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We will accompany you on this walk...in this place.
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Letter from Abbot Damian Higgins as we prepare for the
Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Christ is Born!
We now anticipate celebrating that mystery that we have with great care prepared for, the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior. Long awaited, it is this child who is our HOPE and this hope is not in vain.
"Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth." Psalm 123 (124): 8.
This Christmas is an opportunity to experience, once again, the joy of surrender: surrender to the reality that God cares for us and provides for all our needs, and that He loves us. He came to be with us — Emmanuel. This faith in Divine power, however, does not negare our responsibility to act with careful discernment and even caution in regard to the challenges that confront us as individuals or as a community. Rather, it is our faith that prompts us toa ct and respond.
This past summer came with grave concerns about our continued threat of wildfires. The monastery was offered 400 acres of pristine forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains west of Ashville, North Carolina. It includes beautiful buildings to accommodate both a residential community along with retreatants. There is a large wooden chapel on top of the property with views extending for 20 miles. The property is valued at seven to eight million dollars and was being offered as a gift. We did not accept the gift.
Let me explain why.
The Monks of Mt. Tabor at Holy Transfiguration Monastery are consecrated to God, and particularly to the monastic vocation, and we are consecrated to God in a particular place. Thus, we are committed to maintain this place and the rhythm of life proper to our form of monasticism. We are also conscious that we could bot do that without your support and the support of all those who have helped to build the monastery since the summer of 1972. So, while on the one hand the monk's life demands a certain amount of isolation from the activities of regular society, at the same time we invite the participation of the laity who seek, as we do, to live lives of holiness. We cannot provide the social and pastoral services of a parish church, but we can welcome you to join us in the Prayers of the Church.
As with the reality of taking the necessary precautions for dealing with forest fires, so too we must approach the present concerns about the COVID-19 (or coronavirus disease, 2019) by seeking to live in wise discernment without adopting a culture of fear and without abandoning those attributes essential to our way of life.
In relation to these concerns, we ask all of our visitors to refrain from visiting the monastery if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have been exposed to someone exhibiting them.
Please maintain the prescribed social distancing measures when relating to those not withing your own family group; this includes the wearing of face masks.
We will try to offer church services outdoors (weather permitting), but otherwise will keep all the doors and windows of the church open while at the same time operating our ventilation system. This will provide for those standing outside to participate in the services with prayerful listening, while also mitigating the risk of transmitting the virus.
If you should have any qualms about the way that the monastery is addressing the COVID-19 concerns, believing it to be either too strict or too lax, please stay home and be assured that we will pray for you and, if necessary, provide any sacramental support that we can offer to you in your home or vehicle (Holy Communion, Confession, Anointing, etc.).
Please be assured or our most sincere gratitude for your faithfulness to the monastery, for your generous financial support, and for your loving concern and prayers. We are all inspired by the great sacrifices that each of you make in helping us to praise and glorify God who comes to be made manifest in this place, even as He was placed, newly born, in the animal trough in Bethlehem long ago.
Fr. Abbot Damian
of the Monks of Mt. Tabor
NATIVITY OF OUR LORD (CHRISTMAS) - 2020
CIRCUMCISION OF THE LORD and feast of ST BASIL - 2021
THEOPHANY - 2021
CHRIST IS BORN!
Vigil of Christmas:
Thursday Dec. 24: 4:00 PM — Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil
Friday Dec. 25: 10:00 AM — Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
Synaxis of the Theotokos:
Saturday Dec. 26: 6:45 AM — Matins followed by
8:00 AM — Divine Liturgy
Sunday after Christmas:
Sunday Dec. 27: 10:00 AM — Divine Liturgy
Circumcision of Our Lord — feast of St. Basil the Great
Thursday Dec. 31: 4:30 PM — Great Vespers
Friday Jan. 1: 8:00 AM — Divine Liturgy
Theophany — Baptism of Our Lord in the Jordan
Tuesday Jan. 5: 4:30 PM — Great Vespers
Wednesday Jan. 6: 8:00 AM — Divine Liturgy and Great Blessing of the Waters
CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS TRULY RISEN!
Dear friends and benefactors,
We greet one another in the joy of this indescribable mystery. We seek to celebrate that which can never be fully expressed in words or image. Even in the iconography of our Church, we present the moment before the resurrection when our Lord descended into Hades raising up our first parents, from the bondage of death. And we depict the moment after the resurrection when the myrrh bearing women encounter the empty tomb. Strictly speaking, traditional iconography avoids depicting the moment when Christ rises from the tomb for the details of this moment are beyond the words of even The God inspired Gospel writers. Neither Matthew, Mark, Luke or John give language to this mystery. And yet it is the central mystery that defines our new understanding of what it means to be human.
Death defines human life in its biological formation. Now in Christ's Resurrection we see our humanity restored to its proper dignity as sons and daughters of the eternal God in whose image we were created and in Christ's Resurrection we are re-formed.
