Why SSJE: Charles Taliaferro

Charles TaliaferroTo have within the church’s communion a community like SSJE, dedicated to prayer for the whole world, is an overwhelmingly powerful witness. As I’ve tried to live a sacramental life, a life that really is governed and informed by the ongoing reality of the incarnation, I’ve depended on the sustained witness of the Society in prayer, meditation, reflection, good humor, sharing meals, and affection. My love for the songs and prayer book I use daily is grounded largely in the idea of their witness, the idea of there being monastic communities and SSJE in particular, who say the hours. When I’m doing morning or evening prayer by myself, I don’t feel alone. So I pray for their life, that they might have life more abundantly. I also pray that they may see men who are called to this vital life. I pray for the ongoing life of the community.

Charles Taliaferro – Minneapolis, Minnesota
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Why SSJE: Dr. Henry R. Carse

Dr. Henry R. CarseIn Jerusalem, where Israeli and Palestinian aspirations for justice are still colliding violently, peace is a fragile dream. It is often invoked in nostalgic folk songs, but is practiced only rarely in real life. Heartfelt thanks are due to the SSJE community for supporting the courageous Jewish, Christian and Muslim children and their families of the Kids4Peace movement (www.kids4peaceusa.org). Kids4Peace reaches across lines of conflict and brings together children from the Middle East and from the USA and Canada, encouraging friendship and enhancing understanding of our common faith heritage as children of Abraham. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” not “the peacewishers”. Rabbi Hillel taught that it is not enough to love peace; we must pursue it with all our strength. Blessings in your pursuit of peace with genuine justice. Salaam and Shalom!”

Dr. Henry R. Carse – Huntington, Vermont
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Why SSJE: Deacon Carol Kraft

Deacon Carol KraftA number of years ago during an August retreat I noticed that the courtyard was covered with sheddings from the large sycamore trees along the parkway. Those many-shaped layers of bark reminded me of the layers that I shed during the deep, palpable silence of my time of quiet there. Heaviness fades as I remember to lay my concerns on the altar, as I share my thoughts with one of the brothers. That has been my experience in over 20 years of visits. And I leave with a quiet that follows me for many days through the weeks ahead.

Deacon Carol Kraft – Wheaton, Illinois
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Why SSJE: Carol Bass

Carol BassThe warmth of this place—you can feel the presence of the Almighty God when you come in here. Whatever burden was on your shoulder when you come in, it goes. The lay community needs to see a place like this at all times, if you don’t even go in, just to go past it and look up. It’s beautiful, it needs to be here.

Carol Bass – Detroit, Michigan
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Why SSJE: Emily and Bruce Johnson

Emily and Bruce JohnsonMay all who enter the community of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, whether for an hour or for a lifetime, discover Christ there. May they be amazed at the Love they encounter in the life of the community. May the community be anointed with wisdom to know the will of God and courage to live fully into that purpose. May the brothers encourage and strengthen one another day by day, ever growing in the Grace and Love of our Lord Jesus Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.

Emily and Bruce Johnson – Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania
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Why SSJE: Rev. Canon Joseph Asselin

Rev. Canon Joseph AsselinMy discovery of the SSJE Monastery has been one of the most important blessings of my life and ministry. My visits on retreat, the counsel and care of the brothers in direction and my time in worship in the chapel have rooted me in Christ’s abiding love. My retreats so nourish and strengthen me that both my parishioners and my family encourage me to go whenever it’s obvious that I “need to go”. Combined with my retreats, being in fellowship with the community through FSJ sustains me and I’m a frequent visitor to the SSJE web site for all of the inspiring sermons. Thanks be to God for this life sustaining ministry and thank you for including me in your extended community.

Rev. Canon Joseph Asselin – Oakville, Ontario
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Why SSJE: Anne Jernberg

Anne JernbergAs Christians, the only way we live and feel our faith is through other people. We sense Christ through how other people are “the hands and feet” of Christ to us. The brothers are certainly the hands and feet and mind and soul of Christ to so many people in Cambridge. You see them working, doing physical labor; you see them, of course, praying and leading worship and teaching seminars; you see them reading and studying for their own benefit; you see them cooking and doing different things around the monastery to upkeep it; and you see them being family to one another. They model, I think, the kind of Christian community that Christ would probably have wanted to be a part of. I can’t imagine what Cambridge would have been like for me without them there. Christ is present in that place.

Anne Jernberg – Denver, Colorado
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Why SSJE: Anne Shelburne Jones

Anne Shelburne JonesI come for worship. For the transparent, broken, shimmering promise of every liturgy, every hour of prayer…for time to look at God.

Anne Shelburne Jones – Bloomington, Indiana
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Why SSJE: The Rev. Andrew Wilson

The Rev. Andrew WilsonI feel as welcomed and cared for by the new Brothers whom I’ve never met before as by the Brothers whom I’ve known for over twenty years. To me, that really attests to the holiness of that community: The welcome is quite genuine. I would encourage and exhort everyone to go. Any contact with this Community develops an instantaneous relationship; that experience in itself is the greatest encouragement to support this Community.

