I’ve been praying for some time over words of our founder, Richard Meux Benson: “If only we can show people that we are living upon a truth and loving it, they will soon catch the life.” ‘They will soon catch the life.’ Life is something that we have been experiencing here at the Monastery in new and wonderful ways. This Easter has been so full of new life for us, and it’s been mirrored in the trees, which have been in flower for such a long a time here in Massachusetts. In the same way, I feel that we are in a season now, in our Community, full of new life and hope. Our world is really flowering.
Everywhere we look, we see cause for gratitude. It’s been so good to be back at home together and to have restored our cycle of prayer and preaching. Throughout Holy Week and Easter, the Chapel was filled as never before, for service after service. Our Saturday morning workshops and Tuesday evening Eucharist are well-attended, with many students present. There seems to be life breaking out everywhere.
Our online ministry also continues to blossom. Nearly four thousand people now begin each day with a prayer from our online devotional “Brother, Give Us a Word.” I urge you to invite your friends to our website, so that they can subscribe as well. Through Lent and Holy Week this year, as you may know, we launched 49 one- to two-minute videos as part of a series called “A Framework for Freedom,” designed to help our friends create a rule of life. We heard from people from all over the world about these videos; some two thousand people subscribed! I recently heard from a man who knew SSJE many years ago, but who went to live in Auckland, New Zealand. He’s just reconnected with us because of that online ministry.
As we reconnect with friends from beyond the Monastery, God has blessed us in many ways during this past year, in bringing new friends to the Monastery. We are delighted to have received four new men as postulants in our Society, and we recently celebrated the profession in initial vows of our novice Luke, in early June. So too, we’re encouraged by the number of men who are contacting us as they actively consider the religious life. At the end of May, we bid goodbye to our five year-long interns, who have contributed greatly to our ongoing ministry at the Monastery and Emery House. It’s been wonderful to have them with us, as they’ve enriched our lives so much. You can read reflections on their time with us in the pages of this Cowley.
As summer comes to Cambridge and West Newbury, we continue to turn our thoughts to the outdoor life of the two beautiful properties that have been entrusted to our care. At Emery House, work continues with Mass Audubon and Essex County Greenbelt Association on conservancy planning, and with other advisors on growing food, on solar energy, on energy-efficient buildings, and on creating a place that invites friends and visitors to celebrate and feel a part of the wonder of Creation. We are thinking and praying together about how to advance and develop our life and ministry at Emery House.
And at the Monastery, we recognize that the gardens are in need of help. You may know that the cloister garden was completely destroyed by the year of construction and renovations. We have established a capital campaign, ‘Green & Light,’ to raise funds to renovate the Fletcher Steele garden on the Guesthouse side of the Monastery, and to establish in the cloister a woodland garden that will have color throughout the year, using native species, and providing sanctuary for birds and other wildlife. Br. Robert L’Esperance shares the vision for this new garden in his article “Return to Eden” in these pages. I’m very pleased to say that we have already raised well over half the total needed to complete this exciting project.
There is so much new life springing up around us and within us, and for it all our overwhelming response is gratitude: gratitude to God for having given us so much; gratitude to Fellowship members and Friends for having supported the renovations of the Monastery by prayers, encouragement, and gifts; gratitude for the blessings of our life together, which we experience every time we come together to celebrate the Eucharist. This whole issue of Cowley revolves around Eucharist and gratitude, and we Brothers are full of gratitude for all that you give to us and the many ways in which you support us in our life and our ministry together.
Do spread the good news: We are flourishing; summer is coming; there is the joy of Easter and new life all around us. Thank you for helping us and others to ‘catch the life.’ Alleluia!
Geoffrey Tristram SSJE