Great Lent at St. Catherine’s Monastery

Great Lent at St. Catherine’s Monastery


It is hard to believe the first week of Great Lent has already concluded! Things have been dynamic here at St. Catherine’s, and I wanted to witness to a few experiences from this week to the glory of God.

Once the monastery was open to visitors again on Thursday, it gave me my first opportunity to tour the sacristy museum and view my very favorite icon of Jesus Christ, the Pantocrator of Sinai (below), amongst other invaluable treasures of iconography such as St. John’s Ladder of Divine Ascent (below), metalwork, manuscripts, and embroidery.

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Justin Daniel

Justin Daniel ("Hadji J") is a part of Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Austin, Texas and spends as much time as possible in the picturesque Texas Hill Country at the spiritual oasis of Holy Archangels Greek Orthodox Monastery. He is a documentary photographer, avid pilgrim and humble student of the Way, the Truth and the Life, emulating Lazarus' sister Mary, seeking to sit at the feet of Our Lord (and the good part that will not be lost). Like his patron, Justin the Philosopher and Martyr, he has always had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, wisdom, and first hand experience. This life long quest began to find it's greatest fulfillment when he was introduced to the Eastern Orthodox Church by then professor Fr. Brendan Pelphrey (now priest of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese serving at St. George Church in Shreveport, LA), while attending Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX.

In his spare time, he has sought to pilgrimage and "capture moments in time" through photography to further his spiritual pilgrimage and growth. Some of the spiritual centers of the Unites States he has visited include St. John Maximovitch in San Francisco, St. Anthony's Monastery in Arizona, St. Herman's of Alaska Monastery in Platina, Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville and Holy Archangels Monastery in Texas. This avid thirst for spiritual growth and wanderlust also took him pilgrimaging to venerate holy sites and connecting with holy people in the Orthodox "motherlands" of the Holy Land, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Montenegro, FYROM, and Italy.

He also involves himself in his local community with populations in need. From the homeless to drug addicts and alcoholics, the mentally and physically disabled and, as well as, victims of abuse. Currently he serves as a board member for Philothei, a non-profit aiming to help raise awareness and educate local communities about the Orthodox Church while serving and ministering to their core human needs. While attempting to bridge from the corporate world to outreach in the non-profit world on a full-time basis, he has worked as an enterprise systems consultant for Dell, energy consultant for LPB Energy, managing general agent for AHCO alternative healthcare company, and director of sales and marketing for Spirit Gear, a Christian gift manufacturer.