Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Fruitful Harvest

Both fresh and mellowed fruits, my lover, I have kept in store for you.

Song of Songs 7:14

Sr. Celeste and I have been enjoying the fruits of our garden, sharing them, canning them, making jam and jelly with them and thanking our Bridegroom for these gifts that He has blessed us with this year.  We thank those who provided us with plants and seeds for our garden.  This year we started our garden in a different location than last year (closer to the monastery) and downsized it quite a bit (much more manageable!).  For various reasons we tried an interesting method of planting each plant in a bag of topsoil or a pot, in rows, on top of landscaping fabric mulched with grass clippings.  It may sound strange, but it worked wonderfully for us (no weeds!).  We have been blessed with a delicious crop, especially the multitudes of tomatoes!

Seminarian Musil helps to make salsa
We were also blessed with the opportunity to join in the harvest of the fruits of others: blueberries at Deacon Bill Fredrick's house and blackberries at my grandma's.  With these berries and other fruits and veggies from our garden we produced many batches of various flavors of jam and jelly.  We spent the day last Saturday by selling our jam, jelly and banana and zucchini bread at the ethnic food sale at St. Emilian parish in Brunswick, Ohio, in the morning and at the Carpatho-Rusyn Society's Vatra at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch in the afternoon and evening.  We sparked the curiosity of many with some of our unusual flavors, such as raspberry jalapeno jelly, tomato jelly and pumpkin butter.  The raised eyebrows which turned into smiles proved that providing samples of these flavors was a good idea...
Selling jelly at the Vatra

As we enjoy the last harvests from our garden we ask for your prayers as we continue to discern God's will in the formation of our monastery and seek to bear fruit that will endure.

We hope you can make it to our fall work day this Saturday!  Please remember to RSVP!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fall Work Day & Lamb Roast Announced!

Volunteers at last year's fall work day
All are invited to our 2010 fall work day, Saturday, October 2.  This year, thanks to the generosity of a parishioner at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch, we will conclude the day down at the shrine with a lamb roast! 

Join us for a day of service, prayer, food and fun!  Bring friends and make new friends!  We need your help with projects such as these: building a raised bed for a second raspberry patch, yard work, repairing downspouts, painting and more!

10:00 a.m.     Work day begins
1:00 p.m.       Lunch (provided)
5:00 p.m.       Great Vespers, followed by lamb roast

-Bring a side dish to share if you are able
-Wear old clothes and dress for the weather
-Please RSVP by Wed. Sept. 29 to 440-834-0290 or christthebridegroom@gmail.com (so we know how many projects and how much food to prepare)

We realize that this event conflicts with the eparchial women's retreat taking place that weekend.  We're sorry for the inconvenience, but this was the only date that worked for us!  We hope this will give the dads and kids something to do together while the moms are on retreat!

Check out other upcoming events (there are several happening soon at the shrine) by visiting our "Upcoming Events" page.  We hope to see you soon!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Monastery Visit in Olympia, Washington

“I lift my eyes to the mountains—from where will my help come? My help shall come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1,2) It was a beautiful view! Sr. Julie and I enjoyed the awesome snowcapped Cascade Mountains from the plane during our flight to the Great Northwest. In our quest to seek and fulfill God’s will in our lives, we visited Holy Theophany Monastery in Olympia, Washington at the end of July to pray with the nuns and learn from their experience of monastic life. We were welcomed with open arms and hospitality. Mother Anastasia, abbess of the monastery, willingly shared her wisdom and the history of their monastery and wanted to help us in any way possible. We enjoyed delicious meals prepared by Mother Irene and were inspired by Mother Johanna’s childlike joy.

Fr. Joseph Stanichar, pastor of St. John Chrysostom in Seattle was a gracious host. He traveled to the monastery and drove us to his parish. We shared heartfelt conversations with Father Joseph and his parishioner, Elizabeth, who fed us well, then we all went to the beach to watch the sun set behind the Olympic Mountains and topped off the day with ice cream before heading back.

