Friday, July 19, 2019

Join us for the Mariapoch Pilgrimage, Aug. 17-18

The Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch (across the street from the monastery), will host the annual eparchial pilgrimage Aug. 17-18. Bishop Milan will give the evening teen and family talk around the campfire Aug. 17. He will also celebrate the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday at 4 p.m. Well-known Catholic radio and television show host Dr. Ray Guarendi will give the keynote on the theme, "Laughter: The Sanity of Family." Here is a link to the full schedule.

We are cantoring many of the liturgical services and are coordinating the teen events and children's activity. We hope you can join us!

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.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

"Who ME? Contemplative prayer?"

Contemplative prayer may sound like a complicated undertaking that's just for monks and nuns, but the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that it is "the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer" (2713). In this talk, Mother Cecilia helps us to start from the beginning: "What is God's purpose for us?" From this foundation, she explains what contemplative prayer actually is. She then gives tips for stirring up the flame of the Holy Spirit that is within us. We hope this talk will help your relationship with the One who loves you deeply and wants to pour Himself into you! Click here for the handout.


Talk given at St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church, Brecksville, Ohio, on March 31, 2019.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

"I will not leave you orphaned"

Happy Feast of the Ascension!

A reflection from Mother Cecilia:

A couple of weeks ago I was on my annual retreat, and I was at a retreat center where there was a beautiful path through the woods with the Stations of the Cross. On the second-to-last day of my retreat, it was finally warm enough to entice me to venture into the woods for a prayerful little walk. The sweet scent of Locust blossoms cascaded down from the trees above and mixed with the fragrance of honeysuckle, intensified by the humid air that was permeated by gentle raindrops. I glanced up at each Station as I walked along with my umbrella. Up ahead, I saw three crosses made out of trees, and when I reached them, I saw that the Station, "Jesus dies on the Cross," was nailed to the middle cross. I stopped there to pray for a few moments. Then I continued on and stopped again at the Station of the Resurrection, nailed to a very interesting tree covered in vines. There I thanked Jesus for the gift of His Resurrection and all the graces He had bestowed on me during this Paschal Season, especially for the way He had helped me to better understand the meaning of His Resurrection. I also thanked Him for the graces of my retreat. Then, I looked and saw that the path continued! As I began to follow this unknown part of the path, I wondered, "How far does it go? What is up ahead?" and my thoughts quickly turned to my own life, and I wondered, "How will I integrate into my life what I've learned on this retreat? How will I remember what happened? How will I remember what my spiritual father said to me during this retreat? Will I actually be different when I go home?"Jesus was listening to my thoughts, and He spoke clearly and gently to my heart, "I will not leave you orphaned" (Jn 14:18).

Later that day, when I met with my spiritual father and told him what happened, he said, "This is really important!" I raised my eyebrows slightly and he explained, "Do you see how you were being self-reliant? 'How will I integrate...How will I remember?' Jesus promised that the Father would send the Holy Spirit 'and bring to your remembrance all that He said to you' (Jn 14: 26)! You don't have to do these things on your own!" A wave of peace flooded me. It was so helpful to be shown in a very specific situation how I was being self-reliant. I don't have to be anxious; I don't have to do anything on my own! Jesus will not leave me orphaned. I only have to surrender to Him and let Him do it.

As we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension, we might naturally be sad that Jesus is "going away." But it is necessary, so that the Father may send the Holy Spirit, and the Father and the Son may "come to [us] and make [their] home with [us]" (Jn 14:23). That way, they can do everything in us! As we anticipate the Feast of Pentecost--the crowning feast of God's work of salvation--let's ask Him for the grace to see the ways that we rely on ourselves, so that we can instead turn to Him as His little children and not remain as though we are orphans.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

2 days left to register for Boys & Girls Camp; opened to 12-year-olds


There are only 2 days left to register for Boys and Girls Camp - June 19-22, in conjunction with the Eparchy of Parma's 50th Anniversary! The deadline is Friday, May 31st. Since there are still spots open, registration has been opened to 12-year-olds. See our April 12th post for more information.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Join us for our spring work day, May 25

Join us for a day of outdoor and indoor work projects, prayer, food and fun at the monastery and the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch on Saturday, May 25.  Volunteers of all ages and abilities are welcome!  The day begins at 10 a.m., includes lunch, and closes with vespers at 5 p.m. followed by a cookout.  Come at whatever time you are available, and bring a side dish to share if you can.  The monastery is located at 17485 Mumford Rd. Burton, Ohio.  Please RSVP* by Monday, May 20, to christthebridegroom@gmail.com or 440-834-0290.

