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 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!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Prayer for the Nativity Fast

Let's not forget that this is a time of prayer and fasting in preparation for the birth of Our Lord!  There are still nine days left!  Here is a prayer you may want to incorporate into your daily prayer during this time:

O God and Father, the Almighty One, you created the human race in your image and likeness, and when we fell through disobedience, you promised to send a Savior. When the fullness of time had come, your favor rested on your only-begotten Son, and He was born of the Virgin Mary. Thus, what Isaiah the prophet foretold was fulfilled: "Behold, the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, which means 'God with us.'" His birth filled all creation with light; He gave us the baptism of repentance, and restored our ancient dignity. Now, most compassionate Lord, You bring us to these honored days of the Christmas Fast that we may do battle with the desires of the flesh and draw strength from the hope of resurrection. Receive us, then, as penitents and forgive our wrongdoing, those done knowingly and unknowingly, through malice and through weakness. And may our prayers, our fasting, and our works of mercy rise up before You as incense, as sweet spiritual fragrance, that in company with the Magi and the shepherds we too, with pure hearts, may be found worthy to bow down before the Nativity of Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son. To Him, together with You and Your all-holy Spirit, belong glory, honor, and worship, now and ever and forever.  Amen.

From the Emmanuel Moleben

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Photos from Moki's Entrance, and two events for this Saturday

Sr. Cecilia, Mother Theodora, Moki, Bishop John, Sr. Gabriella and Jacqui
It's official!  There are now five of us!  God has blessed us abundantly by bringing a beautiful young woman, Moki Lonchyna, into our community on Monday as we celebrated the Feast of the Maternity of Anna (Immaculate Conception).  An article will come soon, but in the meantime, enjoy these photos from her entrance.

If you are in the Cleveland area, here are two events we are involved in this Saturday, December 13:

1) Sr. Gabriella and Moki will be selling our gift items at the St. Nick Craft Show in Parma, Ohio

Saturday, December 13
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Here is one way to support us and purchase some great Christmas gifts!  Sr. Gabriella and Moki will be at our table at this large craft fair at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, 1900 Carlton Rd., Parma, Ohio (corner of Snow and Broadview).  Our jam, jelly, chotki (prayer ropes), notecards and icon prints will be available.

2) Mother Theodora will be giving a day of reflection at St. Emilian's Byzantine Catholic Church in Brunswick, Ohio

Saturday, December 13
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
In the midst of all the preparation for Christmas: baking cookies, sending Christmas cards, shopping, wrapping, decorating, traveling, or whatever may be on your Christmas list, when you’re checking your list twice, will you notice that your name is missing? What if your name was on the list for your personal spiritual preparation for Christmas? In the midst of all the Christmas busyness, what if you had an opportunity to relax and reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation, God taking on our human flesh, and the profound impact He has on your life and the entire world? What if you took the time to slow down to hear and know that “God is with us” and experience His presence dwelling within you? What if you could refocus on all the things on your Christmas list and incorporate God’s loving presence in all that you do?

1:00 Opening prayer / Talk
1:45 Reflection
2:15 Break
2:45 Talk
3:30 Reflection
4:00 Closing prayer / Vigil Divine Liturgy / Departure

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thanks St. Nicholas! (And today is Moki's Entrance Day!)

St. Nicholas was VERY generous this year!  On his feast day, December 6, he brought us $26,000 toward our renovation project!  We are already at 41% of our goal!  If you are able, please consider helping us to reach our goal so that we can fit more nuns in our monastery, fix safety issues, and complete other necessary projects.  To learn more about our project, visit our Renovation Project page.

On another very exciting note, today is Moki Lonchyna's entrance day!  Her original entrance date, November 20, was postponed due to pnemonia, but today is--God-willing and the bishop arrives--the real thing!  As we celebrate this feast of the Mother of God--the Maternity of Anna (otherwise known as the Immaculate Conception)--join us in entrusting Moki to Mary's motherly care as she continues her journey of discernment by entering into our life of prayer and hospitality.  As Mary is conceived in the womb of her mother and salvation draws close, the mystery of God's beautiful plan for Moki's life begins to unfold in a new way.  She is grateful for your prayers!

