Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Introducing Sister Onuphria!

We are thrilled to share with you the monastic name of our newly tonsured rasophore nun--Sister Onuphria! She is named after St. Onuphrius the Great, a desert father whose feast day is June 12. Below, she shares about her patron saint.

I met St. Onuphrius for the first time during my observership. Someone mentioned him in a conversation joking that I could eventually be named for him, if I were to follow the tradition of taking a name with the same first letter of my baptismal name. I had never heard of him before. A couple of weeks later, I was flipping through books in the monastery library about the Desert Fathers, and I came across Paphnutius’s account of the life of Onuphrius. Out of curiosity, I began to read, and as I read about his life, my heart was burning within me. That night, I felt like Onuphrius adopted me. He felt so close. I didn’t think a hesychast from a millennium and a half ago could feel so close. He is my desert father, and has been my consistent companion since then, gently present as a light in dark times. 

Onuphrius was a wild man. He had lived in solitude for sixty years when Paphnutius found him. Paphnutius recounts his first encounter with the Saint: “Suddenly, I looked in the distance. I saw a man coming who was completely fire, his hair spread out over his body like a leopard’s. Indeed, he was naked… Now when he came close to me, I climbed up on a mountain ledge, thinking he was a mountain man.” Onuphrius calls Paphnutius by name, having spiritual knowledge that he was coming.

The two go back to Onuphrius’ cell, and he tells Paphnutius his story. “I walk in the mountains like the wild beasts, and I live on plants and trees, and I have not seen anyone I know.” He started his monastic life in the Erete Monastery, a cenobitic community. He ached to live in the desert as Elijah and John the Baptist did. He sought to follow their lives of complete dependence on God in the desert where there is no human help for a man. Eventually, Onuphrius found an experienced solitary to teach him the eremitic life, and from that point onward, he struggled in the wilderness. After sixty years of struggle, he was so open to God’s love that he appeared to be on fire, and angels brought him the Eucharist. After Onuphrius tells his story and the two spend the night in prayer, Onuphrius breathes forth his spirit, and Paphnutius buries him and continues his journey, heartbroken that he couldn’t stay there. 

The journey of Paphnutius is one of returning more and more to Paradise. Each ascetic he encounters as he goes deeper into the desert reveals to him a deeper layer of how monastic life returns us to Eden. Onuphrius is an image of this in his nakedness, in his total trust in the Father who provides him with everything he needs and in his dominion over the land. In this posture of utter dependence on his Father, Onuphrius burns with love as a “burnt offering wholly consumed.” 

For me, Onuphrius is an image of a bride. He is totally given. When we chant the fourth chapter of the Song of Songs at Compline, I can’t help but think of him when we chant the invitation of the Bridegroom: “Come from Lebanon my bride, come from Lebanon, come! Descend from the top of Amana, from the top of Senir and Hermon, from the haunts of lions, from the leopards’ mountains.” The bride of God is a wild one, and Onuphrius images this for me. 

Friday, October 28, 2022

Olivia to be tonsured as a rasophore nun on Nov. 20!

We have some exciting news! On Sunday, November 20, dokimos (postulant) Olivia will be tonsured as a rasophore ("robe-bearer") nun! During Vespers for the feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple, at Holy Resurrection Byzantine Catholic Parish in Euclid, Ohio, the bishop will cut four small sections of her hair as a sign of her deepening commitment to God in the monastic life. She will also be clothed in the monastic habit, including the tunic, apostolnik (veil), belt, riassa (robe) and skufia (soft-sided hat). And finally, she will receive her new monastic name! 

Ahead of time, the dokimos submits three names to the hegumena (abbess), and the hegumena, through prayer, chooses one of the three, or she may choose another. When the name is spoken by the bishop during the tonsure--Sister _______--this is the moment that Olivia (and all of us) find out the name that God is giving her in monastic life. If she is called to remain in the monastic life and make her life profession in a few years, the Holy Spirit will continue to reveal to her the intimate meaning of this name for the rest of her life! 

Please pray for Olivia as she enters this next step in her monastic formation and discernment!

All are invited to join us for Vespers and the tonsure. Unfortunately, due to the limitations of space, we cannot invite everyone to the reception.

4:00 p.m., Holy Resurrection Byzantine Catholic Parish, 532 Lloyd Rd., Euclid, Ohio

The service will also be livestreamed through our Facebook page, and can also be viewed afterward. You do not need to have a Facebook account to view.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Chapel Updates, a Monastery 10k, and More

Glory to Jesus Christ! 

