Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Happy Feast of St. John Paul II!

Today is the first celebration of the feast day of St. John Paul II since his canonization in April.  We also recently celebrated, on Oct. 11, the first feast day of St. John XXIII, who was canonized together with him.  Here are our reflections from the canonization, which we recently published in our fall newsletter:

Reflections on the Canonization 
of St. John Paul II & St. John XXIII

Thanks to a very generous anonymous benefactor, we were all sent to Rome in April to witness the canonization of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII.  St. John Paul II has played a large role in the founding of our monastery: he inspired its foundation by writing “Orientale Lumen” (“Light of the East”), he has played a role in each of our vocations, and we realized his obvious guidance from heaven while writing our typikon (rule of life).  Those who have visited the monastery also know about our “JPII room”—a small sitting room used most often for our personal meetings with Mother, which is stocked with all our St. John Paul II books, photos and a couple second-class relics.  Once we learned that we would be attending this canonization, we made an effort to get to know St. John XXIII as well.  Some of us read sections of “Journal of a Soul,” the compilation of his personal journals.  We were also pleased to learn about his importance to the Eastern Catholic Churches and his work towards unity with the Orthodox Church.  Making a pilgrimage to this canonization was a distant-dream-come-true and an experience that will always remain in our hearts.  Enjoy these brief personal reflections from each of us.

Mother Theodora—”Be not afraid”
“Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well.  Do this in complete faith and confidence” (St. John Paul II).  I was 19 when I heard the opening words of Pope John Paul II’s papacy, “Be not afraid.” His love and courage continues to incite me to trust and to move into the unknown.  It was a privilege to be with my sisters in St. Peter’s Square for his canonization and that of John XXIII.  Arriving at the Square took some courage.  We pushed our way into the deep and dense ocean of people that moved us uncontrollably toward our destination.  There were moments when the surge of the crowd literally made it hard to breathe.  We arrived in the Square unscathed and grateful.  My most memorable experience was praying before the tomb of St. John Paul II.  The guards kept moving the endless line of faithful who desired to be near his tomb.  The sisters and I managed to find a little cove outside the ropes in which to stand and pray for his intercession.  We believe the guards tolerated our prayerful presence until a growing number of people joined us.  As I prayed, a flood of fears and reluctancies overwhelmed me and with tears I implored his help.  I then felt his fatherly embrace and heard his encouraging words: “Don’t be afraid.”  With the loving guidance and intercession of St. John Paul II, we continue to step out into the unknown, knowing that through God’s grace all will be very, very well.

Sr. Cecilia—“In the heart of the Church”
I knew I didn’t want to stand with the crowds out on the street all night in order to get into St. Peter’s Square when it opened.  To be honest, the main reason was that I knew I couldn’t last that many hours without using the restroom!  So I was resigned to being far away from the Square.  However, as soon as we arrived, our tour group leaders told us that they had managed to arrange an amazing opportunity for us: a room large enough for our group to sit in was reserved in a building right on the Via della Conciliazione, just outside St. Peter’s Square.  We would spend the night in prayer, some food would be available for purchase and…we could use the restrooms until the morning!  As soon as the prayer vigil began, I was completely overwhelmed with gratitude and awe at God’s providence.  There I was, right there with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, safe inside this building, as hundreds of thousands of people made their way toward this very spot.  The eyes of the world were on this place, yet no one knew I was there in that building in the midst of it.  My monastic vocation—to be praying in the heart of the Church—was renewed.  I became resolved that I wanted my vocation to be for the world, and I realized how intimately close to Jesus this vocation is!

Sr. Gabriella—“God’s abundant mercy”
Having been to St. John Paul II’s beatification, I had a good idea of what we would experience at the canonization.  Last time, I spent the night outside in the streets with all the people waiting to enter the Square – this time, we were blessed with a room to spend the night in away from the crowds – with bathrooms, food and Jesus!  By the time I made it into the Square though, I was beyond exhausted.  I crumpled under my poncho waiting for Mass to begin, barely lifting my head when Pope Francis came in.  The mood was different this time – much more subdued and peaceful.  The almost two full days of being awake was taking its toll on me and I barely made it through Mass.  Since I already received communion at midnight, I felt it wasn’t right for me to receive again because I had not fully participated in Mass.  In God’s providence, a priest walked up 20 feet away from me and had only a few people in line – and somehow I found myself in line to receive Jesus!  The guilt I felt melted away as I tasted the most wonderful Eucharist I have ever received, thinking, “Is this what manna tasted like?!”  I had a profound sense of God’s mercy, so fitting on Divine Mercy Sunday, and Jesus spoke to my heart, reminding me that nothing I do merits my partaking in the Eucharist – it is truly a gift, freely given by God to me!

