Great Lent Newsletter and Donation Appeal - 2015
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Great Lent Newsletter and Donation Appeal - 2015

Deposition from the Cross (Detail) - CF857

Deposition from the Cross (Detail)
- CF857 -

Great Lent: "In the Beginning"

Our Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

     Bless!  The Lord!

Every season of the Church Year has a beginning, and Great Lent mirrors the progression of interior change from the first Adam in Paradise before the Fall, then that same Adam outside of Paradise now fallen, and then the second Adam, Jesus Christ, moving humanity from fallenness and sin to become capable of receiving Heaven and the Blessed Kingdom of Heavenly Life in God.  We are invited to become deified, or infused and renewed into a Godly condition of mind, body, and heart.  It is a great invitation indeed.  Outside the earthly seasons move from the end part of cold and Winter and into the warming and blossoming Spring time renewal of life outdoors.  We are invited to be more than passive spectators of this spiritual and physical renewal by actively entering a time of increased prayer, fasting, and alms-giving as the three pillars of this time of repentance, forgiveness, and blessings.  May we take the time today to reflect on this and enter this beginning more deeply.

In the beginning of Creation, God made Heaven and Earth, and all of the things therein.  This is all of the Immaterial Creation of the nine ranks of Angelic Beings and the many levels of Heaven, still only seen here “as in a glass darkly” while we are here on earth; and also all of the physical Creation which is easier for us as earthly beings to see and imagine.  All Creation is an outward movement and manifestation that God made in love, and all of it was made with blessedness and goodness inherent within.  It is only perverted wills that make it seem otherwise. 

On each day of Creation, evening and morning as the Church has recorded time since then, God saw that what He made was good, and He says so explicitly, so we know that this goodness is truly inherent and foundational.  But it was only on the sixth day, after Man was made by the Trinitarian God first revealing Himself in the plural sense, that any part of Creation was made truly different, for we have within us the Image and Likeness of God Himself as a part of the basis of our very being.  Then, and only then, when God finished His work on that sixth day, He said in reflection that what He had made was not just good, but very good.

When we enter this process of renewal, and begin to be purified from the distortions that have crept into our lives both in general humanity and in our own personal sins, we become capable of making this very good part of our nature resonant with God by choice and by condition.  Then we can begin to actually become an active part of God’s continuing creative force of love and blessing to the world around us, and to every sentient being.  We see this manifest most clearly in the lives of the Saints who became in some sense God-Bearers and God-Dispensers so to speak, because God worked many miracles, healings, and blessings through them who were so perfectly united with Him.

Great Lent is the training ground to make this new beginning of change, of repentance, of renewal, and of conscious choice to live differently both inwardly and outwardly.  The Church services help lead us through this change.  So does the ascetic fasting, prostrations, increased prayers, and more generous giving outwardly to those in need.  Most of all it is a time to learn more deeply to love with a Godly love, both the Lord and all those He loves here and in every part of the worlds that He made.

St. Nicholas Church


Our Monastic Life This Winter

As was the case last year, many parts of the country have experienced an unusually cold and long Winter this year, and here at the Skete it has been remarkably cold too, first early on in November, and then especially this February just ended.  Every day is a winter hat, long scarf, and warm coat day.  By the grace of God nothing major has seriously broken down, but many drains and water lines have been frozen and out of service for weeks or even months, and we await the first serious thaw with anticipation.  Most of the deep snows that fell on the East Coast, and even in Chicago just missed us this year, but we still do get snow and ice too, just not as much depth as them so far this year.  Our supply of cut wood for the wood-fired boiler in the Skete back valley by the Common Monastic Building has lasted so far, and it is likely to last until the end of the Winter season.  That is a relief.  Last year we barely made it with the same amount of wood, almost twice then our normal amount for a typical Fall/Winter season.

 Monastic Life in Wisconsin Winter



New Pre-driven Truck


New Pre-driven SUV


This has been a year and a half of vehicle problems.  Our beater pickup truck was totalled over a year ago, one of our mini vans died of old age and poor motor mounts, and a deer jumped out into our small all-wheel drive SUV totalling it early this Winter.  A dear friend gave us a newer used truck, so that got replaced, and we just went down to mid Texas (no winter salt = no rust!) to get a newer used small all-wheel drive SUV to replace that one.  Our last old mini van is rusting out so badly that the doors-are-open sensors keep going off even when the doors are closed.  It is likely that it too will die shortly.

Skete: New Pre-driven Truck

Skete: New Pre-driven SUV





Common Monastic Building


Completing the Common Monastic Building is on a kind of hold right now as we need some more materials to complete the interior construction which is 90% or so done.  It is tantalizingly close.  Painfully so, as it could actually be used as planned with just a little bit more work.  The newer Guest House is sitting this Winter parked in a field in the front Mission Center waiting for warmer weather to put in cement piers in its site for stability in wet ground, the funds to connect it for water, sewer, electricity, and propane, and then the funds to finish prepping the dry-wall, painting the interior, and putting down floor coverings so it would be functional.  Hopefully this would be a wonderful Spring project after Pascha and make a more comfortable place for guests to stay.


 Common Monastic Building



In Closing

Our daily needs are still very important and with the extra cold this Winter our heating bills are off the charts for the Mission Center which is heated by propane.  Some financial help here now would be a great blessing.  We would love to move forward even this Winter on the construction in the Common Monastic Building.  We have materials on hand to finish the floor and wall tiles in the kitchen, baths, and utility room, and then we could put up the kitchen, dining room, and utility room cabinets as the next stage of moving forward toward completion.  That would take some extra funding for the cabinets too.  Lastly we are looking forward to the change of seasons bringing warmth and light and a ground thaw so that the cement piers can be poured and we can at least move the newer Guest House into place.  If you can help with any of these needs for us here at the Skete and Mission Center, we would be most appreciative.  The Holy Scripture says truly that God loves a cheerful giver.

Most of all, however, do keep us consciously in your prayers for a most gracious and helpful season of change, beginning again in this creative Lenten time, 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

  Click for General Monastery Donations Page

  Click for Donations to Common Monastic Building

  Click for Donations to Special Mission Needs


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