As you can see from the pictures, the building is being built. Over the next few months, our building fund will be depleted, and more, much more will be needed to continue building.
As God wills, we are building Saints Mary and Martha Monastery. Women who are called to the monastic life are being led here. While this building is ambitious, it is being solidly built with a vision that provides spiritual retreat and inspiration for this generation and generations to come.
Over the years, we have sought grant and foundation funds with almost no success. We avoid using credit cards to obtain donations, as this usually results in people going further into debt. This monastery does not receive any financial help from our diocese. While churches in our diocese purchase our candles, they are hard pressed to assist us otherwise.
It has taken us over seventeen years of prayer and hard work to arrive at this point in time. So many of you pray for us to grow in numbers and to succeed as a monastery. Often we have been asked, “Who is your major contributor.” The answer is, “We, the nuns, are.” So it should be, but we need more help.
Therefore, if you or someone you know is interested in the growth of
monasticism in this country, we appeal for your assistance to help us grow an
English speaking women’s Orthodox Christian Monastery in South Carolina.
Donations may be sent to:
Saints Mary & Martha Orthodox Monastery 65 Spinner Lane Wagener, South Carolina 29164.
The footers are poured and the walls go up and up and up on the first third of our monastery building.
We knew that the orange piece of equipment with wheels transported a Sky Trak which is a telescoping arm lift with a forklift at the end and is used for moving block, mortar, and other supplies around the building as well as up to and down from the scaffolding. The grout hog/concrete pump (the piece of equipment being lifted up by the Sky Trak in the picture below on the left) is filled with concrete from the mixer of the concrete truck and driven to where it is needed. The wide hose is then directed to the hole in the block, and concrete is released to fill the hole. The workmen repeated this process until all the holes in the 12” block were filled (per Aiken County Regulations).
After this, the concrete was allowed to set up for several weeks. Then it was on to “higher levels”. Window frames were constructed and installed with plywood cut to size to keep the frames squared. More scaffolding went up. More block was laid. More concrete was poured into the block holds, but it only needs to be solid on the north and east side now and every other hole on the south and west side, because the chapel is two stories high.
The east wall is almost a solid block wall, which will eventually have a stairwell leading to the second floor that will have four bedrooms and bathrooms with a hall wide enough to run bookcases along the full length of the middle wall.
The picture on the left is the west wall which is also the fire wall and will connect to the second third of the building. The three double door frames lead into the chapel and will eventually open into the narthex/dining room/living room of the second third. The first single door leads to the other side which will have a sacristy, workroom, storage space, three half bathrooms, and washer and dryer space. A temporary ramp will be built on the north side (above) with a porch in front of the three double doors and first single door. The single door on the right will eventually be used to access a three-quarters bathroom in the second third.
The photo to the right is the south side which also has an opening to the rooms described above. The sunroom will provide useful space for many purposes There will be stairs up to the landing, French doors into the sunroom and French doors into this side of the building.
Every time the masons lay six courses of block with rebar horizontally and diagonally, the county inspector treks all the way out here from Aiken, the county seat, which is on the southwest side of the county. Of course, we are on the northeast side.
To say that we are amazed at how big this building is is an understatement. We know that we need the space and that it will be used to its fullest and then some. The walls are thick so as to help reduce heating and air conditioning costs, which will pay for itself over and over and over again. We also know that it must be built well so that the nuns who come after us will have less structural upkeep and can add onto instead of rebuild. That is if Christ doesn’t return soon.
Due to Holy Resurrection Mission in Aiken/Augusta not having a place of their own, we enjoyed their using our little chapel for Liturgy on Saint Mary of Egypt Sunday and Palm Sunday. Since then, they have purchased their own property in North Augusta.
May 18th, the second Saturday after Pascha, was our Fourteenth Annual Pilgrimage. Three priests concelebrated Divine Liturgy that day -- Fr. John Parker of Holy Ascension Orthodox Church, Mount Pleasant, SC, Fr. Peter Robichau of Saint Basil the Great Orthodox Church in Wilmington, NC, and Fr. Timothy Yates of Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in West Columbia, SC. Fr. Timothy delivered a fine sermon. Forty-six people attended. While this was fewer than past years, it was all we could handle, and God knows how much we can manage. It is our fervent prayer that we will not have to pitch three tents for next year’s Pilgrimage, but hold services in our new chapel.
The following day, Sunday of the Holy Myrrhbearers, found us at Saints Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Church in Summerville. South Carolina, visiting a long-time friend and then traveling on to attend the marriage of two young friends at Holy Ascension Orthodox Church in Mount Pleasant which is east of Charleston. The groom is the son of another of our long-time friends.
