Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Girls' Camp Registration Now Open!

Teen girls ages 13-18 are invited to the 8th Annual Eparchy of Parma Girls’ Camp, June 23-26, 2016, hosted by Christ the Bridegroom Monastery in Burton, Ohio. This year’s theme is “His Mercy Endures Forever.” The camp is an event sponsored by the Eparchy of Parma Office of Vocations, which provides an opportunity for teen girls to discover different vocations in the Church and develop a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. More information and online registration can be found at the “For Teen Girls” tab.  Space is limited to 20 girls! Register as soon as possible to guarantee your spot.  Registration will close June 10 if not already full.

The Office of Vocations also offers a boys' camp, the Alive in Christ Ascetical Boot Camp for Guys, for boys 8-18 during the same weekend, across the street from the monastery at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch. Visit www.parma.org for more information.

Friday, April 15, 2016

"My weaknesses don't inhibit His love"

Newsletter Reflection 6 of 6

A reflection from Victoria about her entrance as a dokimos (postulant) on Sept. 30, 2015.

The days leading up to my entrance were focused on opening my heart to be receptive to the love of the Father, a grace for which I had never really asked, but badly needed. God answered those prayers through scripture and meditation, helping me to see the ways He has healed my wounds and invited me to a deeper discernment of marriage to Him. He graciously showed me how my weaknesses not only don’t inhibit His love, but are in fact endearing to Him, and how it brings Him joy to work through and in those weaknesses.

I was most struck at my entrance by Bishop John’s passionate homily. His words on trust stirred within me both an anticipation of the ways in which I would need to trust, but also encouragement that when I do trust, God will always provide. In the Gospel reading from Matthew at Vespers the night of my entrance, Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you…what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?...If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (7:7-11). This was a reminder to me of the Father’s intense love for us, so much more intense than anything we’ve ever experienced.

Because my entrance was on a feast of Our Lady—the Protection of the Mother of God—we sang many hymns to her during Vespers. In one of these hymns we sang, “O Theotokos, you cooperated with the invitation offered by the Holy Spirit.” Mary is the most prominent example of immense trust in our Bridegroom. She is a constant reminder for me that God always gives us a choice, but also that He bears so much fruit within our hearts when we make the choice to follow Him. This hymn, combined with the Gospel reading, says we must trust and believe in how much it delights Him when we say “yes” and also how much He delights in saying “yes” to us!

A few days after my entrance, I was reflecting on the Lord’s words, that we should ask of Him what we desire. My first thought was one of concern, that I may ask for the wrong things. But Christ reminded me of His love of my weaknesses and of the trust He requires of me, and He gently reminded me that even when I ask the wrong question, He will always give me the right answer. The two months [now six months!] since my entrance have already presented opportunities for trust—trust that God will bless and bring forth fruit from my sacrifices, and that He will continue to pour upon me the graces I need to keep my heart open to Him and to maintain this path of discernment.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Join us for our Spring Work Day, May 14!

Join us for a day of outdoor and indoor work projects, prayer, food and fun at the monastery and the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch on Saturday, May 14. Volunteers of all ages and abilities are welcome! The day begins at 10 a.m., includes lunch, and closes with vespers at 5 p.m. followed by a cookout. Come at whatever time you are available, and bring a side dish to share if you can. The monastery is located at 17485 Mumford Rd. Burton, Ohio. Please RSVP* by Monday, May 9, to 440-834-0290 or christthebridegroom@gmail.com, so that the appropriate amount of food can be prepared.

*Please RSVP with:
1. The number of adults (include teens) and the number of kids (12 and under)
2. Will you be here for lunch or dinner or both?
3. The dish you plan to bring

Facebook Event

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"I don't know what to do with all this joy!"

Ok, we're back to posting the remaining reflections from our winter newsletter!

Newsletter Reflection 5 of 6

A reflection from Sr. Iliana about her tonsure as a rasophore nun, Sept. 7, 2015

One of the most pivotal moments of my discernment occurred almost two years ago, while I was on retreat here at the monastery. To be completely honest, I had almost cancelled the retreat because I was afraid of what God might be doing in my life. I had heard Him call to me, “you are mine” over a decade earlier – which in my heart was very clearly a call to religious life – but I did not really understand where He wanted me to live out His calling and was a little tired of asking. As I prayed on the first morning of the retreat, I found myself sitting in a tree with Zacchaeus, waiting for a glimpse of Jesus in the crowd below. As Jesus walked by my hiding place, He looked up at me and said, “Moki, come down” (Moki was my name before I became a nun). It was in response to these words that I immediately quit my job and left everything behind to follow Him. The prophet Isaiah says, “I have called you by your name, you are mine” (Is 43:1). Jesus had called me by my name, and as Zacchaeus, I “made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully”(Lk 19:6).

All words seem inadequate in expressing the joy that I felt on the day of my tonsure. This joy came from being called by Jesus, who had stooped down to his lowly servant saying, “You, follow me” (Jn 21:22). What joy it is to be called by Jesus – called by name – and to dwell in His heart in the heart of the Church. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Gal 5:22), and this particular fruit is very apparent in those who respond to His call. The tonsure was on the Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God, and what a beautiful example Mary is of the joy of responding to God’s call. After her “yes,” Mary cries out, “my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk 1:47). The Gospels tell us that after Jesus calls the rich young man to follow him, he goes away “sad” (Lk 18:23). Just as the fruit of not answering Jesus’ call is sadness, conversely the fruit of responding to His call is infinite joy.

During my retreat before tonsure, the Lord asked me again if I would follow Him, and I was repeatedly able to join in Mary’s “yes.” These many “yeses” brought an incredible joy to my heart: the joy of knowing that He had called me, and most importantly, the joy of knowing that I was loved. After retreat, I kept being led to scriptures such as: “Serve the Lord with gladness” (Ps 100:2), “The joy of the Lord is my strength” (Neh 8:10), “I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy” (Ps 27:6), and “Let the faithful rejoice in their glory, shout for joy and take their rest” (Ps 149:5). I wondered, how could souls be shouting for joy and resting at the same time? Then I understood that they are resting in the knowledge of His love. They are resting because they know that they are His own, His chosen ones. It is when they rest in His heart of love, in His loving gaze, that they can do nothing other than “shout for joy” and dance as God Himself is dancing “with shouts of joy,” for they know that God has “renewed them with His love” and this joy is too great to keep contained in their hearts (Zeph 3:17).  

On the evening of the tonsure, I exclaimed to a priest-friend, “I don’t know what to do with all this joy!” But deep in my heart I do know what to do with it: I must share it with you.