Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Announcing: "The Bridegroom's Banquet," Nov. 5!

Last year many enjoyed our first fundraising dinner, the "Mumford & Nuns BBQ," which took place in the summer at the monastery. This year, we invite you to join us for "The Bridegroom's Banquet" on Sat. Nov. 5, 2016, at St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church in Brecksville, Ohio.

This year, admission is free! Registration is required, so please check back soon for more information. Adults 21 and older are invited.

Please mark your calendar to join us for an enjoyable evening of prayer, dinner and fellowship. You will have the opportunity to learn more about our life and to support the monastery.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

A talk by Fr. Boniface Hicks: Mercy and the Mother of God

A beautiful talk for the Year of Mercy by Fr. Boniface Hicks, OSB, at the annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch, August 14, 2016. Fr. Boniface talks about the "emptiness" of the Mother of God as the way in which she could be filled with grace and mercy and overflow with mercy for others. This is great news for us who are so empty and broken! 

"When we see her greatness, it's not because she does something that's out of reach of us. She does something that every one of us can do: she's empty, she's open, she's earth that God can plant His mercies in. She has a space that she can't fill, and she doesn't try to--that's our danger: we always try to fill that space with something that's in our own control; we have to let that go. We have to allow ourselves to be poor, and weak, and limited, and broken, and then God can fill us like He fills her. 
He shows us precisely what He wants us to be: empty and filled with His love, that we may also become a fount of His mercies, pure earth which pour forth His abundant mercies. What God shows us in our Lady is precisely what He is making us into: not a porcelain statue distant from us and unachievable, but something that's more like falling than like flying...something that looks more like dying than like rising. Our job is to die, His job is to raise us up again, and that's what our Lady demonstrates for us in her Dormition...."

Monday, August 15, 2016

Happy Feast of the Dormition!

Today we celebrate the great Feast of the Dormition (falling asleep) of the Mother of God. This morning, pilgrims who were camping out after the annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch joined us for Matins (morning prayer) with the burial procession and Divine Liturgy. It was a beautiful 3-hour marathon of a celebration! During the burial procession with the shroud of the Mother of God, we chant verses from the Song of Songs. When we come back inside the chapel and place the shroud on the tomb, we then sing the "stations" at her tomb, similar to the stations sung during Jerusalem Matins on Great and Holy Saturday. Here is one beautiful line from the second station:

"As an infant upon earth, God rested upon His holy Mother; now the holy Mother rests and makes her abode in God!"

After Matins, we all venerate the shroud of the Mother of God. We venerate this body which contained God and which is now in heaven. May we, too, open ourselves to the Divine Life who wants to dwell within us, as we celebrate this beautiful feast!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Voice of the Merciful Father

(Originally published in our spring newsletter)

By Fr. Jeff Barnish, St. Bernadette Parish, Westlake, Ohio

"Only one who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy truly knows the Lord” (Pope Francis, March 7, 2015, address to the Communion and Liberation movement). 

“But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Matthew 6:6).

In the midst of the Sermon on the Mount, just before He teaches His disciples the “Our Father,” Jesus invites them to encounter His Father in the solitude of the inner room.  His invitation arises from the depth of His intimate knowledge of the interplay between the Father and the human heart.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we have to agree with Jeremiah when he writes “More tortuous than anything is the human heart….”  Among its tortures are the myriad of voices vying for its attention, pulling it in a thousand directions.  For many, myself included, the poustinia house at Christ the Bridegroom Monastery incarnates the inner room of Jesus’ imagination, where the human heart and the Ancient of Days meet in secret, far from the din of the world.

The voice of the Father is so often the still, silent voice that Elijah encounters at Mount Horeb.  It is easily missed in the cacophony of the culture.  The noise of the present age so often drowns out the merciful whisper of God.  This is why Jesus invites us to encounter God in the inner room and why the poustinia exists. The silence of the poustinia house amplifies the Voice of Mercy and opens the human heart to be “caressed by the tenderness of mercy.” The Father does not typically compete with the other voices of our daily lives by raising His own. Instead, He waits patiently to meet us alone, apart from the multitude.  The Father knows that the inner room provides the ideal setting for us to receive His initiatives of love.

Our world can be a weary one and it wears on us.  Though Christ has risen, triumphant over sin and death, we remain subject to the afflictions of a world that is already and not yet.  In this Year of Mercy, our Holy Father invites us to believe that our sinfulness and suffering comprise the privileged place of encounter.  Yet, if we do not quiet the deafening voices that numb our anguish, we will be unable to hear the murmur of the merciful Father.

