Thursday, March 24, 2022

"And God Came Down" -- a poem by Mother Petra for Annunciation

"And God Came Down" -- a poem by Mother Petra

He saw the bondage

of His people in Egypt

and God came down

in a burning bush

to set them free,

promising Moses,

“I will be with you.”

He saw the oppression

of the youths in the furnace

and God came down

into the conflagration

with cooling dew,

assuring His faithful three,

“I am with you.”

He saw the affliction

of Mankind fallen

and God came down

to a Virgin’s womb,

burned yet not consumed,

proclaiming by the angel,

“I am with you.”


He sees the suffering

of His pilgrim Church

and God comes down

with tongues of fire

to each washed heart,

declaring to the end,

“I am with you.”

Friday, March 18, 2022

"The Garden of My Heart," a poem by Mother Iliana

A still from our video Be Poor With Me: Reflections on Poverty, filmed by David Bratnick

In honor of the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross, Mother Iliana would like to share her poem "The Garden of My Heart" with you. 

In the place where He was crucified

        there was a garden 

        a garden locked,

        a fountain sealed;

then one of the soldiers pierced His side,

        and out of His heart

        flowed rivers of life,

        to water His garden enclosed.

“You have ravished my heart!” He cried,

        as He watered His garden bride.

“Let my beloved come to His garden,”

        His dear one replied,

        as she bathed Him with myrrh and nard.

“Now let my fragrance be wafted,

        even to earth’s farthest bounds,

        for I have become a living well, 

        a flowing stream.”

In the place where He was crucified

        there was a garden

        and the garden was my heart;

        the spear which pierced His side,

        opened the gate of mine.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

LIVE Recording of What God is Not's 100th Episode

Mother Natalia and Father Michael O'Loughlin's podcast "What God is Not" is about to hit a major milestone: their 100th episode. 

You're invited to join the live recording of the 100th episode of the "What God Is Not" podcast at Holy Resurrection Byzantine Parish in Euclid, Ohio, on Tuesday, March 29th, 2022.

Be part of the audience and meet Mother Natalia and Fr. Michael O'Loughlin, as well as other fellow listeners.

The schedule for the evening is:

        5:30pm - Vespers for St. John Climacus
        6:15pm - Lenten Potluck (no meat, dairy or eggs)
        7:00pm - Live Recording

Those who can't attend the live recording are welcome to watch it live on Instagram or to wait for the episode to be released on Wednesday, April 27th. 

New episodes of "What God is Not" are released every Wednesday. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

The Weight of War: A Mother's Lament - A Reflection from Mother Petra

The war sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been a poignant, throbbing backdrop for my experience of the Great Fast this year.  On the second day of Lent, I read these words of St. Sophrony of Essex: 

“I have been in continuous and terrible pain as a witness to the nightmare of men—who are all brothers—killing one another.  At times, this pain causes me to howl like a wild animal, to yelp like a poor dog whose paws have been crushed by a car.  And just like a dog, shaking from pain, to crawl away from the paths of men.  But when the pain in the heart reaches the limits of our physical endurance, then the invocation of the Name of Jesus Christ brings PEACE which alone keeps us alive.” 

My prayer, around which all of my life revolves, has taken on a deeper urgency, and I glimpse the global (even cosmic) dimensions of the prayer of the Church.  I understand that when I pray, the whole Church prays in me, and this prayer is for the whole world.  The pain in my heart is but a taste of the great ocean thundering across the globe.

During the Fast, we once again start reading Scripture at the beginning, with the book of Genesis.  Woven throughout our Lenten prayers is the theme of the Fall, the suffering of Man who has exiled himself from Eden by his sin.  Recently, Genesis 4:8-15, which recounts Cain’s slaying of his brother Abel, was given me to read aloud during Vespers.  My heart grieved as I chanted the dialogue between Cain and God:

[Cain] “[A]m I my brother’s keeper?”

[God] “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground…. [Y]ou shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth…”

[Cain] “My punishment is greater than I can bear…from Your face I shall be hidden…”

Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord…

Once again, Man is exiling himself by the spilling of his brother’s blood.  We taste anew the bitter cost of sin.

The next day, we read the conclusion of this same chapter in Genesis:  “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, for Cain slew him’” (v. 25).  Often I have meditated on Cain’s killing of Abel, but never from the perspective of their mother.  Eve, who apparently had never yet known human death, experiences the death of her son Abel, and she clearly understands he was murdered by her other son Cain.  In effect, she loses two sons, the slain and the exiled.  Surely, her agony is compounded by the awareness that she had in some way contributed to this fracture, this rending of her family, by heeding the serpent and grasping after the knowledge of good and evil.

