Tuesday, December 28, 2010

All creation is filled with joy today!

'"All creation is filled with joy today. Christ is born of the Virgin!" (Verses after Psalm 50, feast of the Nativity)

"May the whole universe exalt and leap with joy, for Christ has come to regenerate it and to save our souls."  (Aposticha at Vespers)

As we meditated on the mystery of God's incarnation, the meeting of God and Man and the coming together of all creation at the Nativity of Our Lord...it was fitting that our dear cat Scout participated in the festivities.  This picture was taken during Vespers on Christmas Eve.  She sat in rapt attention like this on the bench for almost the entire service.  And at dinner she joined us to partake in one of the twelve dishes of the traditional Velija Supper: the fish.  She also seemed to enjoy the straw under the table!  It is tradition to feed the animals at or after this supper to remind us that they, representing creation, were present at the birth of Christ--when He took on flesh to redeem all of creation.

Christmas Eve was glorious again this year.  Intense...but wonderful!  We prayed all of the prescribed services: Matins, Royal Hours, Vespers with the Liturgy of St. Basil, Great Compline and the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.  We also prepared the Velija Supper, enjoyed it with some friends and exchanged gifts.  By the end of the night I was totally and completely exhausted, but filled and overflowing with joy.  It was in this total spending of myself that I was received so many graces and insights into the Mystery of the Incarnation. We are very grateful to Fr. Richard Plishka for making all of these services possible by his presence.

Do you like our nun cookies? :)

"O Christ, what shall we offer You for Your coming on earth in our humanity for our sake?  Every creature that has its being from You gives thanks to You: the angels offer hymns of praise, the heavens give a star; the Magi present their gifts and the shepherds, their wonder; the earth provides a cave and the desert, a manger.  As for us, we offer a Virgin Mother.  O God who are from all eternity, have mercy on us." (Stichera at Vespers for the Nativity)

Looking for a fun and interesting way to spend your New Year's Eve?  Check out a benefit event, "Help Us Get Our Habits On," to support our friends Anna and Amanda in their journey to become TOR Franciscan Sisters.  We'll be there, and so will the TORs!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2nd St. Nicholas Celebration

Click to view collage in full size
Rejoice, O Radiant Star whose light of miracles shines throughout the world.  Rejoice, O Divine Joy to those in sorrow.  Rejoice, O Defender of those who are oppressed; for even now, all-holy Nicholas, you still pray to God for us who celebrate your feast with faith and who honor you with zeal and joy. (Stichera for the Feast of St. Nicholas)

What an evening!  Almost 50 people packed into our monastery to celebrate the feast of the patron saint of the Byzantine Catholic Church, St. Nicholas.  Everyone was instructed to take off their shoes and leave them in a row in the dining room, and after vespers the shoes were found to hold some treats from St. Nicholas.  Great Vespers was beautiful, celebrated by Fr. Dennis Hrubiak.  It amazes me how beautiful the prayers are for this saint about whom we know very little, and everyone sang together very well.  Fr. Dennis blessed my recently completed icon of St. Nicholas at the end of vespers.  And then we feasted on an amazing potluck dinner!  After dinner, St. Nicholas himself showed up (he looked very much like Fr. Dennis...they must be cousins).  St. Nicholas announced the winner of the trivia contest, Jessica Santacrose (congrats!), and gave the correct answers to the trivia questions about his life.  He spoke to everyone about caring for the needs of others and of course gave the kids chocolate!  We felt so blessed by the presence of so many great people who joined us (even in the snow) to celebrate, some coming from as far as Pittsburgh.  We are glad that you can feel at home in our home.

We've finally managed to emerge from the more than 25 inches of snow that we were buried under during the past four days of continuous snowfall!  We are learning what it means to live in the Snowbelt!  I took a few pictures out the back window this morning.  We had to admit that it is quite beautiful!

If you will be near the Parma area on Saturday, come out to the Cathedral (1900 Carlton Rd. Parma, Ohio) and visit us at our table at the St. Nicholas Craft Show taking place there from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  We will be selling our jams, jellies and breads.

May God bless you as you continue to prepare your heart for Christ's coming.