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

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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Anointing our Prayer Beads on Feast of St. Michael and All Angels

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The Feast of the Beads

It is the custom at St. Simeon Skete to anoint our prayer ropes (beads) with sweet smelling oil on the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels because our prayers are likened as the sweet smelling incense that the angels offer to the throne of God. 

Rev. 8: 1-4- 

"1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 
2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. 
3 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 the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. 

4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand."

The angels are waiting for us to pray.  Picture in your mind, angels leaning over from heaven catching our prayers that rise as incense and quickly offering them at the throne of God. I can see them holding their golden bowls peering down at us, whispering "more prayers, more prayers."  

Rev. 5:6, 8 - 

"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 
7 He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 

8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."

We have three realities that embody the spirituality of St. Simeon Skete - The Bible, the Bowl and the Beads.  


Relative to the Bowl: 

  1. If we don't pray, we are like an overturned bowl, nothing can enter (Isa 28:12; Mk. 8:18).
  2. If we don't put our prayers into practice, we are like a bowl with a hole in it - everything leaks out (James 1:22; 4:17).
  3. If we are double-minded in our prayer, this is similar to using an unclean bowl, contaminating what it receives (James 1: 8; Mt. 23:25). 
  4. If we don't pray the bowl becomes full of ourselves - like the "inn" where there was no room for Him (Lk. 2:7; Rev. 3:20).
  5. If we don't pray, we become untrusting so that whatever is placed in the bowl will never be enough (Lk. 2:25-32; Mt. 6:33).

At the Skete, the anointing of our beads is known as "The Liturgy of the Beads".   The Liturgy of the Beads is very simple and should be celebrated from time to time and not just on the Feast of All Angels.  Simply lay the beads down on table before a lit candle, anoint them with sweet smelling oil of your choice and pray the prayer of offering as you offer them to God.  

Remember, it is the prayer we say on the beads and each bead is like a little bowl holding what we offer to God.  Then say the following prayer. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Mary, Messenger of Peace

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Today, Sunday, September 6th, Nazareth House Apostolate, St. Simeon Skete celebrates its 19th Annual Feast of Our Lady of Nazareth, Mary, Messenger of Peace. 

Painting of the Statue of Mary, Messenger of Peace created after the appearance:
The following is written by Fr. Gabriel Harty, OP from his book "Heaven Sent":

Be content – you have all you need (Heaven Sent, Fr. Gabriel Harty, Pg. 124)

Only when pressed did Fr Seraphim reveal the secret that kept him in this sacred orbit. Once when alone in his hermitage, he saw a woman standing before him. She was dressed in Eastern garb and looked most graciously at him, with her right hand raised high and in an attitude of blessing. 

The left hand was stretched out to him and he strained to see what it was offering. It was empty, which he took to mean that there was really nothing that he lacked 

...He understood that he had all he needed and that the secret of spiritual living was to be content and to live in the present moment with the resources at hand. By way of bringing this truth home, Seraphim said that he would be content and at peace even if faced with capture and death, for he knew in his heart that with the divine grace he would have the resources at the time to accept whatever God had in store for him. When pressed about the woman who appeared so briefly in his cell, his words were: ‘I can’t call it a vision or apparition, it was all too real. She stood there a real woman of flesh and blood.’ Wishing to have an image made of what he has witnessed, Fr Seraphim realised that he could not afford to engage a fully-fledged artist. He had heard, however, of a young sculpture student, and when he met her, the first thing she blurted out was: ‘I had a dream last night that I was making a statue of Our Lady with the right hand raised and the left hand outstretched.’ I told him that he should try to contact this young lady again and have her give a written testimony relating her experience. -Harty, Gabriel (2012-05-23). Heaven Sent (p. 124 -125). Veritas. Kindle Edition. 

