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 20, 2018

March 20: Feast of St. Photini

Today is the Feast of St. Photini. At Jacob’s Well near Sychar in Samaria, Christ stopped to rest while His Disciples went into the town to find provisions to eat.  St. Photini (Svetlana in Slavic languages) came to draw water, and He asked her for water to drink from the well.  Christ revealed to her that he already knew of her unlawful relations with a man who was not her husband, and affirmed against her beliefs that salvation is from the Jews, not the Samaritans.  She learned by listening with an open heart that this was the Messiah for whom the whole world inwardly yearned.  The Samaritan Woman then left her water pot and went into town to confess that she had seen the Christ who can give all spiritual water that is completely fulfilling.

Legend states that St. Photini was baptized with her two sons and five sisters.  In Carthage she preached the Light of the Gospel, for which she is named, where she was arrested and brought to trial in Rome before Nero.  She converted Nero’s daughter Domnina, and then was martyred by being thrown down into a well where she died in this life, but was made alive by Christ in Heaven forever.  She truly tasted the waters of Everlasting Life.  

In Photini's honor, it is a tradition at the skete to hike down to the well which is just beyond the cave close towards the river near our property. 

Each year, after the Holy Mass, we put on our hiking boots and head off to the well.  Carrying the water pot that has been blessed at the Offertory of the Mass.

 Its a beautiful journey as the March flowers are decorating the  decaying leaf scattered land. 

The recent flooding has receded but we wondered if the well would be underwater or even if we'd be able to find it.  

As we passed the Cave we noticed many trees have fallen. 

Some trees were very large

Finally we reach Jacob's well and its in good shape.  The land around it is deep in mud but the well is fine.  

We leave a water pot behind as we intend to do every March 20th, as this is an Annual Hike to Jacob's Well, honoring St. Photini's Feast Day.  As we leave the water pot behind, at the well, we say the 2(b) set of Luminous Mysteries of the Remnant Rosary. 

The Revealing: Jn. 4:4-30; 1Cor. 10:4 “Jesus your Life living in me.”
1. Jesus your life, the far country is living in me.
2.  Jesus your life the outcast is living in me.
3.  Jesus your life asking for that which only you can give is living in me.
4.  Jesus your life creating thirst is living in me.
5.  Jesus your life well of water springing up into everlasting life is living in me. 
6. Jesus your life, letting us know that you know is living in me.
7.  Jesus your life spirit and truth is living in me.
8.  Jesus your life revealing is living in me.
9.  Jesus your life Messiah is living in me.
10. “Jesus your Life is living in me that I may leave
behind the water-pots of my life” (Ex. 16:19-20; Mt. 6:33-34; Eph. 2:8-9; Heb. 12:1-2; Rev. 3:20).

Leaving the pot we return to the skete, back through the woods

passing the cave again

"Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,  “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did..." John 4:28

In The Shadow

"Nothing is more important than prayer and union with God, no matter where we may be.  Christ is the source and the only source of charity and spiritual life.  We can do nothing without Him and His Spirit, and I know you are now, as always, seeking no other Mover than the Spirit of Christ.  That is why the Cross will cast its shadow, still, over your life.  

But then, in that shadow, you will see the Light of Christ,  the Light of Resurrection. 

He lives in us, and through our poverty He must reign. And I need not tell you how poor He makes us in order to reign in us.  If we knew how poor and desolate we would have to be when we begin to follow Him, perhaps we would have fallen back.

Thus we are left as children, as the saved remnant which is forgotten, we are like the animals in Noah's ark, which floats off on the waves of the deluge of materialism without anyone but God knowing where we will end up.   We have got to be a people of hope.."  -Thomas Merton in a letter to Catherine Doherty

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Rosary Wombs

The photo above is one of Seraphim, many many years ago. I went looking for him and found him folded up in this tiny cave, praying.  The afternoon sun ignited his hands which were rhythmically telling the beads, yet he, himself was in darkness.  I remember thinking it was like being in a womb, the Name of God being prayed on each bead - shaping and forming.