*Please RSVP with:
1. The number of adults (include teens) and the number of kids (12 and under)
2. Will you be here for lunch or dinner or both?
3. The dish you plan to bring

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Entering through the closed doors

This morning before Divine Liturgy, I was praying with the Gospel accounts of Christ's coming among the Eleven in the Upper Room, both on the first day of the week, and eight days later (John 20). I was struck by the fact that He entered, "though the doors were shut," so I prayed about the shut doors in my heart. I've become aware since entering the monastic life that I cannot heal myself. Some of my wounds are so deeply buried that I can't identify them; therefore I cannot open them to the balm of the Spirit. I have to trust the Father to bring them to light in His timing, and to minister to my broken soul in the ways He knows will most heal and purify me.

During Bright Week--from Pascha through Thomas Sunday--the priest leaves the Royal Doors and the deacon doors on our iconostasis open as a reminder that Jesus Christ has burst asunder the doors of Hades and opened to us the way to eternal life. During all our services this past week, I delighted in the unusual sight. At the end of Liturgy today, as our chaplain moved to close the doors, I prayed, "Jesus, every year this makes me sad..." And suddenly, my desire to have access to Christ in the holy place was suffused with the glorious truth of the Resurrection:  We worship the Risen Lord Who walks through shut doors. And in His Love, He enters into our hiding places where we cower in fear.

My prayer for you during this Paschal season is that you, too, would give the Lord permission to penetrate your defenses, to enter into the secret places of your hearts and abide with you, too.

--Sr. Petra

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Eternal Sabbath

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!


"For He has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of His will, according to His purpose which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth" (Ephesians 1:9-10).

The Resurrection is the beginning of the eternal Sabbath, in which we rest in God--in which we abide in Him. Bright Week is a time to "practice" this abiding--to let God bring about this rest, this union. It is not a time to seek satisfaction in free time, recreation and food. These things cannot fill us. They are gifts given to us to be signs of the sustenance, fulfillment and joy in union with the Father, through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

May you be richly blessed during these 40 days of celebration of the Resurrection!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Save the date for the Bridegroom's Banquet

Our Bridegroom's Banquet will be a month earlier than usual, so be sure to save the date! We hope you can join us for a great evening! In the meantime, have a blessed Holy Week & Pascha as we journey together with the Bridegroom as He lays down His life for His Bride, the Church.


Sunday, April 14, 2019

We'll miss you Scout!


Our dear monastery cat, Scout, died on Thursday, with all of the nuns surrounding her. She lived with us for nearly the entire 10 years of the monastery; the month after we moved in, we adopted her from a family member of Mother Theodora. Scout's presence, curled up on Mother's lap, as we gathered for community recreation in the living room, will be missed!

As we begin Great & Holy Week, we are reminded of our own deaths and grateful for the gift of Christ's Resurrection and the renewal of all creation.


Friday, April 12, 2019

Boys & Girls Camp Registration Open!


In honor of the Eparchy of Parma’s 50th anniversary celebration, Boys and Girls Camp will be hosted June 19-22 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, as a joint event for high school students; the minimum age is 13. The weekend will focus on the Christian call to holiness, centered on the question, “But who do you say that I am?” which will be discovered through talks, opportunities for prayer and confession, group activities and discussion groups. Campers will also participate in the Eparchy of Parma’s 50th anniversary celebration, including a pilgrimage walk, prayer vigil and ending with a hierarchical Divine Liturgy for the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, our eparchial patron. The weekend will be led by the nuns of Christ the Bridegroom Monastery, along with a dedicated team of priests, deacons, seminarians and lay leaders. To register, please visit www.parma.org. The registration deadline is May 31; space is limited. Questions? Email youth@parma.org or call the nuns at 440-834-0290.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Great & Holy Week Schedule

Monday, April 15
Great & Holy Monday
3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

