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, April 18, 2018

Shared Blinks

I read yesterday, a quote from Saint John Paul II: 

"My greatest desire in life is to be in 
constant eyelash-to-eyelash 
relationship with God."  

I found the quote to be a beautiful description of the depth and longing of closeness with The Almighty.  

When you consider the use of 'eyelashes' in the quote; "*The key is hidden inside the word “reconciliation.” Many words contain what are called dead metaphors—“dead” because their metaphorical meaning has become lost to us as language has changed. So, for example, when we say someone has scruples, we mean they have a sensitive conscience; but, in Latin, a scrupulum is a small pebble, so when someone has scruples, it’s like they have a rock in their shoe, niggling them. It’s easy to recognize the similarity in the two situations.

Another metaphor lies within the word “reconciliation.” The Latin word for eyelash is cilia. If you were so close to someone as to have your eyelashes with theirs (“with” being cum or con-  in Latin), you’d be concilia. And if you were once that close, but had drifted apart and then returned again (“again” being re- in Latin), you would be re-con-cilia—you would be reconciled.
This one word, with its hidden metaphor, succinctly summarizes salvation history. In the beginning, human beings shared a great closeness with God. In their innocence, Adam and Eve stood uncovered before God, not needing to hide anything. God walked with them in the garden in the cool of evening, like you might do with an old friend after a big dinner.
But we separated ourselves from God by our pride; we withdrew from that closeness, that intimacy, by wanting to change the nature of the relationship, by trying to be equal to God. Instead of being gentle infants held in our Father’s arms, cheek to cheek, we were headstrong toddlers who pushed and wiggled and squirmed out. And when we realized what we did, we hid, we covered ourselves, and we couldn’t look God in the face anymore.
But God loved us and wanted us back. God wanted us to be able to look Him in the eye again. So He came among us as one of us, like to us in all things but sin—he had arms and legs, hands and feet, a heart and a mind… and eyelashes. 

Icon: Our Lady of Tenderness, Anna House (St. Simeon Skete)
Jesus came to sinners, to the afflicted, to the poor, and stood eye to eye with them and said: “Your sins are forgiven you.” And by His Cross, as man he stood eyelash to eyelash with God on our behalf and said, “Father, forgive them,” and as God could respond, “It is accomplished.” Thus God “reconciled the world to Himself,” as the prayer of absolution says." -Nicholas Senz

*-Nicholas Senz

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Praying for each other...

 On St. Antipas Day, those of us at the skete, equipped with our brass icon of St. Antipas jumped into the car and set out for a day of prayerful pilgrimage of our own repentance/renewal and to pray the Name upon all we meet.  

The Name of Jesus contains all things, a Reservoir of our needs, wants, sufferings, joy, hope - its all within His Holy Name.  

Praying for our friends, family, strangers, co-workers by placing them into His Holy Name relieves us of “to do lists” and/or removes our expectations for them and gives them entirely to God’s will, not ours.  

Revelation 2:12-17 states:
  12- To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of the One who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13- I know where you live, where the throne of satan sits. Yet you have held on to My Name and have not denied your faith in Me, even in the day My faithful witness Antipas was killed among you, where satan dwells.
14- But I have a few things against you, because some of you hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to place a stumbling block before the Israelites so they would eat food sacrificed to idols and commit sexual immorality. 15- In the same way, some of you also hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16- Therefore repent! Otherwise I will come to you shortly and wage war against them with the sword of My mouth. 17- He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone inscribed with a new name, known only to the one who receives it.”

Praying the Name over the city, with all its activity, makes it one of many areas in our world to practice The Shema. 