We're nearing the end of the month of October now, and all kinds of different things have been going on, from continued chapel renovations, to a monastery 10k race. Here are some updates:

Chapel Renovations:

The ceiling and walls are blue! A new tile floor was laid in the sanctuary, replacing the blue shag carpet that used to be there. New flooring in the bathrooms has also been installed, which vastly improves the previous situation (the subflooring was totally exposed before). The can lights in the ceiling are operational now. We are still waiting for pendant lights and chandeliers to arrive to complete the lighting of the chapel. In the meantime, exposed lightbulbs are hanging.

Today, the wood molding finally arrived! We were waiting for it for a couple of weeks without any sign of when it might finally come. This and waiting for the lights are the only problems we've really hit so far in the entire project, so that's really amazing! We're glad that the molding is finally here so that it can go in and all kind of other things can happen like plumbing, putting carpet in the confessional, putting in doors, and reconstructing the icon screen. 

Outside, some landscaping work has been happening, like smoothing out the ruts created by all the machinery that's been needed for moving and pouring the sidewalks. Some exterior lights were also installed along the sidewalk and to illuminate the bell tower. The siding has been going back up, a roof over the main entrance is in the process of being finished, and grass seed will be sown today. 

It's wonderful to see things coming together, so much so, that we have moved back into the chapel for prayer (during the times when work isn't going on in there). On Monday, October 17th, we got our first snowflakes of the season. We've moved basic liturgical supplies into the chapel so we can have Vespers, Compline, and Divine Liturgies in there. We get to be right in the midst of the renovations during the final stages, experiencing it coming together around us as we pray at the different times of day. Today, we are saying good-bye to the "tabernacle" (our temporary tent chapel) and packing it away. 

Friday night, we prayed Compline in our unfinished chapel for the first time. The acoustics are so much better than they used to be. We were amazed. We don't have to strain our voices so much to be heard. On Sunday, we had Divine Liturgy in the chapel for the first time since the summer. We're getting really excited for everything to be finished soon.  

Bridegroom's Banquet Photos: 

We meant to do this a while ago, but had some technical issues. Here are (finally) some photos from our Bridegroom's Banquet which was last month. It was such a wonderful evening. 


The First Ever "Speedy Celibates 10k":
On Thursday, October13th, rubber hit the road as some of the nuns competed in a 10k race of their own invention. Mother Natalia and Mother Gabriella ran 10 kilometers with three priest-friend-runners. Mother Iliana was training for the footrace but because of an injury, had to adjust her plan. She did a 20k bike ride, and Mother Cecilia, a last minute entry, did a 10k bike ride. The race route was on the roads around the monastery. Mother Theodora stayed at the monastery to prepare a delicious and nutritious breakfast for the competitors, and Olivia was on poustinia. She sat on one of the new concrete pads outside of her poustinia and watched the beginning and end of the race while drinking tea and doing some spiritual reading. 

All of the participants did amazingly, and it was so much fun to work toward a goal and then to achieve it together. (Fr. James Kulway won the race with a time of 38:49.)

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Renovations Updates: Inside, Outside, and a Sad Good-bye

Glory to Jesus Christ!

It's been a while since we had a chapel renovations update, and a lot has happened since then! We have a lot of photos for you, so make sure you keep scrolling to the end to see all of them. 


After all of the electrical wiring was completed, new insulation was put in. 

Next, drywall and mudding. 

We've been choosing design details like paint colors, tile for the sanctuary, and lighting. We're getting really excited to see what it's going to be like when it's finished! 


The new sidewalks, poustinia entry pads, and chapel entrance are nearly complete. 

Also, a big thank you to everyone who came to our Fall Work Day last weekend. We got a lot done, including painting the trim of our chapel sign, so we'll have a fresh sign to match our freshened up chapel. We can't thank you enough for the work you have done to help us maintain our monastery. 

Finally, good-bye to our St. Anthony Poustinia. 

One really important project we needed to have done was the demolition of our oldest, dearest poustinia house, dedicated to St. Anthony of the Desert. The foundation was irreparable, and at times, nuns and guests would feel the entire house shift on its foundation. We knew it was time to say good-bye to St. Anthony. Many of our nuns received their call to the monastery and to make steps in their monastic lives in this poustinia, so we are certainly feeling the loss. We also know that many, many people have had profound experiences of prayer in this poustinia as well. It was becoming more and more unsafe though, so we had to let it go. 

The demolition crew arrived as we finished Matins on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14th. There was a blanket of fog over the field as the work began. For the next couple of hours, we watched the demolition of the poustinia, until it was time to have Divine Liturgy. 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Thank you for your generosity!

