Turning to Christ as Our Refuge
from the Storm

These difficult times are causing more and more people to lose hope. The struggle just to stay the course has become increasingly stressful for ever increasing numbers of people, and Christians are no exception. When we are down, it is good for us to turn our face towards Christ, remembering the words of from the Gospel of Matthew, “Thou art indeed the Son of God.” This world promises us nothing, but in Christ we have everything, for He is the only refuge in Whom we can turn in times of trial.

“Here on earth there is nothing that can give us inner peace. For neither riches, nor glory, nor honor, nor position, nor family, nor neighbors can give us unshakable inner peace. There is only one giver of life, peace and joy—God,” writes Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica.

As Christians we must not allow anything to disturb our peace of heart, for we know that this life is transitory. In the words of Abbess Thaisia of Leushino, “If you think to find paradise on earth, even in a monastery, then you are very mistaken. Paradise—full blessedness—does not exist on earth, and cannot, because man was not created for earth, but for heaven.”

Put Aside Resentment

 The decision to forgive another person a wrong done to us begins when we decide to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. To forgive someone does not mean that we forget what they did to us, for this may be impossible. The memory of the hurt might always remain with you, but when you decide to forgive the person who wronged you, the grip of resentment is put aside. When we forgive someone it is even possible the find yourself filled with compassion and empathy for the person, for the act of forgiveness opens the heart to God's grace.

 When we forgive someone, we are not denying their responsibility for hurting or offending us, nor are we justifying their act. We can forgive them without approving their actions. The act of forgiving another opens our heart to the peace that brings closure to hurt and pain, and opens us up to the love and peace that comes from living a life without resentment.

            If we find ourselves struggling to forgive, it is a good reminder to recall those hurtful things we've done to others, and remember when we've been forgiven. It is especially good to recall how God has forgiven us, and call upon Him to give us the grace needed to put aside our resentment, and truly forgive the other person. Being quick to forgive, and putting aside all thoughts of revenge will open our heart to a joyful and peaceful life.

            Finally, if we pray for those who've offended us, we open the door to all kinds of possibilities. When we ask God to help the person who has been unkind and hurtful, our own hearts receive healing, for when we've forgiven others, grace abounds.

            “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it.” (1 Peter 3:9)


You Were Created to Be an 
Instrument of God’s Glory

If you think you are simply the result of a random evolutionary happening, you are wrong. You were created, molded, if you will, by the Father of Lights. God granted you life in order for you to enter into a relationship with God. It is none other than the hand of God that has received you, for you were molded by Him to become a vessel of His Holy Spirit. He created you that He might join His divinity with your humanity. You were
created in order to become an instrument meant to proclaim the glory of God, and when you live in all holiness of life, worshiping before the Holy Trinity, you proclaim the glory of your Creator God.


With love in Christ,
—Abbot Tryphon

The Devil cannot Violate our Freedom

The devil does not have power over us, unless we give it to him. His power to tempt us, or to fight
against us, is never beyond our ability to resist, for his power can never violate our freedom. The
devil's power is not mandatory, but is always dependent on our freedom. We give him power over
us, without which he can do nothing. It totally depends on us whether we succumb to his attacks
against us. Any exercise of his evil authority is directly related to our decisions, and whether we
allow him to distort our freedom. We are never alone, and vulnerable to the attacks of the evil one, for the Fathers of the Church stress that God is with us. The Lord's grace is sufficient
for us to resist the attacks of Satan. St. Symeon the New Theologian says that if the members of man are not driven by Christ as chariots, then they are driven by the devil with the consent and
cooperation of man.

Living Our Lives in Total Commitment


Christianity is a religion of asceticism, instructing us to store up our treasures in heaven, where the benefits have eternal value. Throughout the New Testament we read of the importance of struggle, where focus on the acquisition of a humble and contrite heart is paramount to what it means to be a Christian. The Lord Jesus Christ tells us that if we are to be worthy of Him, we must be willing to take up our cross and follow Him. We are to be a people whose true homeland is Christ's Kingdom, which is within. Christ Himself calls us to holiness, and this change of heart can only be brought about through struggle.

