Personal testimony of Fr. Seraphim Holland – Fr. Seraphim Holland, USA


Personal testimony of Fr. Seraphim Holland

by Fr. Seraphim Holland, USA



I am a convert to Orthodoxy, and the next Holy Saturday (in 1996) will be the 16th anniversary of my baptism. I am an Orthodox priest, having been ordained just before Great Lent, this year (1995) after having been a deacon for 5 years. I am married, and have four children, Genevieve:14, Christina:11, Tim:8 and Natalie:5. My Matushka is Marina. I serve in the Mission parish of St. Nicholas, a community under the omophorion of Bishop Hilarion of Washington, in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Our community is almost entirely convert in makeup, and all of our services are in English.

I was raised Roman Catholic, with an unbelieving father (who subscribed to the “Man Upstairs” kind of “God” so many Americans believe in, and just thinks you need to be “good” to go to heaven). I saw many inconsistencies and lukewarmness among the Roman Catholics, and when I was a certain age (13?), my mother did not require me to go to church.

I was not a believer, but I was searching. I went to college, studying pre-med, and later switched to chemistry. I had a great desire to “make a difference”, but had reached a crisis, because I saw how temporal life was. I was fortunate to get a summer scholarship to do chemistry research, and lived at Purdue that summer, rooming with a “Navigator”.

The Navigators are a Protestant “Para Church” organization, with “Protestant Evangelical” Theology. He was a wonderful guy, and may God have mercy on Continue reading “Personal testimony of Fr. Seraphim Holland – Fr. Seraphim Holland, USA”


The Whole Person – We are both soul and body – Abbot Tryphon, Vashon Island, WA, USA


The Whole Person – We are both soul and body

Abbot Tryphon, Vashon Island, WA, USA




Unlike angels, who are entirely spiritual beings, God has made each of us as creatures dwelling in a material world. To be whole, we must worship God both in body and soul. This teaching is central to our Christian faith and is an affirmation of the sacramental nature of this material world. Because of this truth icons have played a central role in Christian history, for they proclaim Jesus Christ’s physical reality as God Incarnate.

Our Lord told his disciples that “he who has seen me, has seen the Father”. Icons depicting the Holy Virgin show the Christ Child with bare feet, reminding us that he walked the earth among us. He (the Logos) through Whom all that is was brought into existence, condescended to take on our flesh and walk among us. He joined His divinity to our humanity, that we might become gods.

The Lord Jesus Christ was born, lived, died and rose from the dead in this material world. He broke bread with disciples, ate fish with his friends, and invited His disciple Thomas to feel the wound in his side, after His holy resurrection. Most of the miracles He performed were in the nature of physical healing.

Because of the Incarnation, our use of icons bring our whole nature, body and soul, into the material world. This physical aspect of prayer is what connects us to our true self, composed of body and soul. This is where God reaches down to embrace us.

Icons are wonderful aides in our communion with God because they serve as bridges to Christ and links with the Holy Virgin and the saints. They are by no means the only means , for sitting on the top of a mountain, or walking on the seashore, eyes open, allows us to behold the beauty of God’s creation, and His love for us. The icons, like the glory of creation, are windows into eternity, and invite us who live in this material world, into an encounter with God.

Icons are necessary and essential because they protect the full and proper doctrine of the Incarnation. While God cannot be represented in His eternal nature (“…no man has seen God”, John 1:18), He can be depicted simply because He “became human and took flesh.” Of Him who took a material body, material images can be made. In so taking a material body, God proved that matter can be redeemed. He deified matter, making it spirit-bearing, and so if flesh can be a medium for the Spirit, so can wood or paint, although in a different fashion.

“I do not worship matter, but the Creator of matter, who for my sake became material and deigned to dwell in matter, who through matter effected my salvation… (Saint John of Damascus).” The seventh and last Ecumenical Council upheld the iconodules’ position in AD 787. They proclaimed: “Icons… are to be kept in churches and honored with the same relative veneration as is shown to other material symbols, such as the ‘precious and life-giving Cross’ and the Book of the Gospels. The ‘doctrine of icons’ is tied to the Orthodox teaching that all of God’s creation is to be redeemed and glorified, both spiritual and material.”

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Why children lose their faith in God? – Fr. Sergius Chetverikov, Washington, USA


Why children lose their faith in God?

Fr. Sergius Chetverikov, Washington, USA



Before answering that question, I want to say a few words to those who assert that one should not “impose” religious beliefs on children.

Religious faith cannot be imposed upon a person. It is not something extraneous to a person, but rather an essential, necessary requirement of human nature, the principal content of a person’s inner life.

When we take care to see that a child should grow up truthful, kind, when we nurture within him a proper understanding of beauty, taste for excellence, we do not impose upon him something alien or contrary to his nature; we merely help him to extricate him from himself, as it were to take him out of diapers and allow him to perceive for himself those attributes and impulses that are entirely characteristic of the human soul.

The same must be said about apprehension of God.

Following the principle of not imposing anything on the child’s soul, we would have to entirely refuse to participate in the child’s development and strengthening of his spiritual powers and abilities. We would leave him entirely to himself until he grows up and distinguishes between what he should and Continue reading “Why children lose their faith in God? – Fr. Sergius Chetverikov, Washington, USA”

Where is God when bad things happen? – Abbot Tryphon, Vashon Island, WA, USA


Where is God when bad things happen?


