Friday, March 24, 2023

March: Annunciation, Sourdough, and the Great Canon

Glory to Jesus Christ! 

Happy Feast of the Annunication! It's also Akathist Saturday! AND it's about time for another update on what we've been up to at the monastery lately. 

This past Monday, a few of the nuns tuned into God With Us Online's latest webinar The Incarnation and the Cross with Father David Anderson. We highly encourage you to check it out. In it, Father David gives us some REALLY beautiful reflections to pray with for the Feast of the Annunciation. He also clarifies for us how the calendar dates of Annunciation and Nativity came to be, which is fascinating. 

Here's a little from the beautiful liturgical texts for today's feast:

"That mystery which is from all eternity * is being revealed today. * The Son of God becomes the Son of Man. * He accepted the lowliest in order to give us the highest. * In times of old, Adam was deceived; * he desired to become like God and did not. * Now God becomes a man that He may make Adam God. * Let all creation he happy; * let nature dance with joy * because the archangel stands in awe before the Virgin and greets her. * He brings the greeting which changes our grief into joy. * Through the mercy of you compassion, You became incarnate; * O our God, glory to You!"

(From the Praises for Matins for the Feast of the Annunciation, bolded portions are themes in Fr. David's talk)

We have just one more week of the Great Fast, then on to Great and Holy Week, and finally, Pascha! It's so close, yet so far away. 

Leaven and Levity during the Great Fast

We've been getting pretty serious about sourdough bread lately. Mother Iliana and Sister Onuphria were occasionally making bread, but since the start of the fast, they've been doing it more often to go with our plethora of fast-friendly soups. Then, Mother Gabriella learned how a couple weeks ago (the photo to the left is Mother Gabriella's sourdough first-born), so our sourdough starter, Frankie, has been very busy. (His name is Frankie, after Frankenstein's Monster because "IT'S ALIVE!") We also like making sourdough pancakes, brownies, cookies, flatbread, cinnamon rolls, etc. We've done a lot of experimenting in the last year and a half, and it's been super fun, delicious, and nutritious. We're looking forward to being able to do more fun things with Frankie after the Fast is over. 

Sourdough is really interesting for a lot of reasons, but one particularity about it is that you never know quite how it's going to turn out. Depending on the humidity, temperature, rise times, how Frankie's feeling that day, and probably lots of other mysterious factors, the bread or whatever we're making turns out differently every time. Sourdough, like our Byzantine Catholic faith, is full of mystery. 

We've been glad to also be able to share Frankie with some people who have come to visit. He now has lots of progeny, and even multiple generations as people we've shared him with share their starter with others. It's pretty fun. 

The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete

This past Thursday evening, St. Joseph's parish in Brecksville, Ohio, hosted us for the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. We were so glad to get to give the local faithful the opportunity to pray this service with us, and we're so grateful for the work of those who helped us organize the evening. It was also wonderful to be joined by so many families and their children. Thank you very much to the priests who were present to hear Confessions. It was a beautiful evening. This canon is such a great gift to us, handed down through the traditions of the Church. Below, you can see some photos from the evening, including photos of the veneration of a relic of St. Mary of Egypt. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

We're half way there!


"Having passed through the ocean of the Great Fast, we await your voluntary Passion, O Lord,

as a harbor of salvation. In your mercy and goodness, 

make us worthy to behold in peace the day of your glorious Resurrection."

(Mid-Lent Matins, Aposticha) 

Friday, March 10, 2023

From the Triodion

 "O Lord, You are clothed with light as with a cloak; I keep watch before You and cry out to You: Illumine the darkness of my soul, O Christ, because of your great love."

(Matins Canon, Ode 5, Friday of the Third Week of the Great Fast)

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Upcoming Talks by Nuns

"Who am I? Rediscovering Our Identity as Children of God"  --  Mother Cecilia

On Sunday, March 19th, Mother Cecilia will be giving a talk at St. Joseph's Byzantine Catholic Parish in Brecksville, Ohio, for their Lenten day of reflection.

Our sins and anxieties are a result of forgetting that we are children of God and that everything the Father has is ours. Why do we forget our identity? How do we recover it? Why should we recover it? Mother Cecilia will reflect on these questions and share experiences from her own life to help you rediscover your identity and set out on the path of greater freedom and joy.

