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.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


When  traveling in Africa, at prayer times, Seraphim enters a village and the villagers
always offer him a prayer mat to use as he faces East to pray. 

The late Fr. Alexander Schmemann remarked that the history of the West is a history of radical discontinuities while the history of the East is one of radical continuities.

Every spiritual force inevitably decays as it moves away from its original source.  Living a life hidden in prayer brings us back to the original Source.  The Prayer Rope is our spiritual umbilical cord keeping us connected to our source and destination.

St. Simeon Skete's Three-Stranded Prayer Rope constitutes the very essence of religion and is the environment in which that essence is best expressed.

Along with this there are two simple yet profound practices of the Skete that keeps us in that "east continuity" :

Pictured is the compass that Seraphim has carried since a boy and used to find the direction of East while praying 

1.  Easting

Your prayer space should be such as you're facing east.  We go about the world saying Office, reclaiming real estate for God with a certain direction in mind, east:

"Look toward the east and behold that
joy that cometh unto thee from God. For
as the lightning cometh out of the east, 
and shineth even unto the west; so shall
also the coming of the Son of man be.
Lift up your heads; for your redemption
draweth nigh" - Baruch 4:36; Mt. 24:27; 
                                         Lk. 21:28

From apostolic times Christians have turned in prayer toward the east and in facing that direction have bowed to God.  St. Basil the Great (329-379) stated: "Therefore we all look to the east during prayer, but few know that we are in search of our original home, Paradise, which God planted in the Garden of Eden, to the east" (Gen. 2:8).  The invoker's compass points unwaveringly to a direction from which our expectation of hope is to appear.  A single geographical direction for prayer transforms the entire earth into one vast place of prayer.  Ultimately, we face not a direction, but toward a place of surrender - the heart (Mt. 6:6; Lk. 17:21). The heart bowing itself in this direction experiences a profound singleness. As the intellect gives way, the heart is raised to God, seeing all prayer as turning this way in surrender. 

May we go throughout the world creating sacred space through our "yes" to God; may we with right intention face east, say the words, perform the actions with care and say, "It is good for us to be here" (Lk. 9:33) 

2. Entering and Leaving a Sacred Space

Enter with your left foot saying: 
"I've come to remember the Name"

"I've come to take refuge in the Name" 
(Ps. 20:7; Ex. 20:24; Zeph. 3:12) 

Leave with your right foot saying: 

"I go in the Name of the Lord,
 IAM sends me as a chosen vessel 
to bear His Name and you shall call
His Name Jesus..."
(Ps. 124:8; Ex. 3:14; Acts 9:15; Mt 1:21) 

The left side is closest to the heart so we bring our heart into the place of worship first.  We leave on our right foot so that the heart is the last to leave (the first to enter and the last to leave) reminding that our heart is always there - always at the place of worship. 

May you as you can, take up this practice. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Bible, the Beads and the Bowl

When Seraphim was in India, he took up the concept of the bowl.  From that experience he learned:

  1. Whatever is placed in the bowl is your nourishment for the day
  2. Jesus says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35), hence there is a place for the beggar and his bowl. The beggar gives birth to the giver, the bowl is a story about relationships. 
  3. "Ultimately, the bowl teaches us that God is enough.  Unfortunately, most of "religion" is the result of not finding God, not finding God to be enough or not wanting God to be enough."
  4. From "The Thousand Day Nazareth" (The St. Simeon Skete's Rule of Life) the following is to be noted:    
The Five Faults of a Bowl: ©1999 NHA 

  1. If we don’t listen to the teaching, we are like an overturned bowl, nothing can enter in  (Isa.28:12; Mk 8:18).
  2. If we don’t put the teachings 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, this is similar to using an unclean bowl, corrupting what it holds (James 1:8, Mt. 23:25).
  4. If we are full of ourselves, we are like a bowl - "Inn” – where there is no room for Him (Luke 2:7; Rev. 3:20).
  5. If we are untrusting then what is placed in our bowl will never be enough (Luke 2:25-32; Mt. 6:33).
We go about receiving what is placed in our day (our bowl), good or bad, this then becomes our offering to God and God’s nourishment to us.
Finally, these words from Seraphim: 
"The Lamb came forward to take the scroll from the right hand of the One sitting on the throne, and when he took it, the four animals prostrated themselves before him and with them the twenty-four elders; each one of them was holding a harp and had a golden bowl full of incense made of the prayers of the saints" (Rev.5:7b -8).  "Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar.  A large quantity of incense was given to him to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that stood in front of the throne; and so from the angel's hand the smoke of the incense went up in the presence of God and with it the prayers of the saints" - (Rev. 8:3,4) 
I've often anointed my prayer beads with sweet smelling oil that my prayers might be pleasant smelling to our Lord God.  These verses touch the hem of this, especially (5:8).  I've kept a begging bowl as a symbol of my life and I can see the bowls that the Elders are holding to be begging bowls, begging for the prayers of the saints and that these prayers are the incense of Heaven.  I visualize the angels with these bowls "running" to the edge of Heaven to wait for our prayers to ascend into their bowls as they then hurry to the altar of God in offering and then back again for more ever saying to us "more prayers, more prayers, more prayers!" 

