek).
Translation of the relics of Martyrs Seraphim, Dorotheus, James, Demetrius, Basil and Sarantis of Megaris (Greek).
Martyr Alcibiades (Greek).
St. Raphael of Banat, Serbia (17th c.) (Serbia).
St. Roman the Sinaite of Djunisa, Serbia (14th c.) (Serbia).
St. Eustathius II, archbishop of Serbia (1309) (Serbia).

You can read the life of the saint by clicking on the highlighted name.

"Blogs and social networks give us new opportunities for the Christian mission...Not to be present there means to display our helplessness and lack of care for the salvation of our brothers." His Holiness Patriarch Kirill

The Scripture Readings for the Day

2 Corinthians 7:10-16

10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 12 Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.

The Joy of Titus

13 Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true. 15 And his affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16 Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything.

Mark 2:18-22

Jesus Is Questioned About Fasting

18 The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”
19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”
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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
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