New Release from St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press

when hearts become flame

When Hearts Become Flame: An Eastern Approach to the Dia-Logos of Pastoral Counseling (Second Edition)

by Dn. Stephen Muse, author of Being Bread

(Revised, 2nd Edition) Whatever else he or she does, the pastoral counselor, same as the priest at the Divine Altar, enters into a call and response relationship, invoking God’s presence and seeking to be receptive to God’s activity unfolding in the here and now. The intention of pastoral counseling must be to offer Christ to the other (and receive Him) while serving at the altar of the human heart.

When Hearts Become Flame reflects on the question, “What makes counseling pastoral?”. This question is in light of the integration of all three aspects of our human nature in dialogue with others, occurring in such a way that Christ appears in ‘between’ bringing healing and transformation. It is not enough to be emotionally warm, theoretically correct and methodologically skillful. Pastoral care and counseling involve an integrated mindful presence existentially engaged in dialogue with the other with the same vulnerability and alertness that one brings to God in prayer. Inner discernment and ascetical struggle along with existential engagement with and for others in working for a just and humane world are equally important in response to God’s love given for all.

ISBN: 978-0-9905029-7-5  Paperback, 317 pp., 6×9, $19.95

Comments Off on New Release from St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press

Filed under Uncategorized


soldier communion

The importance of preparing to receive the Holy Mysteries

That the Church requires us to prepare to receive the Holy Mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ, prior to the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, by saying the Pre-Communion Prayers, is a given. The Church also requires us to fast from midnight on, abstaining from either food or drink, until after we have received the Body and Blood of our Savior. The only exception is when we must, because of health issues, eat or drink something, and this must be blessed by our confessor or priest.

Although not required, if we read the appointed Epistle and Gospel readings prior to entering into the Liturgy, the Word can better enter the heart, for when hearing God’s Word for the second time, we are more receptive, and the Word penetrates deeply.

Perhaps the most important preparation we must make before attending the Divine Liturgy is to be sure we are at peace with all our brothers and sisters. We dare not approach the chalice with malice or hatred towards anyone, nor can we receive the Holy Gifts with a heart that has refused to forgive those who have hurt or offended us. An important part of forgiving others is for us to seek forgiveness. Thus, frequent confession is an imperative.

Participating in the Divine Liturgy is a great privilege, for in this service we are entering into a place where there is neither time nor space, and where we are worshiping the Holy Trinity, together with the hosts of heaven.

In the Liturgy, we encounter God in a way that is beyond human comprehension, for we are invited to commune with our Creator in the most intimate way. To approach the Holy Mysteries (Communion) without thought, as though we were simply going to a movie, is beyond foolishness. To receive the “hot coals” that is meant to transform us, and make us whole, without proper preparation, is a very dangerous thing to do.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Brotherhood of the All-Merciful Savior, Vashon Island, Washington


Filed under Uncategorized

Holy Scripture


The Holy Scripture is a collection of books written over multiple centuries by those inspired by God to do so. It is the primary witness to the Orthodox Christian faith, within Holy Tradition and often described as its highest point. It was written by the prophets and apostles in human language, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and collected, edited, and canonized by the Church. Above all, the Bible is a faith document.

The Nature of Scripture

The Scriptures both are the word of God and are about the Word of God, Jesus Christ. They are God’s revelation of himself, the word of God in the words of men. The Bible is a witness to the revelation of God, and it is a part of the active and living Holy Tradition of the Church. Thus, if Tradition is the life of the Church, then the Scripture is the primary language of that life.

The Scripture—both Old and New Testaments—is fundamentally about Christ. It is Christocentric and Christological. The whole Bible presupposes the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ. Indeed, the very purpose in writing the New Testament was because Christ had already risen from the dead—with the death of the Apostle James, the Church realized that the eyewitnesses were not always going to be with them, therefore the preaching of the eyewitnesses was written down.

The preaching of the apostles preceded the Scripture, so we must understand the Scripture as an expression of that preaching; the word of God had already gone out and established the Church, which served as the communal context for the Scripture’s composition and canonization. Humanity naturally tends to preach before it makes a written record. Moses’ word to the people of Israel after the Passover was first that they should tell their children. St. Mary Magdalene’s first act upon learning of the Resurrection was to run and tell Peter. Only later did these events get recorded in writing.

