A centering prayer for compassion

forgiveness

Each morning after or before you pray, and each night before you sleep, say these words slowly and deeply, so that the peace of God which “passes all understanding” may fill your heart and the Lord’s grace may quiet your soul.

“I was created by God out of His love.

I am alive today by His grace.

I will die in hope of eternal life with Him.

Through His mercy, I will rise again in the glory of the resurrection.”

Then, look or think upon anyone who has hurt or wronged you, and, keeping him or her in mind,  reflect on this person that:

“You were created by God out of His love.

You are alive today by His grace.

You will die in hope of eternal life with Him.

Through His mercy, you will rise again in the glory of the resurrection.”

If, in this way, you can truly look upon your fellow man with kind intent, even a person who hurt or wounded you, then you not only do a good work in God’s sight, but you lessen any pain in your soul. By allowing the grace of the Holy Spirit to work and move through you in a spirit of forgiveness, any anger and bitterness in your soul will dissipate, replaced with genuine compassion and deep Christian love. This freedom from anger and bitterness is the fruit of all regenerative redemption, healing of soul, and inner peace.

My icon corner

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My icon corner

I took this picture last night using the light provided by my desk lamp several feet away.

I took this picture last night using the light provided by my desk lamp several feet away.

I took this photo after my morning prayers on Saturday, February 16. The burning frankincense and the beauty of the icons through the fragrant smoke reminded me very much of being in church.

I took this photo after my morning prayers on Saturday, February 16. The burning frankincense and the beauty of the icons through the fragrant smoke reminded me very much of being in church.

Icon corner 7

I took the first two images on the evening of Monday, February 25, 2013. The latter two are from the morning of Saturday, February 16.

The ocean of God’s mercy

“We should often, if not daily, examine our souls, and repent of the sins that we find there.” – St Mark the Ascetic

“Let none fear death, for the death of the Saviour has set us free!” – St John Chrysostom

When compared to God’s love for us, our many sins are but rain drops disappearing into the infinite ocean of His mercy.

In baptism, we enter the Christian life through water, as the waves of faith and God’s grace wash over us, embracing us in the sea of His eternal love, pulling us on the tide of our mortal life toward the promise of eternal life with Him.

When we repent, our turning away from sinful paths often manifests physically in the shedding of heartfelt tears as the soul is pierced by the love of her Creator. Just as the ocean of God’s mercy envelops and blots out all our sins, so too are our tear drops of repentance washed away through the cleansing pool of His grace in genuine confession, by which, in obedience to the grace and direction of the Holy Spirit, we may continually be renewed, strengthened, transformed and made righteous anew.

In Christ, the sunrise is a metaphor for both birth, one’s physical entry into this world to begin this transitory life, and for the crowning sun of entry into eternal life through the body’s physical death. Likewise, the sunset heralds both the declining years of one’s human life, and the hopeful approach of life eternal beyond the ‘night’ of the grave.

When, at the end of this transitory life, we have shed countless tears, some of bitterness or despair, many more of repentance, humility and joy, we will then more fully discern the depth of God’s infinite grace and mercy for us. When we have been transformed through God’s grace and our ever-deepening faith, when we have poured out oceans of love for our Creator and all His creation, we feel called to return to His infinite, loving embrace. With radiant faces, joyous hearts, and illumined souls, those made righteous by grace, in faith, fall once more into this infinite ocean, entering unto eternal life as peacefully as gentle raindrops falling into the sea.

“As a handful of sand is thrown into the ocean, so are the sins of all flesh as compared with the mind of God. Just as a strongly flowing fountain is not blocked up by a handful of earth, so the compassion of the Creator is not overcome by the sins of His creatures. Someone who bears a grudge while he prays is like a person who sows in the sea and expects to reap a harvest.”
St. Isaac the Syrian (d. c. 700)

In Christ is our hope, our joy, our life- in this world and the next- and our very salvation- mystical and personal union with Him by the grace and power of His Holy Spirit!

“A life journey into the Heart of God”: Abbot Tryphon on the lifelong process of salvation

 AM I SAVED?
Therapeutic Tradition of the Church

Most of us have been asked the question, “are you saved?”, at least once in our life. Having its origin in the Protestant soteriology (doctrine of salvation), this question has clearly become part of our American cultural lexicon. The question is often asked by Evangelical Christians as a way of establishing whether we are fellow “born again” Christians, and therefore fellow believers.

Being able to answer in the affirmative clearly gives the “born again” Christian a sense of security. That one believes a single moment that a declaration of Jesus Christ as one’s savior, guarantees eternal life, would be comforting. Yet for the Orthodox Christian, the question can be disconcerting, even awkward, for we would never presume to think of ourselves as “saved”. We could say we are saved, being saved, and hope to be saved, but we would never be so presumptuous as to declare we are saved.Like our evangelical friends, we Orthodox Christians understood Christ’s death on the cross was accomplished for our salvation, and that salvation is a gift. We know that we are not saved by our works, and that we, “having been justified by faith (Romans 5:1)”, and are totally dependent on God’s mercy for our salvation. Yet we have a parting of the ways when it comes to the theology of redemption.As Orthodox Christians the moment we declare our faith in Christ, is the moment we begin our journey. The Holy Spirit imparts the gift of grace, and we begin to participate in the divine energies of God, that we might be transformed and made whole.

Only in Orthodoxy do we find a “therapeutic treatment” tradition. Like the Ancient Church, we believe that an intellectual acceptance of Christ as our Savior is only the beginning of a life journey into the Heart of God. At the moment we declare Christ as our savior, the therapy begins, and we are drawn into the hospital of the soul (the Church), wherein we begin the transformation that leads to deification. The analogous “treatment” of our personality begins at the moment of our declaration, but is completed only with our cooperation with God’s grace.

The Holy Scriptures make it clear that faith comes by hearing the Word and by experiencing “theoria” (the vision of God). We accept Christ in the beginning by hearing the Word and seek Him out in order to be healed. The attainment of theoria, saves man. Because evangelicals believe the acceptance of Christ saves man, the Orthodox concept of a “therapeutic tradition”, is foreign to them.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we see the image of Christ who cures the wounded man by leading him to the Inn, which is the Church. Christ is the physician who cures, and the cure takes place within the hospital, which is the Church. We can not say that we are saved, for we have been given this life wherein we are to cooperate with God’s grace, and be transformed into His likeness, that we might be capable of spending eternity in His Divine Presence, without being burned.

With love in Christ,
-Abbot Tryphon

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Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation. For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will. And do ye all things without murmurings and hesitations; That you may be blameless, and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

— Philippians 2:12-15 (Douay-Reims 1899 American edition).

ImageThe Very Reverend Igumen Abbot Tryphon is the spiritual leader at All Merciful Saviour monastery located on Vashon Island in Puget Sound near Seattle, Washington State. The monastery is within the canonical jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The monastery’s widely acclaimed and popular Facebook page can be found here. Abbot Tryphon’s popular blog can be accessed here.