Week Seven: Praying Holy Week

Holy Week is a journey that engages our whole selves. As we celebrate Holy Week anew, we don’t simply commemorate events that took place thousands of years ago. Rather, by entering into the full drama of this sacred week, these events becomes really present again – for us, in us, and through us. This week can open us up, making us vulnerable to God’s spirit. Holy Week is a powerful time for experiencing real conversion of life. However you journey through Holy Week this year, come expecting God to speak to you, to change you, to renew you, and to transform you.

Try This

However and wherever you worship this year, bring your whole body into the experience. If you are worshipping from home, make the liturgy come alive in your living room. Light a candle. Wash each other’s feet. Stand or kneel as you are able when you feel so moved. Hold a prayer rope, a cross, a rosary, to ground and embody your prayer. Use your body to express your devotion and to invite God to move your heart this week. Challenge yourself to not simply watch television, but to fully participate in the liturgies. 

Bring an intention to this Holy Week, to focus your experience. Br. Geoffrey compares Holy Week to Niagara Falls, and encouarges us to find one small stream where we can fill our cup, rather than trying to drink in the whole experience. What do you thirst for? What do you need – especially this year? A deeper sense of being loved? A return of joy? Make clear your need – to yourself and to God. Then put your cup on the table before you as you pray Holy Week, asking God to fill it.

For Reflection

What do you remember from past Holy Weeks? When were most moved – in what places, with what friends, by which prayers? How did God meet you? Go back in your memory to those sacred touchstones, celebrating the power of memory as a way to enter and enrich this unusual Holy Week.

Br. James encourages us to “Come expecting miracles.” When we expect a miracle, our eyes will be open to one. God always comes to us in unexpected ways. Come to the worship expecting it.

Join Us

Holy Week | We Brothers have been amazed to learn how God can move through technology. We pray that this will be true as you join us for the grand liturgies of Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Tenebrae, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil.

The Sunday of the Passion:
Palm Sunday – March 28

9:00 am – Blessing of Palms & Holy Eucharist
4:00 pm – Evening Prayer

Monday in Holy Week – March 29

The chapel is closed.

Tuesday in Holy Week – March 30

5:30 pm – Holy Eucharist

Wednesday in Holy Week – March 31

12:30 pm – Holy Eucharist
7:30 pm – Tenebrae

Maundy Thursday– April 1

7:30 pm – Holy Eucharist with Foot-washing
9:00 pm-7:00 am – Watch before the Reserved Sacrament

Good Friday – April 2

7:30 pm – Liturgy of the Passion and Holy Communion

Holy Saturday – April 3

12:30pm – Liturgy of the Word
6:00 pm – Evening Prayer

Sunday of the Resurrection:
Easter Day – April 4

4:30 am – The Great Vigil of Easter
5:00 pm – Evening Prayer

All services will stream live at SSJE.org/chapel and on the Friends of SSJE Facebook page.

Download a one-page summary sheet on praying Holy Week, which you can place on your fridge, prayer corner, or desk.

Week Six: Praying Silence

Practicing silence is paradoxical: it is something we do by not doing anything at all. Silence is always available within us, yet it requires intentional practice because our culture pulls us so hard in the opposite direction. Since we are unused to silence, some of us can feel uncomfortable (even fearful) in its presence. Yet silence at heart  is about relationship; it opens us to the mystery of God’s loving presence. As the SSJE Rule of Life explains, “The gift of silence we seek to cherish is chiefly the silence of adoring love for the mystery of God which words cannot express.” This week we invite you to listen for the still, small voice of God in silence.

Try This

Commit to a practice of silence this week for a short, set time – say ten minutes a day. As far as you can, drop all expectations about this time of silence. Let your intention be simply to rest in God’s loving presence. Trust that all you need to do is show up. God will do the rest.

Silence allows for both mystery and revelation, and both are essential to our relationship with God. Br. Nicholas describes silence as “a conversation between the mystery of God and the mystery of our own selves.”  Imagine your silent prayer this week as a wordless conversation. Listen for the mystery of God. Listen for the mystery of your own heart.

For Reflection

How does silence play a role in your life already? Do you crave silence or resist it? If your relationship with silence is one of longing, consider what might be behind that desire: what is your soul seeking? If you avoid silence, consider what fears your resistance might contain or express.