Jacqui—“Being Christ for each other”
The most memorable moment for me was standing in line to get into St. Peter’s Square the morning of the canonization.  Things got tense as the hours passed.  People became tired, hungry, thirsty, claustrophobic, etc.  After a while I became separated from my group.  I began to get nervous because no one around me spoke English.  My back was hurting because my backpack was too heavy, there was no such thing as personal space, and it was difficult to communicate.  Then I realized that this is a pilgrimage and it isn’t supposed to be easy.  I lifted my backpack and began singing the Jesus Prayer to calm down.   Then a kind Italian man behind me said, “May I help you with your bag?”  I immediately thought of what was in my bag that could be stolen.  As I was trying to think, he placed his hand under my bag and lifted it up so the weight wasn’t on my shoulders and back.  He then said, “We stay together.”  Each time the line moved up he would grab my backpack straps and say jokingly, “Left foot, right foot, left foot.”  I realized that these popes who would soon become saints had somehow helped every single person who was in line that day.  We are all called to be that person for the world: a witness to God’s love and action.  I am grateful for the friend who helped me to realize that even in those tense moments we can still be Christ and bring Joy to those around us.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Our Divine Liturgies are now open to the public!

We have some news that we are very excited to share with you!

After some discernment about the needs of our growing community and God's will for our immediate future, we became open to the possibility of moving our liturgical services out of our tiny, unfinished chapel that we set up in the monastery, to the larger, established chapel directly across the street.

After speaking with Bishop John, he has given us the care of this chapel which was formerly under the care of the "Fellowship of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch," a small group of lay people in the area.  The extra space of this chapel now allows us to open our liturgical services to this group of lay people and to anyone who would like to pray with us!  Bishop John has also appointed Fr. Andrey Kovalenko, the current administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch, as our chaplain.

At our recent fall work day, volunteers helped us to clean the chapel and make some rearrangements to adapt the space for monastic use. There are still many aspects of the chapel that we would like to renovate and liturgical items that we would like to purchase, but we know that God will provide in His time if it is His will.

On this coming Sunday, October 19, we will open our Divine Liturgy to the public for the first time!  Divine Liturgies will be celebrated here on most Sundays, at 10:00 a.m.  We will also publish the days and times of Great Vespers and other services as we feel able to open them.  If you would like to pray with us at a time not listed, please feel free to call (440-834-0290) to check our schedule.

We will keep a calendar updated on our "Upcoming Events" tab.

We are excited to begin to pray with you, and we hope to see you soon!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A great Fall Work Day!

Thank you to all of our Fall Work Day volunteers!  We were blessed with a beautiful, warm, sunny day and beautiful, enthusiastic volunteers!  We accomplished many projects, indoors and out.  As always, we also enjoyed a delicious potluck lunch.  Quite a few volunteers also stayed for Great Vespers, dinner and a campfire.  Thank you for blessing us with your joy and willing hands!

Click here to view more photos!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The first person to be beatified on U.S. soil was raised in the Byzantine Catholic Church!

"And even in the world I felt very intensely that if people only sought God in all earnestness they would find Him. And if all would only make use of the ordinary duties and trials of their state in the way God intended, they would all become saints," wrote Sr. Miriam Teresa to her spiritual director (Letter to Father Benedict, O.S.B., August 19, 1926).  
Carpathian Connection Article
This spiritual director perceived something very special in Sr. Miriam Teresa, a Sister of Charity of St. Elizabeth.  He perceived a life of heroic virtue and cooperation with the grace of God, which the Church will proclaim publicly this Saturday, October 4, when she is beatified (proclaimed "Blessed") at the Cathedral-Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J.--the first person ever to be beatified on U.S. soil.  The Church beatifies and canonizes (the final step in the process of declaring sainthood) certain members of the Body of Christ in order to hold them up as examples of virtue for the faithful--with the hope that all the faithful will seek to learn from their example and to emulate their virtues as they are able in their state of life.  As you can see from the above quote of Sr. Miriam Teresa, this young woman, who died at the age of 26 in 1927, felt very strongly that all people can become saints.

