A Servant’s Heart: Abbot Tryphon on offering the Holy Eucharist

THE HOLY OBLATION
The Place Where Heaven and Earth are United

Image       As a priest, I bear the awesome burden of offering the Holy Oblation before the Throne of God, on behalf of all the people whose names are submitted to the monastery, and who are Orthodox. I offer for my spiritual children, and even for the whole world. I commemorate my own beloved parents, Albert and Dolores, who both converted to the Orthodox Faith while in their mid seventies, and who both lived many years in Orthodoxy before reposing in the Lord.

       I remember my best friend in college, Russell, who, like myself, converted from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy, and died at the age of 56, in the pastoral care of my friend Archpriest Nicholas Letten. I offer the Holy Oblation for the people who regularly attend the Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies, here in our monastery’s temple. I offer, like all priests, the Holy Oblation for our nation, our civil authorities, and our armed forces. I offer the Eucharistic sacrifice for our Holy Patriarch Kirill, our Metropolitan Hilarion, for Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco, and my Bishop Theodosy of Seattle. I offer the Oblation for all those who have no one to pray for them, and for those who have died, but are forgotten. I offer the Holy Sacrifice for all the clergy of the Seattle area, and for my brother priests of the diocese. I offer the Holy Sacrifice for myself.
       As a priest, I am a Servant of the Altar, and when I stand before the holy table I am bound together with every priest who has ever served, and with everyone who has laid down his life for Christ, as a martyr. I am bound to every Christian who has ever lived. I am bound to Christ in His Eternal Kingdom wherein the Heavenly Banquet is eternally celebrated, eternally offered, and am falling down, together with all the heavenly hosts, in worship of the Holy Trinity.

The whole of the cosmos is united together in this heavenly offering, for it is the very source of Life itself. This offering is not simply a “symbol” or “memorial” of something that took place in the past, but a place where we meet the Eternal God, for Christ said, “he who eats of My Body, and drinks of my Blood, has life”. Within this celebration we enter into the place where there is neither time, nor space, and we enter into the Heavenly Kingdom, where the Church Triumphant (in heaven) unites with the Church Militant (on earth). We enter into the Communion of Saints!

I am a proponent of frequent communion because we need the Eucharist. It sustains us, encourages us, fortifies us, heals us, transforms us. The early Christians receive whenever they gathered together, for they knew the communal participation in the Eucharistic banquet, was life giving.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

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The 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.

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!