The Presupposition of Faith

The Bible presupposes the faith of the reader. It is a faith document—not science, philosophy, history, archaeology, literature, ideology, or biography. Because of its origins and usage in the community of faith, it does not attempt to establish its own authenticity or to prove its basic assumptions. It was not intended as a logical proof for the existence of God or for the reality of that to which it attests.

Faith is the acceptance of a truth on the word of another, not guessing or direct knowledge from being an eyewitness. As St. John Chrysostom says, the Church would die if it were founded only on knowledge (i.e., direct experience); there must be those who take it on faith. Though in the Church’s history many “empirical” experiences of Biblical revelation have been had by the saints, they are by no means the norm. Most Christians in this life will never directly witness the truths described in the Bible, and so they must read it with the eyes of faith.

The Integrity of Scripture

Because the Bible is a faith document, we must respect its integrity as the final revelation of the Orthodox Christian faith. We do not recognize any other writings as canonical Scriptures other than those listed below. Though the Bible does not constitute an all-sufficient summary of revelation, no new revelation has been given. Even if another document were to be unearthed which scholars all agreed came from the hand of Paul or Moses, it would not be added to the canon. Likewise, if an existing part of the canon were undeniably proven not to be from its traditionally ascribed author, it would not be removed from the canon.

The Purpose of Scripture

Holy Scripture exists for the reason that the Apostle John gives in John 20:30-31: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (KJV) That is, the Bible is written so that we might believe and be saved.

The Canon of Scripture

The Old Testament canon of Scripture is that of the Septuagint, which was the Bible of the apostles. Other Christian communions through the years have deviated somewhat from this apostolic canon which the Orthodox Church still uses. The canon of the New Testament was developed over the early centuries of the Church. Its first known listing in its final form is the Paschal Letter of St. Athanasius of Alexandria in A.D. 367.

The Old Testament – Septuagint or simply “LXX”, the Koine Greek version of the Hebrew Bible.

Pentateuch or “the Law”

  1. Genesis
  2. Exodus
  3. Leviticus
  4. Numbers
  5. Deuteronomy

Historical Books

  1. Joshua
  2. Judges
  3. Ruth
  4. I Kingdoms
  5. II Kingdoms
  6. III Kingdoms
  7. IV Kingdoms
  8. I Chronicles
  9. II Chronicles
  10. I Esdras
  11. II Esdras
  12. Nehemiah
  13. Tobit
  14. Judith
  15. Esther with additions
  16. I Maccabees
  17. II Maccabees
  18. III Maccabees

Books of Wisdom

  1. Book of Psalms
  2. Job
  3. Proverbs
  4. Ecclesiastes
  5. Song of Solomon
  6. Wisdom of Solomon
  7. Wisdom of Sirach

The Prophets

The Minor Prophets, or “The Twelve”

  1. Hosea
  2. Amos
  3. Micah
  4. Joel
  5. Obadiah
  6. Jonah
  7. Nahum
  8. Habakkuk
  9. Zephaniah
  10. Haggai
  11. Zachariah
  12. Malachi

The Major Prophets

  1. Isaiah
  2. Jeremiah
  3. Baruch
  4. Lamentations
  5. Letter of Jeremiah
  6. Ezekiel
  7. Daniel with additions


  1. IV Maccabees

The New Testament


  1. Gospel of Matthew
  2. Gospel of Mark
  3. Gospel of Luke
  4. Gospel of John


  1. Acts of the Apostles


Pauline Epistles

  1. Romans
  2. 1 Corinthians
  3. 2 Corinthians
  4. Galatians
  5. Ephesians
  6. Philippians
  7. Colossians
  8. 1 Thessalonians
  9. 2 Thessalonians
  10. 1 Timothy
  11. 2 Timothy
  12. Titus
  13. Philemon
  14. Hebrews

General Epistles

  1. James
  2. 1 Peter
  3. 2 Peter
  4. 1 John
  5. 2 John
  6. 3 John
  7. Jude


  1. The Book of Revelation

(from Orthodox Wiki)

Comments Off on Holy Scripture

Filed under Uncategorized

The Exaltation or Elevation of the Holy Cross


The Elevation of the Holy Cross is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on September 14. This feast is also referred to as the Exaltation of the Cross. This is also a popular name day for Stavroula/Stavros (from “stavros” meaning cross).

