I first discovered the Monastery around 2007. Living a mile away, I could walk over whenever I had a really bad day and just needed someplace quiet and peaceful. I knew that every day of the week, except Monday, I could sit in on a Compline service. It became a sort of sanctuary for me: a place that I could go when I just needed to soak in God’s presence and be with other people who were deep in prayer. There is so much history of faithful service and prayer at the Monastery, that just entering the building feels like stepping into a river of prayer and letting the current carry me along. 

I think it’s vitally important that a community like this exists right in the heart of Harvard Square, where so many students and young people are looking for that kind of sanctuary and the stability of a faithful community. I support SSJE partly because I personally have felt fed and nourished by the Monastery, but also because I think it’s such a great thing to have a community like SSJE living right in the heart of the city, available for all who wander in, really needing it.

– Michael Zahniser

100_3891Through “Brother, Give Us a Word,” I have an everyday kind of relationship with SSJE, because that e-mail pops into my box every morning and either challenges me or focuses me or comforts me. I just love that, even on busy days, I receive that little something – not just a blurb; not just some simple thought, promising me a happy day. No, the word is almost always challenging. It holds real-life questions and provocative ideas to make me think. 

Typically, I’ll star the day’s word in my inbox because I want to come back to it. Then eventually, I realize that my inbox is full of so many flags waiting, I can’t possibly go back to each one of them, so I just save them all. They’re all worthy of going back to and thinking about some more! 

I support the Monastery so that the Brothers are able to continue that work and continue the ministry from which I have benefited. I’ve gotten to where I feel like I know the Brothers now, having had chats with them every day for several years! It’s a gift of gratitude.

– Carol Petty

GOOD Alexis Thanksgiving at MonasteryIn my relationship with the Brothers, I have learned so much about who God is and about the qualities of honesty and transparency, love and patience, and the Fruits of the Spirit. After having worshiped at SSJE for three years, I feel that the depth of my faith has grown so much. There is an authenticity here in the Brothers’ humility, their warmth, their generosity of spirit. It’s taken my perspective on God to a totally different level; I see that God is affirming and loving, accepting and yet encouraging and challenging at the same time – not “kick you in the pants” challenging. It’s much more of an invitation: “Grapple with this. Here is an invitation for you to grow.” Read More

image001SSJE is carrying the highest mission and calling of the Episcopal Church USA and of the global Anglican Communion. Every day I find a reflection – Brother, Give Us a Word – in my inbox and I share it with those close to me, local and far-flung.

By holding up to so many the fruits of their deep prayer and devotion to their monastic calling, SSJE carries a lamp for Christian laity worldwide. SSJE has indeed become, through the miracle of electronic technology, a lamp unto all nations. I salute the community and wish to express the depth of my gratitude to them for everyone to see.

– Constance Holmes

Christina McKerrow - Photo for SSJESome years ago, Br. James Koester came to Kingston (ON) for a Quiet Weekend in the City. Since then, the Way has been drawing me closer to God, slowly, slowly. About nine or ten years ago, my husband developed Parkinson’s disease, and later cancer as well. In spite of my formerly lackadaisical relationship with Jesus and our Eternal Saviour, I prayed to God. I asked to be granted patience, compassion, a loving heart to deal with the daily stresses. God’s gifts, in answer to my prayers, came silently in the night, and my husband John and I did our best with His help. I discovered then, and more recently, that my time is not God’s time.  Read More

Matthew TenneyThis year, three exceptional young people took part in the Monastic Internship Program, living, worshipping, and working alongside the community for nine months. We asked them to reflect on what they would take away from the experience. Here is what Matthew Tenney had to say:

In reflecting on my time living and working and praying alongside the Brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, I’m reminded of Canon Henry Parry Liddon’s praise for the Father Founder: Read More

Sarah Brock - 1 This year, three exceptional young people took part in the Monastic Internship Program, living, worshipping, and working alongside the community for nine months. We asked them to reflect on what they would take away from the experience. Here is what Sarah Brock had to say:

“Lord, it is night. The night is for stillness. Let us be still in your presence. It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done. What has not been done has not been done. Help us let it be.” So begins one of the prayers we often lift up at the office of Compline. Upon hearing it prayed aloud during my first week as an intern, I was drawn in by the poetry of the words and particularly by this desire to let go of the work of the day and be still. It has been true for most of my life that there is no end to the work that needs to be done. Every time I cross an item off of my to-do list, it seems I also add at least five more.   Read More

This year, three exceptional young people took part in the Monastic Internship Program, living, worshipping, and working alongside the community for nine months. We asked them to reflect on what they would take away from the experience. Here is what Raphael Cadenhead had to say:

Raphael Cadenhead - 2

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). How, exactly, does life in community transform and ‘sharpen’ us?  This question has been on my mind since I arrived at SSJE in September, and I’m only now beginning to grope for an answer. Read More

In September 2012 to June 2013, three exceptional young men took part in the Monastic Internship Program, living, worshipping, and working alongside the community for nine months. We asked them to reflect on what they would take away from the experience.

COWLEY shots 036The monastic daily schedule is the antithesis of undergraduate college living. Like most people after college, I graduated still in the midst of self-discovery, trying to figure out how to be the best version of myself. This internship was an opportunity to work on pieces of me that were just impossible to work on in the college setting. I knew that, as an extrovert, I wasn’t going to be able to take time to be silent and to live a disciplined, structured life without this experience.

I feel like I’ve learned a lot from just the act of being physically present five times a day for worship. Just having that discipline to show up if I’m not feeling well; if I don’t want to be there; if I do want to be there; if I have other things to do, there’s a lot to be learned in just showing up. That’s so simple, yet I think what the monastic life offers is such simple and profoundly deep practices of life.

I have actually gotten into the rhythm of waking up with the sun and going to bed a little bit after the sun. That seemed like such an impossibility to me coming here: to be able to awake at 5:30 and begin the day! I had never done that, never imagined I could. It goes back to discipline: My natural inclinations are not to stick to a disciplined life. After being able to live in this space for nine months, to experience this structure and discipline, I feel more equipped to go out on my own and put my own practices into place.

 

 

In September 2012 to June 2013, three exceptional young men took part in the Monastic Internship Program, living, worshipping, and working alongside the community for nine months. We asked them to reflect on what they would take away from the experience.

COWLEY shots 029One of the real beauties of this year for me has been being seen, really being seen and embraced as a person. In this, I think that the Brothers epitomize the best of Christian community: They embrace people as individuals and don’t ask that you live up to a set of standards before they love you. That’s really rare. And it’s what I needed.

So often, as human beings, we settle for less than we deserve. We’ve bought into a commercial version of life where we’re told, “If you get certain stuff you’re going to be really happy; if you get these jobs, you’re going to be happy; if you climb high enough up on the ladder and get a certain house and get a certain amount of security, then everything is going to be okay.” The truth is that none of that is very important. The most important thing is community and love. The SSJE community really exemplifies those values, which are a central theme in Johannine spirituality, but which I’d always dismissed as sort of Hallmark stuff. But love, in its fullest sense, is what God wants for us. This kind of love is accepting and it’s warm and it’s forgiving and it’s very spacious and it allows us to be fully human and not need to put on airs or pretend like we’re something we’re not or to strive in some way for achievements or possessions. When you’ve lived in a place like this, where you’ve been shown great hospitality and abundant love, you begin to realize that love does have the potential to transform us as individuals. No material things can do that. No amount of security or money in the bank is going to really transform us. But love has the ability to really transform people.

That certainly has been my story here: To be loved, as I’ve experienced this year by this community, wakes up a part of you that makes loving other people possible. And I think that, as a church, or just as people on a very human journey, our capacity to love is really the most important thing that we can develop. If we’re going to spend time in life doing anything, this is the one thing that really has the potential to transform us the most, and to transform the lives of everybody around us.