Monday, January 15, 2018

Eternal Memory, Rita Strohmeyer

Mother Theodora's mother, Rita Strohmeyer, fell asleep in the Lord on Saturday, January 13. She was 85. Rita was the mother of 11 children, Mother Theodora being the fifth. We all enjoyed Rita's smiles and sense of humor, even in her final years as she suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Please keep Mother and her family in your prayers. May God grant eternal repose to the soul of His servant, Rita!

Thursday, January 18 - 4 pm to 8 pm

Lane Funeral Home
1350 N. Niles-Canfield Road (Rt. 46)
Mineral Ridge, OH 44440

Friday, January 19 - 10 am

St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church
356 S Belle Vista Ave.
Youngstown, OH 44509

St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church Cemetery

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sara Lynn to be tonsured as a rasophore nun, Feb. 1

We are full of joy to announce the tonsuring of our dokimos (postulant), Sara Lynn, as a rasophore nun on Thursday, February 1! During Vespers for the Feast of the Meeting of Our Lord with Simeon and Anna, Sara Lynn 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:

Thursday, February 1, 2018
5:00 p.m.
St. Stephen Byzantine Catholic Church
532 Lloyd Rd.
Euclid, Ohio

Saturday, January 6, 2018

"Come and behold the place of the baptism of Christ..."

“O faithful, come and behold the place of the baptism of Christ, so that we may follow Him to the streams of the Jordan and thus draw near to the one who cries out in the wilderness: See the inexpressible loving-kindness of the Creator of Adam, who bows His head to the hand of a servant. Therefore, let us cry out to Him: You have come and appeared in the Jordan to sanctify the waters.”

(Sessional Hymn 3, Matins for the Feast of Theophany)

Happy Feast of Theophany! In this photo, Fr. Sebastian Carnazzo blesses us with the water of the Jordan River during our July 2017 pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Winter Newsletter

Enjoy our winter edition of Pomegranate Blossoms! May this new year be filled with many blessings for you and your loved ones.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Allow Jesus to "lay down" in your weakness

A reflection by Mother Cecilia, originally published in Horizons, the newspaper of the Eparchy of Parma.

Through the sponsorship of a benefactor, the nuns of Christ the Bridegroom Monastery made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, organized by the Melkite Eparchy of Newton, this past July. It was the first time in the Holy Land for most of the nuns of the monastery.

On the first full day of our pilgrimage, my amazement grew as each new site increased in importance. I was in awe when we visited the place where some of the prophets are buried. Then we visited the place where the greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist, was born. As we approached the place of the birth of the Messiah — of God on earth — I simply didn’t know what to think.

In Bethlehem, we went first to Shepherd’s Field, where the angels announced the Good News of Christ’s birth to the herdsmen. We walked through the ruins of a monastery that existed during the Byzantine period.

After lunch, we arrived at the Church of the Nativity. It is one of the oldest churches still in existence. The doorway is very low, so that visitors must bow in order to enter.

Underneath the church is the Grotto of the Nativity, where the place of Jesus’ birth is marked with a metal star on the floor. Nearby, in the same chapel, is the place where Jesus was laid in the manger. We listened to the chanting of the Gospel and then venerated the place of the Nativity as we sang the Troparion of the Nativity.

I was overwhelmed and nervous to venerate this holy spot, especially as we were being urged to move quickly. As I kneeled down and leaned over to kiss the star on the floor, my metal water bottle fell out of the side pouch of my backpack and crashed loudly on the marble floor near the star. Someone picked it up for me. I tried to touch my chotki to the star, but because it was attached to my belt I couldn’t reach it there. I awkwardly got up. I quickly understood that Jesus was allowing me to be humbled in the very place where he humbled himself by becoming man.

Then I walked a few steps over to the place where Jesus was laid in the manger. It was slightly less chaotic there. I stood there quietly for a few moments and said in my heart to Jesus, “I don’t know how to pray here. I don’t know what to think about in this place where you have lain.”

Immediately, an image came to my mind: I saw myself receiving the Eucharist. Then I understood, and exclaimed to Jesus, “Oh, I’ve experienced this before! You lay in me every time I receive Communion!”

At that moment I began to relax. The places I visited in the Holy Land were not actually foreign to me. I had already experienced these mysteries interiorly, in the liturgy, and in the mysteries of the church.

As I look back on the experience of our pilgrimage, I realize that I didn’t need to figure out how to think or how to pray. God was giving himself to me, and my job was to open to receive him. This is what he continues to do in every moment of our lives.

During this Feast of the Nativity, may we humbly accept our weaknesses, allowing them to be places where Jesus lays down in us so that we can give him to the world.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Renovations have begun!

We are very excited to share some good news! Thanks to the generosity of many donors this year, especially at our Bridegroom's Banquet, our newest renovation project has begun! The "old farm house" and "former rectory," buildings attached to our chapel, are being renovated into retreat space for our growing number of retreatants.

Please keep the workers in your prayers as they undertake this project! Thank you for all of your support!

Monday, November 20, 2017

"Silence, Prayer, Poustinia": A Video

"The Christian life is a real's actually a blood and guts battle, especially an interior battle with the reality of sin and temptation that we deal with in our lives every day" (Mother Theodora).

We hope you are inspired by this 17-minute video, produced for our recent Bridegroom's Banquet, in which we share some wisdom that we have learned about silence and prayer. We and a couple of poustinia guests also share some experiences of our time in the poustinia (literally "desert," but referring to our retreat house used for silent retreats). We hope that our video helps you to understand the importance of silence and daily prayer, and perhaps plants a seed for a future retreat! Some of the funds raised at the Bridegroom's Banquet will help us to renovate our remaining empty buildings into additional retreat space, so that more people will be able to take time to be alone with Jesus, the Bridegroom of our souls.

The video was filmed and edited by Bowling Green University film student David Bratnick, parishioner of our Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.