Letter from the Fellowship: Henry Courtney

“Anyone who tries self-sufficiency in the spiritual life falls prey to illusion.”  This sentence in Chapter 30 of the SSJE Rule of Life both invited and guided me in the construction of my personal rule.  I knew that I needed and wanted observations, perceptions, and self-awareness.  Being a guest at the Monastery and having visits with Br. Eldridge Pendleton led me to conclude that a deeper relationship with SSJE would be an appropriate path.  The act of being received into the Fellowship of Saint John came to me as a gift – worthy examples of prayer, study, contemplation, community, care, and thankfulness.  Writing a personal rule, then, led me to the Fellowship of Saint John.

Saint John’s Day 2012 had so great a symbolic importance for me that I wanted to remember and recall every detail about it.  The morning was damp and chilly; the light and flowers in the Chapel were lovely; there was a festive reception; but for me, the important perceptions included anticipation, a change in the air, some new practical sense, and an adventure in mystery.  For my part, I had found the observations and perceptions I sorely needed.  My name was called, and I was given a cross to wear as a “sign of the purity of heart with which you seek to abide in Christ as he abides in us.”  I was wholeheartedly grateful for the experience.   All of that day was something for the memory books.

Living a rule goes far beyond the sense of a beginning.  A change of heart and quite a lot of hard work and concentration must follow.  As a new and grateful member of the Fellowship of Saint John, I am thrilled to have the memory of a beginning and the excellent company of the surroundings.  The essential truth of this experience has become moment-to-moment and day-to-day thanksgiving and hope.  It is a joy to think of the future, living a rule, and returning to the monastery.   I will honor the spirit of the opening moments, and I will always be encouraged by the prayers, good will, and gentleness that characterize the deepened relationship with the Fellowship of Saint John.  The experience is treasured, ongoing, and it has the feeling of surpassing comfort, encouragement, and great luck.

Leave a Comment