Rosary Wombs

In the Nativity, He comes forth, formed from the body, blood and courage of Mary. In the Resurrection, He comes forth, formed from His body, blood and courage. This then becomes our rosary from which each bead, as many wombs, reigning and holding us in, until formed are birthed into this mystery of beads, movements and prayers from which we find our body, blood and courage with which to embrace both womb and tomb, making possible the living in between.” Seraphim+ 
Monday's Chaplet of the Rosary is dedicated to the Joyous Mysteries:  The Joyous Mystery that coincides with this Greetings and Readings Message is:

The Birth:
Scriptures for these Mysteries: Lk.2:1-20; 2Cor.8:9; Ezek. 34:16; Isa. 30:18; Mt. 2:1-12; Acts 17:28; Mt. 6:33; 7:7.
  1. Jesus your Life journey to Bethlehem is living in me
  2. Jesus your Life finding no room in the Inn is living in me
  3. Jesus your Life finding no room in our muchness is living in me
  4. Jesus your Life finding no room in our heedlessness is living in me
  5. Jesus your Life Mary giving birth in the margins is living in me
  6. Jesus your Life drawing shepherds and wisemen is living in me
  7. Jesus your Life the poor seeking, waiting, receiving is living in me
  8. Jesus your Life remaking our birth in yours is living in me
  9. Jesus your Life Mary pondering these things is living in me
  10. “Jesus your Life is living in me that this day/night may be one of birthing” (2 Cor. 6:2; Ps. 69:13; Rev. 3:20).

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Spirit helps our infirmiies

"I remember some time ago I asked Jesus to, for one day, let me see what He sees, let me hear what He hears, let me feel what He feels. It was one of those request stuck among many and after my prayer time I gave little more thoughts to it; until I attended the clergy group that I was a part of. As we ate breakfast, we did our usual chit-chat and cutting up a little.  Then it happened, one of the clergy made an off-hand comment, "The only time I cried was when my wife called me a bad name."  I guess the way he said it made some of the other clergy chuckle - I wanted to cry - you can tell a lot about people by what they laugh at.  I made my way back to the office and as usual there were people waiting. One of them said something derogatory about another member of the Body of Christ, my eyes welled up in tears.  I left to walk down Wells Street to pray the Jesus Prayer. 

 I stopped in a diner for a cup of coffee. 

A man came into the diner and sat at the counter.  You could tell he was a laborer who worked hard, married and probably with children.  As he sat down his pants rode down in the back showing a bit more than modesty would be comfortable with.  The teens in the booth nudged each other and began to laugh.  I started to cry. As the day went on, more was revealed.  I'm glad it was only for a day as I could not handle anymore.  It was as if Jesus drew me to Himself, holding me so close that my heart was pressed into His and His into mine; holding me so close that my eyes were pressed into His and His into mine.  And when it became difficult to continue on I heard the words of Rom. 8:26-27: "The Spirit helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  (27). And He that search the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according the will of God." -journal notes, S+

Dead End

When I took these DEAD END pictures, the scene stuck with me.  I simply wanted to take a photo of the flooding but I had a strong sense these were photos of something else. I kept running through all the struggles, sins and what not that result in a dead end but that isn’t what this closed off area was sparking inside me.  

In this Season of Lent, God teaches us to go through the suffering, not run away.  

And as I stood looking at the Dead End Sign standing in water I thought of the Israelites. 

Moses led 600,000 people out of Egypt through the desert toward the Red Sea as they journeyed to the Promised Land.  Pharaoh had become upset that he lost his working slaves so he sent his army after Moses and the Israelites to try and get them back.  Coming upon the Red Sea, to the Israelites it looked like a totallyDEAD END situation. To the east was the sea. To the south and west, there were mountains, and to the north was Pharaoh’s army. The Israelites were trapped.

How often have we found ourselves in an impossible situation, seemingly no way out? And how do we handle it?  Many of us are no different than the Israelites who were afraid and began to take it out on Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us to the desert to die? Weren’t there any graves in Egypt? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? We told you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone. Let us serve the Egyptians.’ It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die here in the desert!” - Exodus 14: 11-12

Moses answered the people- “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm. You will see how the Lord will save you today. Do you see those Egyptians? You will never see them again. The Lord will fight for you. Just be still.” -Exodus 14:13-14

I have trouble being still when I’m not afraid, I can’t imagine trying to be still when warriors are chasing me. That's real faith. Then the Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people of Israel to move on. Hold your wooden staff out. Reach your hand out over the Red Sea to part the water. Then the people can go through the sea on dry ground.” - Exodus 14:15-16

The Lord told Moses to stop “crying out to me” and get moving! Prayer must have an ongoing crucial place in our daily lives, yet there is also a place for action. Sometimes we know what to do, but we keep praying for more guidance as an excuse to postpone doing it. If we know what we should do, then it is time to get moving.