This feast commemorates two events:

(1) The finding of the Cross by the Empress Helen (the mother of St. Constantine the Great) on Golgotha in 326 AD, the place where Christ was crucified.

On the spot where the Cross was discovered, St. Helen had found a hitherto unknown flower of rare beauty and fragrance, which has been named “Vasiliko,” or Basil, meaning the flower of royalty. Note that the word “Vasiliko” means “of the King,” since the word “Basileus” in Greek means “King”; so, the plant Vasiliko, Basil, is tied to the Precious Cross of the King of Glory, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Underneath the Basil, the Cross of Christ was found, but with it were the other two crosses, those used to crucify the two thieves on either side of Christ. The sign with the inscription, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”, also lay among the three crosses. In order to determine which one was the true cross, a sick woman was told to kiss each of the three crosses. The woman kissed the first cross with no result. She kissed the second cross and again nothing happened. However, when the ailing woman kissed the True Cross, she was immediately made well. It so happened that a funeral procession was passing that way, and so the body of the dead man was placed on each of the crosses, and when it was placed on the True Cross, the dead man came to life — thus the name the “Life-Giving” Cross, which gives life not only to that man, but to each person who believes in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and His all-glorious three day Resurrection.

When the true Cross was identified, it was lifted on high for all the people to see, who then continually sang Kyrie eleison, a practice which is still enacted at current celebrations of this feast.

(2) The recovery of the Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified from the Persians. The Persians had captured the True Cross as a prize of war when they sacked Jerusalem in 614 AD. It was recovered by the forces of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire)) in 627 AD, when Emperor Heraclius decisively defeated the Sassanid Persians at The Battle of Nineveh, surrounding their capital Ctesiphon, recovering the True Cross, and breaking the power of the Sassanid dynasty. The Elevation took place on March 21, 630 AD, when Emperor Heraclius entered Jerusalem amidst great rejoicing, and together with Patriarch Zacharios (609-632), transferred the Cross of Christ with great solemnity into the temple of the Resurrection, joyously held up for veneration by the Christian faithful.

This is one of the two feast days which is held as a strict fast. The other is the commemoration of the Beheading of St. John the Forerunner on August 29.


Comments Off on The Exaltation or Elevation of the Holy Cross

Filed under Uncategorized

Why Orthodox Christians Celebrate the New Year on the First of September


Click here to read a great article from Ancient Faith on Orthodox New Year

Comments Off on Why Orthodox Christians Celebrate the New Year on the First of September

Filed under Uncategorized

Looking ahead to August


August is a pivotal month in our calendar at Holy Transfiguration. For one thing, many of our members are home from summer vacations, and the new school year begins, which affects so many of our families.

August is also the last month of the Ecclesiastical Year, and is a rich spiritual time. The Dormition Fast begins on August 1 and continues until the feast day on the 15th. It is sometimes called “The Summer Pascha” and is stricter than the Advent Fast and the Apostles’ Fast, although it is fairly brief.

At Holy Transfiguration we will be celebrating two of the great Feasts of the Church during the first half of August. The Feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration on August 6 is the Patronal Feast, or Name Day, of our parish. It falls on a Thursday this year, and we will celebrate it with the Divine Liturgy at 7 a.m. that day. The Feast of the Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Mother of God is for Orthodox Christians one of the highlights of the liturgical year, and it falls on a Saturday this time, so we will celebrate the Divine Liturgy at 10 a.m. Please plan to take part!

Comments Off on Looking ahead to August

Filed under Uncategorized

Feast of the Ascension

Please join us this Thursday at 7 pm for the Divine Liturgy as we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


O Christ God, You have ascended in Glory, / Granting joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit. / Through the blessing they were assured / That You are the Son of God, / The Redeemer of the world!

Comments Off on Feast of the Ascension

Filed under Uncategorized