Great Lent Newsletter and Donation Appeal - 2014
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Great Lent Newsletter and Donation Appeal - 2014

Deposition from the Cross - CF873

Deposition from the Cross - CF873

Great Lent: The Blessed Season of Change

Our Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

     Bless!  The Lord!

St. John the Baptist and Our Lord Jesus Christ began their public ministry with the exact same words “Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand.” (Matt 3:2; 4:17).  It is a very clear and focused teaching that all of their subsequent ministry was built upon, for the pivotal word here is repent, which in the original Greek is metanoia, or dynamic, positive, blessed change which truly brings about the beginning of the Eternal Kingdom of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity, one is essence and undivided.  We are invited into this change, so positive, so life-altering, so important, by understanding that this condition we are trying to enter is the very fabric of the Mind of Christ that we pray will become our way of life.  Great Lent is the tithe of the year, and if used properly, begins our entry into Heaven, the Eternal Pascha of the Lord.  May we begin again today.

Today as never before the whole world is looking for peace, for rest, for comfort and relief from strife and discontent.  We look outwardly at events beyond our control and worry and fret with mostly bad news over every type of media, which comes to us now in an almost continuous stream.  Where then is peace and security in such times?  The Peace of God is not dependent on the cessation of any outward thing, for then it would be limited to the choices of others over which we have no control.  This great Peace, given only by God, is different and can be reached through interior practice by trusting that God is truly the source of all good, and Good Itself, and the source of all life, and Life Itself.  When we touch deeply this Good and this Life there is a peace that comes upon us that no man can take away. 

The Change of Seasons and the Change of Time

Each year the seasons revolve in an ordered progression, leading from one to another, each with its own beauty and its own need, all for our physical, mental, and spiritual benefit.  This has been set by God for our blessing.  When we see how the seasons of the Church also are progressive and beneficial, then we can use the outward seasons in a dynamic and positive way.  In particular Great Lent is a time to focus again on our inward heart and mind, and to reset our life back into the focus of blessed, Heavenly, Holy, and Eternal things which elevate us from the merely mundane to the super Celestial.  First we do this outwardly through the primary means of more prayer, more self-restraint and fasting, and more outward and inward charity and alms-giving, the three pillars of each fasting season in preparation for the Great Church Feast which follows.  As Pascha, or Easter, is the greatest feast of them all, so it follows that Great Lent is the best time for us to make habitual the path of joyful sorrow that Christ brought to earth as a way of life, and all of His Saints have followed since then.  We are invited now to enter that life more fully.  We do this by consistent practice.

Our Fall to Winter at the Skete

When we do this regularly, time itself becomes suffused with an eternal dimension, for we are buying up the time with blessed repentance, with blessed change.  We have then entered the dynamic ever growing life with God, and are remade more fully each day into His Image and Likeness.  Heaven is not static and dead, but dynamic and alive, for the Holy Trinity is full of Life.  Let us earnestly choose to begin again each day with such blessings that the “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for those who love Him.”  (1 Cor 2:9)

Steam Rising Over Stream on Below Zero Morning


Our Monastic Life This Winter

Many parts of the country have experienced an unusually cold and long Winter this year, but at the Skete it has been remarkably cold, with six nights so far with an actual temperature (not including wind chill) of 25 degrees or more below zero. Many water lines and sewer lines have been disrupted or not functioning, and one of our two water pressure tanks has failed along with a sticking magnetic electrical switch in the motor control panel that regulates the pressure of all the lines. When the pressure builds too high at times, it blows the pressure relief value, dumping water into our kitchen area, and then overloads the circuit breaker so it trips and shuts off the water.


 Steam Rising Over Stream on Below Zero Morning



Mission Center: Damaged Water Tank


Common Monastic Building: Back-up Generator Upgrade Box


This brings down all of the water flow in the front Mission Center, including St. Nicholas Church, the Convent of St. Silouan, the Icon Studio, the Guest House, the Hospitality Center, and Orthodox Byzantine Icons production facility. A recent estimate to repair this sets the cost at $3,200 and we are asking for help to get this needed repair done now. Please help us keep our water system working for normal human functioning. Thank you.

Mission Center:
Damaged Water Tank

Common Monastic Building:
Back-up Generator Upgrade Box





Hospitality Center: St. Paisius Chapel


Some good things have been completed since our last newsletter, and we wanted to thank you for your help, including completing the remodeling of the Hospitality Center with the Chapel to St. Paisius inside. It is all beautiful and functional again after years of water damage from a leaking roof and a subsequently damaged ceiling. Completely reset now with new rafters, new insulation, new ceiling tile, some new wiring, and a new paint job, it is a wonderful place to see and pray in. The total cost so far for the interior reconstruction since mid-November is just over $4,600. Your donations have helped make this happen.


 Hospitality Center: St. Paisius Chapel



A critical overload on the solar electrical system in the beginning of Winter caused the pumps suppling our hot water circulation for heating the Common Monastic Building to shut down. There was resulting damage twice to the water lines outside near the large wood boiler that supplies the heat, and once some of these lines had to be replaced and once just un-thawed. A temporary generator was rented to keep the pumps going until the batteries recharged. A long term solution was to get and set up an emergency back-up generator and system to avoid any such problem in the future. This was all accomplished by mid-January, and can also now directly recharge the batteries while providing temporary power in any unforeseen emergency. It cost just under $4,000 to do this. Your contributions helped accomplish this. Thank you for your help.

In Closing

Some of the monies planned for the Common Monastic construction went into the back-up generator fix. We are still wanting to finish this construction so now are asking a little more to get this done. Our daily needs are still important and our heating bills are off the charts for the Mission Center which is heated by propane. Some help here would be a great blessing too. Most of all, please keep us consciously in your prayers and we will keep you in ours. May the Lord of Goodness, Life, and Love fill all of our hearts with sincere repentant joy this Great Lent, and may we all greet Pascha together gratefully on that most Blessed Day.

Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The monastics of St. Isaac of Syria Skete
            and the Convent of St. Silouan,
            and the community at St. Nicholas Church

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