Slow & Steady: A Novice’s View of Power & Authority

I stood patiently by the door, waiting to be told where to sit. I saw all my Brothers take what I thought was their designated seat. It was my first time at “rounds” (what we Brothers call our daily morning meeting: that time where all the Brothers are in the same room at the same time to talk over the day’s business face-to-face).

I kept waiting to be told where to sit. I felt like a stray dog who had just been adopted days before, trying to figure out the ways of the household, not wanting to cause a stir, just looking to obey. Eventually I realized no one was going to tell me where to sit, and so I just sat down in an empty chair. I kept waiting for one of my elder Brothers to look at me and explain kindly but firmly that I was sitting in a chair that another Brother had been sitting in for longer than I had been alive. Luckily that never happened. 

I went through thousands of moments like that in my early days as a Postulant: long moments of waiting for someone with authority to swoop in and tell me exactly what to do. It took me a long time to realize that was not the way authority was exercised at SSJE. Those in power were not going to tell me where to sit. Instead, those in authority were focused on having a productive morning meeting and getting through the day. This was a big difference from the days back when Novices had their mail read.  Read More

Look to the Glory!

Benson2Richard Meux Benson was born in 1824 in London and studied at Christ Church, Oxford University. In 1866, together with two other Anglican priests, he founded the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, “a small body to realize and intensify the gifts and energies belonging to the whole Church.” SSJE became the first stable religious community for men in the Anglican Church since the Reformation, patterned on the missionary vision of St. Vincent de Paul, the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and the corporate prayer of Benedictine monasticism. Father Benson was a contemplative and a mystic; he was also a tireless evangelist and retreat leader. His prolific preaching, teaching, and writing often focused on God’s glory and our life-long conversion to Christ. “We cannot bound into the depths of God at one spring; if we could we should be shattered, not filled. God draws us on.” He understood God’s revelation as continuous and ongoing. “Faithfulness to tradition does not mean mere perpetuation or copying of ways from the past, but a creative recovery of the past as a source of inspiration and guidance in our faithfulness to God’s future, the coming reign of God.”

For this article, we asked four of the men in our novitiate to select a favorite quote from Father Benson and comment briefly on it. Read More