Her spiritual director played an important part in assuring that the wisdom she gained from her life with Christ would be available to others.  He asked her to write a set of spiritual conferences which he would then give to her and the other novices, without revealing their source.  After her death, he posted a note on the bulletin board which stated, "The conferences that I have been giving to the sisters were written by Sr. Miriam Teresa."  These conferences were later published in book form with the title, "Greater Perfection." This book, and her biography, are available through the Sisters of Charity.  Her teachings on prayer are especially helpful.
"As long as we try we need never fear or worry, for we are advancing.  Only when we give up trying have we cause for real anxiety about our progress...for we feel secure.  But it is a false security, in which a proud self and a prouder devil have steeped us" (Greater Perfection, Conference 13).
In addition to her beautiful teachings and the historic nature of her beatification, there is yet another exciting aspect of her life...Sr. Miriam Teresa was raised in the Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic Church!  She was baptized at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church in Bayonne, N.J.  She attended the College of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, N.J., and entered the Roman Catholic community she was familiar with from her college days, the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth.  Bishop Kurt Burnette, the Byzantine Catholic bishop of the Eparchy of Passaic, will celebrate a Liturgy of Thanksgiving on Sunday, October 5, at 3:00 p.m., at her home parish in Bayonne.

We are happy to introduce you to our new friend!  For more information about Sr. Miriam Teresa, here are some resources:
National Catholic Register Article
Sisters of Charity Page

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Eric Genuis at the Shrine!

We are excited to share with you that concert pianist Eric Genuis will be at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch (across the street from our monastery) on Friday, October 3rd at 7:30pm for a free concert!  For those who will not be attending the Eparchy of Parma's assembly, please consider attending this evening of music and fun with Eric.

Here is a little information about Eric:

The career of composer, virtuoso pianist and acclaimed performer, Eric Genuis, began in Krakow, Poland in 1997. A government dignitary heard Genuis’ music and he was invited to headline the entertainment for an AIDS benefit concert. This premier performance was attended by 15,000 people. Since then, Genuis continues to perform worldwide, upwards of 100 concerts each year.

Eric has received praise from music industry greats such as Joel Sill (Music Supervisor for films Munich and Forest Gump) who said "I remain a fan and look forward to him
being more broadly discovered and to watching as his audience expands and appreciates his fine talents" and John Debney (Film Composer for The Passion of the Christ and Spy Kids), who proclaimed "From a musicians perspective, Eric Genuis' music is brilliant- superbly crafted, unique in style and expertly performed." Eric has collaborated with famed British Maestro, Allen Wilson and the Slovak National Symphony to produce four CD's of his original work.

Genuis' musical education includes achieving First Class A.R.C.T. Honors in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He has completed course work in film scoring from the Berklee College of Music. Eric Genuis is a musical tour de force and his concerts are a proven thrill to music lovers of both classical and contemporary music.

For more information about Eric, visit his website.

For more information about the concert, contact John at 440-251-8594.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Reminder - RSVP for the Fall Workday!

Join us for a day of outdoor and indoor work projects, prayer, food and fun at the monastery on Saturday, September 27.  Volunteers of all ages and abilities are welcome!  The day begins at 10 a.m., includes lunch, and closes with vespers at 5 p.m. followed by a cookout.  Come at whatever time you are available, and bring a side dish to share if you can.  Please RSVP* by Tuesday, September 23, to 440-834-0290 or, so that the appropriate amount of food can be prepared.  

Facebook Event

*Please RSVP with:
1. The number of adults (include teens) and the number of kids (12 and under) 
2. Will you be here for lunch and/or dinner?
3. The dish you plan to bring 

Thank you!

Guys, lest you think this work day is just about raking leaves, here is a list of some of things we need you for!

-Gutter repair (let us know ahead of time if you are able to do this)
-Cutting down dead trees (does anyone have a chainsaw they can bring?)
-Heavy lifting in the chapel
-Fix stone pathway
-Painting the eaves

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Enjoy our summer/fall newsletter!

Enjoy our reflections from our pilgrimage to St. John Paul II's canonization, as well as what we have been up to and what is going on this fall at the monastery!