Monday, August 18, 2014

Let my prayer arise as incense before Thee

From Old Testament times believers have burned incense as an offering when worshiping God. The ancient temple in Jerusalem even had priests whose sole duty was to keep the censer burning twenty-four hours a day.

Ancient pagan kings were often escorted with large fans of peacock feathers and burning incense when entering their palaces. Early Christians took both these symbols for their worship in recognition of Christ as their Sovereign King and Lord. To this day the Orthodox Church uses incense in most of her services, and large circular fans, reminiscent of the peacock fans of ancient times, are held over the Gospel book during the proclamation of God's word during celebrations of the Divine Liturgy.

As a young man attending my very first Orthodox Liturgy, I was struck by the use of incense. The words of the Psalmist King David, "Let my prayer arise as incense before Thee...", is chanted during every celebration of Vespers during the censing of the temple. During every service where there is a great censing of the whole church, the priest (or deacon) censes the frescoes and icons as windows into eternity, as the incense wafts upward as an offering of the people of God.

The people are also censed by the priest in recognition of their having been created in the image and likeness of their Creator God. Incense is so central in Christian worship that it is even used in the worship of the domestic church, where the family gathers in prayer around their own icons, reading the scriptures together, and offering their family prayers to the Lord.

"Let my prayer arise as incense before Thee." Psalm 141:2

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photos: Father Moses being ordained a Reader by Bishop Theodosy.


Monday August 18, 2014 / August 5, 2014
11th Week after Pentecost. Tone one.
Dormition (Theotokos) Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Forefeast of the Transfiguration of our Lord.
Martyr Eusignius of Antioch (362).
New Martyrs Eudocia (Shikova) and Novices Daria (Timolina), Dar'ia (Siushinskaya), and Maria of Diveyevo (1919).
New Hieromartyr Simon (Shleev) bishop of Ufa (1921).
New Hieromartyr John deacon (1938).
Venerable Job the Gorge-dweller on the Mezen River (Solovki) (1628).
Hieromartyrs Fabian (250) and Antherus (Antheros) (257), popes of Rome.
Martyr Pontius at Cimella in France (257).
Martyrs Cantidius, Cantidian and Sibelius (Sobel), of Egypt.
Righteous Nonna (374), mother of St. Gregory the Theologian.
St. Oswald, king and martyr (642) (Celtic & British).
Venerable John (Jacob) of Neamp, the Chozebite (1960) (Romania).
New Martyr Chrestos of Preveza (1668).
Uncovering of the relics (1967) of St. Arsenius the New of Paros (1877).

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 2:4-15

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.
But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Triumph in Christ

12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.
14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

Matthew 23:13-22

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.

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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

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