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.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NHA Way of the Cross, Sierra Leone

The following is the Nazareth House Apostolate "Way of the Cross" as seen in the toil of the people of Sierra Leone.  Every Lenten Season, NHA is asked to repeat this for those practicing their Lenten Discipline.   
Nazareth House Apostolate
St. Simeon Skete
Taylorsville, Kentucky
The Stations of the Cross

Reflections of the Suffering Christ present in the people of Sierra Leone.

  1. The young boy above displays the scourging on his face. He received these beatings for asking to go to school instead of selling coal to help provide for the family.
  2. The Stations of the Cross are actual photos taken by NHA photographers of the people we serve in Sierra Leone through Nazareth House Apostolate.
  3. These Stations are designed for you to ponder and develop your own personal meditations.

A disease rarely seen and easily cured in the West, Sheku carries a belly full of internal parasites—worms. There is no medication available for him. He is without hope and condemned to die. The very next day after this picture was taken he passed on. To give our lives to the making of more money and acquiring more possessions when there are people to be saved is to worship a lesser god.

"He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn't say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off"— Isaiah 53:7-8 (The Message)

The wood is heavy, the day is hot. He has no proper clothing to ward off the blistering sun beating down on his back. Yet, this small boy continues on, focused on completing his task. He will sell the wood as firewood to provide food for his family. He understands that the heavy burden he carries is his loved ones’ salvation –the means by which they will continue to stay alive. Jesus carrying the cross is the call of God for us to continue on carrying the crosses of life when all is surely lost.

“But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, .” Isaiah 53:4 (The Message)

Weak and hungry, this young boy collapses on the steps of a village home. He is unable to continue on, there is no energy left. He hasn’t eaten in several days. We all wish that some things in life would “go away”. But when they don’t, when we see no way out of them, then we must understand that God’s will is better for us than our own.

“But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (The Message)

Jesus said to his mother, “Women, here is your son”, then he said to his disciple: “Here is your mother”. John 19:26, 27 Whatever the cost, Mary trusted that God’s will was more to be followed than her own. Mary took the step for us that can give us the guts to take the step for others.

“Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother, This child marks both the failure and the recovery of many in Israel, A figure misunderstood and contradicted— the pain of a sword-thrust through you— But the rejection will force honesty, as God reveals who they really are.” Luke 2:33-35 (The Message)

The thinner man (on the left) is struggling to push the over-weight rice cart to the vendor. Weak, sick and starving, he labors on. The employer, who hired him to transport the rice, pays the man very little wages. His family is hungry but he doesn’t have enough money to purchase even one of the bags of rice that he hauls. A young, strong man sees the man’s toil and steps in to help him push the load.
There are so few choices for the poor. They have to endure backbreaking labor simply to provide a meal a day for their families. May we recognize there is beauty in a burden shared.

“I'll meet you there. I'll come down and speak with you. I'll take some of the Spirit that is on you and place it on them; they'll then be able to take some of the load of this people—you won't have to carry the whole thing alone.” Numbers 11:17 (The Message)

At Grafton Displacement Camp, the children are ill. All of them are sick at some degree, suffering fevers with frequent hacking coughs. Most have worms . There was not one child in that camp that didn’t have a thick runny nose. In the name of compassion we must be willing to risk all.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.” Matthew 25:34-36 (The Message)

This young girl has been sent out to fetch water for her family. She is extremely thirsty, weak and tired. She lays on the side of a curb to rest. Later she scoops the water from the drainage ditch into her bucket and returns home. The effects of war, disease and extreme poverty have taken their toll on many in Sierra Leone after the 11 year war in which thousands died and many more maimed. The people struggle to get back up and rebuild their country. Over and over we fall into the lure of the world, we must follow Christ by getting up and continuing on in His path.

"When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there's no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you'll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You'll no longer be so full of questions. John 16: 21-23 (The Message)

A man contributes alms to the ill, the famished, and the maimed women who have gathered to beg at the street corner. May we recognize Jesus in others, no matter how lowly or poor, rich or greedy—may we see Him in everyone.

