The-Church-of-Holy-Sepulchre

“Miracle of the Holy Fire”
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

I continue to enjoy the writing of Abbot Tryphon of the All-Merciful Saviour Orthodox Christian Monastery, off the coast of Washington state.  Please take some time to visit his blog, The Morning Offering.  Here’s some great thoughts he shared this morning on community…

Christianity is a communal faith, one that requires its followers to be actively involved with others. The Church’s worship is communal, and salvation itself is a corporate act, one that necessitates interaction with others. One is not “saved” in a vacuum, but as part of the corporal life of the Church. Your salvation must be as much a concern to me, as is my own salvation. My relationship with Christ is not about me, but about us. Our sins are not just against God, but against the Body of Christ, the Church. Our love of God can not be salvific if we do not love others, for just as the Lord said, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? (1 John 4:20)”.

Given the communal nature of the Church, it is particularly alarming to see increasing numbers of people isolating themselves from others. Many have turned to the Internet as the primary source of interaction with others, finding “friendships” with people who will never be met in person. The importance of social interaction in the central square, as seen in traditional villages where the cafe life and church were the primary source of fraternal interaction, has pointed the way to a future of increased estrangement from each other.

Isolated from others, the communal nature that is an important element in what it means to be human, is lost. It is thus imperative that we guard against the temptation of spending too much time in front of the computer, and too little time with others. The sight of young people sitting in coffee houses, together, yet apart, is troubling. Mobile phones, text messaging, ipods, communication through email, and countless hours on facebook, leads to the furtherance of an isolation that is murdering the soul. As humans, we are meant to be together, for it is in our lives together that we grow in mind and spirit. It is in community that we learn to love God. For friendships to be limited to on-line chat rooms is a tragedy of major proportions, one that will ultimately be the ruin of society.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Advertisements
 

I came across this beautiful piece of writing from Abbot Tryphon of the All Merciful Saviour Orthodox Monastery this morning while trolling Facebook.  In his words, we find some practical and convicting words about the role of the Church and the Christian.  This short morning post from the good Abbot is a masterpiece, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.  Here are some strong points I gathered from Abbot Tryphon today…points for the Church to live by, and points for the Christian to live by:

1) The Church, even in antiquity, was never intended to be a religious institution, but a place of healing for hurting and troubled souls.

2) The Church is intended fully to be a place where humanity can commune with God.

3) The primary vehicle for this meeting of heaven and earth is Holy Communion.

4) Holy Communion is the primary means by which we can receive grace.

5) Participating in Holy Communion has a fourfold impact upon us…It makes us whole, complete beings….It opens the door to God…It brings about spiritual, inward change…And it is the primary sign of corporate unity for Christians.

6) Though the Church is a unique figure, it is not intended to be exclusive.  All are welcome.

7) The Church should not judge those who are not a part of her.

8) While the Church possesses absolute truth, she is to respect the basic dignity of all peoples.

9) Holy Communion bind us together as believers; binds us together with other believers across the ages (Communion of Saints); and binds us as a corporate body to the Kingdom of Heaven.

10) The traditions of the Church have been passed down for two thousand years, and represent the truth.  The greater culture may disagree with the Church on many points, but the truth is the truth.  There aren’t many different versions of truth.  Only one.

All that being said, here’s the morning thought from Abbot Tryphon…

The Church Fathers saw Orthodoxy as a Way of Life, rather than a religion.  Although the Church has many of the same attributes as religion, this does not mean she is herself a religious institution.  Rather, she is a Hospital for the Soul, where in we can receive the healing that makes it possible to commune with our Creator.  It is within this hospital, the Church, that we are made holy (whole), making the communion possible.  The Eucharist, which is the chief vehicle by which we can receive the grace that opens the doors for communion with God, brings about spiritual transformation, and is the chief sign of our unity in Christ.

Although there is uniformity in doctrine and practice within the Orthodox Church, the unity within the Church does in no way exclude those who are outside the Church, for all are God’s children, and the doors of the Church are open wide, even to those who are blind to this truth.  The Church does not judge those who remain outside her walls, but loves them, and prays for them.  She is not an exclusive institution, but rather the living embodiment of Christ.  Her claim to divine origin, and absolute truth, in no way suggests a denial of the basic dignity of humanity as being the children of God.

The Church’s claim to divine origin is no where more clearly seen, then her celebration of the Eucharist, for this is the moment when heaven comes down to earth, and her faithful are united one to another, in the Christ Who gives Himself so freely and completely. In this way the Eucharist is the vehicle to unity in Christ, and a sign of a unity that transforms time and space. Yet without unity of faith, where each believer has received as their own, the teachings of the Church in all her integrity and authenticity, communion would simply be a common participation in a symbolic act, rather than the participation in the Divine. Our reception of the very Body and Blood of Christ, is that point in eternity that brings about transformation and holiness.

These teachings are in direct opposition to the theories and philosophies of today, for they would deny the existence of Absolute Truth. The Church’s strict adherence to the beliefs, teachings, and practices, that have been handed down from Apostolic times, are the basis for our unity, for we have bound ourselves to the unchanging Apostolic Church, and forever united ourselves to Christ.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

To read more of Abbot Tryphon’s writing, please visit his blog, The Morning Offering

Also, take some time to visit the website for the All Merciful Saviour Orthodox Monastery.  Located on Maury Island in Puget Sound (a short ferry ride from both Seattle and Tacoma, Washington), the monastery is in a beautiful setting, and is definitely another spot that is on my list of places I would love to visit.

Peace of the Lord be with you all…