On December 19th, 2020, wives of OCA clergy from several dioceses gathered virtually for a retreat entitled The Incarnation of Christ: Its Meaning for our Life. His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon welcomed the wives with prayer and words of appreciation for their unique and frequently challenging ministry. His Grace Bishop Alexis, the Clergy Wives Group’s liaison to the Office of Pastoral Life which he chairs, also welcomed participants and noted the valuable service they offer to the Church, their husbands and their parishes.
His Grace then introduced the day’s speaker, Mother Melania, Abbess of Holy Assumption Monastery in Calistoga, California, and the author of several series of children’s books. She has made a particular study of the writings of Saint John Chrysostom.
Mother Melania began her talk by saying that the Incarnation of Jesus Christ encompasses more than His Nativity. The word means “enfleshment” or taking a body. This began at the Annunciation, and continued through His perfect human life and perfect death.
The “Body of Christ” has three meanings for us human beings. First, we become members of His Body through baptism. Then we are nourished by His Body and Blood. And, third, we are called to live as members of His Body, the Church. We must care for one another as members of that Body.
It is a struggle to put aside our own will for the sake of others, as Christ did, and we will have constant “little martyrdoms” as we try to do so. But these can be offered as gifts to God. They can bring us closer to Christ, because in Him, the One who suffered for us, they find their ultimate meaning.
Matushka Wendy Cwiklinski thanked Mother Melania for her talk, describing its contents as “rich—like cheesecake.” She then invited the participants to divide into breakout groups and provided discussion questions for the groups to consider.
The two-hour retreat closed with words of encouragement and a prayer from His Grace Bishop Alexis. He expressed the hope, shared by all those who took part, that there can be more gatherings and opportunities for clergy wives to be together.
On Sunday the 20th a group of clergy wives from the Alaska Diocese met virtually, again with His Grace and Matushka Wendy Cwiklinski organizing the gathering.
The OCA Clergy Wives Group thanks Matushka Elizabeth Powell and Matushka Janine Kotalik for their efforts to make the retreat happen.
If you haven’t already done so, OCA clergy wives who would like to ensure receiving information about retreats and other communications for Clergy Wives, please visit their webpage and use the link there to submit contact information.