Monday, December 6, 2021

A song co-written by Mother Cecilia: "Rebuild My Church"

Mother Cecilia shares about a song she co-wrote which was recently released online:

I am excited to share with you this song which I co-wrote with a spiritual brother of mine, Deacon Joe Menkhaus, a transitional deacon for the Diocese of Cleveland (meaning, he is in his final period of formation for the priesthood). I never imagined I would do such a thing, but it’s been such a joyful and life-giving process. I’m really happy to share it with you, and I hope it blesses you. Here is the story behind the song:

About two years ago, Deacon Joe and I were talking about my poetry, and I asked him, “If I wrote a rhyming poem, could you turn it into a song?” (I knew that he had written some songs.) He replied, “Sure!” So, I decided that I wanted to write lyrics that would be meaningful to both of us. Around that same time, while Deacon Joe was on his internship assignment at a parish, one of the priests there was arrested for illegal activity, and this priest has since been sentenced to life in prison. Scandal in the Church has touched both my life and Deacon Joe’s life in multiple ways. As a Byzantine Catholic, I also find myself suffering in the middle of the schism in the Church between Catholics and Orthodox. So, one day while praying during one of my monthly poustinia retreats, I was suddenly inspired and wrote these lyrics.

Deacon Joe found that he wasn’t able to turn my lyrics into a song (because this wasn't the usual way he wrote music), so later on I sang for him a melody that came to me. Then he was able to do something with it, and he adapted the lyrics and the melody and made it into something quite nice! We again set it aside, but recently he was inspired to record it so that we could share it with others and encourage others in their prayer and struggles in the midst of continuing scandals throughout the Church. In the recording, Deacon Joe sings and plays the guitar, his brother Max plays the piano (and did a lot of the work mixing the song), and I sing harmony (which is another miracle, because I’ve almost never sung harmony!).

My hope is that people will listen to the song in a spirit of prayer, open to the ways that the Holy Spirit may be calling them to pray and fast for the Church, and most importantly, to be love in the midst of suffering and division.

Anyone can listen to the song for free on YouTube. It is also available on Spotify and Apple Music. Feel free to share with others who may be blessed by it!

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Amazed by your generosity!

Even though times have been hard for many this year, our benefactors were more generous than ever! For our Bridegroom’s Banquet on Nov. 13, two matching donors pledged to match donations up to a total of $125,000! And what was also incredible was that those who donated and pledged toward the matching funds actually surpassed this amount: to about $145,000! 

We are overwhelmed by this outpouring of generosity, and knowing that it is not “our money” but that it belongs to the Church, we continue forward, keeping our monastery running as a place of prayer, keeping it open in hospitality, and moving forward with our plans to renovate our chapel, God-willing, in 2022. Some of the funds are also aimed for the improvement of the monastery grounds, in order to provide better hospitality and a more beautiful place of prayer.

The Bridegroom’s Banquet was a wonderful evening of fellowship, during which we premiered this year’s video, “Be poor with Me: reflections on poverty,” which begins a new series on the monastic virtues of poverty, chastity and obedience. The video is packed full of our reflections about spiritual poverty, which are fruits from our prayer and the living of monastic life, and we also explain that being “poor in spirit” is not only for monastics. We hope it will both challenge and encourage you. 

Also, enjoy these photos from the evening!