Three Little Words
Our Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Christ is Risen!
We have all heard of those three little words which so light up the heart and mind when given to us from a gladsome heart, “I love you!” How thrilling it is to hear this, and indeed, this is the warmth which each soul yearns for from birth to death in this world. Yet Christ Himself is Love Itself. Not just the source of love but the condition, and the means, and the end. As St. John the Evangelist said, “for God is Love!” (1John 4:8)
Pascha or Easter is the Passover from death to life. It is the Eighth Day and the fulfillment of all days and all time because it is Eternity brought down to us, and the best gift from above. In this season of Primavera or Springtime, outwardly new life springs up from the bareness of Winter. The leaves unfurl, the green grass jumps up, the birds sing with such eagerness, and we can smell in the fragrant breezes the new flowers’ scent. Spiritual Springtime is even more profound. Pascha is not just a time or a season, but the beginning and the end, the source of life and the fullness of Heaven if we will just enter into it. Christ’s three little words are truly Love come down to us, for He Himself is “much-suffering Love” from His Incarnation until the end of time and beyond. When He says to us so sweetly “I love you” let us open our minds and hearts to receive this warmth and great goodness today!
This Year Now at the Skete
Wisconsin in the Springtime is very boisterously energetic for when it bursts out, everything grows so fully. We are just at the beginning of this change. So many days of work were missed this Winter from the great snow storms, ice, drifts, and really deep cold. Our icon factory was closed many days because the workers that help production from the towns around us couldn’t get out to come in on at least one day a week for many weeks at a time. We are working now on scanning many new beautiful icon images to expand our icon collection, including some of the great mosaic icons of Italy from the 5th through the 8th centuries. They are very wonderful and striking indeed.
Because icons are “windows into Heaven” this spiritual art directly affects our heart and mind when we look at them and through them to see the transfigured cosmos that sits just beyond this physical world we see with worldly eyes. When we look spiritually, the veil between Heaven and Earth is lifted enough to see more. It is a wonderful work to be daily engaged.
Our challenges still remain from the wind and rainstorm a year ago July which had such devastation on us in damage to our equipment and buildings and time. Greatly constrained finances have been our greatest concern. Even our most basic needs are still hard for us to fulfill for some time–even our food, lights, and warmth.
The road to the back valley is still not easily accessible for a vehicle to drive because of last year’s flooding damage to the road. The monks still have to walk the third of a mile to get to the buildings there. The silence in the back valley is very deep, and makes time spent there a different kind of prayer. It is also very deep now in St. Nicholas’ Church in the front valley. St. Isaac of Syria, who is the patron and guiding light of our monastery, says that “silence is the language of the world to come.” It is more than just quiet here, but silence indeed!
Our Present Urgent Needs
We still really need your help. Please pray for us and, if possible, send us some means now to help us continue our life here, and our icon service to the church at large and also to you. Our sales were slower than usual so far this Spring, which puts a strain on just keeping up with our daily expenses, heat, and food. Give from the heart. Let your mercy greatly shine towards us, and may Christ’s great mercy also shine so brightly towards you.
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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