St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Monastic wisdom

'Go into your cell, and shut the door, and your cell will teach you everything.'
 
For the last several years, St. Stephen’s has had the pleasure and great privilege of hosting brothers from the Society of St. John the Evangelist, an Episcopal monastic order, at the beginning of Lent. This order is the oldest in the Anglican Communion, and the first founded in England since  the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII.
 
The order is not large and the brothers are able to reach out to very few parishes in the United States in this way, so it is our privilege to welcome them here. It has been tremendously enriching for us to incorporate the monastic wisdom of these brothers into our daily lives. 
 
This year, we welcomed the Superior of SSJE, Brother Geoffrey Tristam February 15-17, who conducted a Lenten retreat on Friday and Saturday, preached duing the Sunday morning services (an audio file of his sermon is here), and spoke during the Rector's Forum (audio is here).
 
In addition to these visits from the brothers of SSJE to St. Stephen's, there are several ways to benefit not only from monastic wisdom going back centuries to the Desert Mothers and Fathers, but also to benefit from the wisdom of these 21st century monks. 
 
Many people from St. Stephen's have visited the monastery of SSJE in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for spiritual retreats, and to enter into the brothers' rhythm of life. In addition, the brothers run a guesthouse about an hour from Boston, called Emery House, where clergy and lay people make retreats.
 
The brothers live by a "Rule of Life," the topic of Br. Geoffrey's Rector's Forum presentation, and copies of the Rule are available in the Bookshop @ St. Stephen's. As Br. Geoffrey explained in the Forum, anyone can develop and adopt his or her own Rule of Life, and reading about SSJE's is one way to understand this idea.
 
The brothers have a Web site which offers a number of spiritual resources, including daily email reflections, brief daily videos for Lent, and more. You may visit the site here.
 
Photo: View of the Charles River from a cell at SSJE's monastery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.