Rest for my soul 
I came away from St Simeon Skete with renewed devotion to the Rosary as an instrument of evangelisation and as a grace-filled means of contemplative prayer. From an ecumenical point of view, I am glad of having had the experience, though it was not easy coping with the Divine Office of Morning and Evening Prayer plus Compline each day – much longer than ours and chanted chorally with the King James version of the Psalms and Readings. Saint Simeon Skete has given me my own ‘old Kentucky home’, for everything there confirmed my long-established appreciation of the Gospel-value that underlies our traditional Marian Rosary. Father Seraphim and his beloved wife brought me back to the words of the Prophet Jeremiah, 6: 16: ‘Halt at the cross-roads, look well and ask yourselves which path it was that stood you in good stead long ago. That path follow, and you shall find rest for your souls.’   -Harty, Gabriel (2012-05-23). Heaven Sent (p. 124 -125). Veritas. Kindle Edition. 

"Lord Jesus, we thank you for giving us Mary, Messenger of Peace, to be our Mother.  Great warmth fills our hearts as we take refuge in the tenderness of your Mother's gaze; Grant that we might receive her message of peace by realizing what we have and who we are is enough, as we pray and live Your Way, Name and Life in union with Mary, Messenger of Peace." Amen 

Seraphim explains that the hand of Mary, Messenger of Peace is empty because we already have all we need to love and be God’s people. How many more churches do we need; how many more denominations do we need? Most of “religion” is the result of: not finding God; not finding Him to be enough; and not wanting Him to be enough. Much of religion is not about God, its about control and to a large degree political parties are not about good government, they’re after control.  

Not finding God to be enough, not realizing we have what we need to live out the Shema (Mark 12:29-31) breeds greed and violence. Some years ago a reporter interviewing Seraphim asked “What happens if you’re captured by the rebels and shot?” Without a blink of hesitation he responded: “I have absolutely everything I need in order to be shot and killed and conversely I absolutely have everything I need to continue on living in this body.”

The essence of Mary's Message can be summed up in these words "You already have everything you need to be a follower of my Son by doing whatever He says." (St. Mercy Hermitage 6 Sept. 1996/ John 2:5) 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Rosary, An Area of Prayer

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The Rosary has a character that is concerned solely with the sacred. 

Wherever a Rosary is set, that place can more easily become an area of prayer.  

The Rosary Beads help us to overcome that which impedes our awareness that we live in the Presence of God and in the midst of a "cloud of witnesses" - (Heb. 12:1).  The Rosary therefore is an act of witness.  

In the Remnant Rosary we have sixty-three beads giving witness to the twenty plus Mysteries (I Jn. 1:1-5; Col. 1:27; Acts 1:8).  

The Rosary is made up of Mysteries yet we live in an era of de-Mystification, in which everything must be explained in such a way it becomes as linear as flat, dull old wallpaper with the personality of a popsicle stick.  

Everything about the Rosary, its prayers, mysteries, movements, and the Beads themselves are sacred. 

Rosaries should not be in museums and collections.  

They should be put back into the service of the Church from which they were taken.  

Rosaries are not decorations nor are they to be used for jewelry. 

 Rosaries are for prayer and that prayer is at times simply the act of holding them.   

I so appreciate Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's word:

"The Rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadows of this world, and open on the substance of the next.  The power of the Rosary is beyond description." 


Monday, August 10, 2015

The Treasures of NHA, The Treasures of the Church

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Today is St. Laurence Day.

The story of St. Laurence, the deacon,  begins after the death of Sixtus, the prefect of Rome 

demanded that Laurence turn over the riches of the Church. 

Ambrose is the earliest source for the tale that Laurence asked for three days to gather together the wealth.  

Laurence worked swiftly to distribute as much Church property to the poor as possible, so as to prevent its being seized by the prefect. On the third day, at the head of a small delegation, he presented himself to the prefect, and when ordered to give up the treasures of the Church, he presented the poor, the crippled, the blind and the suffering, and said that these were the true treasures of the Church. 

One account records him declaring to the prefect, "The Church is truly rich, far richer than your emperor." This act of defiance led directly to his martyrdom.

 Tradition holds that Laurence was burned or "grilled" to death, hence his association with the gridiron. 

Tradition also holds that Laurence joked about their cooking him while he was burning on the gridiron, hence his patronage of cooks and chefs, stating something along the lines of, "turn me over ... I'm done on this side".

