At the Festival Eucharist of Saint John’s Day, on May 5, we welcomed five new members into the Fellowship of Saint John. Here those newest members share reflections on keeping a rule of life and being a member of the Fellowship.
In the fall of 2009 I came to a deepened experience of who the Brothers are and the gifts they have to offer the world. I am a part-time Master of Divinity student at Bangor Theological Seminary in Portland, ME and along with several other Episcopal students from the seminary, spent time in retreat at the Monastery – from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. We joined the Brothers in worship – no fewer than ten times! – and for meals, for group reflection with our companion, Br. James Koester, and much time was available for silence – God’s first language. It was during the retreat I purchased a copy of the SSJE Rule of Life, and I must confess, prior to this year, I hadn’t given it much time or attention.
My wife Christine and I have been able to join the Brothers for several of their Saturday workshops. We always leave feeling renewed – eagerly anticipating a return visit. Early on in our time as a couple we desired a deepened relationship with the Brothers, and membership in FSJ seemed the natural path to follow. We read the Fellowship rule and saw ourselves already living into parts of it, so we applied as probationers.
As Lent approached this year, Christine and I learned of the Brothers’ video series, A Framework for Freedom. It has become part of our life together to pray Morning Prayer each day, and we chose to open our prayer time with the Brothers’ daily video offering. We quickly realized the value of a rule and how a rule does not have to be a burden, but rather can be something freeing and life-giving. At the same time, another dimension of our life during Lent is to choose a devotional book to companion us on our Lenten journey, so it seemed natural to use the SSJE Rule of Life and read a chapter near the end of each day. These two practices left us embraced by and wrapped in the hearts and words of the Brothers.
It strengthens and sustains us to know we are now part of the Brothers’ prayers, and our daily prayer now includes the Brothers. Each day we ask “that by their prayer and service they may enrich your Church, and by their life and worship may glorify your Name . . . ”
In the final reflection from A Framework for Freedom, Br. Curtis asked us to say “yes” to our lives and reminded us that God is most present in the here and now. I whole-heartedly believe that my “yes” to relationship with the Brothers and to the wider Fellowship will be a source of joy and gladness for the rest of my days.