Sunday, January 29, 2017

"Come down!"

Today is the first pre-Lenten Sunday, the Sunday of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus "sought to see who Jesus was" (Lk 19:3), but Jesus said to Zacchaeus, "Make haste and come down, for I must stay at your house today" (Lk 19:5). Jesus says a similar thing to each of us: "Come down! I desire more for you than having you just thinking about me; I desire a real relationship with you. I want to come into the house of your soul!" When Jesus comes into Zacchaeus' house, Zacchaeus experiences a conversion and tells Jesus what he is going to do to amend his life. Zacchaeus is willing to let go of those things that hinder his relationship with God. When we come down from our thoughts and let Jesus into the meeting place in our soul, He gives us the strength to let go of those things we cling to that prevent us from deepening our relationship with Him. He can then say to us as He said to Zacchaeus, "Salvation has come to this house today!" Let's pray for each other that we may be willing, with the haste of Zacchaeus, to "receive [Jesus] joyfully" (Lk 19:6) as we begin our preparations for the Great Fast. It is Jesus in us who will give us the strength for our Lenten journey of conversion.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Eternal Memory, Steve Trudick

We will deeply miss Steve Trudick, dear friend of our monastery and of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapoch, who passed away Wednesday, January 25, at the age of 86. For years, every day after leaving work at his lumber mill, Steve drove to the shrine to pray, up until cancer kept him out of the driver's seat last year. But he could still often be seen in the passenger seat of caretakers' cars as they pulled into the shrine driveway. Steve supported the shrine in countless ways, especially making sure that the many grassy acres of the shrine grounds were mowed. Whenever we asked him for wood for monastery projects, he would interrupt us before we could finish our request, saying, "Just give me the dimensions!" We will miss his smile, humor, stubbornness and love. May God grant to His servant, Stephen, blessed repose and eternal memory!

Viewing, Sun. Jan. 29, 2-4 p.m. & 6-8 p.m. at Russell Sly Funeral Home, Middlefield, Ohio (Parastas service at 3 p.m.). Viewing, Mon. Jan. 30, 10-11 a.m., at St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church, 8111 Brecksville Rd., Brecksville, Ohio, followed by the Funeral Liturgy at 11 a.m. Interment at All Souls Cemetery in Chardon, Ohio.  Obituary

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Please pray for Sara Lynn, entering on February 1st!

Please keep Sara Lynn Gafford in your prayers as she prepares to enter our community on Feb. 1! Sara Lynn is from Ashville, Ohio (south of Columbus).  We are very excited to welcome Sara Lynn into our monastic family and to be blessed by her joy, zeal and love! She, and the simple, black clothes she will wear during her initial stage of formation and discernment, will be blessed by Metropolitan William at her entrance. In this first step, she will be a dokimos (or postulant) and will continue to go by the name Sara Lynn. We look forward to sharing more with you soon about Sara Lynn and her entrance!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Teen Girls' Sleepover, Feb. 11-12

Sorry, the sleepover is at full capacity for this year!

Teen girls age 13-18 are invited for an evening of prayer, food and fun at the monastery for our teen girls' sleepover, Feb. 11-12. Click here for the schedule and to register! Families are invited to Divine Liturgy and brunch on Sunday morning. Space is limited to 15 girls, so sign up soon!

Monday, January 2, 2017

A God of Longing

Happy New Year!

Here is a reflection from Mother Cecilia, published in our recent newsletter:

I recently received a letter from a friend, and in the letter my friend asked me, “If you met someone from another country who didn’t know about Jesus, how would you teach this person about Him?"  As I read the question, I had one immediate thought and one immediate feeling.  The thought was, “Why in the world is my friend asking me this question?” and the feeling was anxiety!

I don’t recall ever talking to someone who “didn’t know about Jesus,” but I know that I’ve talked to many people who don’t truly know who Jesus is.  But do I even really know Him?  I speak to others of God as Love, as One who wants to be so close to us, who wants to share in our life, but in reality, I often see Him as an unreasonably demanding God, as someone I can never please, or as a strict employer from whom I must earn my wage.

After I read the letter from my friend, I decided to come up with an answer to the question.  I was surprised at how quickly my answer came to me, as fruit of my recent reflections on the love of the Trinity.  I would tell this person about the communion of love in the Trinity—the continual outpouring of perfect love between the three persons of the Trinity—and how Jesus is the person of the Trinity who became man and took on our humanity in order to allow the divine love of the Trinity to pour into mankind, so that we can be one with this perfectly fulfilling love.

As soon as I came up with my answer, this Scripture came to my mind: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling!” (Mt 23:37 & Lk 13:34).

In these words I could see God’s deep longing for me.  He longs to hold me to Himself.  He longs for me to receive His continual outpouring of love. He longs for me to let Him be with me.

As I have prepared for the celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord, I have sought to rest in the knowledge of God’s longing for me which moved Him to completely empty Himself for me in His Incarnation.  I have reflected on my favorite Old Testament story, the Three Youths in the Fiery Furnace, and how God, in the form of an angel, came into the furnace to be with the youths, prefiguring His coming to be with us in human flesh in our suffering.

We can ask ourselves, “How would I live my life differently if I really believed in God’s longing for me and rejected the lie that I must earn His love?”  I think we would want to love Him and give our lives to Him, trusting in His ability to transform our feeble actions into something powerful.

If we truly knew Jesus, we wouldn’t be anxious about talking about Him, talking to Him, loving Him or living for Him, because He—the One who longs for us—is the One that every human heart longs to know.

Icon of the Three Youths by the hand of Mother Cecilia