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.

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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.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Holy Cross

Pilgrimage is a vitally important and adhered to practice at St. Simeon Skete.  

In his book "The Road to Emmaus, Pilgrimage as a Way of Life", Jim Forest says "Roads are the circulatory system of the human race and the original information highway. From times long before the written word, roads have linked house to house, town to town, and city to city."

The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out
of an inner journey.  The inner journey is the interpolation
of the meanings and signs of the outer journey.  One can 
have one without the other. It is better to have both.
                     -Thomas Merton, Mystics and Zen Masters

On this Feast Day of the Most Holy Cross, we took to the road to make pilgrimage to a little area known as Germantown in Louisville, Kentucky.  There we find another one of those "thin places"("thin places", a Celtic Christian term for "those rare locales where the distance between heaven and Earth collapses") that you happen upon that is somewhat forlorn and forgotten except for a few who realize the significance of the place. 

We've been here before and as a child my grandfather and I would take walks to the Grotto.  At that time, it was part of the enclosure of St. Joseph's Infirmary.  Its now hidden off the side of a main highway and encircled by apartment complexes.  At first glance, its hardly noticeable.

As you close in on it, its a bit difficult to figure out what it is...

However as you walk towards it, the enclosure reveals its purpose. 

As we walked inside, immediately you feel drawn to prayer.  

On this Feast of the Holy Cross, we felt called, especially in this place, to say the Stations of the Cross.  We said the opening prayers at the Grotto

At the skete, we begin the stations with the Garden of Gethsemani, so we turned around to face the garden.  (You can see the apartment dwellings all around the area).  

One by one we followed the Way of the Cross, even singing (out loud) the Stabat Mater between each station. 

The hand painted Stations are vividly incredible.  

The rain began to fall as we journeyed through each Station of the Cross. But it was only a mist and it served to enhance the mystical atmosphere. 

Its my belief that there are many places like these, scattered about hidden smack in the middle of life, subdivisions and Pallet Yards.   We must search them out, stop what we are doing and take the time to go closer. 

"...Moses's turning aside from his original path. He felt that the marvel of the Burning Bush warranted making a stop; he was moved with desire to contemplate it and ponder deeply on it.  He accepted without question this sudden, extraordinary, divine event.  And it was because he did not hesitate to change his direction towards the Burning Bush that God was able to call to him. 'And when the Lord saw that..(Moses) turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.'

All this applies just as much to us today as it did to Moses. If during the course of our lives we hurry along without stopping, without even a glance towards the Burning Bush (which nevertheless continues its blazing along the whole of our way, though most of the time our eyes are close to it), we shall miss the opportunity God desires.  If, on the contrary, we do not hesitate to leave aside for a time the flocks of Jethro - our daily cares - the Lord will call to us from the midst of the bush.  He will call to each on of us by a name that is our own. 

Moses answered 'Here am I' without knowing what God would require of him.  Such declaration of being at His disposal is what the Lord awaits from us also.

May we place ourselves before Him, before the Burning Bush, and say: 'Here I am at this moment. Here I am in this very place.  Here am I for Thee, without any reservations whatever.'  " -L. Gillet

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Winds of Change

Yesterday, I told you about the wonderful "LOVE Scale" at the Pallet Yard. We found something else on that same property that I want to share today.  God is absolutely everywhere trying to break into our life, we only need to look for him - in our neighbor, at the grocery, at the gas station, at work and yes,... in a Pallet Yard. 

Next to the scale was a statue of a woman, a mother standing tall as the winds of change bear down on her.

The sign reads 

The sign says "Yet I do not want to be anymore than I am; a woman, your mother"; I am reminded we must be leery of the false self that seeks to please the world.  Do not listen to what society and progression dictates you should do, be who God made you to be, the real you. "All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." -John 1:3

"Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." - 1John 4:4

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Hundred Wishes

There is a saying "When you look at a field of dandelions you can either see a hundred weeds or a hundred wishes."

Hurricanes just slammed into Texas and Florida, Fires are raging through the Montana, people are protesting for peace in a very violent way, the kids all have runny noses and coughs, grandma and grandpa are getting a divorce...    It seems all we hear is bad news.  Its easy to feel overwhelmed and flat out disgusted and believe there is no good left in world.  But there is.  Where? You have to shut the laptop, put away the phone and go out into the world and take note.  There is no fear, no threat that stimulates our brain to automatically take note of the good.  You have to look for it and this is why constant attention to Social Media, News and such can create negativity in you.   

