On Tuesday, 21 November we will welcome The Reverend Gregory Basker as our guest preacher at the 5:30 PM celebration of the Eucharist. Dr. Basker is a presbyter of the Church of South India and teaches theology and Scripture from a Tamil point of view at Tamilnadu Theological College, the Church of South India’s theological college in Madurai, India.
Reflections on a year with SSJE at Emery House
When I try to think of a phrase that sums up my year with SSJE, the words that come to mind are thank God.
I came to this internship year with the expectation that I would show up, meet the Holy Spirit, be filled with a sense of destiny regarding my career choice, and finally walk off into the sunset with the whole rest of my life figured out. Needless to say, this somewhat absurd image was done away with shortly after I arrived. Thank God I not only met the Holy Spirit, I also met Jesus, and the Father. I met some wonderful SSJE brothers. Brothers who have made me laugh, called my bluffs, and listened to me with open hearts. I met my fellow interns, who have inspired me by their example. It has been so life-giving to meet other young people who are also so dedicated to the life of the Church. I met my beautiful and beloved hospice patients, for whom it has been a privilege to volunteer. I met myself. I found, to my surprise, that I could like myself.
The year has brought its fair share of challenges. Finding a rhythm in a new context with unfamiliar words and a new schedule while surrounded by strangers was a difficult process. Thank God I did so, because I came to experience such a depth of well-being here. It was discovered that I needed months of physical therapy to overcome the remaining symptoms of a brain injury I sustained years ago. That was challenging, but thank God I had the time and support necessary to do that here.
I am most grateful, I think, for a new attitude to silence. When I first arrived, I confessed rather frankly that I didn’t get it. “Why would anyone want to just sit there and be silent, when they could be doing something?” I could not then conceive of silent contemplation as at all worthwhile. It has since transformed my life. In those moments of waiting upon God, and especially the few times I have experienced God directly in indescribable ways, my whole life has been flipped right side up. Knowing more about who God is has allowed me to claim with confidence the truth about who I am, who I truly am: God’s beloved child. Thank God.
I do not mean to say that I have the whole rest of my life figured out. The sunset does not yet beckon, no end credits are imminent. I only know what the next step or two will be. With my life flipped right side up and centered around God, that’s all I need.
I’ll end this reflection with a direct message to the community that has so loved and supported me this past year – thank you, brothers of SSJE. Thank you for creating this program, for accepting me and my fellow interns into it, and thank you for loving us through it. You have changed our lives by your welcome, your teaching, and your example. Thanks especially to Brs. John, Curtis, and Nicholas for the many ways you made living at Emery House a joy. Most of all, though, thanks be to God!
Join Br. Jonathan Maury this Saturday (October 14), from 9:00 am -12:15 pm, for a special workshop on celebrating the Sacraments of Healing. “The rite of anointing the sick with oil, or the laying on of hands, by which God’s grace is given for the healing of spirit, mind and body” (BCP, 861) is increasingly being incorporated into Sunday and weekday liturgies. This practicum is for parish clergy and for lay persons ministering under their supervision. Register here.
Help spread Brother, Give Us A Word.
Start each day with a word of encouragement and hope from an SSJE Brother.
Sent by email each morning: www.SSJE.org/word
Sign up now or share today’s Word with a friend who might need to hear it.
Here are some ways that you can get the Word out!
1. Subscribe by email
2. Email your friends to do the same
Email your friends and invite them to subscribe to Brother, Give Us A Word daily email.
Copy and paste the text below into an email:
Every morning I get a daily word by email from the Brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist. Sometimes in just a few words the email reorients my day. I have come to find it a little addictive. I think that you might like it too.
Check it out at http://www.SSJE.org/word
3. Have your webmaster add this RSS feed to your web page
1. Pick the logo that’s right for your site.
2. Copy the HTML text under the logo and paste it to your site.
<a href=”http://ssje.org/word/”><img src=”http://www.ssje.org/bguaw_logos/SSJE_BGUAW_H_500x226.jpg” alt=”SSJE Brother, Give Us A Word Logo” width=”500″ height=”226″ /></a>
<a href=”http://ssje.org/word/”><img src=”http://ssje.org/bguaw_logos/SSJE_BGUAW_H_250x113.jpg” alt=”Brother, Give Us A Word Logo” width=”250″ height=”113″ /></a>
<a href=”http://ssje.org/word/”><img src=”http://ssje.org/bguaw_logos/SSJE_BGUAW_H_150x68.jpg” alt=”Brother, Give Us A Word Logo” width=”150″ height=”68″ /></a>
<a href=”http://ssje.org/word/”><img src=”http://ssje.org/bguaw_logos/SSJE_BGUAW_250x212.jpg” alt=”Brother, Give Us A Word Logo” width=”250″ height=”212″ /></a>
<a href=”http://ssje.org/word/”><img src=”http://ssje.org/bguaw_logos/SSJE_BGUAW_125x106.jpg” alt=”Brother, Give Us A Word Logo” width=”125″ height=”106″ /></a>
<a href=”http://ssje.org/word/”><img src=”http://ssje.org/bguaw_logos/SSJE_BGUAW_89x75.jpg” alt=”Brother, Give Us A Word Logo” width=”89″ height=”75″ /></a>
Use of Brother, Give Us A Word
The Brothers are happy to share the Brother, Give Us A Word daily word, under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
- Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
- Noncommercial — You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
- No Derivative Works — You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.
