Monday, January 19, 2015

"Here I am at last! This is why He made me!"

We are happy to share a little bit more about our newest dokimos (postulant) and her entrance day.

Our community grew to five members when we welcomed a new dokimos (postulant) on December 8, 2014.  Motria (“Moki”) Lonchyna was blessed by Bishop John and received her headscarf and cross during Vespers for the Feast of the Maternity of Anna.

“The Lord filled my heart completely with peace and joy on my entrance day,” Moki said. “Words cannot express the joy of beginning my monastic formation on the very day that Mary’s most pure heart was formed in the womb.  For a long time, the Lord had given me a great longing for monastic life.  Towards the end of vespers, it was as if scales fell from my eyes and I could see His calling so much more clearly.  My heart cried out in that moment, ‘Here I am at last!  This is why He made me!  I was made to serve Him!’ I am left utterly overwhelmed with gratitude for His call upon my heart.”

Moki, 33, grew up in Maryland in the Ukrainian Catholic Church.  She literally grew up in the church!  She is the daughter of Fr. Taras and Lala Lonchyna.  Fr. Taras is currently the pastor of St. Josaphat parish in Trenton, NJ. Her uncle (Fr. Taras’ brother) is Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, the bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London.  Moki received her degree in nursing from The Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C., and her Neonatal Nurse Practitioner degree from the University of Pennsylvania.  She worked as a nurse at Children’s National Medical Center for five years and as a neonatal nurse practitioner at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for four years.

Moki first met us at the Eastern Catholic Vocations Fair in D.C. in January of 2012. She first visited the monastery in 2013 and spent her six-week observership at the monastery in the summer of 2014.

In this first step of the monastic life, Moki is called a dokimos (Greek for “approved by testing, genuine”) or postulant (from the Latin word that means “to ask”).  She will spend one to two years “trying out” the monastic life. She and the community will discern together whether God is truly calling her to the monastic life in Christ the Bridegroom Monastery.

Please keep Moki in your prayers as she begins to live the monastic life and seeks daily to surrender to her Bridegroom, Jesus.  To see more photos from Moki’s entrance day, visit our Facebook album.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

1st Phase of Renovations Begin!!

Thanks to the quick outpouring of support for our renovation project, we were already able to begin the first phase of our project!  This phase involves converting our former, unfinished chapel into a bedroom and office (page 9 of our renovation project booklet).  We did the priming, painting, staining and varnishing ourselves, and the wood was donated.  This phase is almost complete, and we are looking forward to starting the larger projects!  Enjoy our photos of this first step.

We are at 70% of our goal towards the matching funds of $100,000!  If you would like to help us reach 100%, please visit our Renovation Project page for more information.  Thank you so much for your prayers and support!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"He refashions us through the cleansing that He receives"

Happy Feast of the Theophany of Our Lord!

Here are some photos from our celebration of the feast.

"The One who clothes Himself with light as with a robe deigned, for our sakes, to become as we are.  Today He is clothed in the streams of the Jordan even though He has no need to be purified.  He refashions us through the cleansing that He receives.  What a marvelous wonder!  He creates anew without fire and refashions without tearing apart; He grants salvation to those enlightened in Him, Christ our God, the Savior of our souls." 

(Litija at Great Compline for the Feast of the Theophany of Our Lord)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!


Merry Christmas from the nuns of Christ the Bridegroom Monastery!

"Bethlehem has opened up Eden for us.  Come and let us see the delights that we have found there in secret.  Come and let us gather the fruits of Paradise that are within the cave.  There, the unwatered Root has manifested itself, and it has sprouted forgiveness.  There, the undug Well, of which David yearned to drink, is found.  There, the Virgin, who gave birth to the infant, immediately quenched the thirst of Adam and David.  Therefore, let us hasten to the place where the young infant, the Eternal God, is born."
  
(Ikos from Matins of the Nativity of Our Lord)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Darkness of the Cave

 A reflection on the Incarnation, to be read slowly:

"The manger becomes the place in which the incomprehensible God lies down" (Irmos of the Feast of the Nativity).
A manger: a feeding trough for animals.  God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, becomes a man and is born in a dark and dirty cave filled with animals and is placed in a manger.

How much deeper could God lower Himself?  How much more humbly could He come into the world?  How much more fully could He conceal His divinity?  He couldn't have.

However...the very event which obscured divinity is also the one which united divinity to us.
"Yes, in order that Love be fully satisfied, it is necessary that It lower Itself, and that It lower Itself to nothingness and transform this nothingness into fire" (St. Therese of Lisieux).
The Incarnation!: what beauty and power!  Human nature can now be transformed into the divine!

But the Incarnation--the mystery of salvation--wasn't completed in the cave.  The cave wasn't even dark enough... The utter darkness of the cross and the tomb was necessary.  This is why, in Byzantine iconography, Jesus' swaddling clothes look like burial wrappings, and His manger looks like a tomb.
"So also the chief priests mocked Him to one another with the scribes, saying, 'He saved others; He cannot save Himself.  Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe'" (Mk 15:31-32).
What deeper darkness could there ever be on earth?  The Son of God, the Savior of the World, is brutally tortured and killed on a cross.  And yet, Christ's death and resurrection is the greatest, most powerful and glorious event ever to occur on earth!

And for us, this paradox is also true in our little lives: It is often the case that the darkest, most difficult events in our lives are the moments in which God is working in us with the greatest power.  Darkness does not mean that He is far away.  It means He is very close.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Letter

Enjoy this year's Christmas letter!  Our letter shares the developments in our monastery this year and gives a list of our needs.  If you would like to support our life of prayer and hospitality by giving a tax-deductible donation to the monastery, please make your check payable to "Diocese of Parma Monastery Fund" and send to:

Christ the Bridegroom Monastery
17485 Mumford Rd.
Burton, OH 44021

Thank you for your generosity and your prayers!  We promise to pray for you!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Young Adult Movie Night, Jan. 3

A scene from Ostrov
Young adults, age 18-35, are invited to a movie night at the monastery on Sat. Jan. 3.  The evening includes Great Vespers at 4:45 and dinner at 6:00, followed by the movie Ostrov (“The Island”), discussion and social time.  An overnight stay is optional (men will stay in the guest house and women in the monastery), along with Matins and Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning.  Please RSVP by Tues. Dec. 30 to christthebridegroom@gmail.com or 440-834-0290.

Click here for the Facebook Event.

We haven't had a chance to host a young adult event in a while, and this is one of our favorite films! You may not want to read about the movie ahead of time though, because it'll spoil the plot! And those who have seen it before know that it's one you can watch over and over and always be struck in a new way. We also just look forward to hanging out and praying with you!