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Слава Ісусу Христу!  (Glory to Jesus Christ!)

NEWS! (Updated November 24, 2015)
Holy Transfiguration Monastery is pleased to continue hosting the excellent lecture series, "The Divine Liturgy,"  presented by Fr. David Anderson.

Times and Dates are as follows:

Begins:    Tuesday, November 10th and will continue for the next 5 Tuesday's
Time:        2:30PM
Location: Holy Transfiguration Monastery
                 17001 Tomki Road
                 Redwood Valley, CA

*Thanksgiving Day Divine Liturgy will be at 8AM

*Questions or Comments?  Please call or email Br. Gideon @ (707) 485-4162 or brgideon@monksofmttbor.com

Holy Transfiguration Monastery is a contemplative, Eastern Catholic monastery, part of the worldwide Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church under the leadership of His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk.  Eastern Catholics are Orthodox Catholics who live in full and visible communion with the Holy See of Rome, and we pray for the Pope as our "Holy Ecumenical Hierarch."  One does not need to be ethnically Ukrainian to join our monastery or attend Ukrainian church services.  The Ukrainian Catholic Church comes from the Ukrainian people but it is open for all peoples…so Welcome!

Earnestness in Answering God's Call 

The following is a brief homily from Cardinal Newman (1801-1890 ) which one of the brother's read at a recent Vespers.  It's a highly relevant message because the callings Cardinal Newman describes can happen at any point in a person's life and as any with any such heavenly summons, they are completely personal matters.  They're not subject to vote or approval by committee, and the consequences of refusing such things--when viewed in the context of eternity--are enormous.  Yet this is not a message of fear but rather of incalculable blessing, opportunity and reward.

Nothing is more certain in matter of fact, than that some men feel themselves called to high duties and works to which others are not called.  Why this is we do not know; whether it be that those who are not called forfeit the call from having failed in former trials, or have been called and have not followed; or that though God gives baptismal grace to all, yet he really does call some men by his free grace to higher things than others.  But so it is; this man sets sights which that man does not see, has a larger faith, a more ardent love, and a more spiritual understanding.

No one has any leave to take another's lower standards of holiness for his own.  It is nothing to us what others are.  If God calls us to greater renunciation of the world, and exacts a sacrifice of our hopes and fears, this is our gain, this is our mark of his love for us, this is a thing to be rejoiced in.

Such thoughts, when properly entertained, have no tendency to puff us up, for if the prospect is noble, yet the risk is more fearful.  While we pursue high excellence, we walk among precipices, and a fall is easy, hence the Apostle says, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that works in you." (Phil 2: 12-13).  Again, the more men (or women) aim at high things, the more sensitive perception they have of their own shortcomings; and this again is adapted to humble them especially.

We need not fear spiritual pride then, in following Christ's call, if we follow it as men in earnest.  Earnestness has no time to compare itself to the state of other men; earnestness has too vivid a feeling of its own infirmities to be elated at itself.  Earnestness is simply set on doing God's will.  It simply says, "Speak, Lord, for your servant hears…Lord, what will you have me do?"

Oh, that we had more of this spirit!  Oh, that we could take the simple view of things, as to feel that the one thing that lies before us is to please God!  What gain is it to please the world, to please the great, nay, even to please those whom we love, compared with this?  What gain is it to be applauded, courted, admired, followed, compared with this one aim, of not being disobedient to a heavenly vision?

What can this world offer comparable to that insight into spiritual things, that keen faith, that heavenly peace, that high sanctity, that everlasting righteousness, that hope of glory, which they have who in sincerity love and follow our Lord Jesus Christ?

Let us beg and pray him day by day to reveal himself to our souls more fully; to quicken or senses, to give us sight and hearing, taste and touch of the world to come; so to work within us that we may sincerely say, "You shall guide me with your counsel, and after that receive me to glory.  Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is none on earth that I desire in comparison to you: my flesh and my heart fails; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever."  (Ps 73, 24-26).

The Homily for Thursday, April 16th 

The Monastery's co-founder, Father Boniface, subscribed to the belief that by allowing--or compelling--monks to share homily duty for weekday Divine Liturgies, the non-priest brothers developed much deeper connections with the scriptures than they might have otherwise.  Thus each monk of Mt. Tabor takes his turn with the daily preaching.

The following homily was written and read for today's service courtesy of Br. Seraphim.

