St. Simeon Skete, Taylorsville Kentucky USA

With St. Simeon, the God receiver, as our patron, the skete seeks to practice the ideals found in our Rule, The Thousand Day Nazareth. In simplicity and poverty, the skete embraces the struggle of inner life through the practice of the Prayer Rope.

The outreach of Nazareth House Apostolate is in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Matthew 25:31-46. For more information see our website at www.nazarethhouseap.org

Donations should be addressed to: Nazareth House Apostolate, 185 Captains Cove Drive, Taylorsville, Kentucky 40071.

Important Notice: All writings, posts, graphics & photographs in this blog are the copyrighted property of (unless otherwise indicated) Nazareth House Media, a division of Nazareth House Apostolate and cannot be copied, printed or used without written permission from NHA Media, Taylorsville, KY.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Eucharist

The Eucharist
He was old,
tired, and sweaty,
pushing his homemade cart
down the alley, stopping now and then
to poke around in somebody's garbage,
I wanted to tell him about EUCHARIST

But the look in his eyes,
the despair on his face,
the hopelessness
of somebody else's life in his cart,
Told me to forget it.
So I smiled, said "Hi"  - and gave him EUCHARIST.

She was cute,
nice build, a little too much paint,
wobbly on her feet as she slid from her barstool.
and on the make.
"No, thanks, not tonight," - and I gave her EUCHARIST.

She lived alone,
her husband dead, her family gone,
and she talked at you, not to you,
words, endless words, spewed out.
So I listened - and I gave her EUCHARIST.

Downtown is nice,
Lights change from red to green, and back again,
Flashing blues, pinks and oranges.
I gulped them in,
Said, "Thank you Father," - and made them EUCHARIST.

I laughed at myself, and told myself,
You, with all your sin,
and all your selfishness,
I forgive you,
I accept you,
I love you.
It's nice and so necessary to give yourself EUCHARIST.

My Father, when will we learn - You cannot talk EUCHARIST - you cannot philosophize about it.
You don't dogmatize EUCHARIST.
Sometimes you laugh it, sometimes you cry it, often you sing it.
Sometimes it's wild peace, then crying hurt, often humiliating, never deserved.

You see EUCHARIST in another's eyes,
give it in another's hand held tight, squeeze it in an embrace.

You pause EUCHARIST in the middle of a busy day,
speak it in another's ear, listen to it from a person who wants to talk.

For EUCHARIST is as simple as being on time
and as profound as sympathy
I give you my supper, I give you my sustenance,
I give you my life, I give you me,
I give you EUCHARIST. -R. Voight

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Minding the Mind

Written by Seraphim+, St. Simeon Skete


In the Prayer Rope as we pray the third strand, see yourself as being in each Mystery - take in the smells, sounds, sights, feelings, and the distractions.  


This is "different" from what we so often hear, which is not wrong, i.e. not "just" this Mystery being in us but also us being in the Mystery and not another place. We thus combat distraction's three lines of attack: 1). daily concerns, 2). memories, pestiferous memories and 3). the 'what ifs' of the future.  The Mystery is to be in us (Col.1:27) and we in the Mystery (Eph. 2:6, 13; 1:10)... because outside the Mystery the Remembrance may not come. If we are in the Mystery we'll see the trees, the stones, the earth, the weeds and flowers, 


we'll see the birds, the stray dogs, 






the wind and sun, the rain and clouds. 


The campfires, stars and moon and night's sounds.






The coarse fabric of clothes and the children.


You can hear and see it all if you're there.

The mind must be brought under the control of the Mystery, in submission to it. The mind is either friend and helper or our worst enemy.  The uncontrolled mind can destroy us! For the most part all the senses have been under the control of the mind since the beginning of Adam and Eve's failure.  The mind can and does create a false self that is other than God's making.  This is what the "Tree of Knowledge" was/is about - they wanted to be like God with their minds, this is always idolatrous.  The only mind that is safe is God's mind in you! (Col. 1:27; Phil. 2:5; 1Cor. 2:16; 3:18-19; 2 Cor. 10: 3-5).  Any mind other than God's is irrepressible in its urges to be intolerant and its tormenting of the heart. Useless quarrels and petty self-serving conclusions are of this mind other than God's.  To the degree that our mind is under the control of God's it is to that degree it is useful. (Phil. 4:8) To be “in the Name” is to be in God and the heart is where the divine Name resides (Rev. 3:20). It is a spiritual residential of “all thy heart and mind” (Mt. 22:37-40; Mk. 12:29-31; Lk. 10:37).  To live this Prayer of the Heart one must needs have the heart pierced open, “Rend your heart” (Joel 2:13).  This gift of prayer therefore, is usually preceded by the piercing open of the heart through some special suffering and upheaval of the soul with which the Spirit leads the mind “carrying” the Name down  to the heart. (note: contrary to some of the desert father’s advice, which could be due to mistranslation, the attention is not to be on the heart beat but on the heart.  If one were to smash their finger, the attention would be on the finger, likewise when the heart is pierced, the attention is there).

