During this Holy Week when our churches are closed and many Christians cannot worship in community, we Brothers are pleased to be able to share our corporate worship with the world. Many thanks to the Diocese of Massachusetts for recording the Maundy Thursday service from the Monastery Chapel. In addition to the traditional liturgy of the footwashing, the video features Br. James Koester preaching. View the full liturgy >

At this time when the Monastery Chapel is closed, the Brothers invite you to join us online on Wednesday, April 8 at 7:30 pm, when we will be audio-streaming the ancient monastic office of Tenebrae, a service that derives from the monastic services of matins and lauds. This liturgy is a choral offering, with chanted psalms and canticles set to plainsong and chanted lessons from the Lamentations of Jeremiah (in which each verse is introduced by a letter of the Hebrew alphabet). As you listen along, you might light a candle, allowing its light to inspire your meditation. Join us online >

“The Liturgy of the Palms” in the Monastery Cloister Garden on Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020.  Pictured: Br. Todd Blackham (Deacon), Br. Lucas Hall (Subdeacon), Br. Geoffrey Tristram (Presider), and Br. Jim Woodrum (Thurifer).

Have your Lenten goals been overshadowed by COVID-19? Many of us are struggling simply to find normalcy during these unsettling times – to say nothing of approaching the season of Lent with the purpose and intention with which we began it. To that end, we’re happy to share a recent piece by Br. Jim Woodrum on “The Monastic Discipline of Temptation,” which was recently published in the online magazine Earth & Altar. We hope this might invite you to re-embrace your intentions for this Lenten season in a meaningful way.

The Monastic Discipline of Temptation: Why did Jesus face temptation for forty days in the desert? And what has led centuries of monastics to follow him there, seeking to confront their own temptations? In “The Monastic Discipline of Temptation,” Br. Jim Woodrum stalks temptation out into the desert, seeking to understand its true nature. By studying the Christian monastic tradition, he discovers that temptation not something to be avoided, but actually something to be faced – even embraced. Temptation is a tool, by which we can discover what separates us from the love of God. When we study our own temptations, we can strengthen ourselves against their advances. This Lent, Br. Jim invites us to take up the discipline of temptation as monks do, following it as a path to self-knowledge and, eventually, a gateway into a deeper love of God.

Earlier this month, Br. David Vryhof was pleased to be a guest on the “Red Church Door” podcast, talking about God’s invitation to repentance. Follow the link to listen to the full episode (Br. David’s segment starts around minute 20).

From the Red Church Door: “Repentance is a subject that contemporary religion often shies away from. At the same time, there seems to be a natural, human hunger for reflection, recognition of our sins and weaknesses, and repentance. What is the process of repentance? What spiritual practices of repentance bring us closer to God — and why does repentance still matter? Colin’s guests for this episode are, Br. David Vryhof, from Society of St John the Evangelist (SSJE) in Cambridge, MA and the Rev. Sandi Albom, Chaplain and Spiritual Director at The Plymouth House in Plymouth, NH.”

If you are following our Signs of Life series, this is a quick reminder that Becky and Br. Jim will share a further conversation on Shelter this evening at 7pm EST/ 6pm CST.
Shelter is even more timely sign right now as our closed churches might not seem to be the shared places of refuge and celebration they normally are. Join us for prayer and conversation.

The Community was pleased to celebrate the clothing of Br. Todd Blackham on Sunday, March 15. While we regretted that the wider public was not able to share with us in the joyful event, it remains a sign of promising and hopeful new life, even in such challenging times. We wish Br. Todd joy as he enters into the next chapter of his religious vocation.

My dear friends:

In our Rule of Life we read in the chapter, The Challenges of Sickness, that we are co-creators with the Holy Spirit who enables us to consecrate every aspect of life as an offering to God’s glory.  Even sickness can be transfigured, and become the means by which we experience personally the reality of the Lord’s assurance, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” A brother’s illness affects the whole community and God will provide gifts of grace for us all.

This is surely such a time, when the illness of so many is having profound effects on the entire world. None of us are left untouched by the coronavirus. As each one of us looks for ways to limit and contain the spread of the virus, the Brothers have made two important decisions. Earlier this week, we announced the closure of the Guesthouse and our limiting non-urgent travel, until at least 7 May. Today we decided to close the monastery chapel for public worship. Beginning today 13 March 2020, the chapel will remain closed until further notice. This will, if necessary, include Holy Week and Easter.

While this decision saddens us, we believe that in light of the uncertainty surrounding the virus, it is a necessary precaution, both for the health of the members of our congregations, as well as our staff. The decision was not taken lightly. As the situation changes we will review this decision.

We are now working with the members of our communications team to find ways to audio stream or webcast some of our services. 

Please refer back to our website for updates regarding both the reopening of the Chapel, as well as information on how to listen to webcasts of our services.

In the meantime I commend the following prayer to you from the New Zealand Prayer Book:

God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to us
as we wait in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make us the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.

I remain, your brother in Christ,

James Koester SSJE
Superior