I’ve had the privilege of finding refuge in the silence of the monastery and the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch a number of times since my ordination last May.  One of the lines from the Rite of Ordination that has stayed with me from that day comes from the prayer of ordination itself in which the Bishop prays, “May they be joined with us, Lord, in imploring your mercy for the people entrusted to their care and for all the world.”  Most days, the priestly call to implore mercy has left me all too aware of my own need for that same mercy.  It is this realization that drives me to the footsteps of the monastery, seeking the gentle mercy of Jesus.  There, in the quiet of the upper room, the Voice of Mercy is audible.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Encountering God's Mercy at the Monastery

(Originally published in our spring newsletter)

By Eric Garris, Seminarian for the Diocese of Cleveland

Recently, Pope Francis released a new book entitled “The Name of God is Mercy” (which I highly recommend!) as part of his desire for the Church to celebrate this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.   In this interview the pope is asked the simple question, “What is mercy for you?”  Although the question itself was quite simple, the response given by the Holy Father was incredibly profound when he stated, “Mercy is the divine attitude which embraces, it is God giving himself to us, accepting us, and bowing to forgive […] mercy is God’s identity card.”  I sat with this line and let God speak to my heart as I prayerfully reflected on the words of Pope Francis.  I thought of how many times we as a Church cry out from the depths of our hearts asking for God to be merciful towards us; we repeatedly cry out as a Church community within the liturgy “Lord have mercy,” we chant Psalms in which we entreat God for mercy, and we pray in the silence of our hearts, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”  These prayers for mercy vocalize our hearts’ desire to have God embrace us—embrace us in the midst of our brokenness, our sinfulness and our pains.

And while we certainly experience God’s mercy within the liturgy, personal prayer and the Sacraments/Holy Mysteries, I also believe that one of most profound ways that we experience the mercy of God is in others, in particular those who have experienced mercy in a profound way in their own lives.  As I read the line about God’s mercy being the divine attitude which embraces, I also thought of the people, the places and the groups/communities that have embraced me, have been merciful to me, and have taught me how to love and how to be merciful.  The women of Christ the Bridegroom Monastery have been incredibly merciful toward me; they have embraced me, they have taught me how to love, they have taught me how to be merciful, but most especially, they have allowed for me to encounter the mercy of God.

I have experienced mercy and have been embraced by the women of the community, and for this I give thanks to God.  Whether it be simply heading over to celebrate and pray Vespers with them, sitting around over coffee and sharing stories and laughs, enjoying a meal with them, or whatever it may be, I have indeed been embraced by these women.  But their embrace and their showing of mercy is not simply in what they have done for me, but in the very nature of who they are.  Just as mercy is “God’s identity card,” mercy is the identity of the women of Christ the Bridegroom Monastery.  The fruit of their spousal relationship with Christ and Christ’s Church is the love and mercy that they exude, and this love and mercy is infectious!  So too I have been able to experience the mercy of God through the monastery—in the poustinia, in the communal prayer and liturgy, and in the others whom I have been blessed to encounter through my association and friendship with the nuns.  

It is my prayer that the women of Christ the Bridegroom Monastery may continue to be icons of mercy, sharing with the world the love which is born between them and their Bridegroom, Christ Himself.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Mariapoch Pilgrimage & Teen Campout, Aug. 13-14

Join us Aug. 13-14, 2016, for the annual Eparchy of Parma pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch in Burton, Ohio, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the dedication of the shrine.  All are invited for a weekend of prayer and fellowship in honor of, and in supplication to, the Mother of God.  In celebration of the Year of Mercy, this year’s theme is, “Open Unto us the Doors of Mercy, O Blessed Theotokos.”  Come during the day or camp out overnight.  The weekend will culminate with a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy celebrated by Bishop John on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.  This year’s speaker is Fr. Boniface Hicks, OSB, from St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pa.  For the full schedule and other information, click on the poster to the right, or visit  With questions, please contact Deacon Bill Fredrick at or 216-469-1425.

Teens: Teens wishing to participate in the chaperoned campout program must submit a release form and payment by July 29.  Click here to register.  With questions about the teen program, please contact the nuns of Christ the Bridegroom Monastery at or 440-834-0290.

Monday, July 18, 2016

July 3rd radio appearance

Fr. David Bline and Fr. Louis Thomas, of St. Francis de Sales parish in Akron, Ohio, invited Mother Cecilia and Mother Gabriella to join them on The Mercy Show on WAKR (a secular Akron station) for the July 3rd episode of the priests' weekly half-hour program. The topics on which they reflected included religious liberty, spiritual motherhood/fatherhood, and monastic life. Visit this link to listen!