Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Please pray for our Girls Camp

We're getting ready! Our 10th annual Girls Camp will take place this Thursday through Sunday, June 21-June 24. Please pray for us and for the participants! Our theme is "Apart from Me you can do nothing."

Also, please pray for the Boys Camp that will take place at the same time across the street at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch.

Thank you!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Just for fun...

Last month, we spent an afternoon with our dear sisters from the formation house of the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. We didn't plan on it, but the video below is the result of our time of recreation together! We ended up writing a parody to the song "Hello" by the singer Adele. We enjoyed pointing out the fact that the Mercedarian Sisters are from the Western (Roman Catholic) Tradition and live on the west side of Cleveland, and we from the Eastern Tradition live to the east of Cleveland! It is a joy to have sisters from another tradition with whom we can share our experiences, joys and struggles. This sharing is always enriching. For a while now, we and the Mercedarians have been joking that the Mercedarians, who wear white, are the cream to our Oreo cookie :) Enjoy!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Thank you to our spring work day volunteers!

Enjoy these photos from our spring work day and cookout on Saturday, May 26. A huge thank you to our wonderful volunteers who worked so hard in the humidity! They tackled projects such as gardening, cleaning, removing the old garden fence and installing a new one, and more! We ate lunch across the street at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch with the volunteers there, prayed Great Vespers in our chapel for the Sunday of All Saints, and enjoyed dinner at the monastery.




Friday, May 25, 2018

Sacrifice and service by the power of the Holy Spirit

Enjoy this reflection that we wrote together as a community, at the request of Bishop Milan, for a group of Scouts--young men ages 18-25--on pilgrimage from Assisi to Rome. We were asked to write about Sts. Cyril and Methodius as an example of sacrifice and service. In light of the feast of Pentecost, we reflected on the Holy Spirit's role in providing the grace and ability to lay down our lives and preach the Gospel, each in our own unique way.

“Blessed are you, O Christ our God. You have shown the fishermen to be all wise, sending down upon them the Holy Spirit. Through them You have caught the whole world in Your net. O Lover of Mankind, glory to You” (Pentecost Troparion).

Reflecting on the Feast of Pentecost reveals Ss. Cyril and Methodius to be examples to you. These “Equals to the Apostles” responded to the gift of the Holy Spirit with an outpouring of themselves in love, manifested in sacrifice and service.

Jesus’ pursuit of love for you is relentless, but He will not trespass. He waits for your consent, like the Theotokos’ fiat, like the Apostles “yes” to His call, “Come follow Me.” He calls you beyond a superficial walk with Him into the mystery of His love unto death. Your “yes” is a yes unto death, a dying to self; here you find your fulfillment. St. John Paul II said. “Man cannot fully find himself, except through a sincere gift of himself” (Theology of the Body).

There is a particular way that God is calling you to lay down your life, and you will be given the gifts you need. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave the uneducated fishermen the ability to proclaim the mighty works of God in many languages (see Acts 2:1-11). Similarly, the Holy Spirit enlightened two Greek brothers, Ss. Cyril and Methodius, with a tremendous ability to create an alphabet for a foreign language, thus enabling them to translate Scripture, Liturgy, and sacred writings for the Slavic people. Your gift may not be one of language, but you may be surprised by the gifts you are given. 

We all receive gifts from the Holy Spirit, and we are called to use them in service. We have the example of Jesus Who washes His disciples’ feet. In service—a true gift of self—you always risk rejection by those you serve. As Jesus was rejected by Judas, whose feet He had just washed, so Ss. Cyril and Methodius experienced rejection, resistance, frustration and persecution, which are all challenges that you may face when you seek to respond to the Holy Spirit. Jesus teaches us, “There is no greater love than this, to lay down one’s life…” (John 15:13). St. John also said, “By this we know love, that Jesus laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for each other” (1 John 3:14).

It can be frightening to think of laying down your life or being rejected. Scripture tells us that even if father or mother rejects you, God will not reject you (Psalm 27:10). It is through spending time with Him in prayer and partaking in the Holy Mysteries that you receive the power of the Holy Spirit and know that you are not alone. You will find joy and peace when you surrender yourself to God without reserve and conditions, desiring nothing but His will and letting Him act as He knows best. At Pentecost, the Apostles received the grace and courage to go out and proclaim the Gospel and to lay down their lives. The Holy Spirit will give you the courage to lay down your life in sacrifice and service. Be not afraid. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:16-18).

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Speaking "the wonderful works of God"

Happy Feast of Pentecost! Below is a reflection from Sister Natalia.


In preparation for Pentecost and for a letter I was writing to my home parish, I was praying with the Vespers and Divine Liturgy readings for the feast. My gaze kept coming back to the last line of the reading from Acts, so I took some time to reflect on it: “We hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” Through this verse, our Bridegroom gently convicted me of a couple things that I’d like to share with you.

