Something is stirring in these hills. Every weekday morning, right around 7 o’clock, the workmen come up our dusty gravel road. They rise up before dawn and drive, sometimes over an hour, just to make it out to our little hollow. None of them are Orthodox, but they know this is a once-in-a-lifetime job. Once they set to work, a familiar din sets in—saws buzzing, engines rumbling, gravel shuffling. Every once in a while, you can hear them shout to each other over the clamor of the machines. All of the noise disturbs the peace and quiet of the monastery. But we know it’s temporary. We know it’s necessary, so that the walls of our New Jerusalem—our own “vision of peace”—might be built.
And thank God, they are rising. On the Leave-taking of Pascha back in May, we blessed the cornerstone of the building. To our great joy, Metropolitan Nicholas came to perform the service. Fully vested on a hot, sunny afternoon, we all walked in solemn procession from our current chapel to the site of the new church. There, the Metropolitan led us in prayer for the speedy completion of the building; he anointed the cornerstone with blessed oil, placed the relics of saints in the eastern wall of the church, and sprinkled the four walls of the new temple with holy water.
The physical structure is reaching its final shape. But on that festive afternoon, a spiritual change took place. The dead stone began to take on a life of its own as our prayers and hymns reverberated off the arches and pillars for the first time. Concrete and mortar, iron and steel—they become something more than the sum of their parts when they house holy things. Now the relics of saints and martyrs are safely ensconced in the eastern wall, and a wooden cross keeps watch before them, a reminder of the grace that was poured out, and a pledge of the grace that is still to come.
That day was just a foretaste, a premonition of the miracle that our Savior is working in these hills. We experienced a fulness, a scale of Church life that is scarcely known in this land. You can still find it in the Old World, where generations of faithful Christians built eternal monuments to the truth of our Faith, and hallowed them with centuries of prayer. In America, where Orthodoxy is unheard and little known, we need missions, we need storefront churches, we need outreach to bring the Gospel to people where they are. But even more, we need special places set apart for God and sanctified by continuous prayer. We need places that bear witness to transcendent beauty, where people calloused and wearied by the world can come and meet Christ, where they can pour out their prayers to Him, where their sins can be forgiven by Him, where He can give Himself to them in Holy Communion.
It is my sincere belief that our Lord Jesus Christ is building just such a place in our little hollow. If it weren’t so, the colossal effort we are making would be a waste. As King David says, Except the Lord build the house, in vain do the builders labor (Ps. 126:1). But God is giving us this ray of hope to pierce through all the dark clouds of troubles and turmoil that are gathering in our nation and in our world. Join us and be a part of this miracle by becoming a regular monthly donor. Your ongoing financial support is necessary to make this house of God a reality. Above all, please continue to join us in prayer that the Lord would bring this temple to completion. Our prayer is the same as King David’s: Do good, O Lord, in Thy good pleasure unto Sion, and let the walls of Jerusalem be builded. Then shalt Thou be pleased with a sacrifice of righteousness, with oblation and whole-burnt offerings. Then shall they offer bullocks upon Thine altar.
Abbot of Holy Cross Monastery