 Thank you so much to everyone who so generously supported our monastic life through our 2022 Bridegroom's Banquet. It was such a beautiful evening, and we are blown away by your love and generosity. We were able to surpass our goal of $100,000 (which will be matched), and our monastic life will be able to continue and flourish by God's grace and your assistance. 

Thank you especially to everyone who invited friends and family to join us for the first time. We met  wonderful new people this year, and we are so glad. It's so good to see the community of people surrounding the monastery growing and expanding in such incredible ways. 

You have already given us so much, but we also ask you to please pray for us, as we pray for you. May we all be united in prayer for each other under the loving gaze of our Bridegroom, Christ, and the protection of His Mother.

Please save the date for next year's Bridegroom's Banquet: November 4th, 2023, but please don't make us wait that long to see each other again. We'd love for all of you to join us for prayer anytime. Please see our Divine Liturgy schedule and our daily prayer schedule for opportunities for us to pray together.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

"Receive the Gift: Reflections on Chastity" is now on YouTube!

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Our new video which premiered last night at our Bridegroom's Banquet is now available on YouTube!

This year’s video is entitled “Receive the Gift:  Reflections on Chastity.”  Chastity is not merely about sex:  it’s an attitude toward life, a posture that receives all good things as a gift and refuses to grasp.  In this video, we journey through what chastity looks like in several areas:  Creational chastity, intellectual chastity, emotional chastity, sexual chastity, and spiritual chastity.  This video is an invitation to open yourself to receive the gift the Lord desires to pour into your heart...

God bless you for your generous support for our monastic life at this year's Bridegroom's Banquet! We're so happy to announce that we surpassed our goal! We are so grateful.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

The Newest Fair in the Country

Last week, in community we were talking about the Geauga County Fair, which was celebrating it's 200th anniversary this past weekend and is just a few miles away from us. We learned that's it's the second oldest fair in the country, so we decided to create the newest fair in the country. Thus, our own personal monastery fair was born. Mother Natalia spearheaded the planning process, which included inviting a couple of friends, gathering supplies, and inviting all of us to plan some part of it if we'd like to. Sunday afternoon, amidst our usual rest time and much rain, some of us were preparing our contributions to the fair. We tried to keep everything a surprise as much as possible. Then we prayed Vespers, and it was time for the fair to begin. 

We opened it up with a corn shucking contest, and then it was revealed that one of our guests, Fr. Steve, brought a pizza oven. So we all took turns making pizzas. 

Mother Theodora got to work making elephant ears and freshly squeezed lemonade. 

Mother Gabriella grilled a couple other food options, and Olivia opened up a set of face paints. The fair had begun, and the amount of rain steadily increased. 

Mother Natalia and Fr. Steve provided us with the opportunity to try axe throwing near the fair's pumpkin patch (little orange gourdes that volunteered in our garden this summer which one of our other guests arranged to spell his name). 

We also had a "corn maze," planned by Olivia and Mother Natalia. At this point, the sun had set, and it was pouring rain, so it was pretty spooky. The "corn maze" consisted in walking into a corn field near the monastery, and trying to get lost, and then getting out again. For the most part, we all split up, and it was very difficult to find one another because of the loudness of the rain and the corn stalks all around us. But no worries, we all made it out alive (but very wet). 

We did some more face painting. Below you can see Mother Gabriella sporting her monarch butterfly face paint. 

And then it was time for the final activity: a flower arranging contest. Mother Cecilia spent some time in the afternoon taking cuttings from various plants in our gardens and wildflower areas, and presented us all with many vases to choose from and three large buckets of flowers and foliage. She gave us twelve minutes to make the best arrangement we could, and she deducted points for complaining. She was a tough judge. After we all presented our arrangements to her in the garage, we all huddled under a tent, while the garage door was closed so she could award prizes in private. A few minutes later, the garage door was lifted up, and revealed that Mother Petra won first prize for a very nice woodland themed arrangement. Fr. Steve came in second, and Mother Natalia took third. 

Altogether, we had so much fun, and we're thinking of making this a community tradition for our Sunday night recreation during fair weekend. And now, we'll have a whole year to come up with ideas instead of just a few days. It was really fun to be creative in so many different ways, to have everyone share their gifts, and to just get to play as a community. 

Also, while you're here, just a reminder that our Fall Work Day is coming up on September 17th. If you're planning to come, please RSVP! As of right now, we're going to need a lot more volunteers! Please feel free to invite your friends. Thank you!