“And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, (Hear O Israel; The Lord our God is One Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these”) - Mark 12:29-31 

“The Shema”
“So then Lord, it is this? It is truly this? It is only this? This is the whole law and all the prophets? To love with one’s whole heart... To love Him who first loved us, to love everything that He loves, all men, all women, all creatures... Yes, my child, that is it, and that is all. Everything ‘else’ has value only inasmuch as it is the expression, the carrying out - under so many various forms - of that initial impulse which is My limitless Love... The heart transplants, which in our day have become possible, are a wonderful sign of a spiritual reality. To give one’s heart to another, to accept the heart of another... It is the parable of limitless Love’s triumph.” - (pgs 71-72 of “In Thy Presence” by Lev Gillet). 
And as Thomas Merton realized in Louisville, Kentucky - while on the busy streets - we are all connected!  When one hurts we are all affected in some way - when we hurt, God hurts, when our brothers and sisters hurt (or joy) we are affected - most have become numb to this under the illusion that the world is all about the self - self wants, self needs, self happiness.  But we are connected. 

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world. . . . 

This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.

Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. . . . But this cannot be seen, only believed and ‘understood’ by a peculiar gift.” -Thomas Merton


praying at the Water Co. (Living Waters) many opportunities for pray...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

St. Antipas

Today, April 11th is the Feast Day for one of the eleven patronal Saints of St. Simeon Skete: St. Antipas. 

On this frosty morning; we made our way down to Grace Church

There, we enthroned the Icon of St. Antipas

"I know where you live -- where satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to My Name.  You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city, -- where satan lives." -Rev. 2:13 (NIV).  (-"...yet you hold fast my Name.." (E.S.V.); "...Yet you have held on to My Name..." (B.S.V); "...yet you are holding on to my Name" -(C.S.B.) )

"... To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." Revelation 2:17. 

God loves His creation.  Sin corrupted it, but He has a plan to return it to its original state of perfection, and He will reward those who help Him carry out His plan. 

"If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door: it desires to have you, but you must master it." Gen. 4:7 (NIV)

"But He said to them, 'I have food to eat that you know nothing about." -Jn. 4:32 (NIV), because "In your struggle against sin, you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood." Heb. 12:4 (NIV). 

The hidden manna is something you receive already in this life. It corresponds to your hidden life.  Our hidden life is the place inside us where no one knows what is happening except you and God. It's where you struggle with impure thoughts, pride, vanity, the untruth, etc. It's where you fight and overcome those temptations. 

The hidden manna is the assistance that you receive when you pray for it in those tempestuous times; the nourishment you receive, the power from on high. It is given to anyone that asks, all that ask with a heartfelt longing to be free from sin. 

At the time that the book of Revelation was written, a white stone was equivalent with innocence. If you were to be tried for a crime, a white stone signified acquittal. 

The white stone is a symbol of whom you have become through your faithfulness and your determination to conquer sin. It is rock-hard faith and purity.  Here on earth your faith is being tested - in eternity it will have been proven.  

Today at the skete, we were given white stones as a remembrance of St. Antipas and the Scriptures of the day. 

Withstand the test. Written on the this flint-hard stone will be your new name "by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped corruption that is in the world through lust." - 2- Pet. 1:4

This name will reflect the struggles that you have stood in, and the sufferings you have endured. It will show who you've become because of your faithfulness and God's grace.  You know the fight you've had to live through to reach the place you are now, and you will instantly recognize that name and identify with it - - it is the ultimate symbol of victory and transformation.  Finally the name and the named are non-different, as the Name of Jesus and Jesus are non-different. So it will be for us.  This new name that only God and you know, is the attestation of your spirit; it's what God sees when He looks at you.  He won't be looking at your human nature, He'll zero in on the new creation in you, the outcome of your faithfulness to Him and His commandments. (2 Cor. 5:17) And that is what you will be for eternity, an eternally pure new creation, free from sin. 

Remnant Rememberers

The Holy Name of Jesus is, for those in these last days, the Way, Truth and Life (John 14:6) sitting in a chapel holding the prayer rope, or engaged in their daily labor, the Remnant Rememberers practice the repetition of the Holy Name as their way of life which offers stability in this world and hope for "the other shore" (Mark 4:35; Matt. 8:18). 

 Invoking gives peace in its simplicity to humble people as the Name and Named are one.