Volume 40 â€˘ Number 4
IN THIS ISSUE In the Superior’s letter, Br. Geoffrey Tristram shares exciting news of the community’s continued expansion. The community’s Bishop Visitor, Frank Griswold, offers his report on the past year in the life of the community: a year of growth and love. Br. Curtis Almquist reflects on how gratitude can transform the past, the present, and the future. The three monastic interns share some of the riches they will take away from their time at the Monastery. In the Annual Fund Report, the Brothers express their gratitude for all those who support their life and help spread Jesus’ message of love.
Update your address with us! To remove your name from our physical mailing list and sign up for our electronic mailing list, please call 617.876.3037x55, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To follow the latest news from the Brothers, visit www.SSJE.org where you can listen to weekly sermons, watch videos, and view photo galleries. We would welcome hearing what you think of this issue of Cowley Magazine. Visit www.SSJE.org/cowleymagazine to share comments, ask questions, or see Cowley in color!
Cover photo: The Paschal fire at the Great Vigil of Easter will become tongues of fire alighting on the disciples with the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
©2014 by The Society of Saint John the Evangelist, North America
A Letter A Letter from the from Superior the Superior Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE
Dear Members of the Fellowship of Saint John and other Friends,
write to you during this season of Easter, and as we await the Feast of Pentecost. The Acts of the Apostles records that amazing scene: the pouring out of God’s Spirit upon the disciples. We read how “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” The gift of divine power had come to the disciples, and there was no mistaking it, for it was accompanied by an experience which pounded the senses. Divine power was invading them: an intense catastrophic experience. It sounded to those listening like the rush of a violent wind. Tongues, as of fire, rested on each one of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. That very same gift has been given by Jesus to each one of us. When we
were baptized – an event we have just commemorated again in the incredible beauty of the Easter Vigil liturgy – we were marked on our foreheads with the cross, and these beautiful words were said over us: “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism, and marked as Christ’s own forever” (BCP 308). This giving of God’s Spirit in baptism is not the end, but a new beginning for us. So at confirmation, the bishop speaks an ancient prayer over the confirmand, “Defend O Lord your servant with your heavenly grace, that he or she may continue yours for ever, and daily increase in your Holy Spirit, more and more...” (BCP 309). We Brothers are filled with more and more gratitude for the ways that the Spirit is moving and increasing in
The magnificent indigo and white tile mosaic in the Guesthouse garden.
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our ministry and our community. Like the disciples, we find ourselves speaking new languages and learning new tongues as we reach out to share the good news of the gospel with those near and far. Our Lenten offering this year, “Love Life,” had a broader reach than we could have hoped, with parishes and congregations in several countries downloading the videos and accompanying workbook materials to share in groups large and small. It is humbling and inspiring to watch the words we write and speak in this Monastery radiating out in expanding circles, through the power of God’s Spirit. Each week all the Brothers receive a collation of your comments and feedback; we are so grateful. Our community continues to grow. We recently clothed Br. Nicholas Bartoli as a Novice and welcomed Keith Nelson as a Postulant. Our Monastic Internship Program, now in its third year, is a source of joy and vitality for the community. In September we welcomed three new interns for this nine-month program: Sarah Brock, from Rochester, NY, Matthew Tenney, from Claremont, CA, and Raphael Cadenhead from London, UK. All three, as it happens, have degrees in theology. In this issue they offer reflections on their experience with SSJE. This fall, I am pleased to say, we will be increasing the size of the Monastic Internship Program with three additional interns at Emery House. To accommodate these interns we have purchased a house that adjoins the Emery House land. We are so grateful 4
