The Early Missionary Work of the Society in Africa – Br. Eldridge Pendleton
Following the Call: A Contemporary Story of Ministry in Africa – Br. David Vryhof
Companions on the Way: The Ministry of Spiritual Direction – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
A Place of Pilgrimage/A Place of Hope: My Holy Week ministry at Canterbury Cathedral – Br. James Koester
One sunny summer day as a young boy I experienced a miracle. I was holding a small magnifying lens, examining a flower petal. Suddenly the flower leapt on fire. I was shocked! In a profoundly simple way, I witnessed the power of captured light: enormous. All light emanates from God. In the Genesis creation account, God creates light on the first day – “Let there be light”; however it is not until the fourth day that God creates the sun, moon, and stars (Gen.1:1-19). God’s light precedes our light. This is such an important reminder when you are living through a cloudy day or stormy season of life: how to capture, store, focus, reflect God’s light, the light of life. Several practices are helpful.
I’ve just had a meeting with a group of people interested in forming a Boston area chapter of Kids4Peace. Kids4Peace (K4P) is an organization that began a few years ago in Israel/Palestine at St. George’s College in Jerusalem. SSJE’s work with St. George’s as chaplains for many courses brought us into contact with the K4P program and its founder, Dr. Henry Carse
K4P is a fascinating undertaking. Kids from Jerusalem 10-12 years of age representing the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam gather regularly for activities and conversations designed to foster better understanding and genuine mutual regard. In the summer, the Jerusalem kids come to America for camp experiences with kids of the same age. As a promotional brochure puts it: “By celebrating the differences and similarities between their cultures and faith traditions, these children are taking a step toward global understanding and peace.”
“From the earliest days God has given members of our Society the calling and gifts for the ministry of spiritual direction.” (Rule of the Society: Chapter 30.)
The ministry of spiritual direction is very rewarding. The exercise of this ministry is for me a deeply humbling experience and one which I never take for granted. As the Benedictine writer Matthias Neumann put it, “It is an immense responsibility to take on the guidance of human lives, especially the sifting, discerning, and supporting of the inner-most secrets of hearts.”
In the monastery here in Cambridge we have several rooms set aside for spiritual direction. Many of the brothers meet with individuals regularly, perhaps once a month, over several years. We also offer directed retreats where we welcome a person to spend a few days with us and give them the opportunity to meet with a brother several times during their stay. At other times a person will ask to meet with a brother just once in order to receive guidance about a particular issue in their life with God.