The talk is part of the parish's day of reflection which starts with Divine Liturgy at 10:30 am.  Immediately following the liturgy there will be a light lunch followed by the talk.  After the talk there will be an opportunity for confessions.  Please RSVP to Darlene Hritz at 440-237-5237 for lunch preparation purposes.    

Location:  St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church, 8111 Brecksville Road, Brecksville, Ohio.

SoCal Byzantine Catholic Day Retreat  --  Mother Natalia & Father Michael O'Loughlin

On March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation, Mother Natalia will be in Anaheim, California, to lead this day retreat with Father Michael O'Loughlin. The retreat is from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. It will be at Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church (995 North West Street, Anaheim, CA 92801). 

Come join Byzantine Catholics from around Southern California for a day retreat on the Feast of the Annunciation! We will gather for Divine Liturgy, talks, prayer, and meals. We look forward to this time of fellowship and the opportunity to connect with other SoCal Catholics!

Advanced registration is required. This is so we can arrange logistics such as food and the children's program. The registration deadline is Sunday, March 12th at midnight. All ages are welcome. There will be a children's program available for ages 3-13.

For all of the information, see this link

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Behold, the Bridegroom Matins is Coming on the 5th of April!

We invite you to join us for Bridegroom Matins, our patronal commemoration, on Great & Holy Wednesday, April 5th, at 8:00 a.m. in our monastery chapel. 

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 matins.

To RSVP, please fill out this online form

This year, it will be extra special to get to pray Bridegroom Matins in the chapel with our patronal Bridegroom icon (in the photo above). Since renovations, we were able to give Him a nice home in the chapel where anyone can come and pray with him anytime. (He used to be above our fireplace in the monastery's living room.) 

Monday, February 27, 2023

Join us on March 23rd for the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete!

Our monastic community will be praying the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete on the evening of Thursday, March 23rd, 2023, at St. Joseph's Byzantine Catholic Parish in Brecksville, Ohio, and we'd love for you to join us. 

This service is one of the favorites of the entire year for many (if not all) of the nuns. We make hundreds of prostrations as we go through the canon for the day, singing through salvation history which culminates with Christ. It's a beautiful time to repent of our sins and experience God's abundant mercy. We will also read the Life of Saint Mary of Egypt and have the opportunity to venerate her relic. She's such a wonderful Saint to ask to be with us as we strive to repent more and more fully. If she can do it, we can! 

The opportunity for the Mystery of Holy Repentance (Confession) will be available during the service. 

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. 

A meatless, dairy-less Lenten potluck will be held in St. Joseph's Hall from 5:00-5:45 p.m. The Canon will begin in the church at 6:00 p.m. 

To RSVP for the potluck and/or Canon, please call or text Carrie Hotaling from St. Joseph's Parish at 440-836-2674.  

With any other questions, please contact the monastery at 440-834-0290.

Monday, February 20, 2023

The Great Fast has begun!

"Tossed about by the waves of sin, I am drowning in the deep waters of despair; but I hasten to the ocean of your love; save me, O Lord." (from the Canon of Matins on Clean Monday)

As we begin the Great Fast today, we'd like to share a great resource that we hope you'll find enriching over the coming months. 

There are several upcoming webinars from God With Us Online. There are lots of really great topics in the coming months: "Orthodoxy and Life" with Father Josiah Trenham, "For the Life of the World" and "The Incarnation and the Cross" with Father David Anderson, "Dedication to Fellowship" with Father Michael O'Loughlin and Mother Natalia, "The Didache" with Father Christiaan Kappes, and "The Pauline World" with Father Daniel Dozier. Visit the link above for more information on the webinars and their dates. God With Us Online also has an amazing library of past webinars that you can check out. 

In addition, God With Us Online also has Bible study videos on the Sunday Gospels and daily reflections for families to pray with here

We hope that this resource will enrich your experience of the Great Fast this year, and that you'll be able to be immersed in the beauty of this season in your parishes and homes.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Fr. John Kachuba's Last Homily

Bright Monday Procession, 2022
The last line of the Psalms can sum up Fr. John Kachuba's last day on earth: "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord" (Ps 150:6). With many of his final breaths, which were labored, Fr. John praised the Lord in the Divine Liturgy at our monastery yesterday morning. After returning to his home, he fell asleep in the Lord. 

