Thursday, December 27, 2012

Young adults: Four days left to RSVP for Theophany Weekend

Theophany Young Adult Weekend
Friday, January 4 – Sunday, January 6, 2013

Young Adults age 18-35 are invited to spend all or part of the weekend of the Feast of the Theophany at the monastery to experience the full liturgical celebration of this feast, including Matins, Royal Hours, Vespers and the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil, the Great Blessing of Water and Great Compline on the vigil (Jan. 5) and the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom on the feast (Jan. 6). We will also enjoy the traditional vigil supper (similar to the Velija supper on Christmas Eve) and participate in the tradition of blessing the nearest body of water (our pond!). Young women are welcome to spend the night at the monastery. Please RSVP by Monday, December 31, by phone (440-834-0290) or email (  The event is also on Facebook.


Friday, January 4
4:45 p.m. Jesus Prayer and Vespers
6:30 p.m. Dinner
9:00 p.m. Compline

Saturday, January 5
6:00 a.m. Matins
8:00 a.m. Personal time for prayer
9:00 a.m. 1st & 3rd Royal Hours
11:00 a.m. Brunch (a fasting meal of soup and bread, etc.)
12:00 p.m. 6th & 9th Royal Hours
2:00 p.m. Great Vespers, Divine Liturgy of St. Basil, Great Blessing of Water (including the blessing of our pond!)
6:30 p.m. Vigil Supper
9:30 p.m. Great Compline

Sunday, January 6
Feast of Theophany
8:00 a.m. Matins
10:00 a.m. Personal time for prayer
11:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
1:00 p.m. Brunch

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Merry Christmas from the nuns of Christ the Bridegroom Monastery!

"I contemplate a divine and marvelous mystery: heaven has become a cave; the throne of Cherubim, a Virgin; and the manger, an honorable place in which lies Christ God, the Incomprehensible.  Let us praise and extol Him" (Irmos of the Nativity).

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Clothed in our mortal nature"

Scout "helping" with gift wrapping
At the end of the Divine Liturgy this morning, a new set of habits (sewn by Sr. Cecilia's mom, Darlene Hritz) and belts (thanks to Fr. Peter Tomas) were blessed--in time to wear them for the first time for the Feast of the Nativity!  As I listened to the prayer of blessing, I realized how appropriate it is that this blessing would take place near the Feast of the Nativity.  See if you can figure it out: (but I'll give you some help below).
Lord Jesus Christ, Who condescended to clothe Yourself in our mortal nature, we beg You in Your boundless goodness to bless this clothing which the holy Fathers have sanctioned as the garb for monastics, in token of the innocence and humility which should be theirs.  Laying aside the vanity of secular garb, may these servants of Yours, who are to wear this clothing, likewise put on You, and be recognized as women dedicated to Your service.  May this garb also serve as a sermon to the people, reminding them that there is a God, that life is short, death certain, a judgment forthcoming, and that only through good works will they attain to everlasting life: For to You is due all glory, honor, and worship, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever. Amen.

Did you come up with something?  Well, here are my thoughts.

In this Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, we celebrate His incarnation.  In a beautiful hymn from vespers a few days ago we prayed:
"He will take on our likeness * by clothing Himself in the flesh of the virgin Handmaid of God. * He is coming to be born; * He who is unapproachable by nature, * is approachable to me."
By celebrating the incarnation we are celebrating the fact that God clothed Himself "in our mortal nature," as the prayer of blessing of habits says.  Our habits can remind us of this mind-blowing reality, while also reminding us that through our baptism we have been "clothed with Christ" (Gal 3:27), and as all Christians, we are called, and actually given the grace, to become transformed into Christ!

The prayer of blessing also says that our habits are a sign of the "innocence and humility" which should be ours.  The greatest example of innocence and humility is Jesus Christ, who humbled Himself so completely to come into the world as a a little cave...  What joy we have, to share in these things with Christ!
"O ineffable Begotten One of the Unbegotten Father, * You have come in the appearance of my likeness. * You come in order to enrich the human race * which is afflicted with the poverty that You took upon Yourself. * We praise Your compassion, O Lord." (Stichera of Vespers, Dec. 22)
We pray that you have a very blessed, joyful, prayerful Christmas!

(Now I need to get back to the kitchen to help prepare for the Christmas Eve Velija Supper!  Don't cry Sr. Gabriella...every onion in the monastery has been chopped!)

