Feast of Blessed Richard Meux Benson SSJE
1 Kings 19:9-18
1 John 4:7-12
It all happened so quickly. A letter arrived in early October and three weeks later, tickets had been purchased, luggage packed, work reassigned, a notice in the parish magazine placed, and an adventure begun.
It was October 1870 when a letter from the Wardens of the Church of the Advent arrived at the Mission House in Oxford, asking Father Benson if members of the Society would be available to assist the Rector of the Parish for a number of months. The invitation was so significant, and so unexpected, that Father Benson thought it best if he himself travelled to Boston to investigate. His departure was set for All Saints Day. The day before, he wrote to members of the Parish of Cowley St. John, encouraging them to be diligent in your attendance at all the means of grace, and in your prayers.
It was not an easy crossing. Father Benson, and his companions, Father O’Neill and Father Puller, were not good sailors. Early in the voyage Father Benson wrote home saying: We do not feel well. The motion of the boat makes one so dizzy and stupid that it is difficult to read or write. Last night we went to bed feeling very bad, but we are now getting wonderfully used to the motion. The sea is what sailors call smooth.
R.M. Benson – I Kings 19:9-12; Psalm 27:5-11; I John 4:7-12; John 15:9-17
Today we remember the founder of our community, Fr. Benson, who died on this day in 1915. We have received a great deal from him, and his example and teaching continue to inspire our life and mission today.
Fr. Benson was a man who made a strong impression on those he met. One of his contemporaries described him as “shabby, untidy, ill-kempt, and quite eccentric,” but at the same time claimed that there was “a divine tenderness (that) shone through all that was most uncouth” (p.19). It seemed to those who knew him that his gaze was always fixed on things above, which were just as real to him – and far more valuable – than things below. He lived in the presence of God. “He conveyed a sense of the immediacy and nearness of God,” says Donald Allchin. “There was something in him and around him which spoke of eternal and heavenly realities” (A.M. Allchin, in Benson of Cowley, p. 19).