"The sayings of the prophets are now being fulfilled: the holy mountain is planted in the womb; the divine ladder is set up; the throne of the great king is ready; the God-inspired city is being adorned.  The unburnable bush is beginning to bud forth, and the treasure house of grace is overflowing.  It is spreading over the rivers of unfruitfulness of the God-wise Anne whom we glorify in faith" (Stichera at Vespers).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Announcing our Renovation Project!

Dear friends,

We are excited to announce that we are launching a fund-raising project for much needed renovations of the monastery. We are in need of more cells (bedrooms) and bathrooms to fulfill the needs of our growing community and our discerners. In addition to increasing the number of cells and bathrooms, the renovations entail raising and supporting the sagging floors, upgrading electrical service up to code, fixing multiple leaks in the roof, installing a larger water pump and fixing the plumbing, along with a myriad of other undertakings.

Overall Goals:

     -Increase current number of bedrooms for nuns from five to eight
     -Create more office space
     -Increase the space and usability of kitchen
     -Replace old appliances
     -Prevent further damage to basement, pond and property
     -Eliminate danger of house fire     
     -Increase capacity of water pump to meet the needs of the community

Please view our Renovation Project booklet to see photos and learn more about our goals and needs for this project.

The good news!
The good news is that the architectural work is completed and paid for by a generous donor. God has blessed us with a benefactor who selflessly gave us $50,000 as a foundational jumpstart toward the renovations, and another gracious benefactor is offering matching funds up to $100,000! Wow. God is with us! In time, if it’s God’s will, our vision and hope is to build a “real” monastery and chapel when we grow out of the present monastery and repurpose the present building into a retreat center. In the meantime, needing more cells and bathrooms is a good thing!

If you would like to give toward the matching funds campaign, knowing that whatever amount you give will be doubled:
     -Please make your check payable to “Diocese of Parma Monastery Fund” 
     -Write “Building Fund” in the memo
     -Send to:
          Christ the Bridegroom Monastery
          17485 Mumford Rd.
          Burton, OH 44021

We will update our thermometer (on our "Renovation Project" tab) with your donation!

Whether or not you are able to financially help at this time, we would greatly appreciate your prayers!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and rely not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  We recognize all these needs as a blessing from our Bridegroom. These dreams and challenges will no doubt come to fruition if we trust in the Lord with all our hearts and seek His guidance and blessing with each step on the path towards His loving will for us and His Church.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Year of Consecrated Life begins today!

With our friend Sr. Anna Rose, TOR
Pope Francis has proclaimed a Year of Consecrated Life which begins today, November 30, which happens to be the Feast of St. Andrew, the First-Called.  It will continue until the World Day of Consecrated Life, February 2, 2016.

Well, it's pretty exciting to have a year dedicated to us!  The Church will be praying for us, seeking ways to support our life of prayer, teaching about this particular vocation and encouraging discernment.  But it also presents us with a challenge and responsibility.  Please pray for us as we accept the challenge of seeking to become all that God is calling us to be, as His brides and as witnesses for the Church and the world.

To kick off this Year of Consecrated Life, we'll share some beautiful excerpts from a document published in preparation for this year by the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.  The document, based on the teachings of Pope Francis, is called, "Rejoice!"

1. ...To accept this teaching means to renew our existence in accordance with the Gospel, not in a radical way understood as a model of perfection and often of separation, but by adhering wholeheartedly to the saving encounter that transforms our life. “It is a question of leaving everything to follow the Lord. No, I do not want to say ‘radical’. Evangelical radicalness is not only for religious: it is demanded of all. But religious follow the Lord in a special way, in a prophetic way. It is this witness that I expect of you. Religious should be men and women able to wake the world up.” 
In their finite humanity, on the margins, in their everyday struggles, consecrated men and women live out their fidelity, giving a reason for the joy that lives in them. So they become splendid witnesses, effective proclaimers, companions and neighbors...

