One of Father Benson’s less well-known books is a small volume entitled The Divine Rule of Prayer or Considerations upon the Lord’s Prayer. It was published in 1866, the same year he, Father Grafton, and Father O’Neill made their professions as the first members of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist.
What is fascinating, in part, about this book, is that in two short chapters, both about 2500 words long, he lays before the reader his understanding of the nature and purpose of prayer. He does this by constantly rooting himself in Lord’s Prayer, of which he says as prayer is the great work of life, so the Lord’s Prayer is the great form and model of [all] prayer.
Many of the themes which Father Benson introduces to his audience in this book, he picks up repeatedly over the course of his life, in his other writings. Reading things published many years after The Divine Rule we hear echoes of what he says within it, perhaps reminding us that most, including it would seem Father Benson, have only one or two things worth saying, and we spend the rest of our lives saying them in different ways.
Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Profession of Life Vows by Brother Luke Ditewig, SSJE
Now I can’t claim to be the list king in this community. There is another brother, who will remain nameless, who is the king of lists, charts and calendars in this community. But what I can claim to be is the brother obituariest (the brothers call me something else, but it’s a little rude so I won’t repeat it!). Anyway, I am the one responsible for writing the obituaries which we read at Compline, on the anniversary of a brother’s death. It’s a job that I take great delight in. One thing I have done is to make lists of all the brothers who have died in the community since our founding in 1866 beginning with Father Coggeshall, who was the first in our community to die in 1876, up to and including Brother Bernie whose death earlier this year was the most recent. By my count there have been 153 deaths in the community. But while I was making that list, I became curious about another list. I began to wonder how many men have made their life profession in our community, and when. So I began to dig, and it has taken quite a lot of digging, because our records are somewhat incomplete. But according to my count Luke, you are at least the 201st person since Father Benson to make his life profession in the Society of Saint John the Evangelist and the 47th to make his life profession here in this Chapel since Father Lockyer, who was the first to be professed here, on 21 July 1938.