From an old journal of Seraphim's, he writes: 

Photo taken by Seraphim on the streets of Delhi. 
"Just returned from a long, hot and dusty day on the streets of Old Delhi. Each day I go forth with my prayer rope and a pocket full of rupees for the many beggars with their bowls.  As always, I run out of rupees early and I then have to say 'no'.  Today something happened, I was drawn into the 'no' of the poor that is their life.  But it didn't stop there, that 'no' became mysterious as it became the 'no' of God composed of humankind's refusal to give what He asks.  God asks for Himself in us".  

One of the most hopeful verses in the Bible: "Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" - Rev. 3:20

One of the saddest verses in the Bible: "He came unto His own, and his own received him not." - Jn. 1:11

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Blessed Silence

The Second Sunday of Lent is known as "Blessed Silence Sunday" at St. Simeon Skete.  In the readings for tomorrow it says "But He answered not a word" (Matthew 15:23).  

"Invoke the Name of God, that's all we can do on our side until God responds and leaves us wondering in silence.  But that moment of silence changes all sounds.  After a certain time, we were embellished by misery and certitude grew." 
- Seraphim (concerning our time in Egypt). 

 For more practices and information on Holy Silence 
please visit our previous blog post at

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spring Break at St. Simeon Skete

A gentle rain is falling at the skete, the skies are dark, snow is predicted and the winds are kicking up.  This morning as we walked to the Chapel it was 61℉.   The meteorologists say it will be 18℉ when we walk to the Chapel on Thursday morning.  This Winter's weather has been intense, to say the least.

It is quiet here, very quiet.  Rosary Class has just ended and afterward we had a wonderful time of fellowship as we broke bread together around the table at Anna House.

Just an hour before Rosary Class begun, our Spring Break Guests were leaving.   Anna and Jeff left for the North and Fr. Paul, Grant, Bethany, Carolyn and Vincent returned to the South.

James and Anna last Autumn at the Skete 
Anna and Jeff are part of the skete, coming here as often as their schedule allows.

Discussion of the Kiddush Cup used at Morning Mass at the Skete 

They know the routine and the skete has become "home away from home" to them.

Fr. Sterne also is a familiar figure around here and has been a part of Nazareth House for many years. He is one of the few people who have traveled to Sierra Leone with us.  This Spring break he brought with him (through the CS Lewis Student Center & St. Theodore's Chapel, Columbia, South Carolina) some kind souls who wished to offer themselves in any service they could.  I wasn't sure how to deal with such an offer of generosity or what exactly they had in mind.

  We've had many come through these doors.  We've had those who came out of curiosity to "check things out", we've had those who come to offer their opinion of how things should be done and we've had those who want to learn the ways of the skete to incorporate them back home and/or in the marketplace.   There have been those who have come to deepen their prayer life, and even some that come here we still haven't figured out why.  But here this week, we had people focussed on being of service to NHA and to the skete.

The trimming of the "monkey" grass  by Vincent and Carolyn 

Vincent continually asked for us to give him work "I am full of energy, give me manual labor," he expressed.  And that he did.  With Carolyn, he trimmed down all the unruly dried up "monkey grass" so that its new shoots could resurface green and lush.  They even cleaned out the chicken coop!

Supplies available at very reasonable prices at SOS 

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, they all volunteered to sort medical supplies in the name of Nazareth House Apostolate at Supplies Over Seas (SOS) in Louisville.  This is the Non-Profit Organization that makes it possible for organizations like us to provide the much needed medical provisions in Sierra Leone.  After completing a full days work at SOS, the group from The C.S. Lewis Student Center & St. Theodore's Chapel returned to the skete with a box full of wound care supplies and blood pressure cuffs to be sent to Sierra Leone ASAP.