Joy, the beauty of consecration 
3. “This is the beauty of consecration: it is joy, joy...”. The joy of bringing God’s consolation to all. These are the words spoken by Pope Francis during his meeting with seminarians and novices. “There is no holiness in sadness”, the Holy Father continued. Do not grieve like others who have no hope, wrote St. Paul (1Thess 4:13). 
Joy is not a useless ornament. It is a necessity, the foundation of human life. In their daily struggles, every man and woman tries to attain joy and abide in it with the totality of their being. 
In the world there is often a lack of joy. We are not called to accomplish epic feats or to proclaim high-sounding words, but to give witness to the joy that arises from the certainty of knowing we are loved, from the confidence that we are saved....
Your calling 
4. “In calling you God says to you: ‘You are important to me, I love you, I am counting on you’. Jesus says this to each one of us! Joy is born from that! The joy of the moment in which Jesus looked at me. Understanding and hearing this is the secret of our joy...." 

Friday, November 21, 2014

"...that we might be holy and immaculate in His presence"

Happy Feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple!

But first, a few notes:

  • Today is Mother Theodora's third anniversary of her tonsure as a stavrophore nun (life profession) in our monastery!
  • Today is the 50th anniversary of Orientalium Ecclesiarum, the Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches, an important document from Vatican II.  This document has been fundamental in the ongoing renewal of authentic traditions in the Eastern Catholic Churches.  The document states, "All members of the eastern churches...are to aim always at a more perfect knowledge and practice of their rites, and if they have fallen away due to circumstances of times or persons, they are to strive to return to their ancestral traditions."
  • Please to continue to pray for Moki, who was originally scheduled to enter yesterday evening at vespers.  She is recovering from pnemonia and God-willing will enter in a couple of weeks!
  • We are about a week into the Nativity Fast.  This fast is traditionally an abstinence from meat and dairy products for these 40 days in preparation for the birth of Our Lord.  Consider joining with us in fasting in some way in order to let go of your attachments so that you may be better able to receive the great gift of God's love in the Incarnation!
Mother Theodora's Profession

Ok, back to the feast day:

The Feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple gives us a lot to reflect upon!  Today, let's compare our own process of sanctification to the preparation of Mary to become the Temple of God...

It should be a great relief to us that Mary, the one without sin, wasn't expected to prepare herself by herself.  She was taken to the Temple to be prepared.  In fact, she couldn't have prepared herself.  This was something that only God could do.

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity writes,
"'God,' [St. Paul] says, 'chose us in Him before creation that we might be holy and immaculate in His presence, in love' (Ephesians 1:4)....I must remain 'in the presence of God' through everything...and it is contact with the divine Being that will make me 'holy and immaculate' in His eyes" (Last Retreat, Third Day).
Tradition says that at Mary's entrance, Zechariah took her into the Holy of Holies.  At that time, there was no greater place of "contact with the divine Being" on earth!  It was Mary's living in the Temple, in close proximity to the presence of God, that prepared her to contain Him within her.

For us, this place of contact with God happens in such things as the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments), the Divine Liturgy, in prayer and in encountering Him in others.  This contact with God slowly transforms us, especially as we surrender to God's action within us.

St. John Damascene's thanksgiving prayer after Holy Communion says,
"May [Your most pure body and blood] burn away my sins, enlighten my soul, and brighten my understanding.  May they sanctify me, making a dwelling-place in me so that I too may be in You forever...." 
This is beautiful news, but news that is hard for us to accept!  We want to think that we can achieve holiness through our own work!  May the Mother of God intercede for us and help us to surrender to the great love and power of her Son, who alone can prepare us for all that He asks of us on earth and for all that He has destined us for in the eternal glory of heaven!