Abbot Tryphon All-Merciful Saviour Monastery

on Vashon Island, Washington, USA

We often wonder why God allows bad things to happen, sometimes even questioning if God cares at all about the evil things that happen to good people. Yet we forget that our God created us in such a way that we can freely return His love for us, and that in this freedom, we can even love others. We have all been given the freedom to do what we want, and to live our lives the way we please. The Lord lets us do drugs. He lets us be disrespectful to our parents, or cruel to those we decide are beneath us. He lets us avoid paying our taxes, or commit fraud for our own gain. God lets us avoid going to the services in our temples, while allowing us to choose partying with our friends on a Saturday night, over communing with our Creator God.

Our God allows us to spend all our time pursuing entertainment, and mindlessly focusing on social networking, to the exclusion of communing with Him. He lets us speed and cross the centerline into oncoming traffic, and although He doesn’t like it when we do, He refrains from forcing Himself on us. He lets us make bad decisions, but is sad because He knows what will come of it.

Our God, Who is ever loving, caring, and compassionate, watches over each and every one of us. God even has hopes and plans for us just like our families do. But just like our earthly parents, He allows us to make our own choices on what we want to do, and, like our friends and families, is saddened when we make bad choices. Bad things happen, not because God doesn’t care, but because, in our free will, we, His creatures, make bad things happen by choosing to do what we want, regardless of the consequences.

Finally, we live in a fallen world. This is not God’s doing, but our own. God did not create evil, we did, and the end result was that death entered our world. Christ came to destroy the power of death by His own death, and holy resurrection.

Love and blessings,

Abbot Tryphon



Ο Γέροντας Τρύφων της Νήσου Vashon της Washington σώζει έναν Αμερικάνό που ήθελε να αυτοκτονήσει σε ένα δάσος του Oregon των ΗΠΑ


Ο Γέροντας Τρύφων της Νήσου Vashon της Washington σώζει έναν Αμερικάνό που ήθελε να αυτοκτονήσει σε ένα δάσος του Oregon των ΗΠΑ

Αναφέρει ο Γέροντας Τρύφωνας ο ηγούμενος της Μονής του Σωτήρος Χριστού της Νήσου Vashon στην Washington των ΗΠΑ:

«Πρίν ἀπό πολλά χρόνια, πῆρα ἕνα μονοπάτι πού προχωροῦσε βαθιά σ᾽ ἕνα δάσος τοῦ Oregon, ὅταν εἶδα ξαφνικά μπροστά μου ἕνα νεαρό καθισμένο πάνω σ᾽ ἕνα κούτσουρο. Ἡ ἀφετερία τοῦ μονοπατιοῦ ἀπεῖχε κάπου τέσσερα μίλια ἀπ᾽ τό σημεῖο καί μοῦ φάνηκε πολύ παράξενο πού βρῆκα αὐτόν τόν ἄνθρωπο, μόνο, τόσο βαθιά μεσ᾽ στό δάσος. Ἦταν τόσο βυθισμένος στίς σκέψεις του, πού αἰσθάνθηκα τήν ἀνάγκη νά τοῦ ζητήσω νά μέ συγχωρήση πού τόν ξάφνιασα. Κάτι εἶπα γιά τήν ὀμορφιά τῆς θείας δημιουργίας καί τόν ρώτησα ἄν ἤθελε νά μοιραστοῦμε τό κολατσιό καί τόν καφέ μου. Κάθισα στό κούτσουρο δίπλα του, ἄνοιξα τό σακίδιό μου καί τοῦ ἔδωσα τό μισό ἀπ᾽ τό φαγητό μου. Μετά ἀπό λίγο, στράφηκε πρός τό μέρος μου, μοῦ ἔδειξε ἕνα περίστροφο καί μοῦ εἶπε ὅτι εἶχε ἔρθει στό ἀπομακρυσμένο αὐτό σημεῖο γιά νά αὐτοκτονήση. Μάλιστα ὅταν ἐμφανίσθηκα μέ τή μακρυά γενειάδα μου, τά μακρυά μαλλιά καί τό μαῦρο ράσο μου, νόμιζε ὅτι ἤμουν ἕνας ἄγγελος σταλμένος ἀπ᾽ τό Θεό· προσευχόταν λέει νά τόν συγχωρήση ὁ Θεός γι᾽ αὐτό πού ἑτοιμαζόταν νά κάνη. Τόν διαβεβαίωσα ὅτι εἶχα σάρκα καί ὀστά καί ὅτι δέν ἤμουν ἄγγελος. Πρόστεσα, ὅμως, ὅτι μέ ἔστελνε ὁ Θεός μέ ἕνα μήνυμα γι᾽ αὐτόν. Τό μήνυμα ἔλεγε ὅτι ἦταν πολύ ἀγαπητός στό Θεό καί ὅτι ἡ περίοδος αὐτή τῆς ἀπελπισίας γρήγορα θά περνοῦσε. Μοῦ ἔδωσε τό περίστροφό του, τό ὁποῖο ἔβαλα στό σακίδιό μου, καί κουβεντιάσαμε πολλή ὥρα γιά τή ζωή του. Γιά πολλά χρόνια ἀναρωτιόμουν ποιά κατεύθυνσι ἄραγε νά πῆρε ὁ ἄνθρωπος αὐτός μετά ἀπ᾽ τή συνάντησί μας στό δάσος. Ἀναρωτιόμουν ἀκόμη τί θά εἶχε συμβεῖ ἄν συνέχιζα τήν πεζοπορία μου χωρίς νά σταθῶ νά τόν χαιρετίσω, χωρίς νά τοῦ προσφέρω ἕνα χαμόγελο καί μισό σάντουϊτς. Κάθε φορά πού παραμερίζουμε τόν ἑαυτό μας καί βάζουμε μπροστά τό Χριστό, γινόμασθε δικοί Του ἀγγελιοφόροι».