Through the discipline of invoking the Name, the mind is trained to become the vehicle that carries the Name down to the top of the heart that has been pierced to receive the Name (Joel 2:13; Rev. 3:20).  Contrary to some teaching, the mind does not enter the heart, but stays just above, guarding it and when for one reason or another the Prayer “drops” out of the heart, the mind has been trained to know how to lead it back.  When the Prayer is on the lips, the lips pray the Prayer, when the Prayer is on the mind, the mind prays the Prayer, when the Prayer is in the heart, the heart prays the Prayer “and the heart is deep” (Ps 64:6).  When we read “God searcheth the hearts” (Rom. 8:27), He is searching for Himself because He and His Name are One. Is it any wonder Proverbs says: “My son give me thine heart” (23:26)? Therefore let us “Keep our hearts with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23). 

“We shall fill our hearts to the brim with the Name and thought of Jesus, holding it carefully, like a precious vessel, and defending it against all alien tampering and admixture.  This is a severe asceticism.  It requires a forgetfulness of self, a dying to self, as the Holy Name grows in our souls: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (Jn. 3:30) - “On The Invocation of the Name o Jesus” (#20) - Lev Gillet 



Hence I write:

"Dear Mind,
If you can let go of yourself to render to remembrance the Mystery, to offer, to submit yourself to service, to execute in devotional offering then simply offer yourself to remembrance of He who re-members. Offer yourself, Dear Mind, to the Mystery of Jesus' life.  Bottom line, you have the potential to be immersed in spirituality, in religion.  But for the most part you are always distracting me with useless thoughts. Why won't you pay attention to the Mystery, to the Name?" the mind is like an unruly dog that I have to keep calling back, "Here boy, Here boy, come on, come on"  Ultimately, I hope to get the mind's voluntary cooperation.

"Dear Mind, don't you find this Prayer Rope intriguing, captivating, allow this Prayer Rope to be your leash so you won't be chasing after every rabbit and cat that comes your way.  Wouldn't you like to practice the three strands of the Way of Jesus, the Name of Jesus and the Life of Jesus? Why not do as I and accept Jesus, His mother and the saints to be your teachers, in fact you can become their disciple. Why not cooperate as your place in the Prayer Rope is very important.  All these Mysteries and practices can be ours if you will kindly do as I am advising you."

We must do our part as well if I can expect the mind to behave.  We must watch over it, rejecting the candy that its sweet tooth so desires such as frivolous and mundane talk, conflicts, violence and the media in general.  Ultimately we have a responsibility to help the mind move beyond its base instincts of the need for control, manipulation, ill judgements and endless obsessing over hurts.

"Mind, you and I must cooperate in the Mystery, in the practice of the Three-stranded Prayer Rope.  This is not just for you but me as well.  May we "cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2Cor. 10:5) ever remembering "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds" (vs.4). We know Dear Mind, how to do this.  Let's try with every strand of the Prayer Rope,  you and I together with each bead told with each Mystery pondered and prayed.  And when we fail, may we try and try again."


In addition to training and coaxing the mind deliberately notice all possible sources of distraction around us (especially noises) and also any physical sensations of aches and pains, etc., accepting them as there and letting them go quietly and peacefully.  Acceptance relieves the tension of resentment and resistance which so often makes distractions almost obsessive.  May we find the orientation of our being in the mystery within us (Col. 1:27) "In whom we live and move and have our being" (Acts. 17:28). Here is found a new freedom which affects one's whole way of being.   -Seraphim

"Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Liberty"
2Cor 3:17



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

NHA Information

I recently ran across this Question and Answer Forum on the internet. 

The Question: 
How do Monasteries Survive Financially?
“I'm guessing that monasteries survive based on a number of things... sales of things like icons or other products, donations of money and gifts from visitors, large donations from benefactors, help from the diocese/archdiocese/whatever. But what makes up the largest percentage? I just can't imagine that selling icons or getting money from visitors would add up to that much, and I doubt that there are that many affluent folks out there throwing money at monasteries. Does the jurisdiction at large usually have a large part to play in keeping monasteries open? And do some people give their savings to monasteries when they join? I've heard of people selling stuff off and giving it to charity before joining a monastery, but do some sell their stuff and give the money to the monastery that they're joining?”

