We represent you an interview with Father Martin, a monk from Brotherhood of the All-Merciful Saviour Monastery Vashon Island USA. The Brotherhood of the All-Merciful Saviour was established in 1986 by Archimandrite Dimitry (Egoroff) of blessed memory. The Monastery is under the omophore of His Eminence Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
The Monastery is located on scenic Vashon Island in the central Puget Sound, near Seattle, Washington. About a twenty minute ferry ride from West Seattle and 15 minute ferry ride from Tacoma, Vashon is only accessible by boat. The Island is heavily forested, and, although it is in a major metropolitan region, it remains rural. About 85% of the island is undeveloped forest.
– Father Martin, what was your way to the Orthodox faith? How did you get to know Orthodoxy?
After traveling in Western Europe and visiting several historic sites, some dating back to Roman times, I began to feel that the protestantism that I grew up with was disconnected from historical Christianity. I first went to a more traditional protestant church but then seeing that it was morally corrupt, I knew I had to go further back to a more historical church. I visited some Roman Catholic churches, but felt they were empty and sterile and also disconnected from Tradition. Then I decided to try the Orthodox Church as I didn’t really know anything about it except I knew they fasted a lot!
After my first visit, I was convinced it was the true Church. I immediately suspended everything that I thought I understood about Christianity and allowed the Orthodox Church to teach me afresh, from the beginning. After this, the Scriptures, which I had read from my youth, suddenly made much more sense and I discovered in them a profundity that I never knew before.
-What made you become a monk and serve as a clergyman in the Orthodox Church?
I enjoyed going to church and attending the services so much I decided that the only way to get MORE church was to become a monk. I wanted to be close to God. I had read many books on the spiritual life and all the ones that I found most helpful were written by monks, so I decided to live the monastic life.
-How long are you a monk and what difficulties you face every day, is it easy to be an Orthodox monk in the United States?
I joined a monastery in 2001. I took my vows as a stavrophore in 2004.
It is easy to be a monk in the United States as we have much freedom here. The only difficulty is that Orthodoxy is new to America, so it can be difficult to learn the services, the hymnography, different styles of chanting etc. There are many options to us: Byzantine Chant, various Slavic traditions, and so on. But many times it is up to us to arrange the music which is available to the English text. All our services are in English.
-Your monastery is on an island, but there are many visitors and do they break your peace?
Being on an island certainly has its advantages. Doubtless we would have more visitors if we did not have that barrier of water around us. We are in the same county as Seattle, however, a major city and so we are accessible and people do come to visit. They do not really disturb our peace.
We try to keep strict hours of when we open up to the public and this helps maintain order.
In the future we hope to build a guest house, so that guests who are staying here can have a place set apart for themselves. This will also help to keep the peace while we are able also to provide overnight accommodations to more people.
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Monasticism is a gift not just to monastics, but to the Church. Participate in this wonderful part of our faith by visiting your local monasteries, supporting them and praying with and for them.