Br. Keith describes his experience of unexpectedly encountering the mystery of God: “silence, this language of God, suddenly arrests us and enfolds us.” Has this happened to you? Recall your experience. How might you open yourself to receiving this sort of experience again – maybe even today?

Join Us

Silent Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament | Join the Brothers for a shared time of silent prayer on Thursday, from 5:15-5:45pm EST. Catch the live-stream at SSJE.org/chapel or on the Friends of SSJE Facebook page.

Centering Prayer Teaching | For those wishing for a more sustained experience of and teaching on centering prayer, Br. Nicholas Bartoli offers this online teaching. Join him for a short teaching and twenty minutes of silence >

Facebook Live | Join Br. Jim Woodrum on Facebook each Thursday at 7:15pm EST for a live conversation on the week's topic with a special guest. We hope to see you there!

Download a one-page summary sheet on praying Silence, which you can place on your fridge, prayer corner, or desk.

Week Five: Praying the Psalms

It has been such a comfort for us Brothers, in these unsettled and tense days, to maintain our practice of praying the Psalms in the Daily Office. This week we invite you to join with us in diving into this rich treasury for prayer. The Psalms poetically reflect the fullness of the human experience: from praise, exultation, and celebration to anger, disdain, and vengeance to utter desperation, resignation, and helplessness – and everything in between. Because of this range of expression, the Psalms have an incredible ability to allow us to express whatever we are feeling in the moment, while also lifting us out of our current circumstances to listen for the eternally-speaking voice of God.

Try This

The Psalms express every human experience and emotion. In this way, they invite us to share with God the unfiltered reality of our emotions and our experiences – even those parts of our lives and selves we might not want to pray. The Psalms invite us to let it all out. Find a Psalm that speaks to your soul’s true state this week, or simply bless God with your unvarnished truth in prayer.

This week, try singing your prayers. Pick a favorite hymn and sing it aloud to God. Chant the Psalms along with one of the Brothers’ services, available online. Remember, as Br Jonathan encourages, that it doesn’t have to sound pretty; God welcomes our “noise.”  Focus on your breath, bringing your whole body into your prayer.

For Reflection

Br. Sean shares how he resists some of the language of the Psalms, as an encounter with his own humanity that he does not want to face. What do the Psalms that you love – or loathe – have to teach you about yourself?

Consider your own personal “vocabulary of prayer”? What words and phrases come back again and again? Where does this familiar language come from chiefly? Are there lines of hymns, scripture, books, or other teachers that work their way into your prayer? Consider how this familiar language tells the story of God’s action of grace in your own life. 

Join Us

Evensong | This week we invite you to join us for Evensong, one of the gems of Anglican liturgy: Saturday at 6pm EST. Or come chant the Psalms at another Evening Prayer service this week: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at 6pm EST, or Sunday at 4pm EST. Catch the live-stream at SSJE.org/chapel or on the Friends of SSJE Facebook page.

Facebook Live | Join Br. Jim Woodrum on Facebook each Thursday at 7:15pm EST for a live conversation on the week's topic with a special guest. We hope to see you there!

Download a one-page summary sheet on praying the Psalms, which you can place on your fridge, prayer corner, or desk.

Week Four: Praying the Sacrament

For many, the pandemic has meant a rupture in our ability to participate fully in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. We long to gather in community in our church buildings, to pass the peace, and to receive the bread and wine. The year-long lack of this ritual – which is at the heart of our faith – has been palpable, painful. And yet, we believe that God is at work, even in this experience of longing and absence. As we discover how we can gather and worship as the Church in the shifting circumstances of these challenging times, we are also invited to discover new ways to receive Christ in the Eucharist and to carry his message of love into the world.

Try This

By virtue of our Baptism, we are ushered into the household of God, the Church. We are one Body in Christ Jesus. This week, as you join us (or another virtual congregation) for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, pick one of the people who is receiving the elements, and allow them to receive for you. Our willingness and desire to receive Jesus in the Sacrament are enough. As you partake in spiritual communion, pray that you will be nourished, sustained, and transformed by this sacred act of communion, which transcends material limitations. 

In the Eucharist, we act out sacramentally the remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice. We are called to enact this in the world, by laying down our lives for one another. Think of what you have sacrificed over this year. Make this “laying down of your life” a eucharistic offering to God. 

