Friday, March 24, 2006

Byzantine monastery: Monks chant the liturgy, focus on worship

Original Story: South Bend Tribune: "Converting the spirit At monastery, monks chant the liturgy, focus on worship

Tribune Correspondent

The view from Father Nicholas' study takes you out of this world. Sit down at his desk and you might as well be sitting on the deck of a ship, looking out from the captain's chair.

Lake Superior stretches out in front of you. The glass walls of the Superior side of the study, along with the rest of the world, seem to disappear.

It's a perspective that the monks of the Holy Transfiguration Skete appreciate. Here on the shores of Lake Superior, on the northern edge of Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula, they've found a place that affords them the opportunity to chart their own unique monastic course.

Wind your way out of Eagle River on Michigan 26 and you'll spy the golden domes rising out of the woods, just past some cascading water called Jacobs Falls. There's a little garden out front filled with hostas and wildflowers and a long wooden ramp that leads to some heavy wooden doors. A sign says welcome and reminds you to dress modestly.

On Sunday mornings you can worship with the monks. Inside it's quiet. Don't be surprised if you're the only one here.

Walk softly and poke your head into a large room that seems to be a chapel. The walls are stark white, but they're covered with pictures -- icons -- painted in rich golden hues. The aroma of incense fills the air.

Sit down on the single pew in the back of the chapel and wait. In time, four monks will file into the room. They will come in singing. They expect that you will sing, too.

But you're not their focus. They are here to worship, and that's what they're going to do. They will motion you"

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