Response #1: 

“At the Romanian monastery where I occasionally retreat to, getting money from visitors does add up to that much. Hundreds of euro a day on the weekends. There are various places in the church you can drop banknotes, and the visitors know that that is expected of them when they visit. People staying overnight tend to make another, separate donation for lodging, even if they agree to help out with monastery tasks, and at some monasteries like Finland's Valamo monastery, accommodation is run like a business with price lists and various tiers of room quality.”

Response #2

“Around where I live, mostly on donations. There is one Catholic monastery, however, that sells fruitcake, the proceeds from which pay most of their expenses for the year.”

At St. Simeon Skete, Nazareth House Apostolate, we survive by God as He expresses Himself through the love and generosity of those who give to support the skete and its outreach in Sierra Leone. 

It is important that you know that prayer is continual at St. Simeon Skete.  You are prayed for daily - taken up in Jesus’ Name. 

As the world spirals downward, it seeks to prevent believers from recognizing the significance of Christian Sketes, Monasteries and Convents as vitally important centers of ongoing prayer that replenish what is drained in the busyness of a hectic world.  At the Skete we are here praying for you as you are in the world and for you when you are unable to pray.  When you are driving down that busy street trying to get to work, already late because the dog got out as you were leaving and you had to chase him 2 blocks - its good to know that somewhere there is prayer going on and you are taken up into that prayer.

Life at the skete is not different from what all Christians are expected to be doing  - prayer, work and study. Rather it is a more intensive form of the life in Christ, the life that we are all called to live.  

What are some distinct ways in which St. Simeon Skete has an impact on the faithful? 

First and foremost there is the ongoing prayer.  The world needs prayer and it needs it in a big way. 

Many are looking for spiritual guidance - a way to come apart from the world in order to be fed and replenished and then to return to life in the marketplace with the tools to maintain and deepen their spiritual life.  At the skete the faithful can seek and receive guidance and a balanced approach to the challenge of living the Life of Christ in the world. It is like a reset button,  giving us the tools to go back into the world taking with us what is needed to strengthen ourselves.  Those that come here will tell you, it's not easy here but if you embrace the skete as it is intended, you will be changed. 

We have a vow of hospitality, therefore we do not charge for lodging at the skete.  We have, however, had to require visitors to purchase their own food for breakfast and lunch during their stay.  Evening Dinner is provided by the skete as a community meal.

  The Scheduled Prayer at the Skete is a days work in itself.  However, for us the day also holds maintenance of the property (34 acres), the upkeep of the buildings and Wailing Wall, administrative work of both the skete and the overseas missions (including running a school of 300 students), growing our own food,  hospitality and guidance of the guests, communication (Nazareth House Apostolate is a family and therefore we keep in touch with our supporters) - all in a days work at St. Simeon Skete.  

Many monasteries have staff that help with the temporal chores of the day, we do not.  We are not funded or supported by the church at large or by large donations.  Rather we are supported by individuals, families, small organizations, a few individual churches of all denominations and an employee matching giving system.  Most of those who give make a great sacrifice to do so. 

The prayer schedule must be maintained.  In Revelation 5:8 it says  “And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.”  and then in Revelation 8:3,4 “it says Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand”.   At this levelGod doesn’t act apart from prayer.  The importance of it is obvious.  God is waiting for us to pray.   Many of you have heard Seraphim and I describe the scenario of angels at the edge of heaven, peering down looking, waiting for our prayers to rise as incense.  They shout down “more prayers, more prayers” and as they receive the sweet smelling incense of prayer they gather it as offering to God.  

People like to “do good”, they like an outward showing of their generosity. Sometimes the needs of the skete are overlooked by the demands of the humanitarian work in Sierra Leone.   Without the life of prayer at St. Simeon Skete there would be no accomplishment of the amazing work via NHA in Africa.  

Nazareth House Apostolate has an excellent well rounded Board of Directors living in all areas of the country.  We have a small staff in Africa, namely James and the teachers.  In Taylorsville, on the ground at the skete, it is just the two of us.  Guests give physical help when and where they can but the responsibility of it all is on Seraphim and I.  

The proper thing to do is to arise in the middle of the night and pray.  For many years now we have been doing this.  Up until recently we were arising at 2 AM for prayer rope vigils and the daily Mass was celebrated at 3 AM.  The physical responsibility of the skete has become such that we are no longer able to maintain that schedule, the prayer continues but we’ve had to change the time frame in order to allow our bodies the much needed refreshment and sleep.  