June 1st was flea market day. Thanks to many of you, we had a lot of stuff. We netted $275.25 for the Building Fund. In the scheme of things, it’s not much, but it takes a whole lot of little numbers to add up to a really big number. And so we continue.
On his monthly visit, Fr. James Bohlman, our spiritual father, served Divine Liturgy on June 4th, the feastday of Saints Mary and Martha. We were so grateful for this feastday gift.
Summer is the time we receive more visitors than the rest of the year, and we have received a “gracious plenty”.
We were blessed to have Kathy Lu tend to the dogs and ducks as well as the rest of the monastery while we drove up to Waldorf, Maryland, to attend the dedication of St. Thomas the Apostle Orthodox Church on June 22nd. They had worked hard and long for this joyful day to arrive. On the right is a picture of His Grace, Bishop Gregory, Primate of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA, and several of us processing around the church.
On Sunday of Pentecost, June 23rd. we drove to Linthicum, Maryland, to attend Holy Cross Orthodox Church to be with another friend. It was wonderful to see this church thriving and growing, too.
Parishioners in both churches spoke about how important it is to get out of God’s way and let Him do what He does best, i.e., do what God wants and not what self wants. We know that goes for us as He builds this monastery.
Three people have been buried here in the last three months:
Isaiah John Weesner -- burried July 24th, from Holy Cross Orthodox Church, High Point, NC
James Hudson -- burried July 29, from Saint John of the Ladder Orthodox Church, Greenville, SC
Evelyn Lindsay -- burried August 7th, from Holy Apostles Orthodox Church, West Columbia, SC
We ordered a tombstone for Mother Lyubov’s grave which was set in place on July 3rd.
The Diocesan Assembly convened on July 30th in Jacksonville, Florida. It was a good assembly. The venue was better -- a hotel where every room faced the Atlantic Ocean.
Mother Sergia, Abbess of Presentation of the Virgin Monastery in Marshfield, Missouri, visited us to learn the craft of candle making. It is always good when monastics can help each other.
Since our last newsletter, we have been blessed with a number of small groups and individuals who have volunteered their time and talents to help us take care of many tasks. We are most grateful for their help and for everyone’s prayers.
. . . that said, with fear and trembling the executioner struck off her head.
Born into a prominent family of Antioch of Pisidia in Asia Minor, Marina’s mother died a few days after giving her birth. Aidesios, her father and a priest of the local gods, was compelled to find a wet nurse to care for and raise his daughter. Unknowingly, Aidesios employed a Christian woman who dwelt in a secluded Christian community about one and three-quarter miles outside the city. This took place toward the end of the third century.
Throughout her young life, Marina was nurtured on the Gospel of Christ Whose teachings took deep and firm root within her and Whose love and sacrifice she endeavored with all her being to imitate. Growing up at a time when Christianity was considered a threat to the Roman Empire and greatly persecuted, she admired the Christian martyrs and prayed earnestly that she also would be made worthy to suffer martyrdom for Christ. Openly and with great fervor, she confessed herself to be a Christian. When Aidesios learned that his daughter was a Christian, he spurned her utterly, refusing even to look at her and completely disowning her. Preferring Christ above all, Marina rejoiced knowing that this was part of her martyrdom.
Growing in beauty as well as faith, at fifteen, Marina was tending sheep with others from her community when the Imperial Governor Olymbrios passed by, became infatuated with her beauty, and immediately sought to marry her. Bringing his entourage to a halt, Olymbrios asked the maiden her name, family, and faith. Upon learning that Marina was a Christian, Olymbrios, who had recently started persecuting Christians again, endeavored to dissuade Marina by flattery and promises of a luxurious life. Finding Marina unimpressed with his words, Olymbrios threatened her with numerous and heinous tortures. To his astonishment and that of those present, Marina, while constantly praying, remained resolute in her confession of Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior and unhesitatingly proclaimed that there was nothing he could do to separate her from the love of Christ. Enraged, Olymbrios ordered his guard to escort her to Antioch of Pisidia and cast her into prison.
Having continued in prayer throughout the night, the following day Marina was brought before the entire city who had gathered for a pagan festival. With clamorous exclamations, the crowd urged her to offer sacrifice to their gods and save herself. Olymbrios, disguising his seething anger and holding out hope that she would denounce Christ and sacrifice to their gods, slyly tempted her with his promise to marry her and bestow upon her many riches, thus making her a woman of great envy. Rejecting his proposal and offer of earthly riches, Marina fervently asserted that eternal life with Christ far outweighed temporal earthly life. Unreservedly, she spoke to the assembly of the sacrifice that Christ made out of His love for all mankind. At length, she proclaimed His life, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. Out of love for His love, she declared that she would gladly be martyred for Christ.
