Br. Luke Ditewig2 Corinthians 6:1-10
John 13:12-17

Today we remember the Saints of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, the Brothers who have gone before us. We remember them one by one reading aloud their obituaries at Compline.

They came from various backgrounds with a range of interests. Writers, poets, architects, artists, book-binders, and insect enthusiasts who served in England, Scotland, India, South Africa, Japan, Canada, and across the United States.

They were pastors, preachers, spiritual directors, teachers, retreat leaders and more. Sometimes much at once. I like the story of John Hawkes who during the Great Depression presided at a marriage, baked and iced the wedding cake, and supplied the rings.

Our Brothers commended themselves to God in poverty, celibacy, and obedience. They “endured hardship … through knowledge, patience, kindness, genuine love, truthful speech and the power of God.” Indeed the obituaries recall them as warm, friendly, gentle, hospitable, and patient, whose “fundamental characteristic was a kindly interest and loving concern for people.”[i]

John Hawkes “had a sense of heaven and the ability to make heaven real to others. He was known for being a man of prayer and gentle thoughtfulness.”[ii]They transformed continually. Carl Gross “in his later years … slowly changed from being a gruff old man to one full of love.”[iii]

We give thanks for this lineage, ancestors from whom we inherit our monastic life. Their witness points to God’s faithfulness. They give hope that we may further become lovers of God and lovers of people.

Who are saints in your family of faith? Who washed your feet, showed you God’s love? Going back further, who formed them? Who are your spiritual ancestors?

Whether or not you know their names or stories, give thanks for your spiritual ancestors today. They and the Saints of SSJE surround us in the great cloud of witnesses and keep pointing us to Jesus.

[i]SSJE Obituaries, compiled by Br. James Koester



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  1. Marcus on November 3, 2019 at 01:06

    Thank you; a geat explanation of the relevance of All Souls,

  2. Jeanne Defazio on November 2, 2019 at 11:21

    Beautiful message. Many thanks!

  3. David Ericson on November 2, 2019 at 10:11

    Thank you, Brother Luke. I find this very concrete way of thinking about the spiritual legacy of lives as a family tree to be helpful.

  4. Margo flletcher on November 2, 2019 at 08:28

    Dear Br. Luke.
    Thank you for this. I have had the incredible good fortune to have had my life graced by ‘Cowley’ fathers from a tiny child in South Africa, to England as a new convert, to being an old lady here in these United States. They have gently poked and prodded me to face down the dragons and demons of my small life set me firmly on my feet and confidently expected me to be able to follow Him. For this I am immensely grateful.
    As global warming catches up with us and God’s damaged creation is irreversibly changed I wait with ‘expectant desire’ for your leadership to evolve so you confidently lead us together on to Jesus’s kingdom of heaven. May you be deeply inspired as you do. Margo

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