to the Sisters of the Holy Nativity who provided us with a loan to buy this house. The Sisters were founded by Charles Grafton, one of three founders of SSJE, and to celebrate our shared roots and this ongoing collaboration to help young people experience the religious life, we are calling the house, Grafton House. At the center of the Cowley is the Annual Fund Report, in which we share the names of all those who have donated to help sustain our life over the past year. We are so grateful to you for all the ways in which you have supported us through the Annual Fund. As you know, we Brothers take a vow of poverty, and part of that vow is about how we live with open hands before God. We do not individually own any possessions; we acknowledge that we cannot control the future. Instead, in our vow of poverty, we Brothers acknowledge that we live dependent on the grace of God and the help of others. This vow is a way of living with gratitude, a way of seeing, as Br. Curtis says in his article in this Cowley, that life is not a given, but a gift. As the day of Pentecost draws near, we give thanks for the gift of God’s Holy Spirit which cannot be grasped, controlled, or possessed. The Spirit grasps us, possesses us. We pray that you will know the gift of God’s Holy Spirit working in your own lives, calling you into more abundant life. Faithfully,
Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE Superior SSJE
Letter from the Bishop Visitor The Right Reverend Frank T. Griswold, III
Dear Friends of SSJE,
e, as members of the human race, are not so many individuals existing alongside of one another in the world, but by nature we are one; and we cannot be restored to the love of God merely as individuals. We must be restored in the consciousness of that unity to which we belong.” These words of Father Benson underscore the mystery of community as the source and context of our becoming who, in God’s imagination, we are called to be. In a fractured and fragmented world, and in a society that prizes the myth of the freestanding individual, the costly witness of community is both a gift and an invitation. The intention with which the Brothers of the Society seek to live united in bonds of fraternal affection, while at the same time acknowledging the foibles and frailties of our humanity, is an encouragement to us all to remember that we are “members one of another” and are called to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Often the burdens most difficult to bear are
the personal idiosyncrasies of those closest to us. Yet, the very things that may annoy us may be the very means whereby the Spirit is challenging us to a deeper growth and a greater love. Saint Benedict speaks of monastic life lived in community as a “school for the Lord’s service.” For many beyond the formal bounds of the Society, SSJE is just such a school through its various ways of shaping and forming persons of faith, and sharing the good news of God in Christ with those seeking a word of life. I know that I speak for many when I say how grateful I am for all I have received from the Society and its members over the years. The following report gives a picture of the present state of the Society, together with an account of the generous support that sustains its life and ministry, and also what the Brothers see as they look to the future.
The Society of Saint John the Evangelist
The Rt. Rev. Frank T. Griswold, III Presiding Bishop, retired
2014 Report of the Bishop Visitor Growing and Living Within the Means of a Balanced Budget Following the success of the Stone & Light and Green & Light Capital Campaigns to renovate the Monastery and the gardens, the Brothers are living in a time of growth. The addition of four new men in fiscal year 2014 and the projected addition of new men in fiscal year 2015 enlarges the budget. Each “class” of four adds approximately 5% to the Society’s operating budget. The Brothers expect the budget will remain balanced, although this remains an ongoing, healthy challenge. In the current fiscal year (July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014) SSJE anticipates a balanced budget. Projected operating expenses of $2.2 million are supported by: Gifts to the Annual Fund - 40% Guesthouse income - 13% Other Sources - 12% Spending from investment portfolio (4.9% draw) - 35% It is especially gratifying that our friends continue to remain fully engaged with the ongoing mission of SSJE while fulfilling pledge payments to both the Stone & Light and Green & Light Capital Campaigns. The Brothers hope that news of growth, new men, new workshops, and new online offerings will bring increased support. The Brothers are dedicated to providing quality Christian formation offerings to the wider church. The Brothers’ daily email meditation, “Brother, Give Us A Word,” now reaches over 12,000 people daily.