His final Divine Liturgy was very appropriately for Meatfare Sunday--The Sunday of the Last Judgment. We were moved by his simple and insightful homily about the sheep and the goats--the differences in the ways that they are either led or driven by the shepherd. Fr. John "accidentally" left his printed script behind, which we don't remember him ever doing (this was no accident on God's part), and we typed it up to share with you below. We can honor him by taking this message to heart. [Note the very appropriate bracketed sentence that was not included in his printed script but was added by him spontaneously.]

Fr. John (75) was a retired archpriest of our eparchy who was one of the priests who regularly served us by celebrating the Divine Liturgy in our chapel. Even his sometimes gruff exterior couldn't hide his tender love for us. He was well-loved in the eparchy because of his closeness to the people. 

At least once Fr. John told us, "We celibates need to pray for each other (for those living and deceased), because we are the family that we have." Please join us in praying for this brother and father of our celibate family.

Fr. John was out of breath during the Liturgy but assured us he would be seeing his doctor on Monday. He told Mother Cecilia that he would let her know if he could still celebrate Forgiveness Vespers at the monastery the following Sunday (which he had volunteered to do), depending on what the doctor said. He was found at home beside his car at 2:30 in the afternoon, after he did not show up for a planned lunch. Celebrating the Divine Liturgy was his final act on earth, and with strained breaths he praised the Lord.

Fr. John's Last Homily:

Are you a sheep or are you a goat? Are you on the right hand or the left hand of our Lord? We refer to Jesus many times as the Shepherd and we are the sheep who follow Him, in other words He leads us. When you went to the Holy Land did you happen to see any sheep with a shepherd, or any goats? A shepherd gets the attention of the sheep and they follow him when he wants to lead them to better pastures. Goats are driven from the rear, and they go where they want to go. They wander from one thing to another, and they might not be going to the best places. So, are we following the Shepherd and go where He goes, or are we going our own way? He tells the righteous in the Gospel today and is telling us that when we feed the poor, when we welcome strangers or when we visit the sick, what are we doing, we are conforming to Christ's law, the law of love, to love God and love our neighbor. He tells us today when we do all these things for the least ones, we are doing them for Him. I have no doubt that you are the sheep, the followers of the Bridegroom, and you do all these things as members of the monastery. But are there times when you as an individual may want to wander in another direction? Maybe only in thought? I know I try to follow Christ, but there are times that I wander in other directions and need to be herded from behind as a goat is. We are being given a great opportunity during this upcoming Lent. [*It may be our last opportunity; we don't know what the future holds for us.] Fasting and caring we can become better sheep, better followers of Christ. We can better love Christ and those He puts in our lives. If we don't do this, He warns us what will happen--and we hear about the final judgement. All of us need to take heed of this warning, and during this Lent become better sheep.

*Sentence not included in typed script but spontaneously added

Saturday, February 4, 2023

God be with you, Bishop Milan

Helping with the fire at Girls Camp
On Sunday, the Eparchy of Parma bids farewell to Bishop Milan Lach, SJ, who has been serving our eparchy for the past 5.5 years. He will begin his new ministry in the Eparchy of Bratislava, Slovakia.

We are so grateful for these years of care, zeal, sacrifice and love for our monastery and the flock of the Eparchy of Parma. Bishop Milan completed for us the process of canonically establishing our monastery, which Bishop John Kudrick had begun. He tonsured several of us as rasophore and stavrophore nuns. He visited the monastery regularly to give us conferences and to pray with us. He delighted in attending youth activities, especially ones that involved a campfire! At the Eparchy's Family Camp and sometimes for the Mariapoch Pilgrimage, he would camp out on the grounds of the shrine along with the families. He told us that when he first came to our eparchy he was shocked by the small turnout at the Mariapoch Pilgrimage and other events, but the Lord told Him, "This is My Church," and after that he realized that numbers don't matter. He was content to be with his flock and to zealously serve them. 