When we find ourselves caught in a problem and see no way out. Don’t panic; stand firm and be still ---God can open up a way. Pray and ….

"Do Whatever He Says" - John 2:5

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Sacrifice and Suffering

As our Lenten Season Progresses we are drawn in more and more to the awareness of Jesus' sacrifice and suffering for us.  

Sorrow of Mary - Luke 2:35 Retablo enthroned at Anna House, St. Simeon Skete

"A sword shall pierce through thy own soul

(Luke 2:35)
...that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

From "Love Before My Face" by Carrie Carney, this writing: 

"God does not wish suffering for its own sake.  It is simply that he wishes to work his marvels for you, where he dwells within.  In this way you come to sing your own "Magnificat" - to glory in the mighty deeds the Lord is doing in your own life.  God does not want to cut away anything of your true personality - he wants to refine you and prepare you for great happenings. 

In order that these happenings may be completely yours - intrinsically yours - you may have to suffer.  This is to establish you out of the mass of humanity, and make you a true individual autonomous personality.  Thus, you are built up into a mature person, and God is able to develop you into your full potential, in the place where He dwells.  

This is why it is necessary to go apart and allow the sword to enter.  Those who do not accept the sword involve themselves in all kinds of distractions and do not come to terms with the interior call which is given to them.

It was in suffering that the Lord himself spoke to us. And in suffering he takes up his abode with us, so that the mystery of his being takes flesh in us.  Sorrow builds a bridge into the infinite and becomes the meeting-place of God and man."

Sorrow of Mary - Luke 2:35 Retablo enthroned at Anna House, St. Simeon Skete
"Jesus your life is living in me" 
The Fifth (5) Sorrowful Mystery of the Remnant Rosary:
 The Crucifixion: 
Lk. 23:33-46; Jn.12:32;19:25-27 
“Jesus your Life living in me.”

1Jesus your Life, dignity stripped  is living in me.

2. Jesus your Life, nailed down to the cross unable to move is living in me.
3. Jesus your Life lifted up, drawing all people is living in me.
4. Jesus your Life in every moment of suffering and death is living in me.
5. Jesus your Life bridging Heaven and earth is living in me.
6. Jesus your Life -east west meeting is living in me.
7. Jesus your Life an unstoppable crucifixion is living in me.
8. Jesus your Life unstoppable Love is living in me.
9. Jesus your Life your Mother given to be ours is living in me.
10. “Jesus your Life is living in me making this rosary a place of crucifixion” (Jn.15:13; Rom. 6:6; 2 Cor.4:10-11; Gal.2:205:246:14; Col.1:24; Rev. 3:20). 

Saturday, March 3, 2018


Where there’s life, there’s movement of some kind. 

Where there is a spiritual reality on this earth, there is a work of great grace from God. 

And where there is a true spiritual life, there is a frequent need for the sacrament of confession.

Yes, confession is not only for the sinner converting for the first time to God’s ways. It is not only for the prodigal son come to his senses at last. It is also for those who have sought to follow the Lord for a long time.
It is for the elder brother striving to persevere in his father’s service without becoming bitter or jaded. It is for the worker who has labored since the first hour in the heat of the day, as well as for the one who did not begin until the 11th hour.
Mercy welcomes our entry into the spiritual life, and mercy guides our journey to the end, making the impossible possible.
Confession is one of the chosen vessels the Lord uses to pour out the oil of forgiveness and divine compassion upon our hearts. -Fr. D. May, adapted


The Prayer of Jesus is the chief weapon of the Remnant that must be fought in the battleground of (for) the heart, the method is to invoke the Name of Jesus over and over again in the heart, as flashes of lightning appear in the sky before the rain (Joel 2:23).  

The Name of Jesus is the lightning flash which, when repeated in the sky of the heart (the nous), induces the healing rain of Divine grace to water the "earth of the heart".  (i.e. the nous, mind is the sky of the earth or the heart, the sky coming down to the earth with the lightning of the Holy Name invoked and as the sky delivers this rain, the earth (heart) opens to receive and there the Name is invoked by the heart. (MLP 1:158).  

Furthermore the heart is truly a cosmos: sky, atmosphere, rain, earth, fruit producing, all pointing to the existence of life, as with the earth, only the heart has life. 

 "Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all." - Phil. 2:17