Saturday, August 27, 2016

Join us for our Fall Work Day & Cookout, Sept. 24

Join us for a day of outdoor and indoor work projects, prayer, food and fun at the monastery on Saturday, September 24.  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 Tuesday, September 20, to 440-834-0290 or, 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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Announcing: "The Bridegroom's Banquet," Nov. 5!

Last year many enjoyed our first fundraising dinner, the "Mumford & Nuns BBQ," which took place in the summer at the monastery. This year, we invite you to join us for "The Bridegroom's Banquet" on Sat. Nov. 5, 2016, at St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church in Brecksville, Ohio.

This year, admission is free! Registration is required, so please check back soon for more information. Adults 21 and older are invited.

Please mark your calendar to join us for an enjoyable evening of prayer, dinner and fellowship. You will have the opportunity to learn more about our life and to support the monastery.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

A talk by Fr. Boniface Hicks: Mercy and the Mother of God

A beautiful talk for the Year of Mercy by Fr. Boniface Hicks, OSB, at the annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch, August 14, 2016. Fr. Boniface talks about the "emptiness" of the Mother of God as the way in which she could be filled with grace and mercy and overflow with mercy for others. This is great news for us who are so empty and broken! 

"When we see her greatness, it's not because she does something that's out of reach of us. She does something that every one of us can do: she's empty, she's open, she's earth that God can plant His mercies in. She has a space that she can't fill, and she doesn't try to--that's our danger: we always try to fill that space with something that's in our own control; we have to let that go. We have to allow ourselves to be poor, and weak, and limited, and broken, and then God can fill us like He fills her. 
He shows us precisely what He wants us to be: empty and filled with His love, that we may also become a fount of His mercies, pure earth which pour forth His abundant mercies. What God shows us in our Lady is precisely what He is making us into: not a porcelain statue distant from us and unachievable, but something that's more like falling than like flying...something that looks more like dying than like rising. Our job is to die, His job is to raise us up again, and that's what our Lady demonstrates for us in her Dormition...."

Monday, August 15, 2016

Happy Feast of the Dormition!

Today we celebrate the great Feast of the Dormition (falling asleep) of the Mother of God. This morning, pilgrims who were camping out after the annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch joined us for Matins (morning prayer) with the burial procession and Divine Liturgy. It was a beautiful 3-hour marathon of a celebration! During the burial procession with the shroud of the Mother of God, we chant verses from the Song of Songs. When we come back inside the chapel and place the shroud on the tomb, we then sing the "stations" at her tomb, similar to the stations sung during Jerusalem Matins on Great and Holy Saturday. Here is one beautiful line from the second station:

"As an infant upon earth, God rested upon His holy Mother; now the holy Mother rests and makes her abode in God!"

After Matins, we all venerate the shroud of the Mother of God. We venerate this body which contained God and which is now in heaven. May we, too, open ourselves to the Divine Life who wants to dwell within us, as we celebrate this beautiful feast!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Voice of the Merciful Father

(Originally published in our spring newsletter)

By Fr. Jeff Barnish, St. Bernadette Parish, Westlake, Ohio

"Only one who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy truly knows the Lord” (Pope Francis, March 7, 2015, address to the Communion and Liberation movement). 

“But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Matthew 6:6).

In the midst of the Sermon on the Mount, just before He teaches His disciples the “Our Father,” Jesus invites them to encounter His Father in the solitude of the inner room.  His invitation arises from the depth of His intimate knowledge of the interplay between the Father and the human heart.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we have to agree with Jeremiah when he writes “More tortuous than anything is the human heart….”  Among its tortures are the myriad of voices vying for its attention, pulling it in a thousand directions.  For many, myself included, the poustinia house at Christ the Bridegroom Monastery incarnates the inner room of Jesus’ imagination, where the human heart and the Ancient of Days meet in secret, far from the din of the world.

The voice of the Father is so often the still, silent voice that Elijah encounters at Mount Horeb.  It is easily missed in the cacophony of the culture.  The noise of the present age so often drowns out the merciful whisper of God.  This is why Jesus invites us to encounter God in the inner room and why the poustinia exists. The silence of the poustinia house amplifies the Voice of Mercy and opens the human heart to be “caressed by the tenderness of mercy.” The Father does not typically compete with the other voices of our daily lives by raising His own. Instead, He waits patiently to meet us alone, apart from the multitude.  The Father knows that the inner room provides the ideal setting for us to receive His initiatives of love.

Our world can be a weary one and it wears on us.  Though Christ has risen, triumphant over sin and death, we remain subject to the afflictions of a world that is already and not yet.  In this Year of Mercy, our Holy Father invites us to believe that our sinfulness and suffering comprise the privileged place of encounter.  Yet, if we do not quiet the deafening voices that numb our anguish, we will be unable to hear the murmur of the merciful Father.

I’ve had the privilege of finding refuge in the silence of the monastery and the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch a number of times since my ordination last May.  One of the lines from the Rite of Ordination that has stayed with me from that day comes from the prayer of ordination itself in which the Bishop prays, “May they be joined with us, Lord, in imploring your mercy for the people entrusted to their care and for all the world.”  Most days, the priestly call to implore mercy has left me all too aware of my own need for that same mercy.  It is this realization that drives me to the footsteps of the monastery, seeking the gentle mercy of Jesus.  There, in the quiet of the upper room, the Voice of Mercy is audible.