Tuesday, April 16
Great & Holy Tuesday
3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

Wednesday, April 17
Great & Holy Wednesday
8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Bridegroom Matins followed by a light breakfast, for our patronal commemoration (please RSVP to
440-834-0290 or christthebridegroom@gmail.com)
3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts & Mystery of Holy Anointing

Friday, April 19
Great & Holy Friday
7:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.  Jesus Prayer for 15 min., Matins with the 12 Passion Gospels
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.  1st & 3rd Royal Hours
2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.  6th & 9th Royal Hours
5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.  Vespers and Burial Procession

Saturday, April 20
Great & Holy Saturday
7:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.  Jesus Prayer for 15 min., Jerusalem Matins
3:00 p.m. - 5:40 p.m.  Vespers & Divine Liturgy of St. Basil

Sunday, April 21
Pascha: The Resurrection of Our Lord!
9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.  Resurrection Matins & Divine Liturgy

Monday, April 22
Bright Monday
9:00 a.m.                                     Divine Liturgy & Procession

Tuesday, April 23
Bright Tuesday & Feast of St. George
9:00 a.m.                                      Divine Liturgy

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Today is our 10th anniversary!

Today finishes up our 10th anniversary countdown! On April 3, 2009, Mother Theodora (then Sr. Celeste) and Mother Cecilia (then Julie) moved into our monastery, and even though the journey began a little while before that day, it really took root and began to grow on that day. We are so grateful to God for all the blessings of these 10 years, and also for all the many painful struggles, because they have made us into who we are, drawn us deeper into the heart of God, and made us more closely resemble our Bridegroom. Please pray for us that we may grow in ever greater faithfulness and trust of Him. We hold all of your intentions and needs in our hearts.

We hope that these past 10 days you have enjoyed our little selection of mostly-unpublished photos from the past 10 years! We have enjoyed looking through them! On this final day of our countdown, we won't make you wait until tomorrow to find out what these photos are about. God bless you!

2009 Photo #1: Mother Theodora (then Sr. Celeste, on the right) & Mother Cecilia (then Julie, on the left), move in to the monastery, April 3, 2009

2009 Photo #2: Our first "public appearance," selling lemonade at the Eparchy of Parma's 40th Anniversary Celebration

Answers from yesterday:
2010 Photo #1: Post-it Notes line our old living room after a day of "five year planning," while God was probably chuckling at us for our attempts to "make plans!" Not many of those plans came to fruition in the way we imagined!
2010 Photo #2: Mother Theodora and Mother Cecilia taking a walk on a snowmobile trail in the woods behind the shrine.

"I love You my Bridegroom; I seek you with painful longing."
--Troparion of a woman martyr (quote submitted by Mother Theodora)

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

10th Anniversary Countdown: 2010

Answers from yesterday:
2011 Photo #1: Mother Cecilia (then Julie) helps her mom to cut out our first set of habits. Before then, we had permission from the bishop to wear a black skirt and black headcovering, but on Great & Holy Wednesday of 2011, Mother Theodora (then Sr. Celeste) was tonsured as a rasophore nun and Mother Cecilia was also given permission to wear the basic habit along with her and to be called Sister. Mother Gabriella (then Jessie) joined our community in May.
2011 Photo #2: Mother Gabriella and Mother Theodora play with the kid goats after our daily barn chores at Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery in Otego, NY. We lived at this monastery for three months to learn from another Eastern monastery. In addition to learning about Eastern monasticism, we also learned how to milk and take care of goats!)

Countdown: 2 days left! Remembering the year 2010.

2010 Photo #1

2010 Photo #2
"Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said: Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and, according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: Why not become fire?"
--A story from the desert fathers (quote submitted by Mother Cecilia)

Monday, April 1, 2019

10th Anniversary Countdown: 2011

Answers from yesterday:
2012 Photo #1: Visiting Sr. Flora and Sr. Adalberta in the nursing home. These are the two Social Mission Sisters from Hungary who lived in our monastery for many years before us and took care of the shrine. When we were getting started, they had been in the nursing home for a year and a half, and they gave us their monastery! We are so grateful for the Sisters and their many years of prayer that sanctified this place. Sr. Flora (seated in photo) has since passed away, but Sr. Adalberta still resides at Regina Health Center in Richfield, Ohio.
2012 Photo #2: Mother Theodora enjoys some tomatoes from the garden before canning the others. This photo was taken in our old kitchen, before renovations. We don't miss the "carpet that looks like brick" in the kitchen!