Infuriated, Olymbrios directed his soldiers to strip her and beat her with thorny rods. This they did mercilessly for a long time until the ground around her was red with her blood and her beauty was greatly disfigured. All the while, Marina glorified God and thanked Him for counting her worthy to endure such sufferings. During this trial, the Archangel Michael appeared to her saying, “Great is your faith, Marina. Have more strength, for it is by your good confession that your soul will survive, and you will gain holy baptism.” It was Marina’s great hope that she would be baptized before her death.
Ordering the beating to cease before she died, the Governor instructed his men to throw Marina back into prison without water or food. While she continued to pray and praise the Triune God, Michael the Archangel appeared to her for a second time, gave her comfort, and healed her so that her flesh was whole again. A few days later, Olymbrios, thinking that this delicate, young maiden would be ready to recant her faith, had her brought before him and citizens of the city. Upon seeing her whole, he accused her of being a magician. Denying this charge, Marina, more vehemently than ever, professed herself as a follower of Jesus Christ and that his idols were false and helpless. At these words, Olymbrios became enraged and commanded that she be striped, suspended by the wrists, and raked with iron nails till her flesh was peeling away. Even Olymbrios had to hide his face from such a horrific sight. When he thought she was dead, he ordered his soldiers to return her body to prison to let it rot there. However, she was not dead. Again, the Archangel Michael appeared to Marina, strengthened her, repeated his encouraging words, and made the sign of the cross over her, thus healing her completely.
Testing her resolve even further, that night the evil one appeared to Marina as a threatening and terrifying dragon who rushed at her and swallowed her up to her waist. With much prayer and faith, Marina made the sign of the cross over his belly. At this, the dragon’s belly split open, and he disappeared. Unable to endure her continuous praises and prayers offered to the one, true God, the man-hating, evil one manifested himself in coal black, demonic form, and, with a menacing and thunderous voice, strove to frighten her into renouncing her faith in Christ. Finding a hammer, with God-given strength Marina grabbed the demon by the hair, struck him mightily on the head and back, and subdued him.
The following day the people were assembled again. The demented Olymbrios ordered his soldiers to bind Marina to a pole and inflict burns all over her body. Remaining immersed in prayer, this she endured for many hours. Afterward, a great cauldron was brought in and filled with water. Fettering this great martyr to a movable pole, they prepared to cast her headlong into the water hoping to drown her. Marina perceived this to be her longed-for baptism. Upon being thrust into the water, an earthquake occurred, her bonds were loosed, and, for a third time, she was healed of all her wounds. Marina emerged from the cauldron of water and greatly praised God for His surpassing goodness and thanked Him for her baptism. At the same time, a fiery column appeared with a cross atop, and a dove, carrying a golden crown in its beak, lighted on her head. Amazed, the crowd heard a voice from heaven saying, “Peace to thee, O handmaiden of God. Take courage, and receive from the right hand of the Most High this heavenly crown.”
A multitude of those who witnessed these events, cursed the emperor and Olymbrios, renounced their gods, professed their faith in Christ, and proclaimed their readiness to die for Him. Demanding that Roman peace be enforced, Olymbrios had them beheaded, to which they submitted willingly. Fearing that more would convert to Christianity, the Governor ordered Marina led to the execution block and beheaded. The executioner who had witnessed all these events did not dare raise his sword against her. The virgin and great martyr Marina prompted him, saying, “Finish what you have been commanded to do.” That said, with fear and trembling the executioner struck off her head.
9 or 10 small red potatoes
3-4 ears of corn (medium to large)
1 pint cherry tomatoes - halved
1 small red onion sliced thinly
Big handful of fresh basil leaves
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon kosher salt or more to taste
Lots of grinds of freshly ground pepper
Place potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender about 15 minutes. Spoon them out into a bowl of ice cold water to stop them from cooking.
Add shucked corn into the boiling water and cook for about 7 minutes until tender, but not too soft. Place in same bowl of ice with potatoes.
Cut potatoes into quarters and put in a large bowl. Cut the kernels off each ear (slice downwards with knife) and add to bowl.
Add tomatoes, onion, and whole basil leaves. Add olive oil and lemon juice and toss. Season with kosher salt and ground pepper.