Monday, December 17, 2012

LIVE from Mumford Rd: Episode 1!

It's a whole new blogging perspective!  We hope that our first video blog makes you laugh and gives you something to reflect on in this last week before Christmas!

"LIVE from Mumford Rd" takes you inside Christ the Bridegroom Monastery in Burton, Ohio, with your hosts Sr. Cecilia and Sr. Gabriella, LIVE in the eternal time of the Kingdom of God!

In this first episode, we introduce our new "LIVE show," take a look in the "Ask the Nuns" box, talk about the Philip's Fast and upcoming events at the monastery and end with a reflection from St. Athanasius.

In future monthly episodes, we will bring you interviews with special guests and take you "on location" to places we travel outside the monastery (such as the March for Life)!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

O Christmas Tree...

We cut down a Christmas tree for our monastery for the first time!  We hope you enjoy these photos from our little adventure!

This one's pretty, but too big!

Yes, that is smaller but that is not a tree...that is Sr. Cecilia

Ah, Mother finds the perfect one!  And we name him Brucey the Sprucey!

Sr. Gabriella cuts him down


He fit in our trunk!

All "spruced" up!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"Incarnation Moments": A Reflection for the Nativity Fast

Sr. Cecilia was invited by the communications office of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland to write a reflection from her perspective as a nun for the season of Advent, in the context of the Year of Faith.  (She was an intern with the communications office for a summer while in college.)

You can view the article on the Diocese of Cleveland website here, or read below:

“Are you a nun?” someone will often ask me at the grocery store. “Yes!” I’ll reply. The conversation usually continues with a reminiscing of this person’s days in Catholic school when he or she was taught by nuns, or a remark of surprise that nuns still exist (especially young ones!). I am often surprised myself by the excitement that I see in the eyes of people I meet. What is it about this encounter with a nun that causes these reactions?

Let’s take a look at faith for a minute. By now you have probably realized that the “Year of Faith” called for by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, is well underway. Faith consists of a real encounter—a real falling-in-love—with God, as well as a knowledge about this One we love and His Church. Is it a problem then, that “No one has ever seen God” (Jn 1:18)? If we finish this verse, however, we read that “the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known.”

I also help to make God known. As a nun, I incarnate God’s love (I make it visible in the flesh), like Jesus did by taking on a human body. Within me there is a union with God, similar to the union of God and Man in the body of Jesus, and this is made visible in various ways. When people see me in the grocery store, I doubt that they think to themselves, “Wow! That woman incarnates God’s love!” but I do, however, believe that they intuitively know this, whether or not they could articulate it. As an example of this, people often stop me to ask for my prayers for particular intentions. They must understand, to some degree, the special closeness to God that I enjoy, in order to entrust me with these important desires of their hearts.

My habit is a sign of God's grace working in a particular way in me, transforming me into love—into Himself. When people see me, they know that I am a woman consecrated solely to God, and hopefully this reality causes them to ask themselves, “How can I be more devoted to God?” Each time I meet someone, it's an “incarnation moment.” It's not only the clothes I wear, but also my joy, smile, patience in the check-out line, etc. that allow me to make God's love manifest. Everything about me has to be transformed. This is a work in progress—just ask my Sisters! This is also a work in progress in each Christian's life.  Blessed John Paul II said that monastics are the “reference point for all baptized Christians” (Orientale Lumen), but he didn’t say that we do all the work for all baptized Christians!

The Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord is an opportunity for each of us to evaluate how well we are incarnating God’s love. If we find that we are not the perfect image of God (that would be all of us!), then we must ask ourselves, “In what ways do I need to allow God to transform me into His image?” The answer usually falls into one of these three categories: fasting (making room for God), prayer (inviting Him in) and almsgiving (offering the blessings I receive—and myself—in love). This is why the Church wisely appoints this time in the liturgical year as a penitential period. In the Roman Catholic Church this time is called Advent, beginning on the Sunday closest to the feast of St. Andrew (November 30), and in the Eastern Catholic Churches it is called the Philip’s Fast or the Nativity Fast, beginning on November 15 (40 days before the Nativity). At times in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, fasting was prescribed during Advent, and it continues to be prescribed in the Eastern Catholic Churches with fasting from meat and dairy products—nearly as strictly as during Lent. In whatever way we observe this liturgical season, the important thing is to ensure that it is a time of preparation. We need to make room for God in order for Him to abide in us and transform us into Himself. In this way, we can each incarnate God’s love for all those we encounter.