The new schedule is as follows:

5 AM arise for all three strands of the Prayer Rope - on your own in your cell
7 AM Morning Mass - public in chapel 
8 AM 3rd Strand of the Prayer Rope, Remnant Rosary: Private 
11 AM 3rd Strand of the Prayer Rope, Remnant Rosary: Private 
12 Noon The Little Office of the Incarnation - on your own in your cell
2 PM 3rd Strand of the Prayer Rope, Remnant Rosary: Private 
3 PM 2nd Strand of the Prayer Rope - on your own in your cell
5 PM Readings/3rd Strand of the Prayer Rope, Remnant Rosary - public Office in chapel 
6 PM The Little Office of the Incarnation - on your own in your cell
7:30 PM Compline - public Office in Chapel 
8:30 1st Strand of Prayer Rope - on your own in your cell 

Wednesdays there is a discussion class at 11 AM and the 11 AM 3rd Strand of the Prayer Rope, Remnant Rosary scheduled at that time is adjusted into another time of the day.

Fridays the schedule is different. At 11 AM, the 3rd Strand of the Prayer Rope, Remnant Rosary is said at the chapel and open to the public followed by Stations of the Cross proceeding up to the Crucifixion.  3 hours later at 3 PM we return to the Chapel to walk the remaining Stations of the Cross with the normal 2 PM Prayer Rope said following.

In between the Prayer Schedule we are doing our daily chores and administrative work and instruction with visitors.  Its a busy day.  

Because of a down payment by a generous friend and supporter, St. Simeon Skete recently acquired the Retablo of St. Isidore the Laborer/Farmer (aka St. Ysidora) (Feast Day May 15).  



The importance of this retablo to the skete is that St. Isidore, the Farmer had much work and responsibilities demanded of him and he wanted to have more time to do his spiritual disciplines and he couldn’t do both.  So he prayed and God sent angels to help with his work. Look carefully at the satisfied smile on the angel as he plows the Garden for St. Isidore. 

As did St. Isidore, we at the skete want to have more time to do our spiritual disciplines.  
To do this we need help.  There are some things (repairs, construction, maintenance) that if we had the funding we could hire it done but for now we are doing it ourselves. 

It is important that the Skete be identified and known as a spiritual place.  We want to build a grotto, fix up the Chapel at the Wailing Wall and bring the statue of Mary out of the garage and the purchase of three retablos with significance to the skete’s spirituality.  But it takes money to do these things,  and to continue to operate and maintain.   

And then there is the ministry extended in Africa. 

It was a struggle but thanks to your generosity, NHA was able to provide two uniforms for every student in our school.  It took us until January, well into the school year, but it was accomplished and we are all most grateful.  

In order to get a bit of a head start on the next School Year we are in gear to collect the funding in hopes of providing the uniforms at the beginning of the 2014/2015 School year which opens in September 2014.  

The uniforms we provide benefit the students but it goes well beyond that.  For a $25 donation a student receives two uniforms to wear during the entire school year.  For many students it is the best clothing they have and they must laundry them in the stream and beat them on rocks to get them clean.  This doesn’t serve well to make the uniform last.  By year  end,  most uniforms are in tatters.  
At $25 a student times the 300 enrolled the cost of new uniforms is $7,500 but there is a triple-fold benefit in that expenditure.  
  1. Students have decent clothing for school, all the same, no distinctions 
  2. The marketers benefit from the purchase of the cloth.
  3. The seamstresses are able to have work that enables them to provide for their family.  Its a win win situation.  
The enrolled of the NHA School has so increased that we have outgrown our current building.  We simply must add on additional classrooms to provide proper education in a safe environment.  The overcrowding in our classrooms is very uncomfortable.  In order to accommodate the expanded needs of the school we hope to break ground for a new structure to our school this Summer.  Our figures at this beginning stage is $50,000.  We are waiting for a contractor to give us the official word on the cost now. 

The other Sierra Leone news is that Lucy Mansaray, James daughter has completed all high school education and will be enrolled and beginning medical school September 2014.  Her school and books will be upwards of $5,000 annually but very much worth the investment.  Having our own NHA Doctor is invaluable to the work of Nazareth House Outreach.  We ask for your prayers and support in these matters.   

The purpose of this post is to clarify the work of Nazareth House Apostolate both at the skete and in Sierra Leone.  We need your prayers, support and love.  It is important that you share the work with others - spread the word, enlarging the support base so that the good work of this Apostolate may flourish.   


