Our Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Bless! The Lord!
From Darkness to the Early Dawn: Christ is Risen!
Between the Sixth hour to the Ninth Hour on Great Friday all of nature was darkened before the Lord Who was suffering on the Cross, and when He died His Disciples thought that everything had been lost. Yet on the morning of the third day, Christ appeared in the brightness of His Glory to give them these first words, “Peace be unto you!” We need to remember that the most intense darkness often comes just before the greatest light if we are with Christ and open to receive these blessings. We can also receive these if we learn to live without complaints as the Holy Apostles did.
This has been an amazingly stressful and challenging year for all of us, and we too have had our share of troubles here, some surprising, but in all things we have tried to be grateful, for it is when we are weak that God can be strong in us. Rearranged plans have blossomed but then there was time and a place for things that we could not have had happened unless our plans had been interrupted, and what a great lesson this is, as all things are thus in God’s wonderful Providence.
Of the many things that we are grateful for, we are very grateful for you and all those who care and pray for us here at St. Isaac’s Skete, and ask God to help us by your prayers and other support. This means a lot to us, and we pray for you in return every day. This is the normal and healthy relationship of mutual support and prayer and love that the monastics and laity keep for each other throughout the history of the Church, and so you are dear to us, and how you are doing in both your sufferings and your joys. May we all be blessed to learn love and greater dependence on the Living God Who loves us intensely each moment of our lives, and may we always pray that His mercy reaches each person as they will let the Light of His Countenance fall sweetly upon them.
The Covid crisis has affected us all. We are thankful that it did not strike the monks yet or many that were closest to us. Still, our icon business was closed for over two months as a non-essential business here in Wisconsin until the end of last May, and we were closed again when our entire computer system was hacked in mid-September, though most of our daily operations are again back after that last two-month hiatus. We took up the many suggestions for safely opening back up our manufacturing facility using some state approved guidelines that both we and the hired staff felt most comfortable about meeting our own needs, and they are all in place. There has been no contagion here because of those precautions.
The back valley’s Common Monastic building is still not up and functioning correctly and the road to the back this winter was often impassible so that the contractors including those for the well could not even go back to assess or fix the damages. The new 16 deep cell solar batteries have just come in but need to be connected after our battery box is rebuilt larger to hold them as they are slightly larger than the old ones. There is room now for 8 more solar batteries to complete all of the storage for the power needs of this building, now and in the future. There are also leaks most recently in some of the water lines from the boiler connection to either the intake coming in with the heated water or the lines to the radiators in the greenhouse.
All work on this and on the well needs the batteries in place and connected to let us assess all of the other damage and get that fixed. This is a stand-alone electrical system as there are no outside commercial power lines going to the Skete monastic back valley. It is a most beautiful all-green monastic building that sadly sustained such extensive damage this year, and we want to get this all back together as soon as possible.
Because of such a perfect storm this last year of being shut down twice between the state mandates and the computer hacking (four months between them), we are seriously behind in our business and because of this are behind in every other aspect of past due bills and reduced time that employees were able to work to keep everything moving forward. Many buildings had their water freeze, and drains freeze too over the winter which have just recently thawed. There was also roof leakage from the ice dams during the coldest weather.
Critical Help is Needed Just Now
We are very greatly stretched (yet thankful still), so we are turning to our donors and dear friends for practical help as well as their earnest prayers for the monks here to help get us up back on our feet and be able to meet our financial obligations that are so stretched in this perfect storm. We had to use some available funds to buy extra propane heaters and containers of propane to just heat minimally the back valley’s Common Monastic Building all winter long to avoid even more damage than what has occurred. Our time to do more advertising and donation appeals on time were also put back because of each challenge that we are still facing.
We are just a few monks, but still willing to try to do what we can to provide our beautiful icons to the Faithful, and keep our prayers up, and our buildings functional and intact. We really still need now most of all over $9,000 in donations for our general funds to manage to move more forward, and another $2,000 for the rest of the solar batteries to make that array full. You have always responded to our past donation appeals and we thank you so much for that. We want to continue to serve you and each part of our larger spiritual community, so please see in prayer whatever you can do to help. Every dollar will count and is a blessing, even the widow’s two mites! Thank you for help, and may mercy come to you and to all we love from Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Keep us in your prayers and in your love. We are praying for you.
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! Amen.
Your Brothers in Christ,
The Monks of St. Isaac of Syria Skete
and the community at St. Nicholas Church
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