If faith consists, in part, of a real encounter with God, then by making Him known through our own beings, we are bringing into the world the opportunity for faith. Jesus was born into the world in a stable—the most common and ordinary of places. We can bring Him into the world in the most ordinary of places too, such as a grocery store.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The anticipation begins...

Scout is anticipating too...Christmas day dinner probably...
Today begins the Philip's Fast, or Nativity Fast--a 40-day fast in preparation for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord!  It is traditional to fast from meat and dairy products during this time.  We encourage you to fast in some particular way in which you feel called.

Yep, it's pretty difficult to fast during the time in which it seems like everyone else is celebrating!  But for us Christians, this is really a time to quiet our hearts and minds, to make space for the coming of God in the flesh!  It's a time to anticipate the joy of the Incarnation--this great mystery of our faith!  God clothed Himself in our humanity so that we might be clothed in His divinity!   As the days get darker and colder, let's prepare a little warm place in our hearts for Jesus, the Light of the World.  Let's make space for Him by setting aside something that we don't really need--something that distracts us from His voice, something that keeps Him out.  If we anticipate His coming by fasting instead of feasting, maybe we'll really encounter Him in the depths of our hearts this Christmas!

Praying for you during this journey!

A book we recommend: Winter Pascha

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happy Feast of St. Michael, St. Gabriel and All the Celestial Powers!

To all of our brothers and sisters whose name day we celebrate today on the Synaxis of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and all the Celeste-ial Powers (this was Mother Theodora’s former feast day under the name Sr. Celeste) – happy feast day to you!

A reflection by Sr. Gabriella:

Although my official feast day for St. Gabriel is July 13th, I had a spark of excitement to celebrate the first of FOUR feast days with my newly-received name.  (Feasts of St. Gabriel include November 8th, March 26th, July 13th and for my Roman Catholic heritage, September 29th)  

As I have been clumsily traversing the last few weeks since our tonsure, struggling to remember my new name (as everyone around me struggles as well!), I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take for me to connect with my new patron.  I have spent the last few years becoming better acquainted with my baptismal patron, St. Christina, coming to a great love for her and feeling her intercession in my life, so I wasn’t sure quite sure what was in store for me and Gabriel.  

When we sang the stichera for the feast at Vespers, this particular verse jumped off the page at me:

O Gabriel, leader of the heavenly hosts and intercessor for our souls, 
crush the boldness of those who attack your flock.
Put an end to schisms within the Church.
Calm the storm of numberless temptations.
Deliver from trial and tribulation those who lovingly venerate you 
and hasten to protect us with the shadow of your wings.

These words seemed very timely to me as we contemplate the reality of the results of the recent presidential election.  I saw the necessity of asking for the protection of the angels and archangels as our Christian faith is boldly attacked by the healthcare mandate and other such legislation.  My heart resonated with the ache for communion with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, as well as the need for all Christians to remain united in faith against the current attacks on religious freedom.  And last but not least, I saw the need for strength in my own small life to ward off daily personal temptations, which I can offer up for the Church and the whole world.

As a wise priest-friend once recounted to me, “I joined religious life first to change the world, then to change the Church and those in the Church, but the one I really needed to change was myself.”  Such a great truth!  So may this feast be a reminder of the presence of and need for the protection and intercession of the angels, first changing our own hearts, and allowing that change to flow forth and create the change we wish to see in the world.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”  Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Open to me, my sister, my beloved, my dove, my perfect one!"

Sr. Gabriella and the retreatants out for a walk on Sunday!
This verse from the Song of Songs (5:2) was the theme of our discernment retreat which took place this past weekend.  Six beautiful young women joined us for a weekend of prayer, talks, discussion and community time; four from Ohio and two from Colorado.

Mother Theodora spoke about monasticism and its development, the discernment process and the plans and dreams of our monastery, Sr. Gabriella shared her vocation story and Sr. Cecilia explained how the Song of Songs can help us to pray.  We gave each participant a copy of the book The Cantata of Love, a transforming commentary on the Song of Songs.  We also watched the film, Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer, which takes the viewer on a journey to many monasteries from Egypt to Russia to see how the monastics live and to hear their wisdom on prayer and surrender to God.  

