Monday, September 8, 2014

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Imparting the faith as a missionary people

Two Byzantine brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius, brought Orthodox Christianity to the Slavs in the ninth century. The brilliance of Eastern Orthodox missionary outreach, as opposed to that of the Latin Church, was in the very use of the vernacular. These great saints who became known as the Apostles to the Slavs, left the Slavs with a liturgical language that was understandable to them. The services were not imparted in the Greek language, as though it alone was sacred enough to be used in Divine Worship, but helped them understand their new faith by worshiping in their own language.

The first missionary monks to the North American came to a land where Orthodoxy had never been. Their encounter with the native peoples was one of mutual respect. They did not greet their new neighbors as pagans, but as a people who's experience with God was limited, but who nevertheless held to certain truths that were, by their very nature, Orthodox truths. Sharing with these peoples, the Orthodox monks came to know that the native Alaskans did not worship totem poles, but used them as tools for passing on family and tribal history. The monks honored the indigenous peoples, befriending them, and, most important of all, treating them as God's children.

As Orthodox Christians, we are duty bound to share our faith with others. Christ is for everyone, but with all the bad press Christianity has been getting during the past decade, it is especially important that we approach evangelism in light of the historic Church. The missionary mind of the Orthodox Church must be rekindled in our time. Parishes must not remain enclaves of Greeks, Russians, Bulgarians, Romanians, Palestinians, or Serbs. The doors of the churches must be opened wide, welcoming all.

Having unlocked doors is worthless if a visitor is greeted with a frown upon entering the temple. I've lost count at how many people have shared their experience at having been ignored by other worshipers, upon entering an Orthodox parish for the first time. Numerous people have told me about being confronted with the question, "are you Greek", followed by, "then why are you here". Others have shared their sadness at having been ignored in the parish hall, because they did not speak Russian, or Arabic.

A Roman Catholic friar once told me he'd gone to an Orthodox church to attend his first Divine Liturgy. The first service had concluded, and as the clergy walked down the steps, they looked right through him, as though he were invisible, even though he was wearing his Franciscan habit. He'd felt so unwelcome, he turned and left, and was deprived of his first experience of Orthodox worship. What kind of witness was this? Have we reduced Orthodoxy to the status of a private club? Do we see the Church only in ethnic terms? What if Saints Cyril and Methodius had treated the Slavs in such a manner? What if the Jewish Christians of the first century had treated the gentiles in such a manner?

Orthodox clergy must remember that we are the first line of witness for the Faith, and if we hold ourselves aloof while wearing our cassocks and crosses in public, we are in essence slamming the door in the faces of potential converts to our faith. And, as priests belonging to different jurisdictions, we must cooperate in the foundation of new missions, so we don't undermine the ability of any one mission to support a full time priest, and raise the necessary funds to construct a permanent church. Having numerous little mission parishes without proper facilities, and a full time priest, is counterproductive to the overall goal of a mission, because the witness it gives to the community at large is one of disunity among the Orthodox, and the promotion of the commonly held view that we are multiple denominations.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: Sunday evening I attended a potluck dinner honoring my dear friend, Father Damian Kuolt, who'd been serving as interim priest at New Martyr Elizabeth Mission, in Pouslbo. The gathering was also a time to welcome their newly assigned priest, also an old friend, Father John Strickland. The mission had gone through some very difficult times, but thanks to the pastoral leadership of Father Damian, is now well on the road to recovery. The coming of Father John will complete the healing process, and I have every expectation that this mission parish will prove to be an immovable force in bringing Orthodoxy to the people of the Kitsap Peninsula. 

Monday September 8, 2014 / August 26, 2014
14th Week after Pentecost. Tone four.

Commemoration of the Meeting of the "Vladimir" Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos and the deliverance of Moscow from the Invasion of Tamerlane in 1395.
Martyrs Adrian and Natalia and 23 companions of Nicomedia (4th c.).
New Hieromartyr Peter priest and St. Gregory confessor, priest (1938).
Blessed Mary Diveyevo (1931).
New Hieromartyr Victor priets, Martyr Demetrius, Peter and New Hiero-confessor Archpriest Roman Medved of Moscow (1937).
New Hieromartyr Nectarius (Trezvinsky), bishop of Yaransk (1937).
Venerable Adrian, abbot of Ondrusov (Valaam) (1549).
The Pskov Caves Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God, named the "Tenderness" (1542).
Blessed Cyprian of Storozhev, former outlaw (16th c.).
Venerable Adrian, abbot of Poshekhonye (1550).
Vladimir-Eletsk Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God (1395).
Venerable Tithoes of the Thebaid (4th c.), disciple of St. Pachomius the Great (4th c.).
Venerable Ibestion the Confessor, Egyptian ascetic.
St. Zer-Jacob, missionary of Ethiopia.
Venerable Adrian of Uglich (1504), disciple of St. Paisius of Uglich.
Finding of the relics of Venerable Bassian of Alatyr Monastery (17th c.).
Monk Ioasaph, prince of India (Greek).
Martyrs Atticus and Sisinnius (Greek).
The miraculous renewal of the Vladimir Icon of the Theotokos in Harbin (Manchuria) (1925).
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 12:10-19

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Signs of an Apostle

11 I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. 13 For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong!

Love for the Church

14 Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.
16 But be that as it may, I did not burden you. Nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you by cunning! 17 Did I take advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus, and sent our brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps?
19 Again, do you think that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ. But we do all things, beloved, for your edification.

Mark 4:10-23

The Purpose of Parables

10 But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. 11 And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12 so that
‘Seeing they may see and not perceive,
And hearing they may hear and not understand;
Lest they should turn,
And their sins be forgiven them.’”

The Parable of the Sower Explained

13 And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. 18 Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”

Light Under a Basket

21 Also He said to them, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

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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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