The death of brother Timothy March 18 at the beginning of the mandated shelter in place orders, and in the midst of our journey through great Lent provided us with a powerful image. Carved out of the earth was a doorway, a doorway through which every single human being must pass. But even as we placed his disintegrated body into the earth, we proclaimed Christ's power to re-define human existence by His death which would in turn reveal his resurrection.
Let us allow the Fibers of our being to continue to be transformed by the proclamation and the reality that we repeat over and over and over again: CHRIST IS RISEN!
+Abbot Damian Higgins and the Monks of Mt. Tabor
Dear Friends of Holy Transfiguration Monastery - Monks of Mt. Tabor,
Without a doubt this Holy Week will be one that we all will remember for many years and for many reasons, that is, we had to stay home for health reasons. That does not mean that we have to stop celebrating the most important week out of the year for us Christians. Here is a wonderful resource for celebrating the Holy Week and Pascha at home. We thank the nuns of "Christ the Bridegroom Monastery" for sharing with the Church this wonderful resource to celebrate Holy Week at home.
PASTORAL LETTER OF HIS BEATITUDE SVIATOSLAV
TO YOUTH ON PALM SUNDAY
Beloved in Christ Youth in Ukraine and abroad!
Palm Sunday, the day of Christ’s triumphant entry in Jerusalem, is traditionally for me and the entire leadership of our Church an opportunity to address you with a special letter. I always cherish this opportunity because I consider it a special privilege to reflect together and with you seek answers to questions and needs, which I have heard expressed at various encounters and conversations with you throughout the year.
This year, in spite of the unique life circumstances in which we find ourselves, you, young people, without going to church due to the restrictions that have been placed on us, can listen to or read this appeal of ours. The Church comes to you, wherever you may be: we hope that the voice which will be heard on screens of various sizes and formats, will resonate in your hearts, lift up and inspire each one of you.
It’s a wonderful thing to be young, but also not easy. Being a youth means having an open heart, an inquisitive mind, and a rebellious character that reacts sharply to all forms of injustice, every distortion, any wrong, which adults have learned to ignore or even exploit. For a young person today the challenge increases with the fast pace and virtualization of the global world, the economic crisis and pandemic. For young Ukrainians there is the additional factor of an unjust war of invasion in the east of the country, a war in which for the seventh year now, sons and daughters of our Fatherland continue to die, while defending peace and the future.
Uncertainty and fear have enveloped the world. Motivational speakers will probably earn millions talking on the topic of “How to live in a time of incertitude.” High-school graduates worry about how they will do their SATs and apply to places of higher learning, while university and college graduates wonder whether they will find a job in a world that seems to heading rapidly towards economic crisis. Proprietors of small coffee shops are anxious about whether they will be able to reopen once the quarantine is over, programmers—whether orders from large international companies will be cancelled, as the financial stability of their businesses depend on them. One has the impression that today there isn’t a single young person who does not worry about the uncertainty that hangs over us.
Pope Francis in his address, “Urbi et orbi” (To the City of Rome and the World), which was recently given on the occasion of Special Prayer for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, compares the current situation to a storm on the sea. The entire world is afraid, disoriented and lost, as if sitting in a single boat tossed by waves. In this storm we sense our fragility, our mortality, possibly our inexperience and arrogance.
At the same time, we, Christians, know that in this boat on a turbulent sea God Himself is with us. He became Man and died on the cross, so that we “may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). Remembering the Resurrection keeps us from falling into despair, and helps us to continue rowing and, with trust in the Lord, overcome the waves.
The road to the Resurrection begins with the triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
The entry into Jerusalem is the beginning of a new era. In his passion, death on the cross and Resurrection our Lord established a New Covenant with all humanity. This new pact no longer involves just one people, is no longer limited to a particular land or culture, but embraces all—each and every one of you. At the Last Supper, which we will prayerfully commemorate this week, Christ gave to his disciples the Mystery of the Eucharist—the Mystery of his Body and Blood, by which this Covenant is established and sealed. He clearly stated that the Blood of the New Covenant is poured our “for you and for many” (see Mt 26:28, Mk 14:24, Lk 22:20). This is our security guarantee in unsure times—He redeemed us, made us his people, has poured out and is pouring out his Blood for us.
In greeting the Savior who entered Jerusalem with new tree shoots, the new branches of humanity—the children of Israel—became bearers and heralds of a new time, a new era, a social paradigm, that changed the world. The history of humanity, especially the history of Europe in the second millennium, demonstrates that after dark times, after tragedies of plague and cholera, human society transforms itself, opening a new age in the development of civilization. Many understand that this is precisely what is happening before our very eyes, and that we will be witnesses to such “tectonic movements” that will change the foundations of modern states, economic systems, and methods of organizing а common world community.