We did manage to get one night around the campfire

Compline around the fire pit

including launching a trance balloon

Named "trance balloon" because you stand still and watch it fly into the distance 

but other than dinner each night together and Compline we didn't get to see as much of each other as we would have liked - because everyone was working.

While the group from South Carolina were working at SOS, Anna cleaned Anna House

and Jeff got all my printers and gadgets hooked up and synced.

Jesús put up the Lamp Post Posters along the driveway.

Spring Break Week at St. Simeon certainly helped us "Spring Forward" and we are most grateful for the tremendous help from everyone this week.

...and with everything in working order in my office there is much administrative work I must tend to so for now I bid you goodbye.  Look for another post toward the end of this week.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The 100 Names of Jesus

The Icon on this cover is enthroned at Anna House, St. Simeon Skete
From the daily insights of working on the streets, in 1997 Seraphim put together this list of the hundred Names of Jesus.  There are many more Names of Jesus within the Epistles but Seraphim restricted himself to only those taken from the Four Gospels.

Pa Amadu Barrie, Waliullah and Seraphim had many deep discussions about the names of God.
The Hundred Names of Jesus ©1997 NHA

  1. Ax: cutting illusion, Mt. 3:10
  2. Bread of Life: that none may hunger, Jn. 6:35
  3. Babe: to be held gently in my heart, Lk. 2:16
  4. The Thirsty One: who Thirsts for me, Jn. 19:28
  5. Carpenter: that I may be made in His image, Mk. 6:3
  6. Destination: being my source and destination at the same time, Jn. 14:2,3.
  7. Divider: separating me from what is not Him, Mt. 3:12; Mt. 25:32,33
  8. Uniter: that I may be one with Him who is One, Jn. 17:21, Eph. 4:11-13, Jn. 12:32
  9. Gatherer: that I may not be scattered. Mt. 12:30
  10. Door: giving liminality, Jn. 10:7 
  11. Dayspring: God’s light breaking into darkness, Lk. 1:78-79
  12. Emmanuel: God with us, Mt. 1:23. 
  13. Friend: to be friendly, Mt. 11:9, Lk 7:34, Jn. 15: 12-14. 
  14. Forsaken: God forsaking Himself for us, Mk. 15:34. 
  15. Gift: to be given, Jn. 4:10.
  16. Governor: to direct my life, Mt. 2:5b-6. 
  17. Heir: killed to take His inheritance, Mk. 12:7
  18. IAM: because no one name can describe Him, Jn. 8:58 
  19. Invisible: choosing visibility in us, Jn. 14:19-20
  20. Nazarene: to remind me that holiness isn’t at all where or what I think it is, Jn: 1:45; Mt. 21:11, 2:23; Lk. 24:19b-24     
  21. Key: unlocking the mysteries of the Kingdom, Mt. 16:19
  22. Lamb of God: who takest away the sins of the world, Jn. 1:29
  23. Light: for my path, Jn. 8:12
  24. Lord of The Sabbath: making each day holy, Mt. 12:7-8.
  25. The Life & the Resurrection: that none need fear death, Jn. 11:25-26
  26. Lord and Master: before which I prostrate, Jn. 13:13; Lk. 8:24.
  27. Messiah: my deliverer, Jn. 4:25-26, 1:41
  28. Manna: to be eaten, Jn. 6:31-35
  29. Last: so taking the last place that no one has ever been able to get it away from Him, Mk.10:43b-45. 
  30. The Hungry One: to be fed, Mt. 25:35
  31. Needful: that I might choose the better, Lk. 10:41-42
  32. Physician: making me whole, Lk.4:23
  33. Pearl: to be sought, Mt. 13:45-46
  34. Rejected: to be embraced, Lk. 17:24-25
  35. Rest: for the weary, Mt. 11:28-30
  36. Shepherd: to follow, Jn. 10:11-16
  37. Stranger: to be known, Lk. 24:13-35 
  38. Transfigured: The Beyond in our midst,  Mk. 8:34-9:10, 16:12, Mt. 17:2
  39. Teacher: to learn and to be taught, Mt. 10:25, 7:28-29
  40. Truth: to be told and lived, Jn. 14:6, 1:14