Please keep Bishop Milan in your prayers as he begins his new ministry and faces the challenges of the Church and culture in Slovakia. Please also pray for our new Apostolic Administrator Bishop Kurt Burnette, who is laden with the care of four eparchies: three in the U.S. and one in Canada. May God provide for our Byzantine Ruthenian Church here in North America as well as in Europe, healing our spiritual ills and helping us to be witnesses of the love of God to a broken world.

Our monastery's canonical establishment

Mother Iliana's life profession

The life profession of Mother Natalia & Mother Petra

The blessing of our new poustinias

The tonsure of Sr. Onuphria


Save the Date: the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete and Bridegroom Matins


Glory to Jesus Christ!

As the Great Fast is quickly approaching, we'd like to invite you to a couple of specific opportunities to pray with us in the coming months, so please save these dates. We'd also be very glad if you would invite your friends and family to pray these services with us. 

The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete:

Join us for the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete on the evening of Thursday, March 23rd, 2023. Keep an eye out for an announcement with more details, including the location as well as a schedule for the evening. 

The hundreds of prostrations in this service 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 hopefully be available. 

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. 

Please keep an eye out for a further post with more details as well as the opportunity to RSVP. 

Bridegroom Matins on Great and Holy Wednesday

We invite you to join us for Bridegroom Matins, our patronal commemoration, on Great & Holy Wednesday, April 5th, at 8:00 a.m. in our monastery chapel.

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 keep an eye out for the opportunity to RSVP for this event as well. 

Other Opportunities:

We'll be praying the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts on Clean Monday and on Wednesdays and Fridays of the Great Fast in our monastery chapel. Please check the Liturgy and Events Schedule tab above for times and updates to confirm we're able to have it at the monastery. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Theophany, Coptic Nun Friends, the March for Life, and What's Happening in 2023

Here's a little of what's been going on at our monastery in the last month: 

The Feast of Theophany was wonderful. It is exciting to celebrate major feasts like Theophany in our newly renovated chapel because we get to spend so many hours in such a beautiful space. We are continually so grateful for all of your support of our life which makes this possible. We processed around the property to each poustinia and the monastery singing the Theophany troparion countless times as each room was blessed with Jordan Water. We had a nice dusting of snow which made it all a little more beautiful. 

A few days later, we had a day to spend time together as a community, which we have every six weeks or so. This time, we spent the morning making bread and watching a really neat documentary on the beauty, history, and science of breadmaking. In the afternoon, we packed up our freshly baked bread and got in our van to visit our Coptic Nun friends in Warren, at the Monastery of St. Mary and St. John the Beloved. We've had a good relationship with the nuns there for years, and it was so good to get to spend time with our sisters in monastic life. We had lunch together and then prayed with them in their chapel. Then, they showed us their new monastic church and their wood shop. It was really nice to pray with them and talk with them and just be together. 

This past weekend, Mother Theodora, Sister Onuphria, and our friend Maddie went to Washington, DC, for the March for Life. The march had a joyful tone, as we celebrated the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and also a deep sense of gravity with how much work still needs to be done in our country to restore a culture of life. It was good to have a really focused time of prayer for an end to abortion, as well as other life issues like euthanasia and the death penalty. 

This week, some finishing touches are happening in our chapel, like shoe molding and hanging some more icons. 

This past Sunday was the Sunday of Zacchaeus already! As we prepare to enter into the Great Fast, stay tuned for announcements of how you can pray with us in the coming months. As always, we'd love to have you come and pray with us.

We pray daily:
6:30am - Matins (except on Fridays)
12:00pm - 1st, 3rd, 6th, or 9th Hour
4:45pm - Jesus Prayer and Vespers (5:15 on Sundays)
9:00pm - Compline (except on Saturdays & Sundays)

If you'd like to join us, we'd recommend calling ahead or sending us an email to confirm that the schedule is normal, as sometimes we need to adjust it. 

Our Divine Liturgy schedule can be found here

Save the Date for 2023: (Subject to change)
March 23: Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete
April 5: Bridegroom Matins
May 27: Spring Work Day
September 30: Fall Work Day
November 4: Bridegroom's Banquet
December 14-17: Discernment Retreat