Our world places a great deal of emphasis on being comfortable, and we tend to avoid anything that does not bring pleasure. If being open about our Christian faith invites ridicule, we remain silent. If keeping the fasting rules of the Church prevents us from enjoying evenings out with our friends, we ignore the fast. If voicing disapproval when hearing our Christian faith being trashed, makes us appear less cool, we choose to go the route of the politically correct. Is it any wonder we are therefore unprepared to stand firm when faced with real trials that come our way, having avoided the very things that would transform us into strong, committed Christians?

If we embrace Christianity with dedication of heart and mind, we will receive the power to live in this world, filled as it is, with temptations and disappointments, yet remaining true to our vocation as a holy people. Committing ourselves to being full time Christians, empowers us to live our lives in such a way that we give glory and witness to the very Christ Whom we worship. If, however, we avoid ascetic struggle, and choose to keep our Christian faith sidelined, and rejecting real commitment, we will ultimately have  become Christian in name only. For those who, out of laziness or personal selfishness, choose to relegate fasting, private prayer, and even church attendance, as something done only when we feel "in the mood", we will stand before the Throne of God, in the end, with a darkened heart that can not withstand the power of God, and eternity will be for us, a lake of fire.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

 Jesus is the Sole Mediator between God and Man

Most Protestant churches strongly reject all saintly intercession, citing passages such as 1 Timothy 2:1-5, which says that Jesus is the sole mediator between God and man, as well as Deuteronomy 18:10-11 which seems to forbid invoking departed souls. They also point to the fact that there are no examples in the Bible of living humans praying to dead humans — Jesus Christ being the lone exception, because He is alive and resurrected, and because He is both human and Divine.

Yet the Bible indeed directs us to invoke those in heaven and ask them to pray with us. In Psalms 103, we pray, "Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will!" (Psalms 103:20-21). And in Psalms 148 we pray, "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!" (Psalms 148:1-2).  

Not only do those in heaven pray with us, they also pray for us. In the book of Revelation, we read: "[An] angel came and stood at the altar [in heaven] with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God" (Rev. 8:3-4).

And those in heaven who offer to God our prayers aren’t just angels, but humans as well. John sees that "the twenty-four elders [the leaders of the people of God in heaven] fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints" (Rev. 5:8). The simple fact is, as this passage shows: The saints in heaven offer to God the prayers of the saints on earth.

Yes, we have Christ as the only intercessor before the Throne, but that never stopped any of our Protestant brethren from asking fellow believers to pray for them. We ask the friends of God to pray for us all the time, when we ask for the prayers of our friends and fellow believers. Asking those who've gone on before us is possible because they are alive in Christ, and offer their prayers to Christ just as do we. We all, both those in heaven and those still upon this earth, pray before the same "sole mediator between God and man", Jesus Christ. It is Christ through whom we approach the Throne of the Father.
Finally, why would we not want to ask for the prayers of those who have already won their place in Paradise, and are already standing before the Throne of God, worshiping the Holy Trinity?

Part of the problem for Protestants to accept the veneration of the saints stems from their reliance on an approach to doctrine and practice as being Bible-only based. Proof texts is thus the norm for most protestant debate on the interpretation of any given passage.  By the same token, the unity of worship and doctrine found within the Orthodox Church is the fact we've based both our way of worship AND our doctrinal teachings on Holy Tradition and Scripture. Since the Bible comes out of the living oral Tradition of the Church, the scriptures can only be properly interpreted from within the life of the Church. Our unity is based on what has always been taught.
The Orthodox Church proclaims as dogma that which has been taught everywhere and at all times. The Church is catholic (universal) because that which she teaches and the way she worships is not only from Apostolic times, but was everywhere taught and practiced in Apostolic times. She is catholic because she is the same now as she was from the earliest times in her history. Her Holy Tradition is relied upon when interpreting the Bible, because it is from her Tradition from which the Bible emerged.

Another point to think about is how we (from our Protestant upbringing) interpret the concept of Christ as the 'sole mediator between God and man.'  The Protestant idea assumes that 'mediator' means 'intercessor'. But, there is a more profound meaning, not merely an intercessor but the reconciliation of God and man in the reality of the hypostatic union of God and man in the person of Jesus Christ.  That is, I think, the real meaning of 'mediator'. Confer the meaning of the Latin source of the word, mediare:  'place in the middle', according to the Pocket OED.  Doesn't that make clear that the Protestant interpretation is missing the real point?  Once we understand that, then the whole argument against the intercession of the saints has no reality.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon