"Figures of prayer and contemplation amid the wilderness of the desert…brethren gathered from far lands, each of them 'like a sparrow alone upon the house top' (Psalm 101.8). Yet they are not alone …" -from an essay by Archbishop Damianos

Dear friends of the Monastery,

As we approach the Nativity and the third anniversary of the launch of FMSM, we would like to convey the heartfelt appreciation that the Fathers of St. Catherine's have often expressed for all who have been so kind to send donations. The Fathers are praying for your health and well-being.

Monastery Secretary Father Nyphon recently sent the best wishes of all the Fathers to the Friends for a blessed Nativity Season and New Year, with the following:

"Thank you for your plentiful love and continued help for the Monastery of Saint Catherine's. From our hearts, we wish for God and Saint Catherine to reward all of you both in this life and the other true life."
The plaster has been stripped away, and new windows and doors are being installed.

The plaster has been stripped away, and new windows and doors are being installed.

Your donations have gone a long way to help the Monastery. As of Dec 15, 2017, FMSM received $39,079 in donations for this year. So far, we have transferred $38,811 to the bank account of St. Catherine's Monastery (including some donations from late 2016), and will transfer remaining funds once we have a larger amount to wire to them. Your full donations are sent to the Monastery, since FMSM's staff is volunteer and all expenses are paid for by board members.

This year's donation went for further work on the repair project for cells in the wing housing the Monastery library, as well as for medical expenses (a large portion of the funds for the latter came from a special donor). As we have indicated before, the monks felt it was imperative to start repairing the decayed structures in that wing, where most of the community lives, even though the economy for the area has been down because of the decline in visitors. In spite of the April attack on a police checkpoint about a half a mile from St. Catherine's, the Monastery continues its peaceful way of life undisturbed.

Lumber and reinforcing rods for poured concrete.

Lumber and reinforcing rods for poured concrete.

The monks have made a great deal of progress, but more work remains to complete still active construction. Old plumbing, which had developed leaks both in the rooms and within the walls, has been replaced. They have started installing insulation and sheetrock in the ceilings, wall consolidation, and placing new wall facings.

Currently, they are installing new windows and doors (as the wood on the old ones was deteriorating), building brick interior walls, continuing installation of insulation and sheet rock covering, and putting in additional wiring for inside lights. They will then need to build wooden structures on the inside of the cells.

While donations are up 30% from last year, the total is still a fraction of the costs of maintaining St. Catherine’s fortress-like structure, while keeping the Monastery open to the public, and still remaining cognizant of the needs of the surrounding Bedouin. Nevertheless, it is a beginning!

New brick walls are being built in the kellia downstairs.

New brick walls are being built in the kellia downstairs.

Many say that a visit to Mount Sinai never ends. FMSM thus hopes to be instrumental in the creation of a steady economic base to support the needs of the Monastery that has been so responsive to the needs of others, both close to home and across the globe. Currently, monthly automatic payments total $525, so we have some way to go to fulfilling this objective.

If you would like to assist in the efforts to help the Monastery, please tell your friends about St. Catherine's and FMSM. One way to bring the news to a wider audience is by liking/sharing our posts on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Friends-of-Mount-Sinai-Monastery-909870469077630). This prompts the site to publicize our posts to more readers.

With a documented track record of accountability after three years now in operation, FMSM is moving toward exploring opportunities of corporate sponsorship for St. Catherine’s global influence on world culture and peace. If anyone has experience in this sector to assist such an effort, your input would be appreciated; please feel free to contact me.

Perhaps the following words summarize FMSM’s inspiration better than any. They are from a wonderful essay written by Archbishop Damianos for the catalog of the Metropolitan Musuem’s 1997 exhibit of Sinai icons. His Eminence explains the impact of the Sinai Pantorcrator, likely the oldest and most revered icon of Christ in the world:

"The icon of Christ, which is the crown of all icons, renders palpable the mystery of the Incarnation of the Logos, not simply as a reminder, but as an organic part, an extension, and a perpetuation of it. It summarizes visually the whole plan of Divine Economy, namely, the sanctification of creation brought about by the Logos becoming flesh and dwelling among us…"

With best wishes to all for a very joyous and blessed celebration of the Nativity of Christ!

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Cover picture from the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, which is part of the Sinai Palimpsests Project (http://emel-library.org/gallery/st-catherines-monastery/)

 
A cement mixer and scaffolding in one of the downstairs kellia.

A cement mixer and scaffolding in one of the downstairs kellia.

The floor on the west side has concrete slabs covering the channel for plumbing and electricity. This also will be paved with limestone.

The floor on the west side has concrete slabs covering the channel for plumbing and electricity. This also will be paved with limestone.

New walls being built.

New walls being built.

 
A new door.

A new door.

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