Welcome to The Society of Saint John the Evangelist

30. Guidance and Reconciliation

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Read by Br. Robert L’Esperance

In our own prayer Christ will come to us as a servant seeking to wash our feet, but he also seeks to attend to our needs through the ministry of others and the Church’s sacraments of nurture, forgiveness and healing. We fall and fall again so we should be glad of the opportunities that the sacramental rite of Reconciliation provides to encounter Christ again in the places of our brokenness and poverty, and allow him to bind up our wounds and set us on our feet. If we ever feel reluctant to use this means of grace, we must remember how Peter was tempted to refuse the touch of Christ and how the Lord had to warn him of its necessity.The Superior ensures that each brother has regular access to a confessor outside the community. We are to make our confessions at least every quarter.

We cannot keep pace with the risen Christ who goes before us if we are encumbered by guilt. If we stay estranged in our hearts, we jeopardize the communion we have with our brothers and our fellow members of the Body of Christ. Regular sacramental confession enables us to shed the bur­dens of remembered sin, and move forward encouraged by the Spirit. We enter the fellowship of the community again with fresh gratitude for the reality of forgiveness. Father Benson has taught us to live as penitents, “to rise thus to live in the full light of the presence of Jesus, to rise to have nothing hidden, to live in openness of heart to Him, and in an openness of heart to one another also, which the world does not know of, to tear away the veil which hides our hearts, to have our inmost life standing out in the presence of God.”

Each brother in vows, after consulting with the Superior, will find a spiritual director with whom to meet regularly. Christ is not only the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, but “the Way, and the Truth and the Life.” In spiritual direction we make progress on the way which is Christ, learning how we go astray and discovering the paths of prayer and mercy. Our spiritual directors help us enter into the truth which is Christ, uncovering our illusions and guiding us to ex­plore the freedom for which Christ has set us free. They challenge us to seek liberation from all that is narrow and superficial so that we can find the abundance of life which is Christ. Anyone who tries self-sufficiency in the spiritual life soon falls prey to illusion. From the earliest days God has given members of our Society the calling and gifts for the ministry of spiritual direction. It is especially important for those of us who are called to be spiritual directors to receive direction ourselves.

Christ will also make himself known as the good shepherd through the teaching and counsel of our retreat leaders. In times of retreat we should open our hearts, expecting to hear his voice speaking through the one we have invited to guide us.

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