Sacred Space, Completion at the Monastery, Growing at Emery House The Stone & Light Capital Campaign for the renovation of the Monastery in Cambridge is complete, and the Brothers have gratefully re-occupied the building and resumed their activities. The bridge financing remains to be repaid. Current projections indicate that this will be accomplished on schedule during 2015. It is important to note that neither SSJE’s endowment nor the Annual Fund was used to fund this 6
2014 Report of the Bishop Visitor capital expenditure. The Stone & Light Capital Campaign raised the funding necessary to complete this project. The G reen & Light Capital Campaign to renew the Monastery gardens and sacred spaces has been completed and the renovation of both the Cloister garden and the historically significant Fletcher Steele designed Guesthouse garden are being completed. The Cloister garden re-creates a native woodland garden, providing an oasis of tranquility. The purchase of property (Grafton House) in West Newbury adjacent to Emery House was completed in September 2013, thanks to the extraordinary help of a loan from the Sisterhood of the Holy Nativity. The plan is to expand the Monastic Internship Program for young adults in this rural setting to provide them with a period of formation and discernment.
Long-term Capitalization The Brothers, with the advice of their Advisors, created a Building Fund five years ago dedicated to the renewal of the Monastery and Emery House buildings. This is a good and responsible discipline. However if, with the renovation largely completed, the Brothers fully funded depreciation they would need to set aside $400,000 a year into the Building Fund. In other words the Brothers are under-capitalized for the size of the physical plant they now have and need to increase the endowment. With the completion of the S tone & Light Capital Campaign the Brothers will look at directing bequests into the endowment, as well as continuing to encourage more people to remember SSJE in their wills. The Brothers have begun to address this issue with planning around increasing the range of the Brothersâ€™ ministry at Emery House in West Newbury. The Brothers are in consultation with Massachusetts Audubon Society, Essex County Greenbelt, and the Town of West Newbury to consider a number of environmental initiatives and the sale of conservation rights as a means of creating an endowment to support SSJEâ€™s growing ministry at Emery House.
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A Gift, Not a Given Living Gratefully Curtis Almquist, SSJE
all the difference. Be grateful for your senses: Let your eyes gaze on shape and color, texture and movement for what is in your vista; listen to the myriad of sounds that surround you; examine something closely until you are full of wonder. On and on you can go. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor and pray your gratitude for what is so clearly good in life. Be grateful for the gift of life. Live your life as a gift, not as a given. This is a way to “pray without ceasing.”
first learned the power of gratitude as a young boy at a theater performance. The playbill was so carefully scripted – except, it turned out, for one thing that happened at the very end. As the curtain dropped and the stage lights dimmed, the audience spontaneously sprang to its feet with a thunderous applause and great cheers. The actors undoubtedly needed to hear our gratitude, but what brought us to our feet was our need to express gratitude. Expressing gratitude completes the experience. Being grateful is much more than a polite duty. Being grateful addresses a deep need we all have to be recognized, acknowledged, and remembered for the gift of who we are and what we do. We also need to recognize, acknowledge, and remember the gifts we constantly receive throughout our life. Don’t miss any opportunity to express gratitude to others. It will transform their day and perhaps their life. It will certainly transform yours. If prayer – your relationship with God – in any way eludes you just now, simply pray your gratitude. Gratitude in prayer is like oil to a frozen gear box. Be grateful for the amazing people in your life who have made
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Gratitude has the power to transform ordinary or even terrible things into extraordinary ones. Gratitude has eucharistic power. An old French proverb says, “Gratitude is the heart’s memory.” There is an amazing grace in looking backwards on your life. You will see things from a new perspective. The many kinds of losses we all experience in life – losses of people, relationships, opportunities moving on or changing or dying – can leave a deep grief or anger for that wonderful thing, that beautiful person or relationship that is no more. Oftentimes, beneath that sad feeling you will find gratefulness, because the
source of the loss has made all the difference in the world to your life. Underneath the anguish we experience with the changes and chances of life, you can find gratitude. If you only dare go down deep enough into the well of loss, you will find a ground spring of gratefulness just waiting to be drawn out, recovered, and expressed. Mourning is often disguised gratefulness waiting to be tapped. Gratitude is not just a feeling; it’s a practice. And, like with any other practice, you can get out of practice at gratitude. If you are out of practice expressing thanks to God, the conduit of gratitude may be plugged up. You may not realize how much God desires not only to be thanked by you, but to be thankful for you. God longs to thank you for what you are to God and what you represent to God’s children and God’s creation. God is enormously grateful for you. You make God’s day. You make God’s presence real here on earth. God does not take you for granted, and is eternally grateful. You are not a given, but a gift to God. Pray and practice living your life with gratitude in every way you can: from your past, in your present, and for your future. Living gratefully will not make your life come round rosy in every way, nor will you evade the difficult challenges that life brings. But living life gratefully will re-balance the weight of your life, enlarging what is so clearly good to new proportions. Your own practice of gratitude will make you real and will permeate the life around you like fragrance from a flower.
for everyday living
To watch a video of Br. Curtis on gratitude, visit www.SSJE.org/ monasticwisdom SSJE
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The Friends of SSJE Annual Fund 2013 Both of us found the Brothers as part of our journeys to deepen our faith in Jesus Christ. Our relationship with these Brothers in Christ is a gift of solace and joy. In answer to their prayers and ours the future is opening up for them in wonderful ways. The Brothers are always offering new places for us to grow in love, whether supporting our prayer life online or in creating new gardens at the Monastery and Emery House. Thank you for all you have given, in response to the Brothers’ giving and your own joy for the continued growth in the life of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist. “For of His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” – William Kendrick & Polly Chatfield, Co-Chairs of the Annual Fund
Thank you so much for upholding the Brothers as we celebrate together the gift of Jesus’ love in our lives and for the whole world. Your gifts and messages are our daily encouragement on this journey that is not always easy, but always joyous. – Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE Superior
I am completely humbled as I witness your kindness to SSJE. Every gift helps amplify Jesus’ message of love, which the Brothers try to live out every day. Thank you. – Mr. Jamie Coats, Director, Friends of SSJE
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LEVELS OF GIVING The Brothers rely on Friends who give at all levels.
# of Donors
• All donors
• $5,000 +
• $2,500 - $4,999
• $1,000 - $2,499
• $500 - $999
Total Donations (US Funds)
776,592 936,267 754,039 733,033 814,679 893,438
The Annual Fund of SSJE is made up of gifts given by the Friends of SSJE and it includes collections in the Chapel, the spring and fall appeal gifts, gifts from members the Fellowship of Saint John, Annual Fund pledge payments, and donations given at other times. To view a copy of the Annual Fund Report, contact email@example.com.
WELCOMING NEW FRIENDS On a vision quest, you go out into the woods with a knife, you meet a demon, and you wrestle him to the ground. That’s what the experience of being on retreat at SSJE was like for me. Perhaps, praying with the Brothers, the demon turned into an angel, I don’t know. I’ve never been to a place I feel as powerfully about as SSJE. It has something to do with the way the Brothers generate spiritual energy through prayer. Some of the older Brothers feel like spiritual masters, or Shamans, or gurus: They’ve spent their whole lives emptying themselves out. They’ve worked to become like that. They’re masters in the same way that great artists or dancers are. They have the love of the universe in their hands. It’s strange to say it, but the time I spent on retreat at the Monastery might have been the happiest three days of my life. – Peter Littlefield, Jr.
I work with the dying – with men who are in the process of dying from HIV, AIDS, terminal cancer – and “Brother Give Us a Word” is so helpful to me in that work. The other day, for instance, I wake up, and there is “Hope” on my iPhone. That’s the day’s word. Or there is “Love.” And I carry that word with me throughout my day, as I’m companioning the dying. The simplicity of it is perfect. Through this study, every day, I’m learning more and more about myself, about others, about spirituality. It’s a very important part of my daily life. It is so helpful to me to have these words, as I companion the dying in prayer. – M.C. 12
THANK YOU ABIDING FRIENDS OF SSJE The Brothers are grateful for Friends who abide with them, giving year after year.
I first heard of SSJE when I was in college a million years ago, in the 1950s. Honestly, I thought the Brothers back then were kind of weird; they were very shut-off from the public; the enclosure was really enclosed. But even still something drew me to the mysticism of the services. I next went back to the Monastery on retreat in the 1970s with my church group from Worcester. And then I didn’t go back to the Monastery until this past February, after I saw an article about SSJE in the Boston Globe, and I thought “Oh, isn’t it beautiful. They’re still there!” At the time, I’d stopped going to church and felt disaffected with my local parish – it didn’t feel like home to me. Just generally, I was in the total dumps. During my retreat at the Monastery during Holy Week, I made a one hundred and eighty degree turn. This was Life. How else can I say it? It was like being soaked in the Spirit. I was just filled with joy. And the more I looked at the website and visited Cambridge and went out to Emery House, the more it became clear to me that SSJE is a deep source of renewal for the church. What a difference now! Back in the 1950s, SSJE seemed like an intriguing relic from another age. But now they feel so renewed and so exciting. They are in touch with our moment and what we need. They are alive! – Selina Martin
The Brothers are just totally, totally wonderful. I went on retreat at SSJE many years ago and found that the people were so wonderful, open, loving, gentle, and kind. The Brothers are tops, absolutely the best. The retreat was such a great experience that I returned many times. I’m now eighty-seven years old and Cambridge is too far for me to come. So I love getting the emails: excellent thoughts that are plugged into the Source. Just tops in every way, on every level. To know that that community is there, and is still making itself available to so many people, is totally wonderful. The Society of Saint John the Evangelist is a blessing in my life. – Barb Yatsevitch
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THANK YOU ABIDING FRIENDS OF SSJE I had a meeting in Boston so fancy that a colleague and I ﬂew in and out that day. The meeting was precisely thirty minutes with precisely one person. And the hotel was fancy, and the doorman was suave, and there was marble and fake waterfalls and fancy piano music quietly playing and a sophisticate from California and much back lighting and the bathroom had cloth towels… blah blah blah. The meeting went so well that in the excitement, I left my umbrella and phone in the conference room and didn’t realize until I was about to walk in the rain. Then I came to SSJE for an unplanned visit. It felt like visiting an old friend in a home where I have “kitchen rights” (anything in the kitchen is fair game, don’t even have to ask). The punch line is that when my wife later asked, “How did it go?” I answered by talking about SSJE; the business meeting was an afterthought. The feeling of what happens at SSJE is beyond words. – R. Scott Redmond
I first knew the Brothers when they were at Bracebridge, Ontario, many years ago. And I was received into the Fellowship of Saint John in September of 1998. I have never had the chance to visit the Monastery in Cambridge, but I do remain an active member of the FSJ. Being a member of the FSJ means that I have a whole group of other people who are praying for me, as I pray for them. I use a list of the Brothers’ names every day in my prayers. It is very meaningful to me. And the Brothers are growing, which I find so positive. It is nice to have more people on your prayer list. As a committed member of the Fellowship, I need to help support something I have joined. The Brothers are a pretty meaningful lot in my life although I have never been there and don’t know any of them personally. A spiritual connection is as strong as a physical connection in many ways. I can be with them spiritually, even if I cannot be there physically. They are a good thing in my life, and so I contribute to SSJE on a monthly basis. It is very meaningful for me to help support a religious house. – Ray Turner
PLANNING AHEAD The Brothers thank those who have remembered SSJE in their wills and estate planning. Your thought for the future assures SSJE’s future ministry. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for Planned Giving information.