Bishop Arthur Crawshay Alliston Hall, the retired Bishop of Vermont and former member of our Society, died on 26 February 1930 at Burlington, Vermont in the eighty-third year of his life and the fifty-third year of his religious profession.
Born in Berkshire, England in 1847, where his father was an officer in the British Army, Bishop Hall was educated at Christ Church, Oxford. Just before his graduation in 1869 he became a postulant in our community. He remained a novice for eight years until July 1877, three months after his thirtieth birthday, which in those days was the minimum age for profession in our Society. Father Hall went to the United States in 1873 to assist at the Church of the Advent, Boston (now the Church of St. John the Evangelist, Bowdoin Street). He went on to serve as the novice master at the house we then had at Bridgeport, Connecticut. He also served as priest-in-charge of St. John’s, Bowdoin Street. In 1882 he served, together with Father Sheppard as a missionary in British Columbia during the building of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1885. A friend of Phillips Brooks, Hall was recalled to England in 1891 after Brooks’ election as Bishop of Massachusetts. Because of accusations of Unitarianism against Brooks, it was feared that Halls association with him would imply the Society’s approval of Brooks’ theology and of his election to the episcopate. In 1893, while still in England word was received of Father Hall’s election to the episcopate for the Diocese of Vermont. He applied for release from his obligations to the Society in order that he might accept the election. With the permission granted he returned to the United States and was consecrated the second Bishop of Vermont on the Feast of the Purification, 1894. For the next thirty-six years he ministered tirelessly to his diocese and many outside of it. Although no longer a member of our Society, Bishop Hall chose to continue living the discipline of a Religious and never sought release from his vows. He used his gifts of spiritual discernment to lead his clergy and people. Bishop Hall died having outlived two co-adjutors elected to succeed him. He is buried in Rock Point Cemetery at Burlington, Vermont.
As Christians, we belong to God and to one another. In the second “Mark of Love” we are called to help nurture God’s love within one another. As Br. David Vryhof explains in this introduction to the third week of the series, community is a necessity of Christian life because we are people of love who are called to encourage one another in this new life.
Transcript: In our baptisms, we are “sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever.” We belong to God. And we belong to God not only as individuals but as a collective body. Christianity is a communal religion. We are joined in baptism to other believers in the Body of Christ. We belong to one another as well. And in this Body, we have the function of supporting and helping one another, nurturing God’s life within each individual member.
So this week we’ll be focusing on the Second Mark of Love, or the Second Mark of Mission, which is “to teach, to baptize, and to nurture new believers.” And in a sense, it’s not just new believers, but all of us believers, who are stepping into this new way of life and who need teaching and encouragement along the way.
The life of God within us is a life to be learned, and to nurture, and to grow. We learn from one another a different way of living in the world. We help one another understand the different values of life in the Kingdom. We help one another embrace Jesus’ love and life within us and to participate with one another’s support and encouragement in the mission of God in the world.
So community is never an option for a Christian, or just an alternative that we can choose or not choose. It’s a necessity for Christian life. And it is an important part of the church’s witness and work in the world to nurture, and to teach, and to grow believers. This has been true from the very beginning. Jesus gathered around him a community of disciples and these disciples formed communities of early believers who lived out the message in the world, and who demonstrated the life of God, and the ways of the Kingdom, in the way that they related to one another, in the way that they treated one another and treated others, in the way that they expressed their love for God and for one another. We are a people of love who have been born from love and are called to live in love. And to live in love means to live in unity and peace with one another.
And so in this Second Mark of Mission, we encourage one another in this new life. We build up one another. We help one another to move deeper into the reality of living in God’s Kingdom. We are looking forward to sharing with you some of our ideas and to encourage you to think and meditate on your own participation in the collective life of God’s people, the Church.
– Br. David Vryhof
This activity invites you to explore the Baptismal Covenant in prayer and reflection during your day and throughout the week. Each morning, write a short prayer based on that day’s question from the Baptismal Covenant. Each evening, reflect on how you are living into this aspect of your faith.
I came to the Monastery seeking discipline and refuge. I came to navigate the love that had been offered so beautifully by the Brothers, and assimilate it into my being. I came to worship in community; to find commonality and a shared sense of grace with a small band of brothers and sisters. I came not to escape the world, but to find a new way to be a part of it.
