Friday, March 24, 2023

March: Annunciation, Sourdough, and the Great Canon

Glory to Jesus Christ! 

Happy Feast of the Annunication! It's also Akathist Saturday! AND it's about time for another update on what we've been up to at the monastery lately. 

This past Monday, a few of the nuns tuned into God With Us Online's latest webinar The Incarnation and the Cross with Father David Anderson. We highly encourage you to check it out. In it, Father David gives us some REALLY beautiful reflections to pray with for the Feast of the Annunciation. He also clarifies for us how the calendar dates of Annunciation and Nativity came to be, which is fascinating. 

Here's a little from the beautiful liturgical texts for today's feast:

"That mystery which is from all eternity * is being revealed today. * The Son of God becomes the Son of Man. * He accepted the lowliest in order to give us the highest. * In times of old, Adam was deceived; * he desired to become like God and did not. * Now God becomes a man that He may make Adam God. * Let all creation he happy; * let nature dance with joy * because the archangel stands in awe before the Virgin and greets her. * He brings the greeting which changes our grief into joy. * Through the mercy of you compassion, You became incarnate; * O our God, glory to You!"

(From the Praises for Matins for the Feast of the Annunciation, bolded portions are themes in Fr. David's talk)

We have just one more week of the Great Fast, then on to Great and Holy Week, and finally, Pascha! It's so close, yet so far away. 

Leaven and Levity during the Great Fast

We've been getting pretty serious about sourdough bread lately. Mother Iliana and Sister Onuphria were occasionally making bread, but since the start of the fast, they've been doing it more often to go with our plethora of fast-friendly soups. Then, Mother Gabriella learned how a couple weeks ago (the photo to the left is Mother Gabriella's sourdough first-born), so our sourdough starter, Frankie, has been very busy. (His name is Frankie, after Frankenstein's Monster because "IT'S ALIVE!") We also like making sourdough pancakes, brownies, cookies, flatbread, cinnamon rolls, etc. We've done a lot of experimenting in the last year and a half, and it's been super fun, delicious, and nutritious. We're looking forward to being able to do more fun things with Frankie after the Fast is over. 

Sourdough is really interesting for a lot of reasons, but one particularity about it is that you never know quite how it's going to turn out. Depending on the humidity, temperature, rise times, how Frankie's feeling that day, and probably lots of other mysterious factors, the bread or whatever we're making turns out differently every time. Sourdough, like our Byzantine Catholic faith, is full of mystery. 

We've been glad to also be able to share Frankie with some people who have come to visit. He now has lots of progeny, and even multiple generations as people we've shared him with share their starter with others. It's pretty fun. 

The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete

This past Thursday evening, St. Joseph's parish in Brecksville, Ohio, hosted us for the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. We were so glad to get to give the local faithful the opportunity to pray this service with us, and we're so grateful for the work of those who helped us organize the evening. It was also wonderful to be joined by so many families and their children. Thank you very much to the priests who were present to hear Confessions. It was a beautiful evening. This canon is such a great gift to us, handed down through the traditions of the Church. Below, you can see some photos from the evening, including photos of the veneration of a relic of St. Mary of Egypt. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

We're half way there!


"Having passed through the ocean of the Great Fast, we await your voluntary Passion, O Lord,

as a harbor of salvation. In your mercy and goodness, 

make us worthy to behold in peace the day of your glorious Resurrection."

(Mid-Lent Matins, Aposticha) 

Friday, March 10, 2023

From the Triodion

 "O Lord, You are clothed with light as with a cloak; I keep watch before You and cry out to You: Illumine the darkness of my soul, O Christ, because of your great love."

(Matins Canon, Ode 5, Friday of the Third Week of the Great Fast)

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Upcoming Talks by Nuns

"Who am I? Rediscovering Our Identity as Children of God"  --  Mother Cecilia

On Sunday, March 19th, Mother Cecilia will be giving a talk at St. Joseph's Byzantine Catholic Parish in Brecksville, Ohio, for their Lenten day of reflection.

Our sins and anxieties are a result of forgetting that we are children of God and that everything the Father has is ours. Why do we forget our identity? How do we recover it? Why should we recover it? Mother Cecilia will reflect on these questions and share experiences from her own life to help you rediscover your identity and set out on the path of greater freedom and joy.