I don’t have a Benedictine personality. I don’t have a profoundly contemplative personality. I have friends who love the silence of retreat – friends who are ‘I’s on the Myers-Briggs spectrum. I’m an ‘E’ and I don’t revel in silence, but I know it’s good for me. I try to go on retreat at least twice a year to recharge my emotional, spiritual, and intellectual batteries. I’ve come to rely on these retreats. SSJE is meeting a very significant need – and not just in the Episcopal Church. People in the church talk about many types of scarcity, but the hunger for spiritual nourishment is real. The Brothers’ ministry to clergy becomes more important with each passing year, as the clergy’s workload increases, because most parishes have fewer resources than they had some years ago. For clergy, the ability to get away and have someone else look after your soul is vital. What SSJE offers speaks to many of those people who talk about being ‘spiritual but not religious.’ SSJE’s approach to liturgy not only speaks to the converted and the churched, but to the seekers as well. What happens in the Chapel never seems like theater or something which the rest of us are simply observing. It manages to be what Christian liturgy is supposed to be: the work of everybody. I do what I can to support the Brothers financially and try to be as generous as I can. What I give is part of my cumulative tithe to the church. I recently decided to make SSJE one of the beneficiaries for my various retirement funds because I want to make sure the Brothers will be able to offer their ministry for many, many years to come. I’d find it hard to do what I do without the ministry of SSJE. – Dan Gross
Questions or comments? Please contact Friends of SSJE, 980 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02138 email@example.com or 617.876.3037 ext 24
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This year, three exceptional young people took part in the Monastic Internship Program, living, worshipping, and working alongside the community for nine months. We asked them to reﬂect on what they would take away from the experience.
“AS Iron SHArPenS Iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). How, exactly, does life in community transform and ‘sharpen’ us? This question has been on my mind since I arrived at SSJE in September, and I’m only now beginning to grope for an answer. I’ve been living in a community of one sort or another throughout my life: my family home in London from infancy to adolescence; a close-knit college environment in Oxford during my undergraduate years; a house of ‘odd sorts’ during my masters degree in Cambridge; a small hall of residence during the first two years of my doctorate; finally, a residential theological college (dedicated primarily to the education of women for lay ministry in the Roman Catholic Church). All of these varied community contexts have been deeply formative in their own right. But it is fair to say that my experiences as an intern at SSJE have been uniquely transformative and revelatory. It is a full immersion experience into a monastic rhythm of work and prayer that few can lay claim to. I’d like to share some of my own observations about the ways in which community life here has ‘sharpened’ me over these past few months: 1. Sharing in the sorrows and joys of life. The human condition, with its emotional ebbs and flows, is thrown into sharp relief in community life. Put simply: there’s no escape! My emotions can’t elude the notice of others, no matter how hard I try to disguise them. No one’s self-made façades last for long. There are countless times when I’ve been touched by a consoling word or a knowing look during times of exhaustion, frustration, or irritation. Other times, when content or excited, I’ve been energized by the frivolity of those around me. It is through these experiences that I have come to re-evaluate how I respond to others when they are sad or annoyed or content. Community living, in other words, models loving practice. Transformation, it seems to me,
– Raphael Cadenhead
“LorD, It IS nIGHt. The night is for stillness. Let us be still in your presence. It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done. What has not been done has not been done. Help us let it be.” So begins one of the prayers we often lift up at the office of Compline. Upon hearing it prayed aloud during my first week as an intern, I was drawn in by the poetry of the words and particularly by this desire to let go of the work of the day and be still. It has been true for most of my life that there is no end to the work that needs to be done. Every time I cross an item off of my to-do list, it seems I also add at least five more.
is a reciprocal process in which those we live with become our teachers and guides in the way of love, and we become theirs. 2. Community prayer. It’s February. It’s dark outside. And here I am at Morning Prayer. I’m tired, my voice is hoarse and strained, and I wish I’d gone straight to bed after Compline yesterday. I don’t know how it works exactly, but there’s something powerful about the very practice of sitting together (and singing together) in prayer, five times a day, even – and perhaps especially – when you feel less than inclined to do so. 3. Communal meals. Most meals here are silent meals, and silence has a way of bringing you into conversation with yourself. The clamor and clatter of life can be a distraction from everything that’s going on inside. To eat together, to be silent together, is – I’ve come to realize – a profoundly intimate and transformative experience in its own right. 4. Negotiating difference in others. Learning to appreciate the differences you see in others is not an easy undertaking. Difficulties I face in relating to someone else – at any particular moment – often say a great deal about myself. As I see it, God has placed me in community with this specific conglomeration of people for a reason, and it is my task to work out why that is. Everything I have learnt here will, I hope, continue to deepen and burgeon after my time at SSJE has come to an end. If there’s one thing that I’ll take away, it’s that community life is costly, at times challenging, but always deeply rewarding and revelatory.
