How so? In a Bakery the ingredients, once arrived from all over the globe, are, according to the recipe at hand, selected, mixed, kneaded and formed into a lump-like loaf. The lump of dough that goes into the oven emerges with a seemingly but not really, different identity. Nothing was lost. Nothing disowned. Like the seed that must die to produce the fruit, the ingredients must surrender to become a loaf. But often one detects an unseen but present ingredient that can even give the new loaf its name!
In 1977 three Carmelites, Roman Catholic with western traditions, came to Sugarloaf with bread recipes from Betty Crocker or Fanny Farmer. Their intention was to dedicate themselves to the Eastern Catholic Ruthenian Church.
New ingredients – women from Eastern Europe (or their descendants), new recipes from new Eastern friends (who would be future Bakery patrons) were welcome arrivals. The places they hailed from, countries of origin, whether novices, or recipes or friends were Eastern Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary - lands called Transcarpathia or Ruthenia prior to WWI.
The Byzantine Church and the Slavic Family have a bond demonstrated each time the liturgical service is followed by a gathering, usually at home, where traditional foods have pride of place. Be it Easter, Christmas, Theophany, a wedding, Baptism or funeral an essential to the menu is the ethnic bread, pastry (kolache) and cheeses. The blessing of Easter foods, in Church, has its own solemnity. Pascha, the round Easter loaf, means Passover, symbolizing Christ’s Rising at Easter! It is a MUST for Easter festivities.
Lucky us, who had chosen to produce these specialties before knowing how interwoven they are with a centuries-old tradition.
But if the Bakery supports the Monastery, the monastery’s heart is the Chapel. As a community of nuns we follow, live by the liturgical tradition of the ancient Christian East and even in this area the eastern spirit affects our growth. We are a coenobitic monastic community taking inspiration from the desert tradition of Egypt, Syria and Palestine which was brought to Europe by the illustrious Athanasius. Accordingly our Habit is eastern and black.
From apostolic times tender devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ was challenged by adverse doctrine. So today, the luster of true love and devotion to God, Father, Word and Holy Spirit, are clouded, obscured by the dissension of a divided Christianity. As a monastic Sisterhood, living under obedience to the Hegumena (abbess) we engage in life-long sacred reading and worship of the Word of God to come to know Jesus Christ in the Power of His Resurrection. In the spirit of Eastern hesychasm, we invoke, call on the Name of Jesus, Son of God. As our personal goal is union with our Lord Jesus Christ, as a community we pray that all be One in Him as He is with the Father. Then there will be One Christ, loving Himself.