For Reflection

Br. Jim recalls the story of Emmaus, in which two disciples, mourning their Lord, are surprised to discover that Jesus has been with them all long. How have you been surprised to meet Jesus during this time of longing and lack? How have you met him in the breaking of the bread?

We believe that Jesus is making all things new, even in the midst of the chaos and destruction of this pandemic. While we cannot yet see over the hill, we trust that he is at work, transfiguring this situation. How is this true in your own life right now? Where is God at work, bringing life out of death? 

Join Us

Eucharist | We warmly invite you to join us for the Holy Eucharist: Sunday at 9am EST & Tuesday at 5:30pm EST. Catch the live-stream at SSJE.org/chapel or on the Friends of SSJE Facebook page.

Silent Prayer before the Sacrament | Join us Thursdays in Lent, from 5:15-5:45pm EST for a time of silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Catch the live-stream at SSJE.org/chapel or on the Friends of SSJE Facebook page.

Facebook Live | Join Br. Jim Woodrum on Facebook each Thursday at 7:15pm EST for a live conversation on the week's topic with a special guest. We hope to see you there!

Download a one-page summary sheet on praying the Sacrament, which you can place on your fridge, prayer corner, or desk.

Praying the Rosary


Jesus says: “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden” (Matthew 11:28). We want to come to him in prayer. The Rosary is a method of prayer which has helped countless thousands of people to come to Jesus Christ.

- 1936 Tract on The Rosary by the Brothers of SSJE

At a moment when many of us are "heavy-laden," the Rosary might be an inviting way to pray, especially in this season of Lent. We invite you to pray along with us the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.

The Sorrowful Mysteries (with short instructions upfront)

The Sorrowful Mysteries (without instructions)

To accompany your prayer, we're offering a booklet of the full text of the Sorrowful Mysteries, illuminated by the beautiful stained glass windows in SSJE's Lady Chapel.

If you'd like to purchase a rosary, made by Br. Todd, click here >

We hope to release a full prayer booklet of the Rosary, including the Joyful and Glorious Mysteries, and the complete teaching from SSJE's 1936 booklet on the topic, following Lent.

Week Three: Praying the Word

The Word of God is the bedrock of our experience of God, as it unfolds the story of our salvation in words treasured across the centuries. In the pages of Scripture, we are invited constantly to reorient our lives toward those principles that define who we are – whose we are – and how we are called to live as the Church, and as individual Christians. This week, we invite you to look up from the uncertainty of our world, and enter deeply into God’s eternal truth in prayer.

Try This

Pick one of the Gospels to pray with this week. Feel free to start with familiar passages, passages that have meaning for you already. You might explore lectio divina on passages that foreground Jesus’ teachings (the Sermon on the Mount; the Johannine Discourses). Try reading slowly until a word or phrase captures your attention. What thoughts and feelings does the passsage evoke? What is God revealing to you through this passage? For those passages that are more story based, you might explore “imaginative prayer.” Imagine yourself in the story; what are you feeling as you watch this scene unfold; what do you notice? How are your senses engaged? What do you want to say in reply? Let the passage invite you into dialogue with God.

Select a line from Scripture that has been meaningful to you or commit a fresh line to memory. You could write the line on a slip of paper and, like Br. Lucas, carry it with you throughout the day. You might also use this line as a mantra, a way to pray continuously along with your breath. Open your heart to hear God speaking to you through this line of Scripture.

For Reflection

What stories about Jesus have touched you deeply and made a difference in your life? What verses from the Scriptures do you remember and hold onto in troubled times? Lean on these passages again this week as you hear afresh the promises of God. What new revelation waits here?

Many of us have re-discovered the importance of God’s revelation in nature over this last year. What word of God is the natural world speaking to you? Take a walk with the ears of your heart open.

Join Us

Rosary | This week we invite you to join us in using the words of scripture to pray together. We're sharing a pray-along recording of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. Join in as often as you like.

Facebook Live | Join Br. Jim Woodrum each Thursday at 7:15pm EST for a live conversation on the week's topic with a special guest. This week, he'll be joined in conversation by Fr. Sammy Wood, rector of Saint B's in Nashville, TN. They'll be discussing "Praying the Word." We hope to see you there!

