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.

See our website at www.nazarethhouseap.org

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, January 31, 2019

Words from Brother Lawrence

"That practice which is alike the most holy, the most general, and the most needful in the spiritual life is the practice of the presence of God. It is the schooling of the soul to find its joy in His divine companionship, holding with Him at all times and at every moment humble and loving converse, without set rule or stated method, in all time of our temptation and tribulation, in all time of our dryness of soul and disrelish of God, yes, and even when we fall into unfaithfulness and actual sin.


We should apply ourselves unceasingly to this one end, to so rule all our actions that they be little acts of communion with God; but they must not be studied, they must come naturally, from the purity and simplicity of the heart. 

We must do all things thoughtfully and soberly without impetuosity or precipitancy, which denotes a mind undisciplined. We must go about our labors quietly, calmly, and lovingly, entreating Him to prosper the works of our hands. By thus keeping heart and mind fixed on God, we shall bruise the head of the evil one, and beat down his weapons to the ground." -Brother Lawrence 

Friday, January 25, 2019

Showering of Prayer


There are many Holy Places to pray here at the skete, especially the Church, the chapels, the Prayer Wall and the Cave.  However, I always find myself able to pray with clarity in the shower.


There is something about standing there, water pouring on you, as the steam is rising towards the light... 

Water - purifying, Lev. 15:13
Steam - prayer rising, Mal.1:11
light - The Light, John 14:6


I remember Seraphim's story about his time when he was teaching in Scotland.  He was at the Servite Fathers and there was a crowd of Students.  And they loved his talk and gathered around him.  Afterwards he begin to feel quite good about himself and the reception and his talk.  That night he went to take his shower before bed.  At the Servites, there was no hot water.  And as he showered in the cold water he thought, "all we really are is who we are cold, naked, standing before God."   We can pretend and puff up, but our reality is who we are in a cold shower. 

Today's Feast (January 25): Conversion of Paul, Apostle
Before his conversion, Paul had been a leading persecutor of Christians. While journeying to Damascus to persecute more Christians, Paul had his conversion. He saw a great light and heard a voice say,"Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" Paul responded, "Who art thou, Lord? Jesus responded, "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest." Paul's conversion resulted in witnessing the resurrected Christ to others, and was thus one of belief rather than of conscience. May we, too, know the truth of the risen Christ, and spend ourselves following the holy doctrine which Paul taught, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

On the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, it is our custom at Nazareth House Apostolate to drive 1 hour 14 minutes just so we could pray on a street named "Straight Street."



This street is toward the south of us and in a subdivision.  So we stay in the car and pray the 6th Decade of the Remnant Rosary - The Name.  Then we return home. 






Monday, January 21, 2019

within our beads


At the skete, we constantly cross an invisible bridge to meet men and women, bishops and priests, rich and poor, sick and healthy, young and old. And when we return again to our "desert" - our personal space, we don't come back alone.  All that we meet are with us  —not in person, not in the flesh, but carried in our hearts and prayers within our beads. 



They are what we have collected in our bowls - our daily begging/offering bowls. We talk to God about them and we thank Him for having brought them to the skete and into our lives so that we can give room to them in the Inn of our hearts. 

Fellowship can be such a blessing as together we talk to one another and to God.

 And nights like this, when the golden light of the full moon peeks out through the overcast sky, that make us one with all the world, but especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  

God bless you all, may you have a wonderful week. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Three

“And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.”
—Matthew (vi. 7, 8)

The Lord's Prayer is essential to the skete life.  Within our rosaries and offices we pray a minimum of  95  times a day.  For we hermits that live in the marketplace (and the marketplace is everywhere), the Lord's Prayer is truly an essential and mystical prayer.   

Today people consider the Lord's Prayer a simple prayer and say it remotely without diving into it.  This is one of the reasons we developed the Lord's Prayer Rosary - to bring to highlight the Prayer's simple and profound meaning.  Yet today, for many, the Lord's Prayer is quickly recited and not inwardly digested - it has been considered too simple and instead replaced with ostentatious, empty ritual, that fall short of the mystical depth and innate understanding of the simplicity.  Ironically, Seraphim and I have been talking about the Leo Tolstoy’s classic, “The Three Hermits,” based on an Old Russian legend about three recluses who lived on an island and led the simplest of lives.  Their faith in God that he know their needs and their only request is mercy exemplifies how authentic transformation and transcendence can only ever come from within. It tells of how far society has come away from simplicity when in 1886 the Lord's Prayer was considered somewhat complicated. (see our blog on Lord's Prayer: http://blog.nazarethhouseap.org/2015/11/thy-name-thy-kingdom-thy-will.html)

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The Hermits only prayer: “We are three, Thou art Thee; have mercy on us.” Even so, they were reputed far and wide to have performed miracles.

When the local bishop heard of their exploits he couldn’t resist sailing out to pay them a visit. And while he was there, he’d teach them more church-proper prayers than “We are three, Thou art Thee; have mercy on us.” When he arrived on the island he proceeded to teach them The Lord’s Prayer.

He spent hours on end working with the three hermits to help them memorize it, though they fumbled and faltered throughout more often than not. Finally it appeared that all three had it mastered, and the bishop felt content to take his leave, satisfied at his good deed.

As he set sail once again, he heard the hermits back on the island praying The Lord’s Prayer in unison, just as he’d taught them so well. That night he stood on the deck in the middle of the sea under the starry sky, basking in his accomplishment and thanking God for allowing him to teach such simple island dwellers the proper way to pray. As he gazed out at the water he saw coming toward the ship a blinding white light – a flock of seagulls?

