1. We were at a monastery day before yesterday and prayed vespers. Priest-husband and the big girls also prayed the "Jesus prayer" before vespers; the monks do most of the Jesus prayer silently so I didn't have the little children in the chapel. Twenty minutes of silence is not possible with them.
2. This is the "Jesus Prayer"--- "Jesus, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner." It can be prayed on a knotted prayer rope. You can start with saying it about 100 times and then slowly try to increase it so that it becomes an unceasing 'prayer of the heart.'
3. To monastery retreatants- stop feeding the raccoons. They look cute, but no matter what, they will stay wild. They'll just expect food from innocent 20-month old toddlers.
4. To good Catholic men who want to remain unmarried- please seriously consider the monastic life. The monks seem to have an aspirant or two (I didn't really get details- don't want to 'jinx' anything). I pray that he will hear God's will for his life-- and I pray that many more men will find their way to this faithful family.
5. It is hard to be in church when your kids are the only children there. Baby Girl especially loves to hear her own voice echo. The next time I go to the monastery, I hope to go on an actual retreat by myself!
6. a sad (to me) story- while at an Orthodox women's monastery in the old country last summer, we visited with the mothers and told them about this Byzantine Catholic monastery in the States. We said that their special ministry is to work towards the unity of all Christians and the preservation of true Byzantine spirituality while being in union with the Catholic Church. The mothers could not contain their disgust and asked us why would we ever pray for unity- the Orthodox are happy without being diluted by liberal faith. But our monks keep praying and being faithful to Byzantine spirituality and the Catholic Church.
7. Here is a vegan recipe from one of the monks (they are vegan year-round Wednesdays and Fridays and tougher still during actual fasting periods):
Lentil Vegetable Pasta
Saute a chopped onion, 2 chopped bell peppers, and a few cloves of crushed garlic in a teaspoon of olive oil in a heavy pot. When onions are softened, add 2 cups of lentils and 2 peeled carrots along with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then cover. Turn to low. While the lentil vegetable mixture is cooking, prepare 2 cups of dry pasta according to package directions in a different pot. After 20 minutes, add a can of crushed tomatoes to the lentil mixture. Drain pasta and then add to lentil mixture. Add salt, if needed. Serve with garlic bread and a green salad.