Download a one-page summary sheet on praying the Word, which you can place on your fridge, prayer corner, or desk.

Week Two: Praying at Home

Over the last year, we have by necessity rediscovered prayer at home. Cut off from gathering in parishes, some have turned to worshipping online. Others have begun to pray the Daily Office around their dinner table or over Zoom. Maybe you have made a prayer space, an area set aside for sacred encounter. This week, we invite you to explore new ways to hallow your home, embracing the hopeful possibilities of the domestic church.

Try This

Churches are sacred places, explicitly set aside for prayer, but a life of prayer is not confined to a church building on Sunday morning. Our homes are just as holy. If you don’t already have a prayer corner, try creating a space just for prayer inside your home. Simple items like an icon, candle, or flower can reveal your intention for this area and remind you to spend time here with God. Set a plan to meet God at the same time each day. This week, lavish some love on your at-home sanctuary. 

Many of us have been experiencing the loss of our faith communities in these trying times. Fill that gap this week by bringing others into your life of prayer. Invite a friend or family member to connect with you over Zoom. Engage in a time of prayer – formal or informal – with those in your household: a mealtime prayer, a gratitude sharing circle, or a moment of intercessory prayer for those you carry in your hearts. Get creative about how you might gather together with others in Jesus’ name.

For Reflection

Br. Jack talks about having felt “more like a monk” these last months than any time before. Have any of the changes and challenges of the pandemic made you feel “more like” yourself? 

How has this time shifted your own practice of prayer? What have you lost; what have you gained? Consider this time as an invitation from God: Where is God in this for you?

Join Us

Compline | We invite you to join us for monastic “bedtime prayers,” streamed Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8:30pm. It’s a wonderful way to say “Goodnight” to God. Catch the live-stream at SSJE.org/chapel or on Facebook.

Facebook Live | Join Br. Jim Woodrum on Facebook each Thursday at 7:15pm for a live conversation on the week's topic with a special guest. We hope to see you there!

Click here to download a one-page summary sheet on "Praying at Home," which you can place on your fridge, prayer corner, or desk.

Week One: Praying Our Bodies

Gathered for worship, or beginning prayer time, some people bow, kneel, or make the sign of the cross. How do you mark your entry to prayer?  What other movements might express your feelings, beliefs, your prayer – especially today? Consider how you embody anger, joy, sadness, trust, anxiety, longing, or thanksgiving. Play with praying in your body this week.

Try This

Whatever your prayer, put a shape to your words to embody the intention. For example: We believe and say that Jesus loves us. But it can be hard to feel that love. Try wrapping yourself in a hug. Stay there. Feel the warmth of your hands holding yourself. In this shape, say “Jesus loves me.” How does that feel? What other emotions might you embody in prayerful conversation with God? Punch a pillow. Skip. Sway. Bend low. Reach high. Give praying your body a try.

Instead of putting a shape to words, do the reverse. Let your body move first and then notice what is being communicated. You might put on music and see what comes. The dance could begin with one finger. What develops. How do you feel?

For Reflection

Think about how you bring your body into gathered worship in community. If you’re at home now, what elements of that embodied practice are you missing? How might you bring these elements into your private prayer time at home?

Fasting is one of the most familiar ways we pray with our bodies, especially in Lent. If you’re considering fasting this year, consider how the practice can be about more than simple deprivation. What are you hungering for?  What consumes you? How might your fast help to feed your deepest desire and nourish your soul?

Join Us

Ash Wednesday | We invite you to join our live-streamed Ash Wednesday liturgy from the Monastery Chapel on Wednesday, February 17, 12:30pm. You can access the live feed at ssje.org/chapel or on the Friends of SSJE Facebook page.

Facebook Live | Join Br. Jim Woodrum on Facebook each Thursday at 7:15pm for a live conversation with a special guest. This week, Br. Jim will be in conversation with Charlotte Greeson, from Lifelong Learning at Virginia Theological Seminary. We hope to see you there!

Embodied Prayer Teaching | Br. Luke Ditewig is offering an online version of his full embodied prayer program, which you can do any time. Learn more >

Click here to download a printable one-page sheet on praying our bodies, which you can place on your fridge, prayer corner, or desk.