Thursday, October 29, 2015

Life Profession, November 8

Sr. Cecilia and Sr. Gabriella will make their life profession on Sunday, November 8, at 2:00 p.m., at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, 1900 Carlton Rd., Parma, Ohio.  All are invited to the profession service and Divine Liturgy!  Here is some information about this step in the monastic life and what you will experience at the profession:

Mother Theodora hands the bishop the scissors at her profession in 2011
After several years of discernment and experience in living the monastic life as a dokimos (postulant) and then as a rasophore (“robe-bearer”) nun after her tonsure, a nun may request to make her life profession and commit her whole life to Christ as His bride.  If she is determined to be ready to make this commitment, she is received as a stavrophore (“cross-bearer”) nun during the monastic profession service.  At the beginning of the service, she is led up through the center of the church in a white robe (symbolic of her baptismal garment), barefoot, with her head uncovered and long hair flowing.  She makes three prostrations as she walks up through the church, symbolizing the three immersions in the baptismal font.  As she walks and approaches the bishop standing before the Royal Doors, the people sing a troparion about the return of the prodigal son to his father.  After the final prostration, the bishop helps her up.  He then asks a series of questions to determine her free will, her intentions, her willingness to renounce the things of the world, and her willingness to embrace poverty, chastity, obedience and all the “sorrows and restraints of the monastic life for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.”  She answers, “Yes, Master, with God’s help.” The bishop then recites a powerful catechesis (instruction) about the monastic life and beautiful words of encouragement, such as, “May He be with you when you fall and when you rise up again, consoling and cheering your heart with the comfort of His Holy Spirit.” The bishop then prays to God that He may accept her and help her.  The bishop then asks her to give him the scissors that he will use to cut her hair.  She must hand them to him three times to demonstrate her free will.  Then he tonsures her (cuts her hair) “as a sign that she has renounced the world, and everything that is in the world, and for the restraining of her will and of all fleshly desires.”  The bishop then blesses each piece of the habit one by one with prayers that explain the significance of that piece of clothing, and she is clothed in each piece.  In addition to the habit she has been wearing since her tonsure as a rasophore nun, she also receives the klobuk (hat with veil), the paramandyas (a square of black wool embroidered with a red cross and the instruments of the Passion), the mandyas (cape), a hand cross, a 300-knot chotki (prayer rope), and a lighted candle.  In Christ the Bridegroom Monastery the nuns also receive a wedding ring to symbolize their union with Christ as their Spouse.  The nun is now led in front of the icon of Christ where she will stand holding her hand cross and lighted candle for the duration of the Divine Liturgy that follows, just as the newly baptized would do.

A stavrophore nun experiences the fullness of monastic life, sharing in the passion, death and resurrection of her Bridegroom.  She is given the title of “Mother” to express the fruitfulness of her union with Christ.  Before the nun is tonsured as a stavrophore she relinquishes all monies,

possessions and property.  At this point, the nun is committed to remain for her lifetime in Christ the Bridegroom Monastery.  Many people ask, “Is the life profession the same thing is ‘final vows?’”  Yes, but Eastern monastics do not make “temporary vows” as other types of religious communities do, so there is no need to specify that these are the “final” vows.  To read more about the stages of monastic life, visit the “Discerning?” tab.  Please pray for Sr. Cecilia and Sr. Gabriella as they prepare for this serious, yet exciting and joyful day!

Please note: The profession and Divine Liturgy will last approximately three hours (but it will be timeless joy!).  Unfortunately we are not able to invite everyone to the dinner reception that will follow, but the Eucharistic banquet is the most important of all!

You are also invited to join us at the Sisters' respective home parishes on the two following Sundays as we celebrate in Thanksgiving for the gift of their vocations!

Mass of Thanksgiving for Sr. Gabriella
Sunday, November 15, 2015
11:00 a.m.
St. Francis de Sales Church
4019 Manchester Road
Akron, Ohio

Divine Liturgy of Thanksgiving for Sr. Cecilia 
Sunday, November 22, 2015 (Feast of St. Cecilia)
10:30 a.m.
St. Joseph Byzantine Church 
8111 Brecksville Road
Brecksville, Ohio

Monday, October 5, 2015

Entrusted to God and to the Church

Our community grew to six members on September 30th, when we welcomed Victoria Olsen as a dokimos (postulant) during Vespers for the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God. Victoria entered on the patronal feast day of her home parish, Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine parish in Denver.  Her pastor, Fr. Michael O'Loughlin, was able to make the trip out to be present for her entrance day. He reminded us that the feast day is also the patronal feast of Victoria's home eparchy, Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix! Victoria's parents, grandmas and a cousin were also able to be present. Enjoy these photos from the day!

Here are some beautiful words from our bishop's homily:

“Entrusting: what a beautiful concept…on this Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God.  Jesus entrusted his good friend, John, to His Mother.  He said ‘Here is your mother.  Trust her.’  And we know that Mary is that image of the Church, and God entrusts us to this beautiful instutition, organization, family: the Church.  And so we do trust and we do have to have that kind of faith, and today is an opportunity for us to entrust ourselves into the hands of: a superior, into the hands of those who have been given to us for support. …We know that Victoria has in the past and will continue to thank her family, and we in the name of the Church thank her family for showing her that right to trust, that ability to trust.  [This trust] comes from living in a strong family, or it comes later in life with the grace of God. …We take a moment to be reminded of those to whom we are entrusted. …We thank God for the gift of His Mother, whose mantle is held over us, to show us that indeed it is a mantle of love, a mantle of interest and care for us.  And so, how appropriate we do trust, and we indeed want to maintain that newness in our life and not lose that first fervor that is easy to lose. …I am sure that God has great things in store for [Victoria] as she continues her discernment now to determine if in fact this community is where she will find God’s plan for her.”