01: The Call of the Society

Read by Br. James Koester

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, the eternal Word by whom all things were created, to become flesh and live among us.  In all the signs that he did and the teaching that he gave, he made known to us the grace and truth of the eternal Father.  When his hour came the Son consummated his obedience to the Father, and expressed his love for us to the uttermost, by offering himself on the cross.  He was lifted up from the earth in his crucifixion and resurrection from the dead in order to draw all people to himself.

We whom God calls into this Society have been drawn into union with Christ by the power of his cross and resurrection; we have been reborn in him by water and the Spirit.  God chooses us from varied places and backgrounds to become a company of friends, spending our whole life abiding in him and giving ourselves up to the attraction of his glory.  Our community was called into being by God so that we may be entirely consecrated to him and through our common experience of the glory of the Father and the Son begin to attain even now the unity that God desires for all humankind.  “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one.  I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Our mission is inseparable from our call to live in union with God in prayer, worship and mutual love.  Christ breathes his Spirit into us to be the one source of our own conversion and of our witness and mission to others; “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  We are sent to be servants of God’s children and ministers of the reconciliation which the Lamb of God has accomplished.  Our own unity is given to be a sign that will draw others to have faith in him.  Christ has entrusted to us the same word that the Father gave to him, so that those who hear it from our lips and perceive it in our lives may receive the light and through believing have life in his name.

By giving us the grace and courage to make lifelong vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience in an enduring fellowship, God makes us a sign of his eternal faithfulness.  A community of men who pledge to stay together until death is a powerful sign to the world of the grace that enables those who love Christ to abide until he comes.

The divine Wind that blows where it chooses has not restricted our Society to a few ministries.  Varied gifts within our brotherhood bear witness to the living power of Christ and extend his salvation.  Though our gifts differ we share one call to be consecrated in truth, through the power of God’s word and the grace renewed by feeding on Christ and drinking his life-blood in the Eucharist.  As a sign of our identity God gives us all an affinity with the witness of the beloved disciple embodied in the Gospel of John.  We bear the name of St John the Evangelist to show the Church what is the source of our inspiration and our joy.


  1. Joseph Cherny on May 8, 2023 at 12:08

    Thank you for this. I have really enjoyed it. Bless you for it.

  2. Joseph Cherny on May 8, 2023 at 12:05

    The Today in the Word is an awsome program. I really enjoy it.

  3. Linda Terry on January 6, 2020 at 08:20

    Thank you

  4. mark on April 15, 2009 at 08:07

    Incredible site!

  5. Andrew Stoessel on February 26, 2009 at 06:14

    Thank you Curtis and all at SSJE for the suggestion, the offering and the technology for this Lenten journey. It was a nourishing break to listen and read The Call of Society and a bit of the Guide in the middle of a full Ash Wednesday. This morning, Thursday, I was drawn into Chapter Two. Thank you for the refreshment and guidance of the Rule, and through it, the sharing of God’s grace.

    Andy Stoessel

  6. Polly Henninger on February 26, 2009 at 00:50

    I haven’t yet figured out how to hear the audio on my computer but in the process of trying to do so, I read the text. Hearing my own voice subvocally say the words “so that those who hear it from our lips and perceive it in our lives may receive the light and through believing have life in his name” brought me up short with a flash of insight. Those words are so similar to what I and my fellow choir members say each week after mass. After the service we form a circle and say a prayer that goes “that what we sing with our lips, we may believe in our hearts and what we believe in our hearts, we may show forth in our lives….
    That prayer is the culmination of the service for me. It is after we say that prayer that I feel complete. During the service itself, we are serving and our prayer is unconscious, it is the flowing forth of our voices as we create sound and feeling to praise and worship God. But at that time we are focussed on creating the worship. It is not the same as worshipping ourselves, although that is in there somewhere in our interior, and indeed creates the spirit of our offering. However, while we are making our offering, we are not thinking about how it is affecting others or how it shows the light. Hopefully we are doing so, but we aren’t thinking that per se. We are busy doing it. It is afterwards, when we form our circle and say the prayer that I feel like I’ve worshipped myself. It’s then that I articulate the hope that what we sang will reach our hearts and through our hearts meet the hearts of those in the congregation, that we are and will show the meaning of that music in our actions. These are thoughts that don’t have time to develop or become focussed during the actual service because we are concentrating primarily on the present, worshipping with our minds and voices in what requires skill and concentration. Your text tonight made me say “yes, that’s it. We hope that we are sharing our belief, showing it in our lives and giving life in His name.” That’s why I sing in the choir. I’m sure that’s why we all do.
    Thank you, Curtis, for illuminating my understanding of my own musical worship experience and opening me to a deeper sojourn into Lent.

  7. Nancy Barnard Starr on February 25, 2009 at 16:10

    Greetings, all — It is good to hear the voices of brothers and friends, some of whom I remember! I am drawn close as I listen, and read. What a gentle way to begin Lent.

    It’s wonderful to find this connection. Just in time.

  8. Patricia Robertson on February 25, 2009 at 12:00

    Thank you for this, Curtis. It is wonderful to hear your voice reading these words – truly putting “flesh” on them. I was struck by “our mission is inseparable from our call . .” How many times in life I have longed to be as clear about call and mission as you are as a community! And, as I have become clearer about my own call, then to articulate and act on the mission that is implied is a challenge. It’s even more so for a community/congregation/parish, but so important.

    Thank you for giving me new language with which to contemplate how to focus a community – call and mission, inseparable.

    • Joseph Cherny on May 8, 2023 at 12:11

      Thanks for this, I really enjoyed it..

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