St. Laurence was the natural pick to be the patron over our Mission Work in Sierra Leone.  For there, we too, have found the jewels of the church -

the poor

the crippled

the blind

and the suffering

truly they are the treasures of the church 

treasures that we have the responsibility to love, care for and come to their assistance.   

Please, consider making a donation to the work of Nazareth House Apostolate today.  

Remember it is YOUR work,  Your prayers, Your love 

being carried out in the lives of those in need.  

Donations can be made using a credit card through the Donation Link on our website:

or mailed to 

NHA - St. Simeon Skete
Sierra Leone Mission
185 Captains Cove Dr. 
Taylorsville, KY 40071 

Be sure to check back on this blog regularly to see your gift in action.   

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

19th NHA Annual Rosary Novena for Peace

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The above is a 1916 photo of a soldier in the midst of heavy battle; he clings to his rosary, preparing for death.

Rosary Novena For Peace
(Using the Remnant Rosary) 

(6th August to 15th August)
Nazareth House Apostolate 
St. Simeon Skete
185 Captains Cove Dr 
Taylorsville, KY 40071

On August 6th, 1945 at 8:15 AM Japan Standard Time an American B-29 bomber, The Enola Gay, drops the world's first atom bomb, over the city of Hiroshima. Approximately 80,0000 people are killed as a direct result of the blast, and another 35,000 are injured.  At least another 60,000 would be dead by the end of the year from the effects of the fallout.

Tonight at 7:15 PM  EST (thirteen hours behind JST), the chapel bell at St. Simeon Skete tolled 70 times, one ring for each year since the bomb was dropped. This will begin our nineteenth Annual Novena for Peace.  We invite you to join us in setting apart a special prayer time these next Nine Days (beginning tomorrow) with the intention of peace.

"All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus" -Acts 1: 14
Nazareth where Mary gave us her peace plan:
“Do whatever He says” -Jn. 2:5

Hiroshima where it was ignored.

Nazareth is where our Lord spent his hidden life, where “nothing” was coming forth but tables and chairs, where He lived as we must live, where the Son of God was simply the son of Mary and Joseph. The hiddeness and ordinariness of Nazareth is an icon to something beyond self. It is the accepting that people may say of us what others said of Him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Jn.1:46), i.e. can anything good come out of this life of “ordinariness” and “hiddeness”, strategically placed in areas of need, making a difference by entering into the moment? Praying this Rosary Novena for Peace is our answer “for he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Eph. 2:14); it is our answer because He said “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn.14:27); it is our an- swer because we’re sent forth with peace, “Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (Jn. 20:21).

The Peace Plan for the World is Jesus, who gave us The Commandment (Mk. 12:28-31) to have a right relationship with God and Man. We can realize the Commandment when we follow Mary’s instruction relative to her Son, “Do whatever he says” (Jn.2:5). When we take up the Rosary, we are praying the life of Christ with a determination to do what he says in the Nazareth of our lives, Jesus.

The atomic bomb named "Little Boy" was dropped on Hiroshima by the Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29 bomber at 8:15 in the morning of August 6, 1945. Immediately after the atomic bomb was dropped 70,000 Japanese were instantly killed.

As we experience this Rosary Novena for peace remember not only the destruction of that morning in 1945 but also the bombs that continue to drop. Bombs... bombs of intolerance, hatred, pride, unforgiveness, greed and selfishness. These destructions dropped by the planes of commerce, enforcement, body politics and religion where there is no longer any room for He who said, "What you've done unto the least of these my brethren you've done unto me." Mt. 25:40
May this Rosary Novena for Peace do what theology cannot: put a human face on suffering and redemption. May we find sacred space in two “conflicting” yet complementary Biblical quota- tions:

 "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Mt. 5:4) and
"The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1 :21)

Both thoughts can serve as a response to the two cities: those who mourn will be comforted, and all has happened as part of God’s perfect will and permissive will.

May you take up the Rosary once more, as I have asked many times in the past, and pray it in an In- carnational manner for the "little ones" and for peace in our world.