The future fate of country-states, systems, and all of global society will depend, above all, on whether the “global Jerusalem” of today will open its doors for God, who in Christ the Savior brings peace, wisdom and hope. No less important—that into this “global Jerusalem” being restored by God, the youth enter not with empty hands, as mere passive spectators or simply a “human resource.” Young people must, just as at the entry of Christ into Jerusalem, express themselves, take on as a foundation authentic values that make a person human, and thus, as if with green branches, welcome the Saviour-Messiah. Only then, when the youth of today sing to him “Hosanna” will this new world become a world of and for humanity, where a culture of life, not death, will be built—a world where human life, the value of which we have rediscovered in a time of epidemic, will become the cornerstone for democracy, international law, and new global economic relations. If this does not happen and no one picks up these young “palm branches,” then the emergence of new deadly viruses is only a matter of time. However, instead of trembling before invisible enemies, all of us, especially you, the youth, must united in faith and solidarity of action. Let us remember the words of Pope Francis: “Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons.”
Therefore, we stand before the next change of an age. We do not know what the new age will be like. However, we clearly understand, that you, in fact, are its people. Be heralds of a new social justice, of a new paradigm of mercy, of new relations of openness and service.
We approach this year’s Easter celebrations in one of the most difficult periods of humanity in a new era of globalization. Over the years we have enjoyed the benefits of networking and connectedness, and now we find ourselves in the midst of a global quarantine. This new challenge requires from us careful creativity and a developed system of service. And in this we need the assistance and support of a creative and inventive youth. You are the true experts! Many a grandson or granddaughter helped their baba follow the Liturgy online, taught their dido how to use the internet, gifted them their old computer, showed them how to pay for services online and insisted that they stay at home, while personally providing them with their necessities. How many charitable social initiatives have appeared in various corners of Ukraine to help those who are the most vulnerable!
On behalf of our elderly today, the Church says to you: “Thank you, sincerely!” Keep doing what you do and develop your service, taking due care for your own personal safety; direct your energy towards those who need it. It’s been a while since many of us have spent so much time at home—a chance to listen to all the family stories! As you find yourselves under one roof and wait out this quarantine thrust upon us, relate to one another, do things together with your loved ones. This is another chance to discover the gift of the person that is next to you! Let us not doubt that in this you will be successful.
This epidemic that our generation is experiencing is like a smack across the side of the head for an arrogant humanity—in order to separate the grain from the chaff and to become aware once again of what’s most important. We understand that the economic crisis now emerging will hit the most vulnerable the hardest—our families, the elderly, and the young. Its negative effect will be felt by all. At the same time, we are also profoundly convinced that this crisis is a test for mercy, an occasion for good and service. We would especially like for you, young people, to know that your Mother-Church will undergo these challenges together with you, embracing you and accompanying you and your loved ones with her ceaseless prayer.
We stand at the threshold of a new world. What it will be like—depends on all of us.
Today, more than ever, is the time for your boldest dreams: to tame the universe, to find a cure for cancer, to conquer epidemics, to build a just economic system, to protect the sick and helpless, to seek out alternate sources of energy, to construct means of transportation that don’t harm the planet, etc. Dare to dream! Dream big! Desire greatness!
Invite Christ into your dreams! Be certain that he will help. Jesus Christ has already conquered our greatest fear and given us himself as a limitless source of hope and life. On this day of our Lord’s Entry into Jerusalem, open to Him the full expanse of your heart. In receiving our Saviour into your personal life, follow his lead into that unknown “tomorrow” which he himself will create for us, through his glorious and joyful Resurrection!
The blessing of the Lord be upon you!
Holy Transfiguration Monastery is on lock down in accordance with the Mendocino county dictates for the next two weeks . We will be praying for all of you and hopefully be getting some live-stream of the Lenten services to give you hope and strength as we face this challenge . God is with us !
TONSURING OF NEW NOVICE
At Great Vespers February 1, for the Solemn Feast of the Meeting of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the servant of God Andre was tonsured as a novice monk at Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Redwood Valley, CA.
In addition to the tonsure the new monk receives the black tunic as well as a belt and a monastic hat along with a prayer rope as symbols to prepare him for spiritual battle. He also receives a new name. Henceforth, Andre is to be known as Brother Athanasius Jerome.
In his great love for Holy Scripture, St. Jerome translated the original texts from Hebrew and archaic Latin into the Latin usage which would be understood by the people of his time. Having formerly lived a life of debauchery St. Jerome sought to conform his life to Law of God as revealed in the Scriptures. He is identified as a hermit of Bethlehem, although his eremitic life did not prevent him from being involved with both the grace of the life of the Church and the contemporary conflicts of his days.
St. Athanasius was very much involved with leadership in the Church as the 20th Bishop of the important city of Alexandria, where in this role he became a great defender and champion of the Mystery of the Incarnation. He thus earned the title Father of Orthodoxy.
Both of these saints are dear to our Brother who now bears their names not with the hope of imitating their greatness but living in humility with an appreciation of what they taught and lived. Pray for Brother Athanasius Jerome that he may continue to grow in true humility and obedience to the will of God as it is expressed in our life here in this monastery. And know that in turn Brother will be interceding for you.
In the love of Christ,