In my time at the Monastery my spirit was hit over the head with a crowbar. I was struck by how much the experience challenged me, frustrated me, and changed me all at once. There were several components of the journey that taught me a great deal about myself, yet there is no doubt that nothing affected me quite like the practice of silence.
Although I had been on numerous monastic retreats, I had never found myself having to commit to long periods of silence, every day, for months on end. I welcomed the challenge, yet I had no idea whether I’d be able to handle it. Much to my surprise, it quickly became a source of great refuge and inner strength for me.
Within days, I found that I was far more present on a moment-to-moment basis. When I was faced with the grief of a friend, I found myself far more available to her. When I would have the opportunity to talk for extended periods of time, I’d speak more slowly and with far more honesty than I normally would in the outside world.
What I learned is that silence forced me to change because I was literally living differently. I became more confident because I was less inclined to seek out the approval of others through empty words. I also chose my words carefully when I did speak, and I spoke with far more authority.
Over time, I came to look forward to it. I looked for ways in which I could be silent and relished the peace that silence would bring me when I was engaging in the mundane matters of life. When I was stocking a kitchen, or raking leaves, or setting a table, I often found myself actively enjoying these activities much more than I had in the past. This happened because I wasn’t just being quiet, I was actively engaging in silence. Silence wasn’t merely the absence of words, it was the activation of an internal intention; a desire to see the world as it really was, and to see myself as I really am. This proved to be much more difficult than it seemed on the surface, but its practice brought about repeated experiences of catharsis, revelation, grief, and joy. It protruded the walls I often placed around my spirit and in so doing gave me a renewed sense of life. It pierced apertures in my self-absorption and forced me to pay attention to my motivations. In short, it did not allow me to hide from myself. I had no choice but to allow myself to be exposed to myself; to stand in the interior of my own soul and to resist the urge to flee into the darkness.
This occurred because I was taking myself out of the comfort of my own inner indulgences in order to face both the gifts and the horrors of my own mind. Over the months, silence became a mechanism by which I accessed a part of myself that I didn’t even know was there. Silence became a means of meditating upon the world in a way that encouraged continual self-reflection, the denial of the ego, and focused discipline.
Words are powerful. Words are our friends. Words are our teachers. Yet they are also often superfluous, distracting, and insidious. They are just as often architects of destruction as purveyors of peace. Silence doesn’t take away these proclivities, as our words are preceded by thoughts, which silence makes us all too aware of. But what silence does is to take us into our thoughts – around them, alongside them – and forces us to pay attention. It demands our presence; our active, unfiltered presence. It does not allow for anything less.
Observing the Greater Silence every night took my focus away from the trivialities of life and laid my soul’s eye directly onto what really mattered, both internally and in community. My inner life was caressed with grace, and my external life was opened with new possibilities. The Brothers’ constant encouragement and invocation to examine my role in this world more honestly served as a source of beauty and strength that I would return to daily until I left.
In the end, I left my monastic journey with the knowledge that silence wasn’t merely a practice; not simply another tool to be added to my arsenal. Instead, I came to see it as something far more powerful: a way of life.
Click on the links below to read selected articles from the Fall 2016 Cowley Magazine, which takes up the theme “Marks of Mission, Marks of Love”:
- In the Monastic Wisdom for Everyday Living article, “Beloved: Marks of Mission, Marks of Love,” Br. Mark Brown examines the story of Jesus’ baptism to uncover its role in helping to establish his sense of mission – and the mission to which we are all called.
- Associate Professor of Christian Mission and the Director of the Center for Anglican Communion Studies at Virginia Theological Seminary, Robert Heaney, unfolds how the Anglican Marks of Mission are Marks of Love.
- Br. Luke Ditewig suggests how the Five Marks of Mission – tell, teach, tend, transform, treasure – signify that Jesus’ love is making its mark on us.
- Two of the past year’s Monastic Interns reflect on what they’ve learned about embracing uncertainty and practicing silence.
- FSJ Member Scott Christian shares reflections from the recent FSJ Pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
- “What price is too high for knowing You better?” Br. John Braught shares the vocational struggles and realizations that brought him to the Monastery.
There are many ways to read and share this Cowley magazine:
- To open an online version of the magazine, click here.
- Download a PDF copy of the magazine.
- Do you know someone who might like to receive a FREE subscription to the print magazine? Let us know here.
Tell us what you think of this Cowley Magazine in the comments below.
We welcome your comments, letters, or ideas for future articles.
There was a Sunday afternoon when I was a child that I sat my mother down and demanded to know about life and death, where babies come from, and where we go. When my mother had answered all my questions to my satisfaction, I announced, “I’ve learned a lot today,” and left the room confident in my grasp of existence.