Countdown: 3 days to go! Remembering the year 2011:

2011 Photo #1
2011 Photo #1

"Every time I feel my powerlessness and inability to influence people directly, I become more keenly aware of the necessity of my own holocaust."
--St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (quote submitted by Mother Gabriella)

Sunday, March 31, 2019

10th Anniversary Countdown: 2012

Answers from yesterday:
2013 Photo #1: Mother (then Sister) Cecilia enjoys a misty evening on the road down to the shrine (the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch, across the street from the monastery)
2013 Photo #2: Delaying the start of our 3:00 p.m. Presanctified Liturgy to watch the election of Pope Francis; we then went to celebrate liturgy, during which our chaplain commemorated Pope Francis in the litanies, and we wondered if this was one of the first liturgies in the world to commemorate the new pope!

Countdown: 4 days left! Remembering the year 2012:

2012 Photo #1
2012 Photo #2

“In heaven, the soul is certain that she loves God, and that He loves her; she sees that the Lord embraces her with infinite love, and that this love shall not be dissolved for all eternity.”
--St. Alphonsus Liguori (quote submitted by Mother Iliana)

Saturday, March 30, 2019

10th Anniversary Countdown: 2013

Answers from yesterday:
2014 Photo #1: In St. Peter's Square, during the canonization of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII, Mother Cecilia holds up the monastery copy of St. John Paul's Apostolic Letter "Orientale Lumen" (Light of the East), which inspired the foundation of our monastery. What a grace to be present for the canonization of this saint who has been such an inspiration and help to us in our monastic journey!
2014 Photo #2: Mother Gabriella and Mother Cecilia enjoy some winter recreation during the observership (extended time of discernment) of Sr. Natalia (then Victoria), in the red snowsuit! There isn't much of a hill at the shrine, so sledding wasn't very successful...

Countdown: 5 days! Remembering the year 2013:

2013 Photo #1
2013 Photo #2
"Blessed are they who give the flower of their days, and their strength of soul and body to Him; blessed are they who in their youth turn to Him who gave His life for them, and would fain give it to them and implant it in them, that they may live forever."
--Bl. John Henry Newman (quote submitted by Sr. Petra)

Friday, March 29, 2019

10th Anniversary Countdown: 2014

Answers from yesterday:
2015 Photo #1: One of many unused photos from our "photoshoot" for the poster for our first fundraising dinner, "Mumford & Nuns BBQ." As you can see, this one didn't quite capture our spirit... 
2015 Photo #2: Showing off our mud after pushing out a car that "someone" had gotten stuck in the muddy grass at the shrine (coughMotherTheodoracough).

Countdown: 6 days! Remembering the year 2014:

2014 Photo #1
2014 Photo #2
"But why, someone says, did Christ admit that harlot? So He might put away her iniquity, because there is no malady which prevails over His goodness. Do not merely look at the fact that He received her, but consider the other point also: how He changed her."
--St. John Chrysostom's Homily on John XI (quote submitted by Sr. Natalia)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

10th Anniversary Countdown: 2015

Answers from yesterday:
2016 Photo #1: Meeting one of the original Missionaries of Charity after the profession of perpetual vows of our friend Sr. Brigid of the Sisters of Life.
2016 Photo #2: Mother (then Sister) Iliana kicks off our "icebreaker" activity at the ByzanTeen Youth Rally at Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio. The photo is taken from a photo montage video by David Bratnick.

Countdown: 7 days to go! Remembering the year 2015.

2015 Photo #1
2015 Photo #2
"We will not be purified by looking at our miseries, but by gazing upon Him who is all purity and holiness."
--St. Elizabeth of the Trinity (quote submitted by Mother Cecilia)

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

10th Anniversary Countdown: 2016

Answers from yesterday:
2017 Photo #1: Sr. Petra (then Sara Lynn), prays at the Sea of Galilee during our pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This particular location is the place of the calling of the first apostles. At the time, Sr. Petra had no idea that she would be named after St. Peter, one of the apostles who was called by Jesus at this spot!
2017 Photo #2: At a different "Sea" a bit closer to home...posing on a huge piece of driftwood at Mentor Headlands Beach at Lake Erie, during some Bright Week recreation--the week following Pascha (Easter).

