Friday, March 25, 2011

A beautiful YES to God!

Happy Feast of the Annunciation! On this day that we celebrate the "yes" of the Mother of God to the reception of Divine Life within her, we are thrilled to announce another "yes" to God!

A young woman has said "yes" to the Bridegroom's invitation to life in our community! Jessie Houck will become a dokimos (postulant) with our community on May 22. Jessie is 24 years old and is the daughter of Rick Houck and Cathy McArdle of Manchester, Ohio. She is very active in various ministries at her home parish of St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church in Akron, Ohio. Jessie received an accounting degree at The University of Akron in 2008. She has been an accountant for three years at BCG & Company, an accounting firm in Akron. From the beginning, Jessie has been a faithful cohort in our “Christ the Bridegroom adventure” and didn’t even allow a terrible blizzard to stop her from coming to help at our very first work day!

The dokimos (postulant) is one who seeks a trial period of living the monastic life. Jessie will begin to experience the daily life of prayer, poverty, chastity, obedience, hospitality and community life. Her attire will consist of simple black clothes, a black scarf and cross. Through regular prayer, silence and reflection, she will continue to discern Christ’s loving will in her life. Jessie is especially enthusiastic about her relationship with Christ and with those around her. She is very prayerful, thoughtful and playful. We thank and praise God for the gift she is. It is a courageous and awesome leap of faith. Please keep Jessie in your prayers as she continues to be drawn into the joy and mystery of the Bridegroom’s yearning.

The Virgin answered the angel: It seems that you are speaking the truth to me, for you have come as a messenger bringing joy to all. Since the Holy Spirit has purified my soul and body, let it be done to me as you say; may God dwell within me. With you I cry out to Him: All you works of the Lord, bless the Lord! (Ode 8, Matins for the Feast of the Annunciation)

Monday, March 14, 2011

First Newsletter Coming Soon!...Can You Help?

We hope that you had a blessed first week of the Great Fast.  Ours was very prayerful, with some beautiful Liturgies of the Presanctified Gifts. 

We are also working diligently on the production of our first newsletter.  The first one, I think, is always the most difficult!  But we are very happy with how it is taking shape, and we are excited to share it with you.  We have two questions for you:

  1. If you are in the area, are you able to join us for our "mailing party" on Saturday, March 26?  We need some help folding, stuffing, labeling and sealing the newsletter so that we can get it in the mail!  We promise it will be fun!  The day begins at 10 a.m., includes lunch, and ends at 3 p.m. (or before, if we finish sooner!)  Please RSVP to by Wednesday, March 23.
  2. Would you like to be on our mailing list?  If so, please send your mailing address to by Wednesday, March 23.  (Or after this date--we'll get you on the list before the next newsletter.)  If you would prefer to receive the newsletter by email, you may indicate that.

As we enter deeper into this Lenten desert, may we strive to continually empty ourselves in order to be filled to overflowing with the presence of God!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Revisiting Zacchaeus

Although the pre-Lenten period is nearly complete, and the Great Fast (Lent) begins on Monday, I can’t help but think about Zacchaeus, whose story we heard in the Gospel four weeks ago—the first liturgical sign that the Great Fast is approaching!  We’ve heard the stories of the Publican and the Pharisee, the Prodigal Son and the Last Judgment these past few weeks, all preparing us for the state of mind and heart that we will need to begin the Lenten journey, but I have to say that of these pre-Lenten Sundays, Zacchaeus Sunday was the most profound for me this year (and I don’t think it was just because I have empathy for short people…). 

It seems that the story of Zacchaeus teaches us about ourselves and about Christ.  There is a lot of humility happening in this story.  Zacchaeus, a wealthy man, is willing to look foolish in order to see Christ, and Christ, the Son of God, is willing to endure skeptical murmuring by entering the house of a public sinner.  Because of the humility of each in that moment, the two—God and Man—encountered one another, and salvation was the result. 

What a mystery it is that in the humbling of ourselves we become more like Christ!  St. Gregory of Nazianzus said, “What greater destiny can befall man’s humility that he should be intermingled with God, and by this intermingling should be deified” (The Fourth Theological Oration: On the Son, 3).

As the Great Fast begins, let’s enter it with the zeal of Zacchaeus.  Let’s stretch ourselves to climb that tree.  Jesus is coming to revisit Zacchaeus in us…if we let Him.  He desires our conversion.  He desires it so much that He’s willing to completely humble Himself to come into the house of our hearts.  And then He himself will climb the tree—the tree of the cross.