Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Introducing...Sister Natalia!

Yesterday evening, our dokimos (postulant), Victoria Olsen, was tonsured as a rasophore ("robe-bearer") nun by Metropolitan William at St. Stephen Byzantine Catholic Church in Euclid, Ohio, during Vespers for the feast of St. Nicholas. During this service, she received her habit and new monastic name: Sister Natalia! She is named after the Apostle Bartholomew (Nathaniel).

We look forward to sharing more photos from the beautiful service, as well as Sister Natalia's explanation of her name.

God grant you many blessed years, Sister Natalia, and blessings in your continued monastic formation and discernment!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Victoria to be Tonsured as a Rasophore Nun Dec. 5

We are full of joy to announce the tonsuring of our dokimos (postulant), Victoria, as a rasophore nun on Monday, December 5! During Vespers for the Feast of St. Nicholas, Victoria will be clothed in the monastic habit, belt, riassa (robe) and skufia (hat) and receive a new monastic name. Please keep her in your prayers as she prepares for this next step in her monastic formation!

All are invited to join us for Vespers and the tonsure:

Monday, December 5, 2016
5:00 p.m.
St. Stephen Byzantine Catholic Church
532 Lloyd Rd. 
Euclid, Ohio

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Furnace of God's Love

The Fathers of the Church compare a person who prays to an iron rod placed in a blazing furnace of fire. By surrendering her life totally to God, a nun seeks to remain constantly in this furnace of God's love, and allow Him to transform her into Himself. What does this look like? What do nuns do? This video, which we produced for our "Bridegroom's Banquet" benefit dinner, gives a glimpse into the joys and struggles of monastic life and its purpose in the world.

Friday, November 18, 2016

We reached our goal at the "Bridegroom's Banquet!"

Thank you for helping us to "keep our lamps burning" by your prayers and support of our benefit dinner, Nov. 5, at St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church in Brecksville, Ohio! About 200 guests joined us for a wonderfully joyful evening of Great Vespers, dinner, music by the band Zug, and enjoying the company of so many awesome people! We also showed a video that we produced about our monastery (which we will share with you soon!)

A very generous benefactor offered to match all donations & pledges up to $50,000, and with pre-event and event donations we reached our goal!!! The funds will go towards keeping the monastery running so that we can continue our life of prayer and hospitality, and towards either the building of a poustinia cabin for individual retreats or the renovating of an empty building connected to the chapel for more retreat space. Thank you for all of your prayers and support!

Click on the photo to enjoy more photos from the event.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Oil of Desire

In honor of Mother Theodora's feast day today (the feast of Blessed Theodore Romzha, martyred Byzantine Catholic bishop), here is Mother's reflection on the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Mt 25:1-13) from our recent newsletter:      

"Behold, the Bridegroom is here! Go and welcome Him!” What stirs in your heart? “The Bridegroom is here!” Does your heart leap, does it wince or is it indifferent? We, like the ten virgins, all hear the same message and are called to be prepared, to keep vigilance and to respond at the arrival of the Bridegroom with blazing lamps filled with oil.

What is this oil? St. Seraphim of Sarov teaches us that the oil is “the grace of the All-Holy Spirit of God.” He says, "The true goal of our Christian life consists in the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. What God requires is a true faith in Himself and His Only begotten Son. In return He generously bestows the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Lord seeks hearts filled with love for God and for one's neighbor." This oil is the oil of desire—the oil of love. Jesus promises us, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, because He abides with you, and He will be in you” (Jn 14:15-17).

We should learn from the foolish virgins who were indifferent and sought oil at the “market place” (the world that cannot receive, see or know the Spirit of Truth).  How often do we seek to purchase the oil of our desires in the “market place” and become distracted and lost in its distorted view of reality and its temporal gratification and artificial fulfillment? The Bridegroom is the ultimate fulfillment of our desires.

All ten virgins were virtuous and did good works. However, the oil of the Holy Spirit filled the wise virgins’ hearts with desire and love for God and neighbor, while in contrast, the foolish virgins, who were lacking this oil, were indifferent and acted more out of obligation than love.

The five wise virgins were prepared because they knew and loved the Bridegroom and possessed the oil of desire. Prayer, which is ultimately union with God, is essential to know and desire Christ. Prayer is a dialogue or a knowing silence of oneness of being with the Other. “The Fathers of the Church say that prayer, properly understood, is nothing other than becoming a longing for God” (Mary: The Church and the Source, Ratzinger and Hans Urs Von Balthasar, 2005). Our “oil of desire” that keeps our lamps burning is continuously replenished and purified with each encounter with Christ. St. Augustine, in his reflection on Psalm 37, says, “Desire is your prayer; and if your desire is without ceasing, your prayer will also be without ceasing. The continuance of your longing is the continuance of your prayer.”

This longing is echoed in the troparian (hymn) for a woman martyr, “I love you my Bridegroom. I seek You with painful longing,” and expressed in Psalm 63:1,3, “O God, You are my God. For You I long, for You my soul is thirsting. My body pines for You like a dry, weary land without water.” May our hearts be lamps burning with desire for union with the Bridegroom as His heart mutually yearns for us (Sg 7:11). His love for us is an eternal, inexhaustible flame that nothing can quench (Sg 8:7).

The sessional hymn for Matins of Great and Holy Tuesday  incites us to be enflamed with divine desire for Christ our Bridegroom:

“O faithful, let us be on fire with love of the Bridegroom, and with lamps burning, let us go out to meet Him. May the light of our virtue shine brightly, and may our faith be radiant. With the wise virgins, let us prepare to enter the banquet hall of the Lord; for the divine Spouse offers us all the crown of immortality.” 

The Bridegroom is here! Go and welcome Him!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Praying with the Psalms

Enjoy this short video about the psalms produced by the Eparchy of Parma and featuring some of us!

The Psalms from The Eparchy of Parma on Vimeo.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Bridegroom's Banquet Registration Extended

There are still seats available for the Bridegroom's Banquet, our benefit dinner on Nov. 5, so registration has been extended a week, until Fri. Oct. 28. We hope to enjoy the evening with you! Click here to register or to find out how you can contribute toward the matching funds from afar! God bless you!