Countdown, day 8! Remembering the year 2016.

2016 Photo #1
2016 Photo #2
 "'If you knew the gift of God!' [John 4:10]. The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is He Who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; His asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for Him."
--Catechism of the Catholic Church 2560 (Quote submitted by Mother Theodora)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

10th Anniversary Countdown: 2017

Answers from yesterday:
2018 Photo #1: Mother ("Sister" at the time) Iliana is excited about the progress on the renovations of St. Mary of Egypt Poustinia. 
2018 Photo #2: We and the Mercedarian Sisters enjoying a recreation day together, brainstorming the lyrics to our Oreo video!

Continuing our 10-day countdown. Nine days to go! Today we remember the year 2017.

2017: Photo #1
2017: Photo #2
"Relying on God has to begin again everyday as if nothing had yet been done."
-- C.S. Lewis (Quote submitted by Mother Gabriella)
(Happy Feast of the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel!)

Monday, March 25, 2019

10th Anniversary Countdown!

Ten days from today, April 3, will mark our 10th anniversary here at the monastery! In celebration, we are beginning a 10-day countdown! Each day, we will share a photo or two (probably photos you haven't already seen on our blog or in our newsletter), starting with 2018 and working our way back to 2009, as well as a quote from a saint or other spiritual author, submitted by one of the nuns. We'll let you guess what is happening in the photos, and then we'll give the answers the next day. We hope you enjoy the countdown!

2018 Photo #1
Also: Happy Feast of the Annunciation! What a beautiful day to begin our countdown, remembering the moments these past 10 years when we were invited by the Lord to say along with the Mother of God, "Let it be done to me according to your word!"

2018 Photo #2

"We always make the fatal mistake of thinking that it is what we do that matters, when really what matters is what we let God do to us. God sent the angel to Mary, not to ask her to do something, but to let something be done.” --Venerable Fulton Sheen (Quote submitted by Mother Iliana)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Join us for Bridegroom Matins on Great & Holy Wednesday

We invite you to join us for Bridegroom Matins, our patronal commemoration, on Great & Holy Wednesday, April 17, at 8:00 a.m. at the monastery. The readings and hymns of this service rouse the heart to conversion and vigilance for the coming of the Bridegroom and offer strength to His Bride the Church as we journey with Him in His passion. A light breakfast will follow.

Please RSVP to christthebridegroom@gmail.com or 440-834-0290 by Friday, April 12.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

ByzanTeen Lenten Day of Reflection with the nuns & Bishop Milan!


We will host the annual ByzanTeen Lenten Day of Reflection (for ages 12-18), on Palm Sunday, April 14, 2019, from 12:30-4:00 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Parma, Ohio. This year's program is titled Journey with Jesus: From "Hosanna" to "Crucify Him" to "He is risen!". The day will begin at 11:00 a.m. with Divine liturgy at the Cathedral: 1900 Carlton Rd. in Parma. After Divine Liturgy, lunch will be served, and the program will begin. We will lead breakout sessions about the services of Great & Holy Week, followed by a talk by Bishop Milan.  Please RSVP to Kim Kocuba at smbevents@ameritech.net or 216-337-2673 by April 11. Bring a friend! We hope to see you there! 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Join us for the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, April 4

Join us in a deeply-moving, once-a-year Lenten experience on Thursday, April 4, at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, 1900 Carlton Rd., Parma, Ohio.  The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete takes us on a journey through the entire Bible, placing us in the shoes of the penitents of the Old and New Testaments and teaching us from their examples.  The hundreds of prostrations unite our body and soul as we repent of our sins and experience God’s mercy.  We will also listen to the life of St. Mary of Egypt and venerate her relic.  The opportunity for the Mystery of Holy Repentance (Confession) will also be available.  A simple Lenten meal will be served 5:00-5:45 p.m., and the Canon will begin at 6:00 p.m.  All are invited to come for part or all of the Canon, even if you are not physically able to participate in the prostrations.  The duration of the Canon is approximately 3.5 hours.  If you plan to come for dinner, please RSVP by Friday, March 29, to 440-834-0290 or christthebridegroom@gmail.com.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Lenten talks by the nuns

March 9
Lansing, IL
Mother Gabriella will speak on prayer during a women's day of reflection at St. Archangel Michael Serbian Orthodox Church, and will lead sessions consisting of prayerful reading of Scripture and discussion. See poster to the right for more information.

