Pascha Newsletter from Metropolitan Jonah
Beloved in Christ,
Χριστός Ανέστη! Христос Воскресе! Christ is Risen!
The fathers and a brothers of St Demetrios Monastery greet you with joy in the Resurrection of Christ!
We give thanks to God for all the multitude of blessings he has showered upon us, and especially for the gift of spiritual illumination that He imparts to us in this radiant Feast of grace. Celebrating Pascha we celebrate not only the rising of Jesus, 2000 years ago, but that He has raised us from the tombs, from our imprisonment in our fallen state, and raised us to participate, even here and now, in His Kingdom. How great a salvation He has given to us!
Let us not neglect this immense gift!
We are most grateful for the kind support you have shown for our monastic community. Please know that you are prayed for, and the hope by those prayers that we can be a support to you as well. We greatly appreciate when our friends, known and unknown, come and visit, take part in the services, come to confession, or just come for some peace and quiet, or some brotherly fellowship. We have guests who visit from all over the country.
The Brotherhood celebrated Holy Week and Pascha, as usual, at St Herman of Alaska in Stafford. Several of the brothers of the monastery are involved in ministry at St Herman’s, one bishop, a hieromonk, a hierodeacon, a novice choir director, Sunday school teacher and various other functions. The relationship between the two communities is immensely fruitful, hopefully for both. We give thanks to God for the wonderful, faithful people of St Herman’s! On Holy Saturday, we baptized nine people during the Vesperal Liturgy. What a joy. And we still have more catechumens to go.
During Holy Week, the services were split between the parish church and the monastery, with evening services at St Herman’s, and morning services in the monastery. Thus, we were able to do the whole cycle, thanks to God.
We ordained Fr Silouan to the Holy Priesthood as a Hieromonk, and blessed him to take up full time missionary work in Uganda. He established Orthodox Africa, an NGO assisting Orthodox missions and orphanages to become self-sufficient. He now is assigned as assistant rector of Annunciation Mission on Bukasa Island, and the St John the Wonderworker Mission Center in Kampala. He will be working to establish a missionary brotherhood to develop young African men as leaders for the Church.
The Brotherhood is set to grow some more. We had some postulants and novices go back to their university studies in January, and then Fr Silouan has now moved to Africa, so we were a bit low in numbers. We have several men set to come and join us starting in May, some young guys and some more mature.
We are looking to do some remodeling, so that we can make the basement into a decent place for several men to live. An architect has offered to help us with plans.
The Monastery is also considering how it can expand, and whether that is possible at the current site on Catharpin, or where we can acquire 35-50 acres or more of land. We just found out that the neighboring fields will be made National Battlefield sites; in other words, not available. We have a number of people who are relocating to Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburg, in order to be near the Monastery. We need to have adequate facilities to serve not only an expanding brotherhood, but a lay community as well, including a nice chapel and dining facilities for 50+ people.
Our Bookstore is doing very well, and the mail order business has picked up considerably. Thank you for patronage! We have some projects that we hope will develop into industries, which will produce income. But until that time, some of the brothers work outside jobs.
Usually on Saturday morning at 10am we have a Liturgy that is well attended by people from all over the Northern Virginia and Washington Metro areas, with a potluck fellowship meal afterwards. Please come and join us!
Metropolitan Jonah published a book recently, Seek First the Kingdom, on monasticism. An initial pre-printing, for review and editing, has come close to sold out. But there are a few left! It will be coming out in a few weeks in a better edition. We hope you will consider buying a copy! It will give you an idea of the life we try to live at St Demetrios, and a vision for American Orthodox monasticism.
There are several retreats being developed and planned. First, on Contemplative Prayer; then another on A Contemplative Vision of the Divine Liturgy. These emphasize the method and practice of contemplation, the Jesus Prayer, and how it integrates with the liturgical life of the Church. The text of the Divine Liturgy, the “priest’s prayers,” are often overlooked in liturgical commentaries, even in the theology of the Liturgy. The retreat will look at the prayers and the movement of ascent to the Kingdom with the angels, to the Throne of God, which is the essential content of those prayers. There is a spiritual ascent, experienced through contemplation. How do we enter into this? This is also the essence of the movement of the Jesus Prayer.
Two other retreats will be offered this summer: on Monasticism and discerning a vocation; and a retreat on young men’s issues. The first will use the book, Seek First the Kingdom. The second will be eventually published as a book. We will publish our plans for these retreats when they can happen.
Needs for the Monastery
We are developing prosfora baking, and need a large standing mixer with a bread hook. It will need to be commercial grade.