Friday, July 12, 2019

Mother Theodora on EWTN Live!

Mother Theodora was Fr. Mitch Pacwa's guest on Wednesday, July 10, on his show EWTN Live. She spoke about her call to monastic life, the icon of Christ the Bridegroom, the Jesus Prayer, the life of prayer and hospitality of our monastery, and more. To watch the show, visit this link and then click on the box that says " 2019-07-11 - 07/10/19 Mother Theodora." Enjoy!

Monday, July 8, 2019

10th Anniversary Issue of Pomegranate Blossoms

Enjoy our extra-long, special 10th anniversary issue of our newsletter, Pomegranate Blossoms! 

This issue includes:

  • Our history and old photos
  • An interview with Mother Theodora and Mother Cecilia
  • Memories from the other nuns
  • A reflection and photos from Mother Iliana's Life Profession
  • And more...

We hope you enjoy it! Thanks for all your prayers and support during these 10 years!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Overwhelmed with grace!: Boys & Girls Camp & 50th Anniversary

Bottom L to R: Fr. Flavio Pace (assistant to Cardinal Sandri), Msgr. Walter Erbi (representative of the Papal Nuncio), Metropolitan Fülöp, Cardinal Sandri, Metropolitan William, Bishop Milan; Top R: Mother Maria (hermitess)
Wow, we are still recovering from the exhaustion and the explosion of grace that came in the midst of running Boys and Girls Camp, celebrating the 50th anniversary of our eparchy and of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, hosting Metropolitan Fülöp (the head of the Byzantine Catholic Church in Hungary) and three other clerics from Hungary, and receiving other international guests at the monastery, including Leonardo Cardinal Sandri (Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches), Msgr. Walter Erbi (representative of the Papal Nuncio to the United States), and priests from Slovakia. It was such an honor to receive all of our visitors and to learn from them. We were also so blessed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our eparchy with the clergy and faithful, and we had a blast with all the teens at camp! We are so proud of them for coming with open hearts to encounter the Lord, and we are grateful to God that He is using this camp to help teach them how to pray. Enjoy these great photos from camp! 

The following article is about the Boys and Girls Camp and will also be published in Horizons:

In conjunction with the eparchy’s 50th anniversary celebration, the eparchy’s annual Boys and Girls Camps were combined and held at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.  The change in venue provided teens with the opportunity to participate in the events celebrating this important mile marker in our church’s history.  The camps were led by the nuns of Christ the Bridegroom Monastery, with the support of many volunteers.

Camp began the afternoon of Wednesday, June 19, and concluded with lunch following the hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Saturday, June 22.  The 33 campers and several chaperones stayed at the cathedral, where they slept, shared meals, prayed together, played together, and learned together.

Thursday night, youth spent two hours praying in the cathedral, going to one of eight confessors for the Mystery of Holy Repentance.  Many campers identified this quiet time as their favorite part of the camp.  Lauren Kattler (13) shares, “When I was getting ready to go to confession, I felt him [God] there.”

Campers participated in several unique events this year.  On Friday, they were joined by some families as they embarked on a walking pilgrimage from the cathedral to Holy Spirit Church in Parma, and back again.  In the cemetery at Holy Spirit, the pilgrims joined the clergy in praying a Panachida for the deceased clergy of the eparchy.  As the pilgrims walked, they sang and prayed, attracting inquiries from observers along the way.

In the afternoon, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation of the Eastern Churches, talked with the youth at the cathedral, conducting Q & A.  That night, campers joined in the eparchial Parastas, and afterward some of them chose to keep vigil until midnight.

The camp’s theme this year was “Who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:13-19)  Throughout their days together, campers were challenged by several talks exploring the reality that authentic personal identity only springs from Christ’s identity as the Son of God.  They were able to reflect on the talks together in small groups.

Mother Iliana, one of the nuns, spoke to them about prayer: “God wants to meet us where we are, without masks…God wants to waste time with us… And it’s there [in prayer] you’ll find out who you are.”

Gregg Stovicek, a theology teacher at Lake Catholic High School in Mentor, Ohio, told the campers that when Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus is also inviting his disciples to put that same question back to him. Discernment, he said, is the process of asking God this question and listening for the answer, in order to come to an understanding of one’s true identity.

Recently-ordained Fr. Nathan Adams served as camp chaplain.  Sharing his conversion story with the youth, he said, “I focused all my energies on knowing about God and not knowing God… Don’t be fooled: this is no different than showing up at [liturgical] services and thinking that being there is the same as knowing God.”