Sr. Julie and I were also given the opportunity to suit up in bee keeper’s gear and were intrigued by the meticulous and dedicated work of the bees as we watched Mother Irene gently tend to them to start a new hive. Although she was extremely careful, she still was stung. We hope to raise bees at our monastery in the future, but we’ll probably have to stock up on Benadryl.

Blossom, the monastic dog, created some excitement one afternoon when she chased six raccoons up a tree. She had fun barking and jumping at the tree and intimidated the cute raccoons as they cuddled together on a large branch, but they obviously saw no humor in it.

We are grateful to Holy Theophany Monastery and to Fr. Joseph and Elizabeth for their love, prayer and support. We still have a few more places to visit before we discern where God wants us to be for formation, but we continue to trust in the unfailing love and infinite wisdom of our Bridegroom and gaze higher knowing our help will come from Him.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"O You Through Whom Creation is Renewed"

Litija prayers during Great Vespers
"O You Through Whom Creation is Renewed," a line from the Akathist service to the Mother of God, was the theme for the annual pilgrimage at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch (aka across the street!), August 14-15.  We hope that our presence here is helping in some way, along with the hard work Friends of the Shrines and other volunteers, to renew the life at the shrine.  But our focus during this pilgrimage weekend was how the Mother of God renews creation through her openness to God and the gift of her Son to the world.

Burial Shroud surrounded by blessed flowers
Because the Feast of the Dormition (falling asleep) of the Mother of God fell this year on Sunday of the pilgrimage, we enjoyed the unique treat of celebrating the burial service of the Mother of God on Saturday night.  This beautiful service, celebrated in some Eastern traditions, is made up of Great Vespers (evening prayer) and Matins (morning prayer) for the feast, which when celebrated together on the eve of a feast are called the "All Night Vigil."  The service also includes a burial procession with the shroud of the Mother of God.  Participants can see how this service closely imitates the burial procession that we participate in on Good Friday of Holy Week, including the veneration of the shroud at the conclusion of the service.  For Sr. Celeste and me, our favorite part is the chanting of the Song of Songs during the procession!!!  The tears were rolling down my cheeks as we walked slowly in the dark, right behind the shroud, as the cantors chanted the words that Sr. Celeste and I pray every evening at the end of compline (night prayer) before we go to bed.  The Church was singing to us!  It was one of those moments when the stress and difficulties melt away...

Pausing for prayer before Fr. Rich's talk
"Frozen T-shirt" icebreaker
Another great blessing of the pilgrimage was the great group of teens who came to camp out.  Sr. Celeste and I helped to organize the teen campout, along with several young adult chaperones.  The teens and young adults brought awesome joy and vibrancy to the prayer services and other activities of the pilgrimage.  We hope that their presence here will continue to renew the pilgrimage and the shrine as a place of life and prayer, as they return with their friends, families and enthusiasm.  The teens immersed themselves in all of the prayer services, enjoyed sports and games out in the field, cooked on the campfire and participated in the procession for the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday with Bishop John.  They also trekked across the street to our monastery for Third Hour on Sunday morning and a tour of the monastery.  We enjoyed showing them and other pilgrims the progress we have made over the past year, teaching them a little bit about our life and showing our video.

Sr. Celeste's chicken paprikas was a hit again this year, and sold out quickly!

The closing Divine Liturgy with Bishop John on Sunday was beautiful, and the gift of three new subdeacons, ordained during the Liturgy, was given to our Church.  Please pray for subdeacons (and our good friends) Greg Loya, Michael Melnick and Robert Cripps as they continue their journey to the diaconate.

I learned during the pilgrimage, as God patiently teaches me over and over again, that I will not be in control, no matter how well I plan out my portion of an event.  It is He alone who knows how to bring life, breathing His Holy Spirit into the very midst of our actions and conversations. But we can participate in His life-giving action--in the renewal of creation--by following the example of the Mother of God, for, "Today she places her all-pure soul into the hands of her Son.  With her, the universe is filled with joy, and the grace of salvation is given to us" (A hymn at the Litija).