The talk is part of the parish's day of reflection which starts with Divine Liturgy at 10:30 am.  Immediately following the liturgy there will be a light lunch followed by the talk.  After the talk there will be an opportunity for confessions.  Please RSVP to Darlene Hritz at 440-237-5237 for lunch preparation purposes.    

Location:  St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church, 8111 Brecksville Road, Brecksville, Ohio.

SoCal Byzantine Catholic Day Retreat  --  Mother Natalia & Father Michael O'Loughlin

On March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation, Mother Natalia will be in Anaheim, California, to lead this day retreat with Father Michael O'Loughlin. The retreat is from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. It will be at Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church (995 North West Street, Anaheim, CA 92801). 

Come join Byzantine Catholics from around Southern California for a day retreat on the Feast of the Annunciation! We will gather for Divine Liturgy, talks, prayer, and meals. We look forward to this time of fellowship and the opportunity to connect with other SoCal Catholics!

Advanced registration is required. This is so we can arrange logistics such as food and the children's program. The registration deadline is Sunday, March 12th at midnight. All ages are welcome. There will be a children's program available for ages 3-13.

For all of the information, see this link

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Behold, the Bridegroom Matins is Coming on the 5th of April!

We invite you to join us for Bridegroom Matins, our patronal commemoration, on Great & Holy Wednesday, April 5th, at 8:00 a.m. in our monastery chapel. 

The readings and hymns of this service rouse the heart to conversion and vigilance for the coming of the Bridegroom and offer strength to His Bride the Church as we journey with Him in His passion. 

A light breakfast will follow matins.

To RSVP, please fill out this online form

This year, it will be extra special to get to pray Bridegroom Matins in the chapel with our patronal Bridegroom icon (in the photo above). Since renovations, we were able to give Him a nice home in the chapel where anyone can come and pray with him anytime. (He used to be above our fireplace in the monastery's living room.) 

Monday, February 27, 2023

Join us on March 23rd for the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete!

Our monastic community will be praying the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete on the evening of Thursday, March 23rd, 2023, at St. Joseph's Byzantine Catholic Parish in Brecksville, Ohio, and we'd love for you to join us. 

This service is one of the favorites of the entire year for many (if not all) of the nuns. We make hundreds of prostrations as we go through the canon for the day, singing through salvation history which culminates with Christ. It's a beautiful time to repent of our sins and experience God's abundant mercy. We will also read the Life of Saint Mary of Egypt and have the opportunity to venerate her relic. She's such a wonderful Saint to ask to be with us as we strive to repent more and more fully. If she can do it, we can! 

The opportunity for the Mystery of Holy Repentance (Confession) will be available during the service. 

All are invited to come for part or all of the Canon, even if you are not physically able to participate in the prostrations. The duration of the Canon is approximately 3.5 hours. 

A meatless, dairy-less Lenten potluck will be held in St. Joseph's Hall from 5:00-5:45 p.m. The Canon will begin in the church at 6:00 p.m. 

To RSVP for the potluck and/or Canon, please call or text Carrie Hotaling from St. Joseph's Parish at 440-836-2674.  

With any other questions, please contact the monastery at 440-834-0290.

Monday, February 20, 2023

The Great Fast has begun!

"Tossed about by the waves of sin, I am drowning in the deep waters of despair; but I hasten to the ocean of your love; save me, O Lord." (from the Canon of Matins on Clean Monday)

As we begin the Great Fast today, we'd like to share a great resource that we hope you'll find enriching over the coming months. 

There are several upcoming webinars from God With Us Online. There are lots of really great topics in the coming months: "Orthodoxy and Life" with Father Josiah Trenham, "For the Life of the World" and "The Incarnation and the Cross" with Father David Anderson, "Dedication to Fellowship" with Father Michael O'Loughlin and Mother Natalia, "The Didache" with Father Christiaan Kappes, and "The Pauline World" with Father Daniel Dozier. Visit the link above for more information on the webinars and their dates. God With Us Online also has an amazing library of past webinars that you can check out. 

In addition, God With Us Online also has Bible study videos on the Sunday Gospels and daily reflections for families to pray with here

We hope that this resource will enrich your experience of the Great Fast this year, and that you'll be able to be immersed in the beauty of this season in your parishes and homes.