Thursday, June 26, 2014

Girls' Camp begins today! Please pray for us!

Girls' Camp preparations have been in full swing all week!  Yesterday some of our young adult facilitators came early for a retreat day to prepare spiritually to lead the girls.  Sr. Gabriella gave a talk on leadership, reminding us that "God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called," and Sr. Cecilia spoke about the balance of contemplation and action modeled by the Mother of God.

Please keep us, our facilitators and especially our 20 teen-girl participants in your prayers!  Pray especially for the intercession of the Mother of God, as our theme this year is "UnTangled: Understanding Our Identity in Christ Through Mary."  Thank you!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

To our dear fathers...our saints!

Happy Father's Day!  Dear fathers, young and old, biological and spiritual, we love you!  May you always know how loved you are, and may you always recognize the great privilege of representing God the Father's love for us!

Thank you for all the sacrifices you make...for every moment that you lay down your lives for us.  How appropriate it is that today, the Sunday after Pentecost, is commemorated as the Sunday of All Saints.  The prayers for the feast especially commemorate the suffering of the martyrs.  The Holy Spirit who came at Pentecost gave, and continues to give, strength to Christians to imitate Christ by accepting suffering and even death for the sake of His name.  You, fathers, live out this vocation of martyrdom in imitation of Christ in a special way.  Thank you for being our saints!
"Taking up their cross in joy and following You to imitate Your passion, O Lord, with courage, the martyrs have rejected the threats of tyrants; without trembling, they faced the sword and fire, hunger, torments, and death" (Canon of Matins for the Sunday of All Saints, Ode 1).
Tomorrow we begin a fasting period known as the Apostles' Fast, which will continue until the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29.  We invite you to fast with us in some way during this time, asking for the power to proclaim the good news of God's love and salvation, and for the courage to respond to our own particular call to martyrdom.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Thank you, work day volunteers!

A huge thank you to the great crew of volunteers (including lots of kids!) who joined us for our spring work day and cookout on Saturday, May 31.  It was a hot day, but everyone worked so hard!  We accomplished so many projects on the monastery grounds!  We also enjoyed lunch and dinner together and prayed Great Vespers at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch in the evening.

See more cute photos from the day!

Another thank you goes out to the students and staff of the Lyceum School who joined us the following Tuesday to volunteer their time.  We began the day with a beautiful Divine Liturgy, cantored by the students, at the shrine.  The students and staff then helped with yard work at the shrine and monastery.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

"Simple fishermen become wise theologians"...and so can you!

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are not just for the privileged few.  When God asked Moses to assemble seventy elders of Israel (see a prefigurement of the seventy disciples of Jesus?) so that He could give them some of the spirit which He had given Moses, two of these chosen seventy were left behind in the camp.  Yet the spirit came upon these two men also, and they prophesied in the camp.  Joshua told Moses to stop them, but Moses said, "Are you jealous for my sake?  Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!  Would that the Lord might bestow His spirit on them all!" (This story is from the 1st reading at Vespers for the Feast of Pentecost: Numbers 11:16-17, 24-29)

In the 2nd reading at Vespers (Joel 2:23-3:2), the Lord says to Joel, "Then afterward I will pour out My spirit upon all mankind.  Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; even upon the servants and the handmaids, in those days, I will pour out My spirit."

The power of the Holy Spirit is given to more than just the leaders of the Church.  The Holy Spirit is given to every Christian, by our baptism and chrismation (confirmation).  We prophesy by the power of the Holy Spirit when we are attentive enough to hear Him speaking to our heart and we share this message and allow it to transform our life.  This is a powerful gift that will set the world on fire!

Because of the Holy Spirit, we don't have to be afraid of our weaknesses.  At Vespers for the Feast of Pentecost, we pray:
"The Holy Spirit  provides every gift: He inspires prophecy and perfects the priesthood; He grants wisdom to the illiterate, makes simple fishermen become wise theologians, and establishes perfect order in the assembly of the Church.  Therefore, O Comforter, equal in nature and majesty with the Father and the Son, O Lord, glory to You!" (Stichera at Vespers)
In the Eparchy of Parma, we are preparing for our upcoming Eparchial Assembly.  We have all been asked to renew our life of prayer in order to individually and communally discern how the Holy Spirit is speaking to and leading our Church.  It is not up to the leaders alone to discern this; the prayer and openness of each one of us is necessary in order for the Church to hear the Holy Spirit and to be able to act.  If you have been looking on this process from a distance, please begin now to pray and participate!  (And if you are not a member of our eparchy, will you please pray for us and for the whole Church?)

Let's pray, this Pentecost, that we may open ourselves anew to the presence of the Holy Spirit within us and that His power may be renewed in us and in our Church.

Looking for something special to pray and reflect on for this feast?  Check out the hymns in this vesper service for the evening of Pentecost, as well as the beautiful "kneeling prayers."  Prepare to be blown away! (Ok, we had to throw in a cheesy Holy Spirit pun in here somewhere...)