Fr. Michael Lee, administrator of St. Luke Byzantine Catholic Church in Sugar Creek, Missouri, spoke of the mystery of our adoption as sons of the Father through Baptism.  “If ever you hear that the Father is angry with you, that’s a lie.  If ever you hear that you aren’t beloved, that’s a lie," because when the Father looks at us He sees his own Son.  He concluded, “Become who you are!  That’s the quest of the spiritual life:  not to become someone else, but to become who you are.”

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Join us for the Eparchy of Parma's 50th Anniversary Celebration!

Please join us this weekend for the Eparchy of Parma's 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Parma, Ohio. This Friday and Saturday event is a wonderful opportunity to gather together, meet people from other parishes, and pray together as a Church for our Church.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation of the Eastern Churches, as well as several other bishops from Europe will be traveling to the United States to join us for this celebration!

Here is the link to the event page. (When you go to the page, click on the various links on the left side for more information.)

Please also pray for us as we run the Boys and Girls Camp that will be held at the Cathedral on Wednesday through Saturday, in conjunction with the event, and pray for all of the participants. Thank you!

Monday, June 10, 2019

"It's great to give everything"

Last week, four of us took a trip to Philadelphia to attend the enthronement of the new leader of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States, Metropolitan Borys. We also participated in a day-long gathering for clergy and religious. It was a very beautiful and powerful experience. We were moved by the huge number of bishops and other clergy present, by the beautiful singing, and by the wonderful people we met--including a few monastics from Europe, from whom we received wisdom and advice. Here is a link to more photos.

We were especially moved by the remarks of Metropolitan Borys at the end of the enthronement liturgy. His words gave us so much hope in the midst of a Church that is struggling. His words, as well as the words of Patriarch Sviatoslav during a conference for the clergy and religious, empowered us to persevere in striving to be holy and to "give everything." Metropolitan Borys surprised us by singling out Mother Iliana as an example. His words were so powerful that we want to share them with all of you. Please consider watching this video clip of his remarks. Also, here is a link to a video of the enthronement liturgy, starting with the Gospel. If you are unable to watch the video clip, below is a portion of his remarks, including a translation of a part of the remarks that was given in Ukrainian.

"We're going to go together, really receiving in our hearts the gift of the Holy Spirit, because I can't do much and you can't do much...but if we come like we've come this time--together, and open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, we will see amazing things happening, miracles happening.

"We've seen our Church that was supposed to be dead. A totalitarian regime was trying to kill it; it had limitless resources, it had a nuclear arsenal. And this Church is alive. There are bishops here--Vladyka Ihor, for example, the metropolitan of Lviv--who became a priest in the underground. What hope did he have that things could change? Not too much, right?

With two Studite monks from Ukraine
"Today there are young Sisters here. Maty (Mother) Iliana, could you stand up? I want you to look at this young woman. There is nobody that is more free, nobody that has more courage, nobody that is more counter-cultural, nobody that is more non-conformist, than a young woman in the 21st Century who says, 'You know what? I pledge my whole life to God. And I promise poverty, chastity and obedience,' in a time when everybody says, 'Money, money, money, sex, sex, sex, and power.' This is the kind of witness we have amongst us.

Dear brothers and sisters, we, as children of this Church, do not have the right not to be witnesses. You don't have this right. If you have tasted how good the Lord is, go forward and witness. Help the Church to be renewed, as His Beatitude (Patriarch Sviatoslav) encouraged us. It just takes a few people who believe profoundly and are ready to give everything. It's great to give everything."

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Holy Spirit

Happy Feast of Pentecost! Today Bishop John joined us to celebrate this great feast that completes that Paschal Mystery! The Holy Spirit is an incredible gift that allows us to have God living within us. He is "everywhere present and filling all things," as we pray in the "Heavenly King" prayer. Below is a poem that was written by one of the nuns. Each stanza refers to one of the four classical elements of the world: earth, wind, water and fire.

The Holy Spirit

From the barren earth life was made to sprout
as You hovered over the waters, ready to nest.
Man was made of the dust of the earth and Your breath.

“His glorious rest is not enough,” we heard. “Take for yourself and eat.”
Blow!—that what is defiled may be swept clean and filled
and the fragrance of its perfumes may fill this house.

From the mountain Your rivers flow to the depths of Man.
A bubbling fountain leaps up somewhere in his darkness
where deep cries to deep at Your thunder.

“Remove your sandals on this Holy Ground.”
What will become of me if I consume this burning coal?
Yet where in all existence shall I flee from Your Spirit?

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Thank you to our Spring Work Day volunteers!

A great crew of volunteers joined us on Saturday, May 25, for our Spring Work Day. They helped us with many outdoor projects and indoor spring cleaning, including the repairing of a stone wall, assembly of new vegetable garden beds, weeding, tree-cutting, mulching, window-washing, and monastery and chapel cleaning. We closed the day with Vespers and a cookout. Click on the photo to see more photos from the day.