Monday, November 20, 2017

"Silence, Prayer, Poustinia": A Video

"The Christian life is a real struggle...it'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.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

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

Thanks to the generous support of many, we received over $82,000 in donations and pledges at our Nov. 11 Bridegroom's Banquet or through pre-event donations. Generous benefactors pledged to match up to $75,000! We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, which will help keep the monastery running in the coming year and will help us to renovate our remaining empty buildings into retreat space.

Some attendees of the banquet attended the Vigil Divine Liturgy at St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church in Brecksville, Ohio, the parish which generously hosted our event. We then cantored Great Vespers, at which Bishop Milan presided, and then dinner followed in the hall downstairs. About 250 guests enjoyed the evening with us.

We shared a 17-minute video titled, "Silence, Prayer, Poustinia," filmed at the monastery by film student and Cathedral parishioner David Bratnick, which we will share with you soon. Donations were then collected, and while they were being counted, Fr. Ryan Mann (St. Charles Borromeo, Parma) and Fr. Jacob Bearer (St. Francis de Sales, Akron) provided many laughs with three improv comedy skits.

Enjoy more photos here. Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Prayer for the Nativity Fast

In the Byzantine Tradition, the 40-day fasting period in preparation for the Nativity of Our Lord begins today. Below is a prayer from the service of Royal Hours on the eve of the Nativity. It can be used as a daily prayer during the Nativity Fast. May your journey to this great feast be blessed!

O Christ our Lord and God, You did not think equality with God something to be grasped at, but You emptied Yourself, took the form of a slave and were born in human likeness. Enlighten us as we prepare to celebrate Your holy birth. Make us worthy to see the mystery of Your becoming man for us, while remaining God in eternity. Fill our minds with understanding, that we might see You even in the least of our brothers and sisters. You have given us the gift of Your Holy Spirit, You have loved us even to the point of your saving death and glorious resurrection, grant us also a faith that cannot be confused, a love that does not pretend, and a wisdom that is complete. You have said, "Unless you become like children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." Grant that in this feast we may again experience the rebirth we were given in baptism, and sing out with the angels, "Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those on whom His favor rests." You have humbled Yourself, O Christ our God. May Your name be exalted, together with the name of Your eternal Father and the name of Your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever and forever. Amen.

Monday, October 30, 2017

How to help if you can't attend the Bridegroom's Banquet

We had to close registration for the Bridegroom's Banquet a day early because all the seats were full! If you did not get a spot before we closed registration, or if you are unable to attend for other reasons, you can still help! Here's what you can do:

1. Please pray for us, for our guests and for a fruitful event. 
2. Your donation can still be doubled! Donations, up to a total of $75,000, will be doubled by matching donors!!! You may send a donation before the event, marked "Bridegroom's Banquet," by cash or check payable to "Christ the Bridegroom Monastery" to: 
The Bridegroom's Banquet
Christ the Bridegroom Monastery
17485 Mumford Rd.
Burton, OH 44021

Your donations will help with two needs:
1.  To keep our monastery running so that we can continue our life of prayer and hospitality 
2.  To renovate the remaining empty buildings on our property to meet the growing need for personal retreat space for retreatants and our community (we will add these funds to last year's funds that were set aside for this purpose and will then, God-willing, be able to start construction!)

Thank you for all of your support! God bless you!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Pomegranate Blossoms--Holy Land Edition!

We could also call this the pomegranate edition of Pomegranate Blossoms! We hope you enjoy our reflections from our recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land--the homeland of our Bridegroom, in our summer/fall issue of our newsletter. If you would like to receive our newsletter by mail or email, you may subscribe using this form.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

One month until the Bridegroom's Banquet!

Don't forget to register for our benefit dinner, taking place on Sat. Nov. 11, at St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church in Brecksville, Ohio. Admission is free, but you must register using our online form by Oct. 30. Visit our Bridegroom's Banquet page for more information! Donations, up to a total of $75,000 will be doubled!

We are looking forward to enjoying the evening with you, and we think you will especially enjoy the improv comedy of Fr. Ryan Mann and Fr. Jacob Bearer! 

If you are unable to attend, you can still help! First of all, please pray for a fruitful event. Secondly, your donation will still be doubled if you send it in before the event. You may send a donation by cash or check payable to "Christ the Bridegroom Monastery" to:

The Bridegroom's Banquet
Christ the Bridegroom Monastery
17485 Mumford Rd.
Burton, OH 44021

Thank you for all of your support!


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The one thing needful

On Saturday we hosted a retreat day for wives of priests from the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Parma. The eight women, who came from the northeast Ohio area, Pittsburgh and Florida, asked to spend a day away from their responsibilities at their homes and parishes and gather at the monastery for some encouragement, prayer and rest.

It was a rare opportunity for these women, who often feel alone in their unique vocation, to spend time with each other and to be free to talk about their struggles and joys.

Mother Theodora gave a talk on the theme of the retreat day, "The one thing needful." She reflected on Martha and Mary of Bethany and the gifts of both of these friends of Jesus. She encouraged the women to take advantage of the opportunities during the retreat day to sit at the feet of Jesus in silence and listen to His voice. She reminded them that in their daily life they first need to be the bride of Jesus and to be with Him and be loved by Him; this relationship is the foundation of their other vocations of wife of a priest, mother of children and mother of their parishes.

After Sixth Hour, lunch and silent prayer, Sr. Iliana gave a talk from the perspective of a child of a priest. She shared funny stories from her childhood in the rectory, her struggles and the graces that helped lead her to her monastic vocation. Regarding the wives and children of priests, she said, "We don't just happen to be here; it's not just chance. We each have a particular vocation in the heart of the Church." She encouraged the women to asked the Lord, "What part of Your body am I?" She reminded them that all are called to holiness. Just as Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus' feet, "We need to receive our oil from Him so that we can pour it out on others."

After more time for silent prayer on the monastery grounds, the women departed, but not before asking to come back next year!