Living in a dormitory with a group of college students is very much like living at Mount Saviour, except most of the students are women. There are 200 of us including 25 seminarians, all of them participating in the English Summer School of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv.
The bell rings at 7:30 which feel like 4:25 to the students and off we go to the chapel for a morning prayer that lasts only 6 minutes but is enough for most of them to wake up to since the seminarians sing the beautiful Byzantine melodies loud and with beautiful voices. The liturgy here is that of the Greek Catholic Church.
There are prayers before and after meals and the common greeting, even among the twenty somethings, is “Glory to Jesus Christ” to which the other responds “Glory forever”.
The students are here to learn English so it is an “English Only “world.
The satisfaction for getting caught is to recieve an “inspiration” card which means that the recipient and others in the same situation have to provide an entertainment in the evening after supper. It is always a lot of fun and far more creative than kneeling through the next verse of the psalm!
Meals, of course, are taken in common but with a rapidity that makes the table of our brothers look slow, which it is not! I had forgotten how biblical young people could be at table taking their inspiration from the plague of locusts that God sent upon the Egyptian.
Ukraine is at war with Russia right now and one of the other similarities between this place and the monastery is the constant prayer for peace. Hardly anyone here has not been touched by this war which is at eastern front of the country; we are at the west, about 45 miles from the border with Poland.
There is ” lights out” at 11 which I am the only one who takes advantage of and “grand silence” which is actually called that, and of course not obeyed. There is prescious little time during the day for girl to meet boy or boy to meet girl so moon- lit walks are to be had on the wooded grounds even by, and especially by the seminarians who may choose to be married priests rathers than celibate.
So I may not be at Mount Saviour but the monastery has become so present to me, as it has to so many of us, that like turtles and snails we takes our homes with us..
Fr Michael Perry