March 23-24
Youngstown, OH
Mother Iliana will speak at a lock-in retreat for teens and young adults.

Theme: ” He who has ears to hear let him hear” (Mt 13:9)
Key Note Speakers: Mother Iliana, Christ the Bridegroom Monastery, Burton, Ohio; Father Alex Wroblicky, Eparchy of St Josaphat in Parma, POH.
Additional Speakers: Seminarians Michael Kunitz and Kyprian Wojciechowski, Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Saints Cyril and Methodius, Pittsburgh, PA. 
Date: Saturday, March 23rd to Sunday, March 24th (1:00pm to 1:00pm)
Location: Saint Anne’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, 4310 Kirk Rd, Youngstown, Ohio 44511.
Costs: $30.00 (presentations, book, meals & T-shirts included)

Contact: Fr. Deacon Myron Spak @ 412-303-9086 / mjspak@verizon.net
RSVP: by Sunday, March 10th.   

March 31
Brecksville, OH
Mother Cecilia will lead an afternoon of reflection at St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church with a talk titled, "Who, me? Contemplative prayer?" The program & lunch are free (donations accepted). RSVP required to Darlene Hritz, 440-237-5237 or dar.hritz@gmail.com, by March 28. Babysitting is available (include in your RSVP.)

About the Talk: Contemplative prayer may sound like something that's only for monastics, but it's not! We're all called to this type of prayer, but I find that many people have misconceptions about what it is or worries about doing it right. I would like to share with you what I have learned and the joy I have found in contemplative prayer.

10:30 am Divine Liturgy
11:30 am Lunch in the New Orleans Party Center
12:00 or 12:15  Program in New Orleans Party Center (talk and a short video)
Opportunity for Confession

St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church
8111 Brecksville Road
Brecksville, OH

April 14 (Palm Sunday)
Parma, OH
We will lead an afternoon Lenten program for teens at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. More information to come.

Monday, January 21, 2019

In need of two elliptical machines

Update: Our need has been fulfilled!  Thank you for your prayers and support!

We have 3 nuns who have mandatory exercise programs for varying health conditions, which involves exercising 5 to 6 days per week.  We are looking for help to obtain two new or gently used gym-grade elliptical machines to aid the nuns in these health conditions.  If you have an elliptical or know someone who does, or would like to donate towards these machines, please contact us at christthebridegroom@gmail.com or 440-834-0290.  Thank you so much!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Bishop Milan calls for renewal of personal holiness during eparchy's 50th-anniversary year

Bishop Milan's first pastoral letter to the Eparchy of Parma was read at our parishes--and our monastery--this past Sunday, inaugurating the eparchy's 50th-anniversary year. We are encouraged by his call to a renewal of the grace given at baptism, and we pray that all the people of the eparchy (and beyond) will accept this challenge.

Dear brothers and sisters,

On this day, as we celebrate the feast of the Theophany of Our Lord, I would like to open and dedicate this year — which marks the golden anniversary of the establishment of the Eparchy of Parma of the Ruthenians and of the Metropolitan Church Sui Iuris of Pittsburgh — as the year of renewal and deepening of our faith.

Blessed Pope Paul VI issued a decree February 21, 1969, entitled Quandoquidem Christus, which transformed the status of the Byzantine Catholic Church in the United States, creating the Metropolia of Pittsburgh with two suffragan eparchies — Passaic and Parma. Prior to that, when our ancestors came to this country and brought with them a desire to worship in their own rite and have their own churches, we were part of the Eparchy of Pittsburgh.

Fifty years provide the opportunity to look back and reflect on the life of our Church. We do this in thanksgiving, recognizing the many examples of sacrifice, piety, dedication and vitality that resulted in growth, especially in the 1970s and 80s. Without a doubt, many souls were led to their heavenly reward. With gratitude we remember that cloud of witnesses — the bishops, priests, religious and laity, who, in countless ways offered testimony to their faith.