  41. The True Vine: to be a part of, Jn. 15:1,5
  42. Word: to be spoken, Jn. 1:1-4
  43. Way: to be walked, Jn. 14:6;1:14
  44. Water of Life: to be drank, Jn. 4:13, 14
  45. New Wine: making all things joyfully new, Mt. 26:27, 29. 
  46. Yoke fellow: learning the unforced rhythms of grace, Mt. 11:28-30
  47. Jesus: The “Sonning” of God, Lk. 1:31, 8:28, Mk. 5:7, Jn. 10:36, Mt. 1:21
  48. Son of David: showing His mercy from generation to generation, Mk. 10:47
  49. Saviour: making me one of the rescued, Mt. 1:21, Lk. 1:31, 2:11
  50. The Towel and Water: example to be followed, Jn. 13:4-5, 12-15.
  51. The Homeless One: to be taken in, Mt. 8:20
  52. The Eternal One: to be found in the eternal now of the Father, Jn. 8:58
  53. Creator: speaking things into existence, Jn.1:3 
  54. Consolation of Israel: that I may be consoled, Lk. 2:25
  55. God: to be my all, Jn. 20:28
  56. Ruler: to rule my life, Mt. 2:6
  57. Holy One of God: to render me holy, Mk. 1:24
  58. Horn of Salvation: (“Horn” here symbolizes strength) stronger than all my sin, Lk. 1:69
  59. Life: to be lived, Jn. 14:6 
  60. Son of Man: may He find rest in me, Mt. 8:20
  61. Mercy: that I may have, become, and render, Lk. 1:78, 1:50, Mt. 5:7, 9:13 
  62. Remember: that I may be ‘re’-membered, Lk. 22:19.
  63. Tameion: to be entered, - Mt. 6:6
  64. Hour: to be prayed, Mt. 26:36-41 (40)
  65. Lord of the Harvest: prayed and labored for, Lk. 10:2
  66. Presence: Name gathering, Mt. 18:20. 
  67. The Pilgrim/wanderer: going down the road but the road is inside, Lk. 9:57-62
  68. Prophet without Honor: indicting familiarity, Mt. 13:57
  69. The Imprisoned One: to be visited and released, Mt. 25:36
  70. Father Confessor: who forgives, Lk. 7:49
  71. Greater: giving courage to be less, Jn. 3:30
  72. Provider: freeing from attachment, Mt. 6:33
  73. The Chosen: who chooses me, Jn. 15:16, Lk. 9:35
  74. Deserted: that I may not be, Mt. 27:46
  75. Blessed Sacrament: to be visited, Lk. 10:39-42
  76. Sacrifice: to be offered, Jn. 15:13
  77. The Temple: my place of worship, Jn. 2:19
  78. Sower: making possible the harvest, Mt. 13:4, 37, Jn. 4:36
  79. Bridegroom: that I may not be alone, Mt. 25:6, Jn. 3:29
  80. Samaritan: binding my wounds, Lk. 10:30-36
  81. The Rock: that I may have a sure foundation, Mt. 16:18
  82. Righteous man: that I may glorify God, Lk. 23:47
  83. Mouth of God: that I may hear and live, Mt. 4:4
  84. Cornerstone: holding together, Mt. 21:42-44
  85. Son of Joseph: giving meaning to humanity, Lk. 4:22
  86. Anointed: to preach the Gospel to the poor, Lk. 4:18
  87. Guest: to be ready for, Lk. 19:7
  88. Flesh: to be our food, Jn. 6:49-58
  89. Drink: that I may have eternal life, Jn. 4:13-14
  90. Comforter: with which to comfort, Jn. 14:16-18
  91. Brother Son: that I may be both, Mt. 12:50
  92. King: to be in subjection, Jn. 1:49
  93. Messenger: the message for all, Jn. 6:38, 7:29, Mt. 21:37
  94. The Naked One: to be clothed, Mt. 25:36
  95. Love: loving, Jn. 3:16
  96. The Sick: to be visited, Mt. 25:36
  97. Peace: that my heart may not be troubled, Jn. 14:27, 16:33
  98. Son of Mary: that I may not be motherless, Lk. 2:7, Jn. 19:27
  99. Householder: leaving none behind, Mt. 20:1, (vv. 1-16)
  100. “  Your Name”  : Jesus disguised as your life, Mt. 25:34-40.      
“Who do you say that I am?” Mt. 16:15    

Discussion:  the Names of God 

“Spread your protection over them, that those who love your Name, may rejoice in You” Ps. 5:11   

“From the rising of the sun to its setting my Name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name,” Malachi 1:11

Sheik Huran of Senegal and Seraphim talk about the Names of God.