Father Abbot Tryphon, the monk who leads the Russian Orthodox All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, is a thoroughly modern priest: He’s plugged in, does a daily blog and is on Facebook. The monastery’s temple is based on an ancient Norwegian stave church design.
We represent you an interview with Abbot Tryphon given for a site Dobrotolubie.
1. Father Tryphon, tell our readers and us how you decided to become an Orthodox monk?
I felt a vacuum in my life spiritually. I went on a search and found Orthodoxy which filled the gap and more. Once I discovered Orthodox Christianity, I wanted all of it and I wanted to give all my life to it and the only solution seemed to be to become a monk.
2. For a year and a half we have been translating your sermons and lectures, many of our hundreds of readers like them because they are short. Do you think that today people are used to receiving the information briefly and clearly, and are they ready to understand it alone?
Studies have that the attention span of today’s generation is much shorter than it was in the past. With the word being bombarded by information on people’s cell phones, and lap tops, and tablets, I came to the believe that in order to reach people with the Christian message, it needs to be short and clear.
I also chose to write because I feel that the average person is not going to read a theological work, or catechetical book, so transmitting the profound teachings of our Orthodox Faith in a simple concise manner is a means of educating today’s Orthodox Christians about their faith.
My hope and prayer is that my writings will help people go deeper into their faith and make it their own.
3. Is it difficult to live Orthodox life in a country that is so multicultural and different?
It’s not difficult if one puts their mind to it. The US has slipped away form her Christian roots, and thus any display of religion makes many people feel uncomfortable. That said, as one who wears a cassock and a cross every day, no matter where I am, it has been my experience that people are inspired by my attire and by my commitment to the faith and often engage me in conversation about spiritual matters. The challenge for lay people is to be bold in our external expression of our faith, such as wearing baptismal crosses around our neck, making the sign of the cross over ourselves, especially when blessing food in restaurants, and being willing to share our faith with out friends and family. AS we do so, God’s grace increases in us and enhances our journey in to the heart of God.
4. How do you lead your monastic life?
Like all Orthodox monasteries our days are organized around the cycle of services and our obediences. We start our day with a private cell rule, then gather together as a community for matins. Then we have an informal breakfast after the matins services and then we begin our obediences for the day. We gather again in the evenings for 9th hour and vespers. Later we do compline and private prayers in our cells.
One of the monks manages our online gift shop. Another makes prayer ropes. Yet another makes our large variety of soaps. ORtanig gardens
My personal focus is hearing confessions and counseling people who seek spiritual direction and I spend a number of hours every day on my online ministry. I regular travel to do speaking engagements across the country.
5. Some Fathers of the church say that because of the irregularity the Grace of the traditional Orthodox countries will be given to the New World and there Orthodoxy will develop. Do you think this time is filling up?
Possible, but countries like Bulgaria and Russia are showing such a dramatic increase in faith that it may not be that time.
6. What advice do you usually address to young people?
To make God and Orthodoxy the most central theme of their lives
7. And to the older ones?
To make God and Orthodoxy the most central theme of their lives and to remember that they need to image authenticity to those people around them.
8. How can people have true happiness in their heart?
In order to have true happiness in one’s heart, on needs only to focus on learning to love God with all our heart, mind and soul and to love our neighbor as ourselves.