Praying Matins on Sunday morning
Just as important as hearing about the monastic life is living it, to the small degree that a retreat allows.  The retreatants participated in our daily liturgical schedule of communal and private prayer and shared in community meals, work and recreation.  On Sunday evening we all participated in the Mystery of Holy Repentance (Confession), and sought to open our hearts to the One who knocks at the door.

Sr. Gabriella sharing her vocation story
We were uplifted and encouraged by the faith, openness and spiritual beauty of these young women, and look forward to the plans that the Bridegroom has in store for them!  Please keep these women, and all who are discerning, in your prayers.  Being open to such a radical call is extremely difficult in our society, but this openness is a witness profoundly needed.

To see additional photos: Facebook Album

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Feast Day Mother Theodora!

"If you suffer for your faith, then be grateful to God, for He is offering you the crown of martyrdom." --Blessed Theodore Romzha

Mother Theodora celebrates the feast of Blessed Theodore Romzha as her feast day today for the first time since her life profession (Nov. 20, 2011)--the day she received the name Mother Theodora.  Blessed Theodore is a Byzantine Catholic bishop of the Eparchy of Mukachevo (Ukraine) who was martyred for his faith in 1947.

This beautiful icon was commissioned for Mother by Subdeacon Andrew Summerson, a seminarian from our eparchy and good friend of ours who is studying in Rome.  The icon was hand painted in Mukachevo and contains a relic of Bl. Theodore!

God grant you many blessed years, Mother!  We love you!

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Beautiful Autumn at the Monastery

"Bless the Lord, O my soul!  Lord my God, how great You are, clothed in majesty and glory, wrapped in light as in a robe...How wonderful are Your works, O Lord.  In wisdom you have made them all!" (Psalm 103)

We were blessed with a particularly beautiful fall this year in Burton, Ohio.  This area is known for it's many maple trees, and they were radiant!  We thought you might enjoy these photos that we took on the monastery grounds, plus a photo from our fall work day.

Our annual fall work day took place on Saturday, October 6.  Even though we had a smaller crew than usual, we accomplished a lot of work!  With the help of these volunteers, we cleaned and assembled metal storage shelving for our garage and storage room, organized the other garage, installed brick edging around some of the landscaping in the front yard, raked leaves and accomplished other various projects.  We closed the day with Great Vespers and a potluck dinner.  Thank you to all who helped out!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

God grant you many years, Sr. Cecilia and Sr. Gabriella!

Links to videos:
Tonsure of Sr. Cecilia
Tonsure of Sr. Gabriella
Bishop John's homily

Article by Michael Martin on Spero News

Mother Theodora’s reflection on the tonsuring of Sister Cecilia (formerly Sister Julie) and Sister Gabriella (formerly Jessie) as rasophore nuns during vespers for the Feasts of the Protection of the Mother of God and St. Thérèse of Lisieux on Sunday, September 30, 2012:

It was an absolutely beautiful day! The weather forecast called for thunderstorms and we pleaded with Jesus to “push back” the thunderstorms, especially since Vespers and the reception were outside. Well, He did, and other than the chilly air, it was perfect weather. Beyond the gift of beautiful weather was the plethora of gifts showered upon the hundreds of people who witnessed the tonsuring of Sister Cecilia (Sister Julie) and Sister Gabriella (“Just” Jessie) at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch in Burton, Ohio.

Gifts of courage, peace, hope and joy were experienced and shared. Bishop John spoke of courage in his homily, and Sisters Cecilia and Gabriella were a witness of courage to the world as they entered the next stage of their monastic journey as rasophore nuns (“robe bearers”). During the tonsure, neither the Eldress nor the newly-made rasophore speak a word, as if to emulate Jesus, Who courageously took on the Cross and “was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Acts 8:32).

I prayed for courage. Even though I read the following prayer many times before the tonsure, I felt my heart jolt both times that Bishop John placed the young nuns’ hand in mine and said, “Behold, I entrust to you before God this new beginner. Instruct her to live in the fear of God and in every virtue. Watch carefully, that her soul not suffer destruction because of your carelessness; for you will answer to God for it in the Day of Judgment.” Jesus, be my wisdom and my courage.