The anniversary year also offers an occasion to acknowledge the negative events that weakened our eparchy and caused a loss of vitality and, at times, even a loss of hope for the future. We should approach the Lord with repentance in our hearts and ask forgiveness, individually and as an eparchy.

Above all, we need to look forward with hope. This is only possible with renewed faith and a firm decision to follow the Gospel that contains the commandments of Christ. If our hearts have abandoned this willingness, we should look into the reasons why. St. Theophan the Recluse says this happens when the grace given at baptism is not preserved. He provides the following causes:

1. Leaving the church and its grace-giving means, which starves the root of the Christian life, disconnecting it from its sources. In this way it wilts, just as a flower does when it is not watered.
2. Failure to pay heed to one’s bodily nature, which opens the door for passions to take hold of the soul.
3. Forgetting the main goal of life: People do not have direction and lack the means to achieve union with God.
4. Neglecting the spiritual life: Prayer, the fear of God and conscience are overshadowed by earthly cares.
5. Neglecting to put into practice Christian principles and God’s way of life.

Could this point to the lack of vitality in our individual faith and lives, and in the eparchy as a whole? I would like you to join with the clergy at your parish and meditate on these causes. My hope is that this exercise will lead to spiritual activities in your parish that could renew the grace of baptism in our souls. We must first, however, be convinced that personal holiness, which leads to salvation, is a priority. This will take courage and conviction. I challenge you to make a pledge to begin the process that leads to this goal. I challenge all priests to preach during this 50th-anniversary year about how to avoid the five points of St. Theophan the Recluse above and to teach the art of spiritual living, the importance of prayer and the sacraments, and of giving up small things for the sake of gaining everything.

We sing in the Kontakion of the feast of the Theophany of Our Lord the beautiful and profound words, “You have revealed yourself to the world today; and your light, O Lord, has set its seal on us. We recognize you and exclaim to you: You have come and revealed yourself, O Unapproachable Light.” Let us not be afraid to renew the grace of our baptism in us, to recognize the Unapproachable Light who has set a seal on us.

We pray at the Great Blessing of the Jordan Water: “The waters beheld you, O Lord; the waters beheld you and they trembled. The River Jordan turns back on its course as it beholds the fire of the Godhead coming down upon it and entering it in the flesh.” We need to understand that the River Jordan turning back on its course as Christ enters its waters is symbolically its turning away from the Dead Sea (death) towards the Sea of Galilee (life).

As we begin this year of renewal and of deepening our faith to mark the 50th anniversary of the Eparchy of Parma and the Metropolia, I exhort you to make a pledge to renew your faith, as well as our Church, with the pledge cards that were distributed to your parish and that may be found in a visible place in your church.

As we commemorate the Baptism of Our Lord, let us be mindful of our own baptism, when we first received the grace to live the life of Christian discipleship. I pray that we are renewed in our journey and that we accept Christ in our lives, so that Life can turn us back to life as individuals, parish communities, and as the Eparchy of Parma.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Most Rev. Milan Lach, SJ
Bishop of the Eparchy of Parma

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Happy Theophany!

Happy Feast of Theophany! (The baptism of Our Lord in the Jordan) In this feast, we celebrate the revelation of the Trinity and our re-creation in Christ through baptism. May we overflow in gratitude to Him for the gift of salvation!

Enjoy these photos from our celebration of Vespers, the Great Blessing of Water, and the blessing of the poustinias and monastery. To read the 13 powerful readings from the Old Testament that are read at Vespers and prefigure this feast, visit this web page and scroll down to "Eve of Theophany, January 5." 

"Let us imitate the wise virgins; come, let us go to meet the Master who is now present, for He approaches John as a Bridegroom. When the Jordan saw Him, it bowed down in fear and stopped; John spoke out saying: I am unworthy to touch Your immortal head. The Spirit descended in the form of a dove and sanctified the waters, and a voice was heard from on high: This is My Son who comes into the world to save all. O Lord, glory to You!" (Hymns of the Litija, Great Compline for the Feast of Theophany)