Jesus Christ "Pantocrator" - CJ704
The Meaning of Christ's Nativity on Earth
Christ is the Son of God and the Son of Man, the Infinite God in all Eternity, and yet the humble and vulnerable prototype whereby all humanity can be humbled, changed, and transfigured into Godliness if we will only follow Him. He is far above all comprehension, beyond even all Godly imagination, yet He is visible, available, present, and right here and now. Because He lived with us on earth, He knows us in every detail of our human condition except choosing sin. This is the feast of His drawing close and dear, humble and poor, tangible and immediate as truly now "God is with us!" The promise of Emmanuel has now come to pass. God has become a little Babe that we can look at with wonder and love.
When we look up to high ideals for our life we can become discouraged, as our own efforts seem somehow too limited to affect any long term change. Heaven and the Saints can seem far away, un-reachable and too extreme to fit in with our daily tasks and responsibilities. But it is not too hard for us to be kind in thoughts and deeds by thinking about how God loves us, and how He made everyone on earth in His Image and Likeness. It is not too hard for us to be thankful that He has made the Sun to shine on us and light the world, provided food and sustenance, and given shelter for us when in need. It is not too hard for us to choose to follow Him in humility, for needing nothing, He "took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross…." (Phil 2:7-8) We can be humble too before Him and before all we come in contact with. This icon of His is the way of Godliness. This icon of His is truly "the Way, the Truth, and the Life…." (John 14:6)
The Change of the Seasons
In this time of the year, we experience the change from Summer's heat and from Fall's colors, to the preparation of Winter's long nights. This is the time when that which is hidden in the field is the promise of next season's abundance, for "except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:24) In Wisconsin, it is the snows that cover the ground which set the moisture for next year's crops, and make the ground receptive for growth. In our monastic life, it is the long quiet nights with less distractions that set the mind and heart to receive Christ at His Birth and later at His Resurrection. In all of our lives, it is the turning within the heart where God told us to look for Him, that God is manifest and made a constant companion, "for the Kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21) Let us seek Him there and ask Him to patiently teach us more and more how to pray and change, love and grow.
Our Fall to Winter at the Skete
This year we are glad of all of the improvements made to our grounds and buildings. All of this year's firewood is already put up into the pallet containers so it is easily moveable as needed this Fall and Winter. This means we will stay warm in the back valley this year. Almost all of the brush is cleared, most of the lower branches of the trees are trimmed off, and the majority of the rocks have been removed from the fields. Together these mean that our mowing can be done more thoroughly and with much less time and efforts next year. The used outdoor equipment bought over the last few years for outdoor maintenance have also paid a dividend in better results and less time spent to keep all the grounds maintenance up. We now have a full complement of this equipment to trim, mow, and remove brush, even recently finding a small used "red wagon" to fit on the back of a riding mower to help remove rocks and brush and move it off the fields. We still need a snow blower for the clearing the way to the cells off the beaten paths this winter, and also a roto-tiller for the garden next Spring. Can you help us find or finance these most helpful tools? It would truly be a great blessing
The Back Valley of Silence
The construction on the Common Monastic Building slowed down just slightly as energy is still being spent just now to tie down all outdoor things for the weather to come this Winter. The Well and Septic were just installed in the last two weeks. Thank you for your generosity to accomplish this wonderful addition where there was no water or sewer. The tile on the floor and wood trim on the windows and doors in the dining room are installed. When the back splash on the wall is installed, the pass through into the kitchen is built, and storage cabinets constructed, the dining room will be completely finished. That will be the second room in this beautiful building to be done and ready to function, as the back pantry, office, and tool room was completed and set up late this Spring. Next is the floor tile and wall tile installation in the kitchen, laundry area, and two bathrooms. We already have all of the tile, cement, and grout for this work, as a generous donor just gave all of the remainder wall and decorative tiles just last week. A donor is also paying for finishing all of the wood trim of windows and doors throughout the rest of the building, and sanding and finishing the upstairs floor. These donations will move this building much closer to being functional. The four new donated solar panels are scheduled to be installed on the hill above the building soon. It is our goal to get this all fully operational by this coming Winter and Spring.
Installing the Well
Septic System Placed in Field
Our need of financial support is a steady daily reality. Your kind donations help us live a prayerful life, and to do the outreach of providing spiritual tools to improve the spiritual lives of the Faithful. The Holy Icons, Devotional Goods, and Books that we provide and distribute are a wonderful outreach, but they do not entirely support our food, heat, electricity, clothes, medical, and other expenses, even though we are personally frugal. The nearby Convent of St. Silouan is even more dependent on your support, and Mother Elizabeth has special medicines that she needs for her diabetes. We ask you to help her, and to help the monks live reasonably. Every little bit helps. Give something if you possibly can.
How to Help Now
We are moving forward by your prayers and practical support. Pease keep it up. Our constant concern is to learn to live with less expense and with less time spent on just daily chores if possible, to leave more time for prayer and helping others. This is a good challenge, but takes much thought and often more financial and physical support now in order to need less in the future. The Common Monastic Building is designed to use much less energy than even most modern green new construction. It uses the sun and the earth to preserve energy, a creative passive solar design, and a wood-fired boiler fueled by the wood harvested on our own property. As this building is finished, it will shift our life more into this older traditional mode of quiet and simple monastic living. This Fall and Winter are critical to get a large part of the building completed so it can be used by this next Spring. This is a great investment in our future, and in our long term relationship of mutual prayer. Help us make it grow now.
In addition, we ask again for help with our daily needs. These are not extreme, but still necessary. Give something now to help us move into the quiet of Winter and increased prayer. We are personally poor. If many give just a little, with prayer and love, that will be enough, and God always rewards a full and generous heart. May He amply reward you.
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May God bless you spiritually and physically in this time before and during the commemoration of the Lord's Birth on earth. Keep us in your prayers, and we will keep you in ours. In anticipation, we give you the joyous greeting of the feast: Christ is Born! Glorify Him! Amen.
God bless your good hearts,
The brotherhood of St. Isaac of Syria Skete
and the sisterhood of St. Silouan’s Convent
and the community of St. Nicholas Church
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Your donations are tax deductible.