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, May 2, 2015

This is us, this is you.

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We get a lot of questions, what is the skete, what is it about.  I always struggle for words.  My daily prayer is "Lord, let my words be yours, not mine".   God answered the question of the skete for me, perfectly.  I cannot think of a better Scripture or a better Translation than what is said via The Message:  It explains the Skete, it explains the struggle, it explains what we all endure in this troubled world.

2 Corinthians 4:1-18   --The Message (MSG)




Trial and Torture
4 1-2 Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.



3-4 If our Message is obscure to anyone, it’s not because we’re holding back in any way. No, it’s because these other people are looking or going the wrong way and refuse to give it serious attention. All they have eyes for is the fashionable god of darkness. They think he can give them what they want, and that they won’t have to bother believing a Truth they can’t see. They’re stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we’ll ever get.




5-6 Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.


7-12 If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!



13-15 We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, “I believed it, so I said it,” we say what we believe. And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise!



16-18 So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.


Friday, April 24, 2015

TBT: Rosary Pilgrimage

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On May 9th we will once again make a pilgrimage to one of the rare Archabbeys of the World, St. Meinrad's Archabbey and Seminary.  This pilgrimage will be one of the highlights of our 19th Annual NHA Rosary Convocation - May 8 thru 10th.   For Throw Back Thursday here's a video collection of our Rosary Pilgrimage in which we stop at various points to say a Mystery of the Remnant (Jesus Life Prayer) Rosary together.


Photos of previous NHA Rosary Pilgrimages in USA and Sierra Leone.  





























Monday, April 20, 2015

Stations of St. Simeon Skete

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Its been a long, dark Winter.  It feels like we've been in a cocoon waiting to spring forth with new life.





























Its been a long Lent as well.



but now Easter has arrived, the Resurrection has happened




New life, new beginnings.


and the day of Ascension is but a few weeks away.




Nazareth House Apostolate is the umbrella organization that contains St. Simeon Skete, which has Grace Church as its parish church and the work in Sierra Leone as its outreach.  

Nazareth House Apostolate is organized as a separate entity so that it may be free to be a beacon of love to all. 



The 4 Stations of St. Simeon Skete 
  1. Those who live and work in the town near the skete. 
  2. Those who earn their livelihood in their own countries, come to visit the skete to receive spiritual sustenance and return home again. 
  3. Those who immigrate from their own countries in order to be near the skete and find work for themselves in nearby town. 
  4. Those who take up residency at the skete living its life of prayer.



At this time we have two field houses of St. Simeon Skete, both in Louisville - St. Pachomius House and St. Mary of Bethany House.  They are the 3rd Station of St. Simeon Skete.  


Those that dwell in these homes live and/or work within the city. They maintain a daily typicon of prayer within the market place, as they go about their daily lives - at their jobs, at the grocrey, at the neighborhood park.  


They have become unnoticed, hidden resident forces of prayer infiltrating the city, the country and the world with love and prayer. 


They are the "leaven" hidden in the loaf of humanity.  


And the only way you will know that they are there is because Christ has become bigger in their lives and that of the lives they touch. 

















Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ablutions

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At all the sinks at St. Simeon Skete, you will find the Ablutions posted.  They are to be said before each Prayer Office.  
The Ablutions 

  1. Wash the hands to the wrists:  “May these hands be instruments of peace
  2. Then cup a handful of water to the lips with the right hand, rinsing the mouth three times: “May this mouth speak only the pleasing words, the healing words, the truthful words.
  3. Then lightly snuff water into the nose three times, which has remarkably brightening effect on the senses: “May I long for the sweet fragrance of His Presence.” 
  4. Then wash the whole face and eyes: “May this face shine with the light of His countenance. May these eyes see the hand of the Creator everywhere they look.” 
  5. Clean the ears by inserting the tips of the index finger wetted with water into the ears, twist them around the folds of the ears then pass the thumb behind the ears from the bottom, upwards, and then over the nape of the neck: “May these ears hear only the resonance of His Word; may this neck bend in humility to the One.” 
  6. Wash the feet (right foot first) up to the ankles, making sure that no parts of the feet are left dry: “May these feet walk on holy ground.” 
Exodus 30:21 “So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations”.          
Exodus 40:31 “And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat:”