To make a donation you may do so by sending your check to Nazareth House Apostolate, 185 Captains Cove Drive, Taylorsville, KY 40071 or by our paypal donation link on our website 








Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Stability




"Without stability to place, without stability to presence, 
without stability to posture, without stability to prayer
spirituality becomes like a tossed salad." -Seraphim


Friday, May 16, 2014

NHA Rosary Pilgrimage (Part 3)

The NHA Rosary Convocation took place last week.  The Rosary Pilgrimage was held on Saturday, May 10th.   The first two sets of Mysteries were said at St. Augustine's Parish in Leopold, Indiana and St. Joseph's Shrine near St. Meinrad, Indiana.  

The Sorrowful Mysteries took place at the Shrine of Our Lady of Monte Cassino.  A quaint little stone chapel dedicated to the rosary.  




Seraphim pointing out Mary's Peace Plan: "Do whatever He tells us" 


Entering the chapel 




admiring the frescos


lighting a few candles...


Father Tim Butler led us as we prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries.



THE SORROWFUL MYSTERIES -about the Mystery of suffering.
 In the first sorrow of the Rosary 
we offer ourselves to the mystery of The Garden: Mt. 26:36-46; Lk.22:39-46; Jn.13:30 




The Second Sorrowful Mystery: 
 The Scourging: Mt. 26: 47-50, 69-75, 56; Mt. 27:2, 12-17, 21b, 22,25,26; 
Heb. 4:15; 5:2; 4:16; Isa. 28:15; 53:4-6 

Seraphim (as always) holding the Bible and the Beads.  He never is without
his tiny pocket sized copy of the Gospels and his beads 


3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Thorns: Mt. 27:27-31


In the fourth sorrow of the rosary, we offer ourselves to the mystery of the Cross:  Jn.19:16, 17; 1Cor.1:18-24


The last Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion: Lk. 23:33-46; Jn.19:25- 27





In between the Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries, its time for a picnic lunch.


A special thank you to Cecil and Sarah Appleman who were unable to make the pilgrimage but provided our lunch!



The Steeple and roof of the chapel received new copper. 





A little clean up and we are on our way to the Archabbey for the Glorious Mysteries.



 


At the Archabbey of St. Meinrad.  There are eleven archabbeys in the world and we are fortunate that we have one of the two in America so near us.

  1. Montecassino, Italy
  2. Monte Oliveto Maggiore, Italy
  3. Arpino (nuns), Italy
  4. Beuron, Germany
  5. Sankt Ottilien, Germany
  6. Brevnov, Czech Republic
  7. St. Peter's in Salzburg, Austria
  8. Pannonhalma, Hungary
  9. Saint Vincent, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, USA
  10. Saint Meinrad, Saint Meinrad, Indiana, USA
  11. St. Sebastion, Salvador (Bahia), Brazil






THE GLORIOUS MYSTERIES
-about the Mystery of faith.

The Resurrection: Mt. 28:1-8; Jn. 20, the first Glorious Mystery


In the second glory of the Rosary we offer ourselves to the mystery of The Ascension: Mt. 26:32; 28:1-7b; Jn. 20:19, 21, 26; Acts1:2-14 





The Third Glorious Mystery:  The Spirit: Acts 2:1-6,11; 1Cor. 2:5,10; 12:13;

2 Cor. 3:17; Gal.5: 22-23; Eph. 5:18; 1Jn. 4:8, 16 


The Fourth Glorious Mystery:  The Assumption: Gen.5:24; 2Kings 2:11-12; Ps.46:4; Ps.132; S.of S. 8:5; Heb.11:5; Jn.14:3; Eph.1:17-20; Rev. 12:1,2 






The last Glorious Mystery:  The Coming: Mt. 25:31-34; 26:64; Mk. 13; Lk. 18:7-8; Jn. 1:51; 14:1- 3; Job 19:25; 2Tim. 4:8; Rev.8:1; 2:2-5; Dt. 8:18; Zeph.3:12 



The Gardens of the Archabbey are beautiful.









The Rosary gives us a place to: 
Register

Reveal

Review and
Revise our Relationship with God.


(therefore)

Pray and live the Rosary, “And aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs and to work with your hands (telling your beads), as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” - 1Thess. 4:11-12 (ESV).

Relative to taking up the Prayer Rope as vocation one must ask: “Are you the one, or do we look for another?” (Mt. 11:3; Lk. 7:19). Holy Simeon found Him to be the one, to be enough. - (Lk. 2:27-32).

“The Three-stranded Prayer Rope Constitutes the very essence of religion and is the environment in which that essence is best expressed.” -Seraphim





Its been another wonderful Rosary Convocation.  We look forward to next year.