So yesterday, we went out into the world to take note of the good. And we found it, hidden away in a most unexpected environment.  In Southern Indiana, there is a Pallet Company in the middle of a forlorn industrial area running along the railroad tracks.  There we found a large scale, it would be easy to drive right past it without noticing it.  But we saw it.  

Further investigation revealed that on the two weights - one had the word "LOVE" 

and the other weight said "EVERYTHING ELSE" 

The scale was tipped in weight toward the side of LOVE

under each weight, there was a pyramid

on the pyramid under the "EVERYTHING ELSE" weight it said, "Always too much" 

and under the weight of LOVE, the pyramid said "Never enough"

What an incredible sight to find in the midst of a pallet factory!  

Please, make a point to look for what is hidden, we've lost so much by trying to keep in touch on Facebook instead of going out amongst people, we're missing what is out there - - go out, take a deep breath and blow out a hundred wishes! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Media Fast

As the Lenten Season begins next week on Ash Wednesday (March 1) many people think about fasting.  There are many ways to fast, you can give up something and you can also add something to your daily discipline as well.

Many years ago (decades ago) my husband, Seraphim began a perpetual fast from all news media.  Oh, he graciously listens from time to time as people insist on reporting news events to him.  He doesn't read newspapers and he doesn't watch or listen to news.  He has never read a newspaper other than quotes from newspapers that might be in a book he is reading.

I see some events through the internet when they appear in different feeds but neither of us watch the news, ever.  We've never suffered from not knowing what is going on in the world.

In Seraphim's "Little Philokalia, vol. 3" he writes about St. Silouan the Athonite and the saint's aversion to news - taken from pages 72 -74 of the book "St. Silouan the Athonite" by Archimandrite Sophrony. (St. Silouan is a  favorite saint of Seraphim.

  Seraphim stayed at the Monastery of St. Panteleimon when he was on Mt. Athos specifically so he could be in a place where St. Silouan had been)

"When the soul prays for the world she knows better without newspapers how the whole earth is afflicted.  She knows what people's needs are and feels pity for them" - St. Silouan

It is not necessary to know the details of the world reported by the media, more importantly it is better to know the needs of the world as placed in your heart by God through prayer.

During our last trip to Africa, Seraphim took a prayer walk up a pathway in Kabala.  As he hiked through the jungle, a man came from out of the bush.   They engaged in a conversation and at one point Seraphim asked the man to pray for the world.  The man said that he knew the world had gone awry without ever having a television, a newspaper or internet. He wouldn't even know what "the internet" was.  Yet, this jungle man said he knew the world was not good by the behaviour of the animals, the crops and the land.

Especially with the "Fake News" of today, biased reporting and general hype from the media -- I can't quit thinking of St. Silouan and the words from this Scripture:

Matthew 6:24-34

King James Version (KJV)
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

I'll be doing my normal Lenten Discipline this year, but I'm beginning a more intensive Media Fast.  I want to be guided by my relationship with God, my prayer life and by the constant assistance of my guardian angel and not by things of this world that seek to gain my dependence on them.

AdiĆ³s, medios de comunicaciĆ³n siempre

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Nazareth House Apostolate, St. Simeon Skete endeavors to serve those who seek to deepen the spiritual life through the Prayer Rope and offers a place of prayer to nourish the soul.
Like many monastic enclosures, we struggle to maintain the property & buildings and make ends meet. And like many other small convents and monasteries, as well as churches, we are burdened with a mortgage and necessary operational expenses. And yet, we hope for the ability to implement new projects and produce publications to further enhance spiritual opportunities for those we serve. So... on this #GivingTuesday I was preparing a great spiel on why you should give to Nazareth House Apostolate today.
However, what keeps gnawing at my heart... what keeps running through my head... is that the greatest need, for us at the skete, for you, for our nation, for the world is PRAYER. So as much as we need donations, and we do need financial support!,...we need prayers more. The whole world needs prayers more than we need donations. So on this #GivingTuesday, St. Simeon Skete is asking you to give the gift of prayer. Find a quiet space and pray. Pray for your family, your neighbor, the one you think deserves no prayer, pray for your pastor, your organist, the mechanic that fixes your car, pray for St. Simeon Skete, the world, children -born and unborn, pray... please pray. Thank you. God bless you all!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Mary, Messenger of Peace

Today, Tuesday, September 6th, Nazareth House Apostolate, St. Simeon Skete celebrates its 20th 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) 

Friday, August 5, 2016

19th NHA Annual Rosary Novena for Peace

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 71 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 Saturday you begin the Novena with the Joyful Mysteries.  This year we begin on a Saturday. 

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