Before coming here, I was immersed in the endless cycles of homework assignments, projects, papers, and exams (all accompanied by a continuous stream of caffeine to sustain me through late nights of study) that composed my life in seminary. I expected to find a new way of life in the Monastery – one of stillness and peace without stress. However, even living in a monastery, there is always work that needs to be done. Even living in a monastery, it is hard to stop work five times a day to pray and be still in the presence of God. Nonetheless, I did find a new way of life, just not in the way I expected. Daily life in the Monastery, though filled with work and sometimes stress, is structured around the rhythm of the Office. Throughout each day, we all set aside our other work to be still in the presence of God. Often it is hard to calm the busyness of my mind, yet the pattern of chant, Scripture, and prayer frequently provides me with a sense of peace. This practice of setting aside my burdens and stress to rest in God is something I hope to take with me when I leave. Granted, it is unlikely I will find myself in a place where it is possible to observe the Offices all through the day, but I hope to continue to observe one or two regularly. More importantly, I have learned the importance of finding space each day to rest in God, even if for only a moment, and to accept my own limitations. For, as the prayer concludes, “The night heralds the dawn. Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.” – Sarah Brock
In reFLeCtInG on MY tIMe living and working and praying alongside the Brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, I’m reminded of Canon Henry Parry Liddon’s praise for the Father Founder: Now, Father Benson is one of the few elements of resistance to the new order of things … Any clever man who believes in Christianity … can give lectures which will impress a great many people. I do not depreciate this sort of work – far from it – but it is infinitely lower work than that which is achieved by merely belonging to a Society in which everything has been given up for God, and the silent eloquence of whose Rule is worth a thousand Sermons. . . .
Brother, can you spare a word? Well, neither can I. The Greater Silence is upon us. A simple smile worth a thousand words is Word enough. Thank you. Brother, thank you. Thank God for these graced moments. By them and with them we ever strive to make Dag Hammarskjöld’s simple yet eloquent prayer our own. “ – Night is drawing nigh –” For all that has been – Thanks! To all that shall be – Yes! – Matthew Tenney
Our Friends’ generous support of SSJE makes transformative programs like the Monastic Internship possible. Please consider a gift today. www.SSJE.org/donate
firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.876.3037 ext 55
How can one bear witness to this way of life, to the “silent eloquence of whose Rule is worth a thousand Sermons?” The Grand Silence that is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is most palpable, most discernibly present in the everyday graced moments of this life. Easter breaks into the ordinary, the quotidian breaks open to reveal the extraordinary, and so daily we glimpse the marvelous in the mundane. In choir, in the generous smile of a Brother sitting opposite as we both move to the music. On a gloomy late winter’s eve whilst shoveling snow, when a Brother playfully hurls a snowball my way and a full-scale battle breaks out moments before mass. Peace be with you, Brother! On a Friday morning when, after delivering boxed lunches to a neighboring feeding program, the Brother chauffeuring us jokes about making a run for it and hitting the road in search of adventure. You have your Monastery credit card, right Brother? In the kitchen, as we clean up after supper, when a Brother launches into his heavy metal power ballad inspired rendition of the Magnificat. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! These graced moments – these unanticipated moments of playfulness and delight, these moments in which we are surprised by joy – nourish and sustain us when our prayers are dry, when our patience runs thin, when our minds are eddied and muddied with myriad distractions, when we mistake Silence for absence, and when the Christ that plays in ten thousand places hallows everything with his abiding love – everything, it seems, but our own hollow hearts.
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The Summer 2014 Cowley takes up the theme of gratitude. Cowley magazine is a publication of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist. http:/...