Christ is risen!   And so may we be, too!    In our gospel passage today, we hear the Truth Himself, telling us the truth about real life and how to have it.  He hear also about judgment, and the two basic kinds of resurrection.  That's only fair, since we're in a season of celebrating our Savior's resurrection.  There's a resurrection of those those who have done good, rising to live, and the resurrection of those who have done evil, to be condemned. The judgment will be sure, and the judgment will be just, and both mercy and judgment will be together.
    Now, the thing is, many people have done BOTH good and evil – and there's nothing in our sacred scriptures to indicate that one can rise to both life and condemnation.  True, you can rise to be purified and then live. There might be a way to rise to be anti-purified and then be condemned, though nobody talks about a purgation of virtue before entering hell, the way there's a purgation of sin before entering heaven.  But most people have done both good and evil, and it's common enough to hear even great saints express uncertainty about their salvation, and similar themes appear in some of the desert father stories.  We have faith and confidence and assurance, and yet also don't want to be rashly presumptuous, either:  the spiritual warfare isn't over yet, in our lives.  So... what to do?
    Maybe we should indulge in writing “listicles”.  A “listicle” is a form of composition that arose more recently than did the gospels, the liturgical canons, the sagas, or the haiku poem.  You write a listicle by composing a list on some theme, and then usually adding a bit more to turn the list into an article.  A listicle is a list-article.   A typical title might be something like “The Top 10 Haunted Houses in Detroit,” or “37 Necessary Items that Americans Won't Have on Hand in a Crisis.”
    If we took a survey, asking each one of us to make a list of the top ways to get into Heaven, we'd have a pretty good start. We can add a little, so it's more like an article.  It'll also be good because it makes for some great topics for meditation, especially in the present season of celebrating resurrection!  I'll give it a whack, just a starter for such a list, beginning with today's gospel clues.  I'll leave out the number of them, as this is still a work in progress, but the title would be something like:  “12 Great Ways to Eternal Life,” adjusting the number as we add more.   Here we go:
      1. Hear the word of Christ, and believe our Father in Heaven who sent Him.
      2. Do good to those in need, so you can be among the sheep, and not among the goats.
      3. Repent, for the Kingdoms is closer than you think: confess your sins, and turn to living your life as Christ says we should: it's good for our resurrection!  Unless you repent, you shall perish.
      4. Be a doer of His word, not merely a hearer.
      5. Ask Him to remember you in His kingdom, as the good thief did on the cross – and mean it.
     6. Weep and sorrow for your sins, as the Magdalene did: it's part of sincere confession and repentance, and it melts Jesus' heart.
      7. Eat his flesh and drink his blood, in Holy Communion: for if you don't, you won't have life within you, and if you do, you will!
      8. Learn to be poor in spirit, and to rejoice if you are persecuted for being righteous, for yours will be the kingdom of heaven.
      9. Be pure of heart, for then you shall see God.
     10. Get born in the Holy Spirit, for you can't see the Kingdom of God without being born of the water and the Spirit.
     11. Be merciful, and forgive.
     12. Love God with all you've got, and love your neighbor as you would love yourself.
    So, cheers to all who wish to rise to eternal life.  Christ is risen!


A Brief Exhortation from St. Jerome 

(The following is a writing from St. Jerome, which also serves as the Holy Tuesday reading from "Christian Readings, Vol 3."  After Pascha, when the monks resume our daily homilies, we will be adding excerpts from those--as well as thoughts from Abbot Damien--here instead).

The cross of Christ is the support of mankind.  Man's dwelling is built on this column.  When I speak of the cross, I am not speaking of the wood but of the Passion.  The cross is found as much in Britain as it is in India, and in the whole universe.  For what does Christ say in the Gospel?  "If you do not take up your cross each day and follow in my footsteps, if your soul is not ready to take up the cross as mine was taken up for you, you cannot be my disciple (Lk 9:23).  Blessed is the man who bears the cross and the resurrection in his heart, as well as the place of the birth and that of the ascension of Christ.  Blessed is he who possesses Bethlehem in his heart and in whose heart Christ is born daily.  For what is the meaning of Bethlehem if not, "house of bread?"  Let us too be a house of bread...of that bread that came down from Heaven. 

Every day Christ is crucified, for we are crucified to the world (Gal 6:14) and Christ is crucified in us.  Blessed is he in whose heart Christ rises every day because every day such a man does penance for even the smallest of his sins.  Blessed is he who everyday ascends from the Mount of Olives to the Kingdom of Heaven, where the olives are large and the light of Christ is born.  It is not a question to have been in Jerusalem but what matters is to have lived well in Jerusalem, and it is for this that we must be happy.  The city we must seek is not the city that killed its prophets and shed the blood of Christ, but the city that can rejoice in a powerful river, the city that built on a mountain, cannot be hidden, the city that the Apostle proclaims to be the mother of saints and those that wish to dwell with the righteous (Phil 3:20).  

In saying this, I am not accusing myself of inconstancy, nor do I repudiate what I'm doing as if I considered it useless to have left my own country after the example of Abraham, for I would not dare to restrict the almighty power of God and confine it to a small country, or confine to a small corner of the earth Him who Heaven cannot contain.  Every believer is estimated according to the merit of his faith and not on account of where he lives.  And the true adorers do not need Jerusalem or Mt. Garizim to adore the Father.  For God is spirit and his adorers must adore in spirit and in truth (John 4:23).  Now, the Spirit blows where it wills (John 3:8) and "the Lord's are the earth and its fullness," (Ps 24:1).

November 2015