The gift of hope was manifested through the tonsure of these two young rasophores as they instilled in all present the hope of new life. Through their witness they encouraged the Church, the Bridegroom’s Bride, that she IS alive, IS impregnated with the Holy Spirit, IS worth giving your life to and that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

The gift of peace and joy permeated the atmosphere. The indwelling presence of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, whose presence clearly radiated from the countenances of the two newly tonsured rasophores, was witnessed and experienced by those present. Some of them shared with me, days after the tonsure, that they continued to experience a joyful peace.

Before the tonsuring, Bishop John blessed the Sisters’ riassas and skufias praying, “Lord Jesus Christ, Who descended to clothe Yourself in our mortal nature, we beg you in Your goodness to bless this clothing which the holy Fathers have sanctioned as the garb for monastics, in token of the innocence and humility which should be theirs. Laying aside the vanity of secular garb, may these servants of Yours, who are to wear this clothing, likewise put on You, and be recognized as women dedicated to Your service. May this garb also serve as a sermon to the people, reminding them that there is a God….”

Our lives as monastics are sermons without words. Our garb is Jesus Christ, and as women dedicated to serve, we put on Love-Incarnate and humbly strive to be steadfast witnesses of courage, hope, joy and peace for the Church and the world. Please continue to pray for us and be assured of our prayers for you.

A photo with the priests, seminarians and monastics present at the tonsure

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Sweetness of the Cross

Happy Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross!

On this feast we commemorate the finding of the Honorable Cross of Christ on Golgotha by the Empress Helena.  When, by the evidence of several miracles, it was determined that this was the true Cross, Patriarch Macarius elevated it in the air for all to see.  In remembrance of this event, it is tradition to adorn a hand cross with a wreath of red or purple flowers, which the priest raises up in the air during Matins.

I used a plant called "Sweet Annie" to form the base of the wreath to adorn the cross.  This plant is so named because of its sweet fragrance.  As soon as I step into the chapel I am overwhelmed by this fragrance!  This reminds me of the sweetness of the cross.
Making the wreath outside with my helpers Katie and Anna Clark
In the first reading at Vespers, we hear the story from Exodus 15:22-27.  The Israelites have just crossed the Red Sea and have traveled three days through the desert without finding any water.  Then they arrived at Marah where they could not drink the water because it was they grumbled.  When Moses appealed to the Lord about this problem, the Lord pointed out a certain piece of wood.  When Moses threw this piece of wood into the water, the water became fresh (or "sweet").
The prayers of the Church tell us that this piece of wood is a prefigurement of the Cross, which "plunged into our bitterness, can make it sweet" (The Year of Grace of the Lord).
"In times past, Moses transformed the bitter wells in the desert with wood; thereby, he prefigured the spreading of the gospel to the Gentiles through the Cross."
Canon of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, Ode 4
But why would we say that the Cross is sweet?

The Cross is sweet because, for one, it was through the Cross that our salvation was brought forth.
"...let us bow to the holy Resurrection of Christ, since through the Cross, joy has come to all the world."
"Having Beheld the Resurrection of Christ, from Matins" 
The Cross is also sweet when it appears in our own lives.  When we accept our own crosses we are closest to Christ, because it is in our suffering that we are with Him on His Cross.  There, we can experience the intimacy of our relationship with our Bridegroom.  There, we can be filled with the sweet fragrance of Christ, just as my nose is filled with the scent of the Sweet Annie when I bend in and kiss the cross in our chapel.  But it takes a bit of work to accept this place on the cross with Christ...a lifetime of work.  It also takes grace...a lot of grace...and fortunately, God has a lot of that, and wants to give it...

In its place of veneration in the chapel
It is through the power of the Cross itself that we are given this grace.
"Joy to you, life-bearing Cross of the Lord, invincible triuimph of the true faith.  You are the gate to Paradise, the strength of the faithful, and the stronghold of the Church.  Because of you, corruption no longer has meaning nor power.  By you we have been lifted up from earth to heaven.  You are an invincible weapon against evil, a glory indeed for saints and martyrs, and a haven for salvation.  You are the source of mercy to the world."
Aposticha, from Vespers for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross
I'll leave you with one last quote...this one is on today's page in my "Wisdom from Women Saints" Calendar:
"Since this holy cross is so sweet that it relieves all bitterness, pick it up for your journey along this road.  For we pilgrim travelers need this holy wood for support until we have reached our destination, where our soul is at rest in our final home."
St. Catherine of Siena
Anyone have any other great quotes from saints about the Cross?  Leave them in a comment on this page to share with fellow readers!