No, couldn’t be seagulls out here in the middle of the night, could it? He soon grew as frightened as Peter when he saw Jesus walking on water and imagined him to be a ghost. But finally the bishop discerned the light to be the three hermits holding hands and running on the waves to catch up with him.

As they drew nearer, the bishop could hear the holy men crying out in a single voice, “We have forgotten your teaching, servant of God.” And they pleaded with him to repeat it again, just one more time. To which the amazed bishop replied with a humbled heart, “No, your old prayer works just fine. You don’t need me after all. Go your way and pray for us sinners.”



Friday, January 18, 2019



The LORD’S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

"The ideal in prayer is to simplify it to the point where you no longer need a subject to pray about. 
     >"Father, in the Name of Jesus, give me your Spirit" - Jn. 16:23-25
       "in the Name of the Lord Jesus" Col. 3:17.  
You sense that these words of Paul could unify your life in continual prayer. This is the reason why you should rediscover this basic traditional attitude of the middle East, as Christianity was and is a middle Eastern religion. 

When you stay on the surface of the world, you are torn apart by departures and quarrels. All this belongs to the deceptive aspect of the surface.  Leave the surface and cross the visible outward areas to be with people from within.  The deeper you go into God, the less you are conscious of the distance travelled. 

Progress in prayer means a steady impoverishment.  In other areas, progress means adding a new friend, etc. whereas in prayer everything is gradually reduced to a single insight or a few word(s) or Name endlessly repeated. 

It's a wonder, a privilege to call God Father and to use that 'little' word "our" to embrace all of God's Children.  From wherever we pray, we reach up to the throne of heaven and reach out to believers in "every tribe and language and people and nations" (Rev. 5:9).  God sees, God hears, God knows, God comes, God delivers" - Ex. 3:7-8.  
This is the 'work', joy, hope and wonderment of Nazareth House Apostolate and the World Prayer Corp, i.e. to Pray the Lord's Prayer." - Seraphim 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Doubts

These words on "doubt" from Catherine Doherty: 

Feeling on the Verge of Catastrophe 
“You fence me in, behind and in front, you have laid your hand upon me... 
Where shall I go to escape your spirit? Where shall I flee from your presence?
 ...If I speed away on the wings of the dawn, if I dwell beyond the ocean, even there your hand will be guiding me, your right hand holding me fast...
 You created my inmost self, knit me together in my mother’s womb... 
Your eyes could see my embryo.
 In your book all my days were inscribed, every one that was fixed is there... God, examine me and know my heart, test me and know my concerns.
 Make sure that I am not on my way to ruin, and guide me on the road of eternity.” Psalm 139:5,7,9–10,13,16,23–24 


Doubts Assail Us Because We Love God 
News of war and rumors of new wars are cast about by the media like birds of ill omen. We are in the midst of doubt. There is no getting away from it. The radio blares; the TV blares. There is the massing of the troops on borders. The arms race accelerates. How is it possible not to doubt? Are there any around us who do not doubt? I know that I doubt, and yet I love God beyond all loves. Doubts assail you, too, because you are in love with God. 
Doubts Come From the Hell We Create 
Doubts come from fear, but they also come from the depths of human hell, the hell that man creates within his own heart. Doubts gnaw at me like quiet little mice eating up the cheese of my soul, of my mind, of my heart. I turn around, and I don’t know any more where I am. Doubts have almost conquered me. To contemplate the troubles of our nation, to worry about them, is not easy for anyone, but that is where our imagination takes us. Doubts and fears assail us: many manufacturers have put their lights out; businesses and factories are closing. There is a fault in the earth that might, even tomorrow, bring about one of the most terrible earthquakes that we have ever seen or heard of, bigger than the earthquake in San Francisco in the early 1900s, in cities that have grown larger in population. I am afraid to go in a plane. I am afraid to go on a train. I am afraid to go in a bus. There are so many that collide, so many accidents with planes and trains and cars. And the water isn’t safe. There is pollution all over the place. As I sit here, doubts seem to have become a part of me. Truly, I look at the world and I think, is it worth living in this world? Doubts shake me, doubts about the existence of God, his benevolence, his tenderness, his love, his goodness. All seem to have disappeared suddenly in some kind of a green ocean, and I am moving into it.
You Belong to God 
I enter the water without the proper diving suit. Waves hit me in the face. Am I drowning because I ceased to believe? Is that why I am in this green depth? But when it seems to me that all is finished, I am suddenly lifted up. I am lifted up and a voice out of the green depths, out of the blue-green of the sea, tells me:  “This day I have begotten you. I have thought about you before you entered your mother’s womb. You belong to me. I am your God. I am your Father. I am your Lover. I am your Spirit. You have been in my mind for all eternity. I have begotten you. Into your mother’s womb I have placed you, from her I have received you into my arms. I have loved you, and I have prepared a place for you in which you will be with me and my Son and the Holy Spirit, and where Our Lady will teach you the immense joy of being a Christian.” At the words of our Lord, the green depths vanish. Everything vanishes. Only the tenderness of God remains, and the doubts vanish as if they had never been.  

God is Love

"God is love" (1 John 4:8) is a favorite Bible verse about love. 1 John 4:16b is a similar verse also containing the words "God is love."

"Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him."
(1 John 4:8 and 4:16b)
Henri Nouwen writes:  “Maybe someone will say to you, ‘you have to forgive yourself.’  But that isn’t possible.  What is possible is to open your hands without fear, so that the One who loves you can blow your sins away.”