I’ve been praying in recent months about the nature of motherhood as I experience the reality of my own spiritual motherhood:  both the sobering weight to which I consent when I accept a spiritual son, and the mysterious, hidden ways in which I am a mother to souls across the world.  From this vantage point, I looked at Eve’s grief and recognized my own lament over this war in Slavic lands and the choices of my children closer to home as an echo of her lament.  Crying out to the Crucified One as I live these dark days, I have prayed for God’s people, both those with whom I have personal relationships and those suffering in Ukraine and Russia.  Yet I am haunted by the conviction that my own sin has made me in some manner complicit; I am not an innocent bystander.  I also am one who seeks self, objectifies my brother, desires domination, and have harbored hatred in my heart.  As we sing in the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, “I have followed in the footsteps of Cain, I have chosen to become a murderer; for I have led my poor soul to death by living according to the flesh in the wickedness of my deeds” (Ode 1).  This conviction fuels my repentance. 

Repenting in my prayer, I suddenly saw Eve’s suffering mirrored, not in my poor heart, but in the pure heart of the New Eve:  The Theotokos looks down from heaven and weeps because one of her sons slays the other.  Each day this blood cries out from the ground!  But Mary stands at the foot of the Cross, ready to receive as her sons both the apostle and the criminal because she knows her first Son died in order to open the way back to Eden for all Mankind.  The flaming sword has been quenched by the blood and water gushing forth from His side.  As disciples of Jesus Christ, she pleads with us to embody His love by living His Gospel of peace in the power of the Holy Spirit given us in baptism. 

So as we journey deeper into this desert, of the Great Fast and of human wars, let us offer the Father our repentance as a worthy sacrifice.  Let us assume our great dignity as disciples of Christ by being our brother’s keeper.  Let us vigorously fight evil, not by the world’s violent means, but by the spiritual weapons of the children of Light—prayer, penance, fasting, and self-sacrifice.  And let us keep our heart’s eye fixed on the promise of the Resurrection.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Upcoming Opportunities to Pray with Us: The Great Canon and Bridegroom Matins

The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete:

Join us for the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete on Thursday, March 31, at Holy Resurrection Parish, 532 Lloyd Rd, Euclid, Ohio. 
The hundreds of prostrations unite our body and soul as we repent of our sins and experience God’s mercy. We will also listen to the life of St. Mary of Egypt and venerate her relic. 
The opportunity for the Mystery of Holy Repentance (Confession) will also be available. 
A simple Lenten meal will be served from 5:00-5:45 p.m., and the Canon will begin at 6:00 p.m. All are invited to come for part or all of the Canon, even if you are not physically able to participate in the prostrations. The duration of the Canon is approximately 3.5 hours. 

Please RSVP by filling out this form.

Bridegroom Matins on Great and Holy Wednesday

We invite you to join us and Bishop Milan for Bridegroom Matins, our patronal commemoration, on Great & Holy Wednesday, April 13th, at 8:00 a.m. at the monastery. 

The readings and hymns of this service rouse the heart to conversion and vigilance for the coming of the Bridegroom and offer strength to His Bride the Church as we journey with Him in His passion. 
A light breakfast will follow.

Please RSVP by filling out this form

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

A Reflection from One of the Nuns on the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste

I’ll admit it is somewhat odd what struck me while praying this year with the commemoration of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. I realized that I have, in my mind, formed a subconscious link between “Forty Martyrs of Sebaste” and “Mother Cecilia’s birthday.” You see, Mother Cecilia’s birthday is March 8 and the Forty Martyrs’ feast is March 9. In the Byzantine Tradition, we always begin a feast at Vespers on the preceding calendar day. Which means the evening we celebrate Mother Cecilia’s birthday, we begin singing the hymns for the feast. As I was contemplating this overlap, something just felt right about it. My next thought was…that’s pretty weird. Why does it seem “right” to joyfully celebrate Mother Cecilia’s life and simultaneously commemorate the torture and death of forty men? Then, I remembered having a similar feeling almost two years ago as we sat at the bedside of a dear friend who was dying. We were there with his whole family, including his brand new granddaughter – his first grandbaby. As the baby made all the baby-sounds of new life, our friend took his dying breath. Despite the obvious grief of the temporary goodbye, I saw a beauty in the dichotomy of the death and new life existing in the same room. Because, as Christians, we of course believe that a holy death brings forth new life. The martyrs remind us of the need to die for Christ, and our birthdays, our celebration of life, should remind us of the need to live for Christ. So, as we struggle through this journey of life together, let us remember the goal, remember the reason we live…and the reason we die. Let us keep in mind these two lines from the propers for the feast of the 40 Holy Martyrs:

     The holy martyrs bravely endured their present suffering,                

     They rejoiced in things hoped for but not yet seen.       

You can read the story of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste here