Friday, December 26, 2014

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Merry Christmas from the nuns of Christ the Bridegroom Monastery!

"Bethlehem has opened up Eden for us.  Come and let us see the delights that we have found there in secret.  Come and let us gather the fruits of Paradise that are within the cave.  There, the unwatered Root has manifested itself, and it has sprouted forgiveness.  There, the undug Well, of which David yearned to drink, is found.  There, the Virgin, who gave birth to the infant, immediately quenched the thirst of Adam and David.  Therefore, let us hasten to the place where the young infant, the Eternal God, is born."
(Ikos from Matins of the Nativity of Our Lord)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Darkness of the Cave

 A reflection on the Incarnation, to be read slowly:

"The manger becomes the place in which the incomprehensible God lies down" (Irmos of the Feast of the Nativity).
A manger: a feeding trough for animals.  God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, becomes a man and is born in a dark and dirty cave filled with animals and is placed in a manger.

How much deeper could God lower Himself?  How much more humbly could He come into the world?  How much more fully could He conceal His divinity?  He couldn't have.

However...the very event which obscured divinity is also the one which united divinity to us.
"Yes, in order that Love be fully satisfied, it is necessary that It lower Itself, and that It lower Itself to nothingness and transform this nothingness into fire" (St. Therese of Lisieux).
The Incarnation!: what beauty and power!  Human nature can now be transformed into the divine!

But the Incarnation--the mystery of salvation--wasn't completed in the cave.  The cave wasn't even dark enough... The utter darkness of the cross and the tomb was necessary.  This is why, in Byzantine iconography, Jesus' swaddling clothes look like burial wrappings, and His manger looks like a tomb.
"So also the chief priests mocked Him to one another with the scribes, saying, 'He saved others; He cannot save Himself.  Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe'" (Mk 15:31-32).
What deeper darkness could there ever be on earth?  The Son of God, the Savior of the World, is brutally tortured and killed on a cross.  And yet, Christ's death and resurrection is the greatest, most powerful and glorious event ever to occur on earth!

And for us, this paradox is also true in our little lives: It is often the case that the darkest, most difficult events in our lives are the moments in which God is working in us with the greatest power.  Darkness does not mean that He is far away.  It means He is very close.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Letter

Enjoy this year's Christmas letter!  Our letter shares the developments in our monastery this year and gives a list of our needs.  If you would like to support our life of prayer and hospitality by giving a tax-deductible donation to the monastery, please make your check payable to "Diocese of Parma Monastery Fund" and send to:

Christ the Bridegroom Monastery
17485 Mumford Rd.
Burton, OH 44021

Thank you for your generosity and your prayers!  We promise to pray for you!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Young Adult Movie Night, Jan. 3

A scene from Ostrov
Young adults, age 18-35, are invited to a movie night at the monastery on Sat. Jan. 3.  The evening includes Great Vespers at 4:45 and dinner at 6:00, followed by the movie Ostrov (“The Island”), discussion and social time.  An overnight stay is optional (men will stay in the guest house and women in the monastery), along with Matins and Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning.  Please RSVP by Tues. Dec. 30 to or 440-834-0290.

Click here for the Facebook Event.

We haven't had a chance to host a young adult event in a while, and this is one of our favorite films! You may not want to read about the movie ahead of time though, because it'll spoil the plot! And those who have seen it before know that it's one you can watch over and over and always be struck in a new way. We also just look forward to hanging out and praying with you!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Prayer for the Nativity Fast

Let's not forget that this is a time of prayer and fasting in preparation for the birth of Our Lord!  There are still nine days left!  Here is a prayer you may want to incorporate into your daily prayer during this time:

O God and Father, the Almighty One, you created the human race in your image and likeness, and when we fell through disobedience, you promised to send a Savior. When the fullness of time had come, your favor rested on your only-begotten Son, and He was born of the Virgin Mary. Thus, what Isaiah the prophet foretold was fulfilled: "Behold, the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, which means 'God with us.'" His birth filled all creation with light; He gave us the baptism of repentance, and restored our ancient dignity. Now, most compassionate Lord, You bring us to these honored days of the Christmas Fast that we may do battle with the desires of the flesh and draw strength from the hope of resurrection. Receive us, then, as penitents and forgive our wrongdoing, those done knowingly and unknowingly, through malice and through weakness. And may our prayers, our fasting, and our works of mercy rise up before You as incense, as sweet spiritual fragrance, that in company with the Magi and the shepherds we too, with pure hearts, may be found worthy to bow down before the Nativity of Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son. To Him, together with You and Your all-holy Spirit, belong glory, honor, and worship, now and ever and forever.  Amen.

From the Emmanuel Moleben

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Photos from Moki's Entrance, and two events for this Saturday

Sr. Cecilia, Mother Theodora, Moki, Bishop John, Sr. Gabriella and Jacqui
It's official!  There are now five of us!  God has blessed us abundantly by bringing a beautiful young woman, Moki Lonchyna, into our community on Monday as we celebrated the Feast of the Maternity of Anna (Immaculate Conception).  An article will come soon, but in the meantime, enjoy these photos from her entrance.