May priests and religious chart programs of infiltrating areas of greatest need, "broadcasting" and bearing the Mysteries to the ends of the earth (Acts 1 :8). May they introduce and re-introduce this praying of the Rosary into all areas of life: families, cities, neighborhoods, offices, riding buses, walking streets ...

May we be aided in all our efforts with the grace and strength of the Lord whose life we contemplate in the Rosary, and may we be accompanied by Our Lady of the Nazareth as we continue the work of entering into all of life with the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6).

“Mary, Messenger of Peace”.
  1. Her right hand raised in a gesture 
    of peace. 

  2. Left hand held out in a gesture of offering but there’s nothing in her hand. The reason why her hand is empty is because we already have all we need to love and be God’s people. 

    How many more churches do we need; how many more denominations do we need? Most of “religion” is the result of: not finding God; not finding Him to be enough; and not wanting Him to be enough. Much of religion is not about God, its about control and to a large degree political parties are not about good government, they’re after control. 

    Not finding God to be enough, not realizing we have what we need to live out the Shema (Mark 12:29 -31) breeds greed and violence. Some years ago a reporter interviewing Seraphim asked “What happens if you’re captured by the rebels and shot?” Without a blink of hesitation he responded: “I have absolutely everything I need in order to be shot and killed and conversely I have absolutely everything I need to continue on living in this body.” 

1. Relative to the orientation message and the deaths of Hiroshima, instead of asking why, try to focus on the kind of theology needed to explain these events.
2. Meditate on the following Scriptures: Mt. 25:31-46; Heb. 13:3; John 1:14
3. Vicki Hicks on a trip to Africa organized a team to bear witness of the slaughter of 280 young people who were caught after curfew. She went with her Rosary and prayed on the sight of the tragedy with what she called instead of "air drops", "prayer drops." Find a place of great need, go, take your Rosary, and pray. Such places could be among the rich poor, ie. banking, insurance, judicial, law offices, etc.
4. If you cannot come to the skete to pray your Novena before the Shrine for Peace, print out the photo below, so you can be in solidarity with those who can be present at the 5:00 PM Vespers and Rosary. Create a sacred space, enthrone your picture, kneel, say your Rosary. This can be done at home or places as suggested above.

Remember dear ones, sacrifice, penance and prayer.
My love-
Being absorbed Into His Mercy, 
  - Seraphim+ 

The Shrine
The Rosary Novena for Peace Shrine has a dual focus; one representing Nazareth in the statue of Mary, Messenger of Peace that we might realize what we have and who we are is enough as we pray and live our Lord’s Way, Name and Life in union with Mary, Messenger of Peace.

The second focus, to the left of Mary, Messenger of Peace, is an urn which contains Trinitite, representing Hiroshima. Trinitite is the surface of the earth that was instantaneously melted by the heat of the first atomic bomb test blast. Shortly before dawn on July 16, 1945, at 5:29:45 AM Mountain War Time, the atomic age was born. After years of experimentation and preparation, the plutonium bomb, nicknamed "the Gadget," was placed on top of a one-hundred foot tower at a site termed "Trinity" by the scientists of the "Manhattan Project." Inside, about twelve pounds of plutonium was imploded to start the fusion reaction which resulted in a blast equal to twenty thousand tons of TNT. The fireball was almost as bright as twenty suns. It is this melted earth from the first atomic bomb blast that is housed in the urn of the shrine. 

“Lord Jesus, we thank you for giving us Mary, Messenger of Peace, to be our Mother. Great warmth fills our hearts as we take refuge in the tenderness of your Mother’s gaze; Grant that we might receive her message of peace by realizing what we have and who we are is enough, as we pray and live Your Way, Name and Life in union with Mary, Messenger of Peace.” Amen. 

Litany of Non-Violence

God, aware of my own brokenness,
I ask the gift of courage to identify how 

and where I am in need of conversation 

in order to live in solidarity with all people.

Deliver me from the violence of superiority and disdain. 
Grant me the desire, and the humility,
to listen with special care to those whose experiences 
and attitudes are different from my own.

Deliver me from the violence of greed and privilege. 
Grant me the desire, and the will, to live simply
so others may have their just share of Earth’s resources.

