Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Our "Year of St. Joseph issue" of Pomegranate Blossoms

Enjoy the newest issue of our newsletter! This issue includes reflections about St. Joseph from a Byzantine Catholic monastic perspective, quotes from some Church Fathers, a poem by one of the nuns, photos and an article from Olivia's entrance, and more!

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Happy Father's Day!

To all fathers, biological and spiritual,

Thank you for the ways that you have taken responsibility in our lives and in the lives of so many others. May the Father draw you close to Himself and refresh you with His fatherly love for you!

With love & prayers,

The nuns

(Icon of St. Joseph by the hand of Mother Iliana)

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Olivia's Entrance

The following will also be published in our upcoming issue of Pomegranate Blossoms:

Olivia Kijauskas was received into the monastery as a dokimos on May 12, 2021, during Vespers for the feast of the Ascension. In a short service after the Old Testament readings for the feast, two special readings were added, then Bishop Milan prayed a prayer of blessing over her: “…bless the good intention of this Your handmaiden, Olivia, and grant a good beginning to her time in this monastery….” The bishop then blessed the head covering and cross that she will wear during this period (one to two years). It is tradition that the youngest member of the monastery (in monastic years) helps the new dokimos to put on these items of clothing.

The Ascension is the feast in which we celebrate Jesus being “taken up in glory” (troparion of the feast) and taking our human nature to the right hand of the Father. At first glance, it seems sad that Jesus is leaving His disciples, but He is actually even closer to them after His Ascension, for He ascended to the throne of God which is in their hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Bishop Milan’s remarks at the end of Vespers, he exclaimed that what Olivia has done by entering the monastery is “an offense to the world.” In the homily during the Divine Liturgy for the feast the next morning, Fr. Michael O’Loughlin (visiting from the Proto-Cathedral of St. Mary, Sherman Oaks, Ca.) recalled these words of Bishop Milan and said, “Yes, the world is offended, because you’ve said to it, ‘You are not enough for me.’” Just as Jesus said to his disciples, “It’s better for you if I go” (Jn 16:7), Fr. Michael continued, “Olivia, it’s better for the world that you’ve left it. …This is an example to all of us: the world is not enough [to fulfill us].”

During this first stage of monastic formation, Olivia will be close in spirit to those she loves in the world, though her communication with them will be limited for the sake of her deepening relationship with Christ. As she continues to discern her vocation, please pray for her that she will become a witness of the joy of surrendering everything to God. Below, you can learn a little more about Olivia.

Age: 23 

College & degree: Cleveland State University (Class of 2020), Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art

A few favorite saints: John the Baptist, John the Beloved, Onuphrius the Great

Some favorite activities & interests: Hiking, looking at gardens, listening to old, quiet jazz, taking in beauty any way I can and creating beauty any way I'm called to

How did you meet the nuns of our monastery? 
I met the nuns during my freshman year of high school. The youth minister at my parish introduced me to them at an event in the Diocese of Cleveland, and he asked them to pray over me for me vocation. I had absolutely no idea where that introduction would lead!
Where did you grow up and go to church? What drew you to the Byzantine Catholic Church as an adult?
I grew up in Euclid, Ohio, at Saints Robert and William Roman Catholic Parish. In high school, I was really involved in my parish's LifeTeen group, and through that, I learned a lot about our faith. As my faith grew, it started to look more and more Byzantine without me realizing it. Eventually, I found my way to St. Stephen's Byzantine Catholic Church in Euclid (now Holy Resurrection Parish), for a talk by Fr. Michael Lee. As he spoke about Eastern traditions, my heart was burning within me. I knew I had found others who loved what I loved. I attended that parish for just over four years before entering the monastery. 
What attracted you to discern your vocation with our monastery?
When I was in high school, whenever I saw the nuns at any event around the Cleveland area, my eyes completely lit up, and I wanted to be close to them. I couldn't help it; it was simply the natural movement of my heart. I think I saw the nuns’ joy, their striving for holiness, and just loved who they were. I also knew that they loved me, long before I began discerning with them, and this love was free; I was even completely free to step away from discernment for a while at one point a couple years ago, and as you can see, I was completely welcome to come back, or else I wouldn't be here today. 

What is something you look forward to during this time of discernment as a dokimos?
As my relationship with the nuns has deepened over the years, I've been able to see some ways they've each been uniquely called closer to the Bridegroom. I'm excited to see what that will look like for me.