“A huge crowd of people followed, along with women weeping and carrying on. At one point Jesus turned to the women and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, don't cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children. The time is coming when they'll say, 'Lucky the women who never conceived! Lucky the wombs that never gave birth! Lucky the breasts that never gave milk!' Then they'll start calling to the mountains, 'Fall down on us!' calling to the hills, 'Cover us up!' If people do these things to a live, green tree, can you imagine what they'll do with deadwood?" Luke 23:28-31 (The Message)

Malaria has brought this child to a listless state. She hasn’t the strength to raise her head. Pain we bring upon ourselves is one thing to bear, but pain brought about unnecessarily is greater to bear. The burden can break the spirit. This poor little girl is suffering simply because she was born in Africa. Around the world malaria is being prevented and cured, but in Sierra Leone it is the number one killer of children under the age of 5. Every individual has a place in God’s heart and therefore should have that same place in our own hearts.

“You're my cave to hide in, my cliff to climb. Be my safe leader, be my true mountain guide. Free me from hidden traps; I want to hide in you. I've put my life in your hands. You won't drop me, you'll never let me down.” Psalm 31:3-5 (The Message)

The Tenth Station: JESUS IS STRIPPED
A young man’s torn, raggedy clothing barely cover him. He is lucky to have found this to wear. Yet, dignity is here, even here. The stripping away of resources brings you to a total reliance on God.

"Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” Philippians 2:5-8 (The Message)

Isha was burned over 80% of her body. Her parents had no available means to treat her burns or the subsequent infection. Every time those, with the means to prevent it, ignore those who are suffering Jesus is nailed to the Cross.

“Out of that terrible travail of soul, he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many "righteous ones," as he himself carries the burden of their sins. Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly— the best of everything, the highest honors—Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep. Isaiah 53:11.12 (The Message)

The Twelfth Station: JESUS DIES ON THE CROSS
Her burns oozing and infected, Isha’s body is no longer able to keep going and she dies. Her parents, unable to do anything to stop it, watch in pain as she draws in her last breath.

“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12 (The Message)

Salu carries the body of his newly born child to the grave. He has no money for a proper coffin, he uses a cardboard box. Because the family had no money for a c-section, the medical facility allowed the baby to die in the womb and did nothing to assist the child in birth. Another child dies on the cross of poverty.

“There was a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a man of good heart and good character. He had not gone along with the plans and actions of the council. His hometown was the Jewish village of Arimathea. He lived in alert expectation of the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiseled into the rock, a tomb never yet used.” Luke 23:50-53 (The Message)

The Fourteenth Station: JESUS IS LAID IN THE TOMB

Alimamy, a good man, trained by Doctors without Borders, did much to save the lives of many in his country. Always putting others first, Alimamy treated a patient with a very contagious disease. He used the last available methods of treatment. When Alimamy caught the disease, there was nothing left to use to treat himself and he died.
There is always that silence at the graveside, repeated in hospital rooms, in war-torn villages, in deep famines - that speechless group huddled together in loss. A silence replaced only by the victory being won by Christ as He rises from the dead and our sin being transformed into forgiveness.

"The women who had been companions of Jesus from Galilee followed along. They saw the tomb where Jesus' body was placed. Then they went back to prepare burial spices and perfumes. They rested quietly on the Sabbath, as commanded". Luke 23:55-56 (The Message)

(C) Way of the Cross,  NHA Media 2009, all rights reserved.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Recently, the internet has been so terrible in Sierra Leone, that James has had difficulty in getting much communication to me.   We pay the ZAIN company $100 per month for a mobile USB connection that used to last all month and the ability for James to send hundreds of pictures to me in emails before needing topped off.  But the company now charges "pay as you go" and $100 dollars gets you only 2-3 hours worth of uploads, a few precious pictures.   So we are working on finding a better way, it seems every time something works for the better in Sierra Leone, greed raises its ugly head and the opportunity is removed from the people of Sierra Leone.   This really doesn't fair well for progression.   All the more reason we must keep lending a hand to our brothers and sisters who live there and must fight for survival.

As I opened my email the other day, I found this picture of a sweet infant.  

I noticed she looked a bit "weathered", you could tell that her short life had 

already been a rough road.   

One by one the pictures of this child arrived in my inbox.  

But James internet time ended before he could send me the story on this baby.  

So I sent James a text, inquiring as to the details of the child.   A copy of the text is below.  

I don't have to say another word.  The text says it all.   Pray for this child, pray for our work and do what you can to help us help those who are abandoned, forgotten...   

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