Thursday, August 27, 2009
In July the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch (across the street from us) was the site of the 2nd Alive in Christ Ascetical Boot Camp for Guys, and the "apartment" side our monastery was the site of the 1st Life in Christ Girls' Sleepover Weekend.
Although we were obviously not part of the staff for the boys' camp, we did enjoy the benefits of the boys' service project! As we waited outside for the boys to arrive, we spotted them coming in procession, shortest to tallest, carrying flowers! Each boy, along with the adult leaders, deacon and priests, presented us with a flower as camp director Fr. Rich Plishka introduced them to us. It was one of the most adorable things I've ever seen! We then quickly set them to work... We assigned each of the three teams of boys to a different project around our grounds and provided them with the necessary tools. Then we judged the teams on their ability to work together, work quickly, complete the project, etc. (The points we gave them were included in the weekend-long competition between the teams.) They were so cooperative and helpful, and we had a blast with them! The boys completed their visit with the praying of 6th hour in our chapel. They could certainly sing! We were also invited to attend their closing Divine Liturgy with Bishop John and the boys' families and a dinner at the pavilion.
The following weekend we hosted the 1st girls' camp (or technically girls' sleepover weekend...but the girls want to camp outside next year). Our theme was "Truth or Dare or Dare to Live the Truth." Sr. Celeste and I gave one of the talks, on religious life. We started out with a game we made up called "Myth Busters: Vocations Edition," to open up dialogue about the "myths" of religious life. The theme of our talk was "Give me an undivided heart." We explained how religious life is an opportunity and special call to live a radical life of dedication to God, without the distractions that come with married life. Whatever vocation they are each called to, we told them, will bring joy and fulfillment. And if God is calling them to religious life, He will not take away their wills and personalities, but will actually allow them to be more fully themselves.
We had a lot of fun with the girls, hanging out around the campfire, eating the first meal at our new dining room table, painting picture frames and attempting to make a human pyramid. We were also inspired by them as we spent Saturday evening in the chapel across the street in quiet prayer and reflection by candlelight with time for the Mystery of Holy Repentance. Most of the girls listed this experience as their favorite of the weekend. We closed the weekend with Divine Liturgy with Bishop John, cantored by the girls, and a dinner at the pavilion. We look forward to the camp next summer!
(You can click on the girls' camp collage to see it on a full screen)
Monday, August 10, 2009
As we harvest the vegetables in our garden, we are continually amazed by the beautiful plants and multitude of fruit produced by each small seed. Numerous spiritual lessons can be learned from a garden, but as we celebrate the Transfiguration of Our Lord, we contemplate especially the transfiguration of each plant from flower to fruit, and how we are also being transfigured into the beauty of God.
On the Feast of the Transfiguration, August 6, the Byzantine Church observes the tradition of blessing fruit. Above is a picture of our fruit basket, which we were quite proud of! Some of its contents were harvested from our garden (and some from the grocery store)!
Our garden is flourishing, especially the weeds! We have been enjoying cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, green beans, broccoli and the first of the tomatoes. Our first canning experience of the summer was dill pickles. The garden has been difficult to keep up with, but we are grateful for all the blessings.
We ask for your prayers this weekend as we welcome pilgrims to the shrine for the Eparchy of Parma’s pilgrimage in honor of Our Lady of Mariapoch. We are especially excited to welcome the group of teens coming to camp out. If you are in the area, please join us!
The unchangeable nature of God, when united with human nature, shone forth with a brilliant light. It revealed to the apostles of Christ a reflection of the immaterial divinity. (Matins for the Feast of the Transfiguration, Ode 5)