Deliver me from the silence that gives consent 
to abuse, war and evil.
Grant me the desire, and the courage, to risk speaking 
and acting for the common good.

Deliver me from the violence of irreverence, exploitation and control.
Grant me the desire, and the strength, 
to act responsibly within the cycle of creation.

God of love, mercy and justice,
acknowledging my complicity in those attitudes,

action and words which perpetuate violence, 
I beg the grace of a non-violent heart. Amen. 

Start your Rosary Novena for Peace on the 6th day of August. Say the Chaplet of the day, according to the day of the week. For instance, If the 6th of August falls on a Tuesday you begin the Novena with the Sorrowful Mysteries.  This year we begin on a Thursday. 

Mondays and Saturdays– Joyful Mysteries 
Tuesdays and Fridays - Sorrowful Mysteries 
Wednesdays and Sundays—Glorious 
Mysteries Thursdays—Luminous Mysteries 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Seventeen Days of the Name

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Seventeen Days of The Name 

The Seventeen Days of The Name begins with the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (July 22) who was the first to witness the Resurrection.  From here we proceed to the Feast of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus (July 27)*, these six days compose “The Pilgrimage of the Seven Sleepers” where we pray the Seven Redemptive Names of God.  Eleven days further delivers us into the second day of “The Rosary Novena for Peace” (August 6 -14).  These first two days that the seventeen brings us to are feasts that give us the eighth and ninth Names of God, i.e., August 6, The Feast of the Transfiguration giving us the all encompassing Name, “I AM” and August 7th, the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, the Incarnate Salvific ninth Name of God. 

Icon of Mary Magdalene and Icon of Seven Sleepers, St. Simeon Skete

Just as the Seven Sleepers waited to be awakened (resurrected) into a new world and life, so the Seven Redemptive Names of God lie in the cave of our hearts (Mt. 6:6) waiting to be resurrected into our lives, our decisions, our responses and directions we take. 
The Seventeen Days of the Name as with the Seven Sleepers is the work of representing eternity in time and perceiving in time eternity. For this work to be realized in our lives we must survive the impact of the world upon our resurrection which is everyday present.  Here the Cave has a distinct role in religion and society via initiation through withdrawal (Mt. 6:6) into an environment of internal isolation with God alone as a rite of seclusion as well as resurrection.  Therefore, due to this seclusion, a “new” kind of awareness and knowledge of God’s intentions for humanity with regards to the resurrection can enter we who are represented by the seven sleepers. 

The Particulars for "Spelunking the Seven Sleepers”
  1. Use the Redemptive Rosary for Compline during the Seventeen Days
  2. Sprinkle your face with Holy Water seven times and share Scriptures on waking up, being awake, etc. 
  3. Visit a cemetery - “thin places”
  4. Make Seven Offerings of yourself.
  5. Visit a Cave and pray the Names of God.
  6. Light seven votive candles and make reparation for the misuse of God’s Holy Name.
  7. An Abrahamic meal of lamb and couscous (Gen. 18:8) can be served on the Feast Day of the Seven Sleepers - 27th of July or as a celebratory end to the 17 days of The Name - August 7th. 

An Ode by al-Hallaj 
“In my inmost heart there is a pearl
I cannot touch (Mt. 13:45-46). 

I tremble when my thievish doubts
draw near.

It is a gift my Love has given me
to keep in trust.

Though blind, by it I see;
Naive, I am made wise.

The Seven Sleepers know this Love.
They are my friends. 

Time stops in the shadow
Of their mountain  (Mt. Celion). 

In its hush my Love returns
To claim His pearl.”

It is not about how we were, but about us as we are, a resurrected people now.  It is about Malcius who, as us, was awakened in the Cave and walked out into Ephesus with the old coins that showed the world in turmoil.  May we be good stewards of these nine most Holy Coins.

For more details about the Seven Sleepers and NHA, please see our previous blog post here: Seven Sleepers Blog Post

* In 2013, St. Simeon Skete embraced the Western date of July 27 as the celebration day of the Seven Sleepers.  This links together the Feast Day of St. Mary Magdalene, July 22, composing the 6 days of the Pilgrimage of the Seven Sleepers.