If you are in the Cleveland area, here are two events we are involved in this Saturday, December 13:

1) Sr. Gabriella and Moki will be selling our gift items at the St. Nick Craft Show in Parma, Ohio

Saturday, December 13
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Here is one way to support us and purchase some great Christmas gifts!  Sr. Gabriella and Moki will be at our table at this large craft fair at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, 1900 Carlton Rd., Parma, Ohio (corner of Snow and Broadview).  Our jam, jelly, chotki (prayer ropes), notecards and icon prints will be available.

2) Mother Theodora will be giving a day of reflection at St. Emilian's Byzantine Catholic Church in Brunswick, Ohio

Saturday, December 13
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
In the midst of all the preparation for Christmas: baking cookies, sending Christmas cards, shopping, wrapping, decorating, traveling, or whatever may be on your Christmas list, when you’re checking your list twice, will you notice that your name is missing? What if your name was on the list for your personal spiritual preparation for Christmas? In the midst of all the Christmas busyness, what if you had an opportunity to relax and reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation, God taking on our human flesh, and the profound impact He has on your life and the entire world? What if you took the time to slow down to hear and know that “God is with us” and experience His presence dwelling within you? What if you could refocus on all the things on your Christmas list and incorporate God’s loving presence in all that you do?

1:00 Opening prayer / Talk
1:45 Reflection
2:15 Break
2:45 Talk
3:30 Reflection
4:00 Closing prayer / Vigil Divine Liturgy / Departure

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thanks St. Nicholas! (And today is Moki's Entrance Day!)

St. Nicholas was VERY generous this year!  On his feast day, December 6, he brought us $26,000 toward our renovation project!  We are already at 41% of our goal!  If you are able, please consider helping us to reach our goal so that we can fit more nuns in our monastery, fix safety issues, and complete other necessary projects.  To learn more about our project, visit our Renovation Project page.

On another very exciting note, today is Moki Lonchyna's entrance day!  Her original entrance date, November 20, was postponed due to pnemonia, but today is--God-willing and the bishop arrives--the real thing!  As we celebrate this feast of the Mother of God--the Maternity of Anna (otherwise known as the Immaculate Conception)--join us in entrusting Moki to Mary's motherly care as she continues her journey of discernment by entering into our life of prayer and hospitality.  As Mary is conceived in the womb of her mother and salvation draws close, the mystery of God's beautiful plan for Moki's life begins to unfold in a new way.  She is grateful for your prayers!

"The sayings of the prophets are now being fulfilled: the holy mountain is planted in the womb; the divine ladder is set up; the throne of the great king is ready; the God-inspired city is being adorned.  The unburnable bush is beginning to bud forth, and the treasure house of grace is overflowing.  It is spreading over the rivers of unfruitfulness of the God-wise Anne whom we glorify in faith" (Stichera at Vespers).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Announcing our Renovation Project!

Dear friends,

We are excited to announce that we are launching a fund-raising project for much needed renovations of the monastery. We are in need of more cells (bedrooms) and bathrooms to fulfill the needs of our growing community and our discerners. In addition to increasing the number of cells and bathrooms, the renovations entail raising and supporting the sagging floors, upgrading electrical service up to code, fixing multiple leaks in the roof, installing a larger water pump and fixing the plumbing, along with a myriad of other undertakings.

Overall Goals:

     -Increase current number of bedrooms for nuns from five to eight
     -Create more office space
     -Increase the space and usability of kitchen
     -Replace old appliances
     -Prevent further damage to basement, pond and property
     -Eliminate danger of house fire     
     -Increase capacity of water pump to meet the needs of the community

Please view our Renovation Project booklet to see photos and learn more about our goals and needs for this project.

The good news!
The good news is that the architectural work is completed and paid for by a generous donor. God has blessed us with a benefactor who selflessly gave us $50,000 as a foundational jumpstart toward the renovations, and another gracious benefactor is offering matching funds up to $100,000! Wow. God is with us! In time, if it’s God’s will, our vision and hope is to build a “real” monastery and chapel when we grow out of the present monastery and repurpose the present building into a retreat center. In the meantime, needing more cells and bathrooms is a good thing!

If you would like to give toward the matching funds campaign, knowing that whatever amount you give will be doubled:
     -Please make your check payable to “Diocese of Parma Monastery Fund” 
     -Write “Building Fund” in the memo
     -Send to:
          Christ the Bridegroom Monastery
          17485 Mumford Rd.
          Burton, OH 44021

We will update our thermometer (on our "Renovation Project" tab) with your donation!

Whether or not you are able to financially help at this time, we would greatly appreciate your prayers!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and rely not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  We recognize all these needs as a blessing from our Bridegroom. These dreams and challenges will no doubt come to fruition if we trust in the Lord with all our hearts and seek His guidance and blessing with each step on the path towards His loving will for us and His Church.