First of all, I realized I had never really thought about what the disciples said at Pentecost. I’ve just thought the miracle of each hearing their own language was pretty rad. So, for the first time I noticed what it was the disciples shared: “The wonderful works of God.” I thought about how often, especially recently, I can share my negative experiences, frustrations, complaints, with my sisters and friends much more readily and/or in-depth than the positive experiences, the joys, the good fruits. I thought about the last time pre-Pentecost we know people spoke in a common language, which of course was prior to the “Tower of Babel” shenanigans. But that was a language of pride and self-reliance, of people trying to make gods of themselves. This common language at Pentecost was one of love, of people desiring to glorify God. We are all called to be Christ’s disciples, to accept the gift of the Holy Spirit, and to speak this latter language. We are blessed in our modern society to either speak the same verbal language as most of the people around us, or at least have pretty easy access to Google Translate. But do we take advantage of this gift, and speak of the “wonderful works of God,” or do we abuse the gift and instead have conversations that are anything but uplifting and edifying?

Secondly, I thought about my struggles sometimes in conversing with certain friends or family members. I love them very much but can feel at a loss for words because we just don’t seem to have anything in common anymore. But is that really true? Even beyond the superficial commonalities of sharing a family and memories, aren’t there deeper connections that maybe I’m just not open to seeing? I think all humans struggle, to some extent, with the same wounds. Sure, when I doubt that I’m loved it can cause insecurity in my relationships, whereas when this or that family member doubts that he or she is loved it can cause them to wear a mask of arrogance. But is it not really the same wound of doubting we are loved? I think sometimes the Lord is calling me to speak to that wound (among many others) with people, to be healed together, and together to speak of “the wonderful works of God.” Yet I often am hesitant to “go there,” because it feels awkward or too intense. 


I encourage you this day, friends, to take a couple things to prayer. First, ask the Lord to help you be more aware of what ways your conversations and interactions glorify Him and in what ways you need to purify those conversations. And when He shows you the latter, don’t be ashamed or despairing, simply ask Him to help you grow. Also, ask Him if there are people in your life to whom He desires you to reach out, and make an effort to find common ground. I know it’s not always easy to put forth that effort, but when it causes you and others to become more intimate with Christ, I promise it’s worth it. Please pray for me that I may do the same!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Renovation update!

Tons of progress has been made on our poustinia project since we last updated you in our spring newsletter. The siding is being finished up, and the driveway and new parking spaces are being leveled and covered with crushed limestone. Inside, the plumbing, heating, cooling, electrical system, walls, cabinets, doors and moulding have been installed. Mother has been working on a coat of light stain on the beautiful hardwood paneling in the sitting areas. The doors and moulding were donated by Mouldings One and the hardwood paneling was donated by Sheoga Flooring.

We are excited to see the finishing touches and to look for the furniture that will be just right for each poustinia! Please contact us if you are interested in donating toward the purchase of new or slightly used furniture (christthebridegroom@gmail.com or 440-834-0290).

Thank you for all of your prayers and support!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

In the Pool of Bethesda with me

This morning as I listened to the Gospel reading of the Healing of the Paralytic Man, my heart leaped with joy as I remembered that I had been in the Pool of Bethesda last July during our pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The pool is in Jerusalem, a stone's throw away from the Church of St. Ann, which marks the birth place of the Mother of God. Today, visitors can walk down into the maze of rooms and stairways that make up the ruins of the pool and the Byzantine and Crusader churches that were built upon it. Looking down into some of the lower areas, you can see water.

As soon as I began to walk into the ruins, I was filled with the desire to pray for healing for my own physical illness, with which I have been struggling for a while (though not as long as the 38 years of the paralytic man!). I quickly found the priest, Fr. Sebastian, who was helping to lead our group, and he eagerly agreed to help. In a quiet place, he laid his hands on my head and prayed, asking God for healing. (He would have also anointed me there, if he had oil with him!)

Through Fr. Sebastian, Jesus came into the pool with me, asking the Father for His will to be done in me. It was not the Father's will at that moment for physical healing, but each time I ask for healing, I trust that He is healing spiritual ills a little at a time--those ills which paralyze me the most.

When we get frustrated by our various infirmities, Jesus is asking us, as He asked the paralytic man, "Do you want to be healed?" Let us not turn inward on ourselves, but look quickly to Him and ask for healing! And then let us quickly trust that He is raising us from our beds of sickness, by the power of the grace of baptism and of all of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments), and in our lives of prayer and love. He is healing us so that we may be able to remain with Him in faith, just as He is always with us in our sickness, calling out to us.
"O Lord, with Your divine authority, as You once raised the paralytic, now raise my soul, paralyzed dreadfully with all kinds of sin and disgraceful deeds, that, being saved, I may cry out to You: Glory to Your power, O merciful Christ" (Kontakion of the Paralytic Man).
(The icon to the right is hanging on the wall in the pilgrim house located next to the Pool of Bethesda.)

Mother Cecilia