More often than not, Christians see this “ritual” as belonging to another religion - when in fact it was from our Jewish roots, carried on by the early Christians.  It remains a practice at St. Simeon Skete and with many Christians in the East.   As time went on the physical expressions of our Christian worship were left behind.  We say our prayers as we lay in bed,  as we drive from one appointment to another, or whenever we find a moment to remember - a lot of the time we tend to catch God “on the fly”.  There is nothing wrong with meeting up with God in any situation. We should be in prayer at all times in all that we do (“pray without ceasing”).  Many times I find myself in prayer while doing normal, regular chores - while baking a pie - saying the Jesus Prayer with every cherry that I pit, with every stroke of the scrub brush as I wash the dirty floor.   Even in the shower, as I wash my hair I add to the listed ablutions...  “may this hair remind me to keep myself untangled from the ways of the world”, etc.   All that we do should be done in prayer, however it is crucial that we come apart from the world, our work, our busy lives each day to deliberately make an effort to make time specifically set aside for Him.  It is this effort, going out of our way to do something special with Him.  
As a child I remember my mother, after breakfast, returning to her bedroom to say her prayers.  My brother and I knew not to disturb her during her time with God.   Of all the things I remember in my childhood, it is the importance my mom placed on her prayer time that I find the most endearing.  The effort she made to arrange that special time alone with God - a time where my brother and I had no doubt of the huge significance that God played in her life. Despite demanding, cranky kids, despite the piled up housework, despite financial worries... she left it all to be with Him. Somehow, as a child, that made me feel all the more secure, knowing that God came first.  
Beside the sink on every wall at St. Simeon Skete, you are reminded to pray. The purpose of washing each of these parts outlined in the Ablutions is that it gives you time, bit by bit, part by part, to move your awareness away from the world and toward God. 
2 Samuel 12:20 “Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.”
Time to say within your heart:


I am now going to establish a connection with God
I am now going to turn toward God
I am going to hand over my responsibilities, my love, to God. 
This determination must become strong through the process of your ablutions.  By the time you have finished, you must have the intent and the aim of seeing God.  The day you succeed in these ablutions, your prayer becomes fruitful! 
In 1 Timothy 2:8 it says “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting”.   The lifting up of holy hands - to lift up the hands - denotes supplications, as it was a common attitude of prayer to lift towards heaven.  The “holy hands” refer to the Jewish and early Christian custom of washing their hands before prayer; this was/is done to signify that they had put away all sin, and purposed to live a holy life. 

Acts 21:26 “Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.”

Thursday, April 2, 2015

“My Way of the Cross”

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Reprint of a previous NHA Blog Post: 



As we are in the middle of Holy Week,  St. Simeon Skete/Nazareth House Apostolate shares with you this journal writing of Seraphim's:  “My Way of the Cross”.   

I see you Jesus, I walk with you Jesus...
The Nails of the Cross.  Placed in the Chapel at St. Simeon Skete during Lenten Season.

“My Way of the Cross”  (Written by Seraphim, 5 April 2005, Louisville, KY.)
     Dropped in St. Martin de Tours Church to say my Rosary and found a group already praying so Im joining them.  Its been a strange journey today.   The bus driver was out of sorts and her spirit was throughout the bus.  Her job, her cross, and it hurts. Just now a man with Downs Syndrome in his 60’s left his pew after the Rosary finished.  He was carrying a bundle of well used devotional booklets and a prayer book bound together with rubber bands.  I could tell, sense, that a life time of devotion had just passed, a Simon of Cyrene, bearing His cross by bearing his.  Could this be another station in which the Lord is developing, “my personal way of the cross?”  Perhaps in all likelihood these stations are going on all the time and it is still Jesus, we’re passing and it is He that is passing us by in His way, His “personal Way of the Cross”. 

The Crown of Thorns, The Scourging.  Placed in the Chapel at St. Simeon Skete during Lent.
     I boarded the bus again and at the next stop a woman and her daughter got on.  She had been beaten by life; her ratted, worn polyester stretch-pants over a body long worn and pushed out of shape, her teeth missing on a face  that looked as if it had been beaten in from time to time.  And her daughter?  She was a teen, concerned about her looks as most naturally are. She had on trendy “gym shoes” and dressed nicely, a covering not only for her body, but also for what she didn’t want others to know.  When they boarded the bus the mother paid the fare for both of them.  The daughter went to the back of the bus while the mother sat at the front.  I could almost hear the thought of the daughter, “I hope no one thinks I’m with her”.  I watched the mother for response - none -  she sat with dignity, not energizing the stares and ignorance of her daughter. When the stop came for them to de-board the bus, the mother inconspicuously looked to the back to catch her daughter’s eye and gave a nod, she de-boarded from the back and the mother from the front of the bus.  I thought as the stops came and went, this mother who, as it were, had holes in her hands, feet and side, her face as if someone had struck her repeatedly and she was stooped as she walked, as if someone had beaten her back. Her loved one fleeing lest someone might associate her with this embarrassment.  The mother showed no sign of hurt over this, no resignation, as if at one time there was hope, expectation that she would be accepted, loved and not an embarrassment to others. Things were just as they were, nothing was to change, or for that matter, was able to change.  Again, could this be another station, another “bus stop” of the cross? ...my own stations of the cross that God, the Holy Spirit was bringing to me?  As I thought on these things I heard three beeps of a car horn that strangely sounded like a cock crowing.
As you walk through your own life be aware that Christ continues to carry his cross in others. 
The remaining ashes of Ash Wednesday are enthroned in the Chapel of St. Simeon Skete during the Lenten Season.

...and he went a little further...

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Savior's Last Appeal "Behold your mother"

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"Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus, his mother"  John 19:25

This is a vital part of the ongoing spirituality of St. Simeon Skete, not just for Lent.  



We are in process of making new booklets but until they are ready, we thought it appropriate to share this devotion with you for use during Holy Week. 













The original 19th Century retablos in this post are housed at Anna House, 
St. Simeon Skete, Taylorsville, Kentucky