Saints of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis AlmquistO God, by whose grace the saints of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, kindled with the flame of your love, became burning and shining lights in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

In the Monastery Refectory (where we share our meals) three large oil portraits hang:

Father Charles Neale Field, who died in 1929.  He was born in England and became a priest before entering our community.  Shortly after his life profession in 1881, he came to serve with us in Boston.  He focused most of his life’s ministry on the largely-neglected African-American people of Boston.  Continue reading

Streams of Gratitude – Br. Mark Brown

Br. Mark Brown“It is right, and a good and joyful thing always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” Familiar words from the Eucharistic Prayer, the Great Thanksgiving.  It is, indeed, always good to give thanks; it is good to give thanks always.  And we who are blessed in so many ways have much to be thankful for.

I heard Elie Wiesel speak once in a synagogue near Chicago.  I remember him saying that gratitude is the most human sentiment.  He didn’t elaborate, but his words stuck with me.  Gratitude is the most human sentiment.  I think what he meant was that when we are in a state of gratitude, we are most fully alive in our humanity.  That such fullness of life and humanity is possible for us is yet more cause for thanksgiving.  We might pause to give thanks for the gift of gratitude itself, that we are capable of a sentiment so right and good and true.  Give thanks that we have the capacity to be thankful! Continue reading

Christ the King – Br. David Vryhof

Br. David VryhofDaniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Revelation 1:4b-8; John 18:33-37

Today is the Feast of Christ the King.  The theme is “kingship.”

From the prophecy of Daniel, we read of one “like a human being” who comes with the clouds of heaven and to whom is given “dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.”

In the book of Revelation, John speaks of Jesus as “the Alpha and the Omega,” and “the ruler of the kings of the earth.”

In John, Pilate asks if Jesus is the King of the Jews, to which Jesus replies that “[his] kingdom is not from this world.”  His followers do not need to defend him against his enemies and betrayers since his kingdom is “not from here.”

So, Jesus is a king, but in no sense that the world understands.  What sort of a king is he, and what implications does his kingship have for 21st century Christians who no longer think in terms of kings and kingdoms? Continue reading

Hugh of Lincoln – Br. Eldridge Pendleton

Br. Eldridge Pendleton

Titus 2: 7-8, 11-14;

Psalm 112: 1-9;

Matthew 24: 42-47

When Hugh was five years old his family gave him to the Carthusian monks of the Grande Chartreuse in the mountains of south eastern France to raise.  That a noble family would give a son at a tender age to a monastery to educate was not unusual during the Middle Ages because monastic foundations were centers of learning.  Even so, most parents might have hesitated sending a son for training to the strictest religious community in the Church.  Those of you who have seen the movie Into Greater Silence or read Nancy Maguire’s account of 20th Carthusians in England, An Infinity of Little Hours will have some familiarity with this religious order.  Into Greater Silence gave a glimpse of the daily life of the Carthusians at Grande Chartreuse, which has changed little since the order was founded by St. Bruno in the 11th century.  Blanketed by deep snows during long winters, the silence of the season compliments the disciplined silence of the monks.  One can only imagine the impact such an atmosphere of holiness and austerity would have on children brought up in it.  We know that Hugh thrived there.  Continue reading

Wisdom – Br. Curtis Almquist

Wisdom 7:21-8:1

Our lesson from the Book of Wisdom is about just that: wisdom.  Through­out the scriptures, the virtue and gift of wisdom is extolled again and again, many hundreds of times.  Curiously, the source of wisdom is what the Scriptures call “the fear of God.”  This is not fear as in a dreadful foreboding; it’s not about fright but about glory.  Of our being filled with awe, i.e., the awefulness of God.  It is a sense of reverence for God the Almighty, the Creator and Sustainer of all life, and yet the One who knows and loves even us, called “children of God.”  Wis­dom has its source in God, and we have access to wisdom when we acknowledge that we are not our own god, when we are awe-filled with the recognition that we have something to learn from God about how to make meaning of this life. Continue reading

How then shall we live – Br. James Koester

2 Timothy 1: 6-14
Psalm 77: 11-15
Matthew 5: 13-19

For the past two summers the community has tried something quite different during our annual community retreat. Rather than inviting an outside retreat leader or even asking a particular brother to lead our retreat, and to give the daily meditation, we have asked a number of brothers to give a single meditation within the context of the daily Eucharist. In this way, over the course of the retreat, we hear from a number of brothers and hear a number of different voices. Continue reading

The Widow’s Mite – Br. Eldridge Pendleton

1 Kings 17: 8-16;
Psalm 146;
Hebrews 9: 24-28;
Mark 12: 38-44

One of the most brilliant and talented of the first generation of Father Benson’s spiritual sons, Arthur Hall, who later served as Episcopal Bishop of Vermont for 38 years, was also a gifted spiritual director.  When Jack and Isabella Gardner moved their membership to the Church of the Advent on Bowdoin Street in 1873, Mrs. Gardner sought him out for counsel and Hall very shortly assumed the responsibility for her spiritual formation.  At the time Hall was 25, attractive and a recent graduate of Christ Church, Oxford.  Mrs. Gardner was mourning the death of her only child.    Continue reading

All Saints Day – Br. Curtis Almquist

Revelation 7:9-17

The tradition of All Saints Day, which we celebrate today, traces its history back to the sixth century. At that time Pope Boniface consecrated the Pantheon at Rome as a place of solemn remembrance for the life and witness of so many hundreds and hundreds of Christians who were martyred there during the first three centuries of the church. Curiously, last night, Halloween – with its sometimes-bizarre tricks or treats and costumes and fires – is connected to this holy day. The name “Halloween” comes from the Middle English halowen which means “holy” or “saint.” And so, Halloween is the evening before All Hallows Day, i.e., All Saints Day. Now hold that thought for a moment. Continue reading