Monday, November 29, 2010

"But Israel does not know, my people do not understand."

The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master's crib;
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.
Isaiah 1:3

Abbot Leo Schlosser from Holy Trinity Monastery in Butler, Pennsylvania, came recently to give us a short retreat in preparation for the Nativity.  He spoke to us about many things regarding monasticism, prayer and preparing our hearts for the celebration of Christ's birth.  What struck me the most, however, was his definition of the word vigilance.  Vigilance, he said, is "looking for and being aware of God's presence." 

During this Nativity fast, it seems very difficult to be vigilant.  As the darkness of each day lengthens and deepens, as the busyness of the world increases and captures our attention, waiting and seeking for something--someone--who is very silent and very hidden is often the last thing we are thinking about. It must have been the same for the residents of Bethlehem.

Isaiah reproves the people of Israel, long before the coming of Christ, because the animals in the stable recognize Him, but they (we!) do not. 

Bishop John came to the monastery on Saturday to celebrate, in union with Pope Benedict, what the pope named a "Vigil for All Nascent Human Life."  Several people joined us as we prayed the Akathist in honor of the Mother of God followed by Great Vespers.  I felt that we were honoring the Mother of God for her deep faith and vigilance and asking her to teach us!

Bishop John prayed this beautiful prayer which Pope Benedict had just prayed earlier in the day.  We would like to share it with you and ask you to pray it with us.  May we "look for and be aware of God's presence" in each human life we come in contact with and in each moment of our day, so that we will be ready to welcome our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into our world and into our hearts.

Lord Jesus,
You who faithfully visit and fulfill with your Presence
the Church and the history of men;
You who in the miraculous Sacrament of your Body and Blood
render us participants in divine Life
and allow us a foretaste of the joy of eternal Life;
We adore and bless you.

Prostrated before You, source and lover of Life,
truly present and alive among us, we beg you.

Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life,
make us capable of seeing in the fruit of the maternal womb
the miraculous work of the Creator,
open our hearts to generously welcoming every child
that comes into life.

Bless all families,
sanctify the union of spouses,
render fruitful their love.

Accompany the choices of legislative assemblies
with the light of your Spirit,
so that peoples and nations may recognize and respect
the sacred nature of life, of ever human life.

Guide the work of scientists and doctors,
so that all progress contributes to the integral well-being of the person,
and no-one endures suppression or injustice.

Gift creative charity to administrators and economists,
so they may realize and promote sufficient conditions
so that young families can serenely embrace
the birth of new children

Console the married couples who suffer
because they are unable to have children
and in Your goodness provide for them.

Teach us all to care for orphaned or abandoned children,
so they may experience the warmth of your Charity,
the consolation of your divine Heart.

Together with Mary, Your Mother, the great believer,
in whose womb you took on our human nature,
we wait to receive from You, our Only True Good and Savior,
the strength to love and serve life,
in anticipation of living forever in You,
in communion with the Blessed Trinity.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Just another week in the life...

“O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His steadfast love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:33-35. What a week! Well, actually…I was supposed to submit this article a month ago, but have been constantly distracted by other responsibilities…so…okay…I’ll take the responsibility for the negligence.

So…whew…what a week! Monday, October 6, was a full day focused on putting the monastery back in order after a really busy weekend (the weekend of our fall work day). On Tuesday afternoon, I was driving back from my parent’s home, after picking two large boxes of pears for jelly and pear butter. I was less than a quarter mile away from home when someone went through the stop sign at the corner of Nash and Mumford. The driver of the van was approaching the intersection at a high rate of speed, but I thought to myself, “No, he’s supposed to stop.” DAH. I t-boned his van and spun onto the other street. It’s funny now, but wasn’t then, when on impact, not only did the airbags deploy, I was also pelted with the pears from the back seat. I, thank God that I had no broken bones. I was banged up and bruised but nothing too serious. It was my first time to be in an ambulance. When the paramedic saw the condition of the car and some of my “damages,” she convinced me to be “escorted” to the hospital. I thought I was going to sit in the back of the ambulance. Nope. She put a neck brace around my neck, laid me on a back board and totally strapped me down. I must admit, I felt quite silly. Being a passenger in an ambulance was not an item on my “bucket list.” Luckily, there were no lights or sirens. As time has progressed, the pains and aches have subsided and I have one more session of therapy for my neck and shoulder. I should be as good as new, but the car, I’m afraid, will never be, since the adjuster claimed it totaled. So, now we’re a little in limbo for another vehicle. With tongue in cheek, I hope God has an all-wheel SUV in mind!

The next day, Fr. Richard Rohrer, Michelle Sapsara, Chrysostom Rubush, and Chris Watson came from Sts. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic parish in North Carolina for a visit. Michelle and Chrysostom stayed with us for a few days. It was wonderful to pray, work and laugh with them. They were a phenomenal help! They helped clean and pare loads of pears, picked apples, trimmed trees, helped seal the back wooden deck, cooked, cleaned dishes, did yard work, oh, lots of things.

Then Sr. Julie and I drove to the Byzantine Catholic Cathedral in Parma on Friday for the opening of the Eastern Churches Seminar. Fr. Ronald Roberson, associate director for the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reflected on the topic “The Current State of Affairs.” Fr. Ronald’s interesting talk opened with a historical background to shed light on some of the advances and obstacles in the dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.

On Saturday, October 8, Sr. Julie and I enjoyed a day in Canton, Ohio at the EWTN Family Celebration. The speakers were great and it was just what I needed to hear. As I listened to Raymond Arroyo talk about Mother Angelica’s journey of faith, I found myself nodding as I related to some of her struggles, and my was heart encouraged as he shared the fruitfulness of her perseverance and trust in God’s loving providence. We briefly talked to Mr. Arroyo. He signed a book that we purchased (Actually, as I waited in a long check-out line, someone with whom I struck up a lively conversation offered to purchase it for us). He also gave us a free book of Mother Angelica’s quotes and was delighted and very supportive when he learned of our endeavor to start a Byzantine Catholic monastery.

On Sunday, we enjoyed an inspiring Divine Liturgy in our chapel with Fr. Richard Rohrer as the celebrant. Afterwards, we took a long walked around the shrine and enjoyed the beautiful weather, then went to Blazin’ Bill’s Restaurant for some awesome ribs and camaraderie. We reluctantly said our good-byes and then they departed for their long trek back to North Carolina. It was a great joy and blessing to have them with us, and we wish they weren’t so far away, though they are close in our hearts. When all is said and done, we thank Christ our Bridegroom for His steadfast love and all the blessings that he abundantly showers upon us!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nun Friends & Upcoming Events

We recently enjoyed a visit by our friends Mother Anna and Sister Anastasia of Monastery Marcha, a Serbian Orthodox monastery in Richfield, Ohio.  We enjoy visiting with our new friends and learning from their wisdom and advice as we establish our monastery.  The nuns always have delightful stories to share!

If you will be near Solon, Ohio, this Saturday, please stop in at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church to say hi!  We will have a table at the craft fair where we will be selling our jam, jelly, apple & pear butters, breads and more!  We will also be raffling off a beautiful Christmas gift basket.  We (especially Sr. Celeste) have been working hard to transform the fruits God has given us into delicious gifts for you and your family!

Details about this and other upcoming events, including a Vigil for All Nascent Human Life and our 2nd Annual St. Nicholas Vespers and Potluck, can be found on our Events Page.