To learn more about this feast, and the other feasts and liturgical seasons of the Church, we recommend the book, The Year of Grace of the Lord, by "a Monk of the Eastern Church."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Discernment retreat coming up!!!

We are excited to announce a great opportunity for young women:

"Open to me, my sister, my beloved, my dove, my perfect one!” (Song of Songs 5:2).  Young, single Catholic women, ages 18-35, who would like to take a weekend to pray about a possible vocation to the monastic or religious life, are invited to inquire about attending our upcoming discernment retreat, Fri., Nov. 2 – Sun., Nov. 4, 2012.  Experience the life of prayer at Christ the Bridegroom Monastery, listen to talks on prayer and discernment, make use of the opportunity to get to know the nuns, and receive healing through the Mystery of Holy Repentance (Confession).  If you are interested in this retreat, or a future retreat or discernment opportunity, fill out the online Vocation Inquiry Form.  Space is limited for the November retreat, so be sure to fill out the form by October 15.  Mother Theodora will call you to talk about availability.  With questions, call 440-834-0290.

Check out the brochure for the schedule and more information!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A visit to Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery and more...

We recently took a trip back up to Otego, New York, to Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery, where we had spent three months around this time last year, learning from the nuns.  The Monastery was celebrating a triple anniversary: its 35th anniversary, Mother Raphaela's 40th anniversary of profession and Mother Michaela's 50th anniversary of profession.  Sr. Deborah was also tonsured as a rasophore nun while we were there.  We enjoyed visiting our sisters, meeting their new postulant Suzanna, and visiting the goats we had taken care of last year!  We also happened to be there just in time to help unload several hundred bales of hay...  :)

We were also blessed to be able to attend this year's Pilgrimage at Mount Saint Macrina in Uniontown, Pa., hosted by the Sisters of St. Basil the Great.  Despite getting soaked by a precisely-timed downpour at the end of the Parastas (thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Isaac), we enjoyed all the prayer services, the beautiful grounds, and catching up with many fellow pilgrims!

Sr. Julie and Jessie with our Byzantine seminarian brothers!
Here are a few other recent photos for you to enjoy!

Fog at sunset across the street at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch

These beautiful grape tomatoes came up on their own from the compost!

Scout helping with a mailing...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer Fruits

Happy Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God!  This summer has really been flying, and we haven't had the opportunity to blog as much as we would have liked to.  Here are some brief updates on some of the recent monastery happenings:

As we mentioned earlier in the summer, Sr. Julie's brother Steven has been working on his Eagle Scout project on our grounds.  He built decorative stone walls at the entrance of the driveway along with landscaping, and he recently finished off the project with the installation of a beautiful sign for our monastery!  

We are thrilled with the outcome of the project!  Our monastery is now visible to the local community and much easier to find!  Thank you Steven!

On August 5 we participated in the Fest at the Center for Pastoral Leadership in Wickliffe, Ohio--a large Catholic family festival (with an estimated attendance of 35,000 people!).  We had a blast meeting many people at our table in the vocation tent and playing "Vocation Volleyball" with groups of teens. 

At the Fest we also met two Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word (known for their work with EWTN)--Fr. Mark, host of the show Life on the Rock, and Br. Pio.  The friars filmed a short interview with us!  Maybe the interview will be on Life on the Rock in a few months!

The following day was the feast of the Transfiguration.  It's tradition to bless fruit on this feast.  Here is a photo of our basket of fruits and vegetables, much of which was harvested from our garden.

Mother Theodora loves to be in the garden!

And so do all kinds of little critters...some more friendly than others, like this praying mantis!

The Eparchy of Parma's annual pilgrimage at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch (across the street from our monastery) took place this past weekend.  We headed up the teen campout portion of the pilgrimage.  Almost 20 teens enjoyed a weekend of sports and games, talks, prayer, and hanging out by the campfire.

Praying compline on Saturday night at midnight:

Gregg Stovicek gave a talk to the teens on Saturday night, along with Seminarian Ryan Mann (below) on Sunday morning, on the topic of "faith," in preparation for the "Year of Faith" (beginning in October) which Pope Benedict has called for.

The pilgrimage was an experience full of grace for us and for the teens and pilgrims.  It was very encouraging and enjoyable to pray and hang out with our Eparchy of Parma family!