The Rev. Andrew Wilson – Wellington, Ontario
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Why SSJE: Amy McCreath

Amy McCreathI am thankful to those brothers of days gone by who made the decision to locate the monastery in the midst of an academic hub. And I am thankful to the brothers of today, who pray for students, work with them, and strengthen those of us who work with them in so many ways.

Amy McCreath – Waltham, Massachusetts
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Voices of Friends: Baptized at the Monastery

The Brothers were companions to us in so many ways in the year leading up to the birth of our twins, Franny and Jamie. Brian and I came for the community Eucharist almost every Tuesday evening. Geoffrey helped me think about how God might be present in the remarkable experience I was having carrying twins into the world, and encouraged me to ponder more deeply Mary’s ex­perience of pregnancy, which I hadn’t really done before. Kevin helped Brian wrap his mind and heart around his coming vocation as a father.

The Brothers truly have been our brothers in Christ: showing through their work and their commitment to helping us thrive, the love of God that the Body of Christ is called to embody. So it seemed natural for us to have our twins baptized at the Monastery, and to ask the Brothers to take on the ministry of doing the baptizing. I know that some clergy look forward to baptizing their own children, but I wanted to be fully and only a mother that day – that was plenty of ministry to offer! – and to let someone else be the priest.

Because I was able to watch Cur­tis doing the dunking and anointing, I have such a clear memory of it: the large blue pot filled with warm water; the abundance of flowers around it; the smiling faces of the people look­ing on; Curtis holding tiny, six-week-old bodies – first Franny and then Jamie – and carefully, but confidently, dipping them three times.

As the years have passed, my thankfulness for that day has only deepened. Being a parent is not easy. The world is not easy. And the Brothers have continued to live into their promise to “do all in their power to support these children in their life in Christ.” In his sermon on that day, Br. Curtis offered these thoughts on the candles which were given to our children as a sign of the light of Christ:

Some day it will likely be a great comfort for them to realize that we were thinking they would need a sign of light during a future time that is dark. And so, in this way, the candles are beacons of hope which they cannot yet appreciate but we do, their sisters and brothers. It is not easy to be alive these days. Probably never was. But it is possible and wonder-full with help.

I am sure that, someday, Franny and Jamie will take comfort from the fact that the Brothers were thinking of them. What I do know is that throughout the last nine years, Brian and I have taken comfort in that fact. In my work as a priest, when I prepare families for the baptism of their child, I aspire to practice the kind of thoughtfulness and constancy that has been shown to us as parents by the community of SSJE.
– The Rev. Amy McCreath

Voices of Friends: Baptized at the Monastery

Rose’s baptism at the Monastery was a practical and urgent event. At the time of Rose’s bap­tism our family was in great peril because of family disintegration. Beyond the immediate horizon I knew that Rose would be facing deep suffering. Because of this, her baptism was of immense importance to me. I prayed and hoped that her baptism would offer her a memory of her holiness: a memory that would help her to remember that, no mat­ter the external circumstances, she is beloved, that there is a part of her that remains untouched by time, pain, or confusion. I hope and pray still that this memory will always help her to choose the path of love. I am grateful to the Brothers for making this possible for our family, for their friendship, and for their devotion to a life of love.

– José Hidalgo

Why SSJE: Winston and Sally Rose

Winston and Sally RoseWe can give financially, we can give time, we can give effort but the brothers give to us a spiritual reward and depth that we can’t get anywhere else. They give over and over and over again. They never stop giving. They inform our spiritual lives. There is nothing that is too much for us to do for them. If we want this place to be here for future generations it is something that we need to support financially. Buildings have to be maintained. Brothers who are traveling around the world giving retreats and teaching need our help. That is what we are here to do.

Winston and Sally Rose – Groveland, Massachusetts
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Why SSJE: William Winston

William WinstonVocation. During my first year after seminary I looked for a community and a way of life to sustain me through the rest of my life as I had been sustained in seminary. Repeatedly I was drawn to an association with SSJE. In fact, I kept the Associates’ Rule for 5 years before I applied to become an Associate. Only several years later was I able to visit the monastery for the first time. During the time of my ministries in OK and ME, I was so frequently worshiping with the men in Cambridge that I came to have “my own pew” ( a favorite chair), which is visible from the chapel postcard and reminds me, wherever I am, how much that chapel and that community are my spiritual home. That place and those men have seen me through thick and thin; for which I am always grateful, day by day, for that vocation.

William Winston – Lockport, New York
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Why SSJE: Tara O’Neill

Tara O’NeillI’m someone who connects with God mostly through nature. A lot of other people feel the same, so it’s wonderful to have places where people like us can go and be in nature and feel that connection. There’s an energy around those places that people pick up on. Emery House is just so peaceful; you can really feel that when you’re there. Life gets so busy and hectic and bright; it’s so rare to have a place where people can go and have quiet time, time to reflect. I’m happy as long as I’m doing physical work and connecting with the land. That’s what I was able to do every day during my time at Emery House. I loved it there.

Tara O’Neill – Rowley, Massachusetts
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Why SSJE: Suzanne Colburn

Suzanne ColburnThese four days have enabled me to grieve. They have also given me time to be still before the Lord and to just receive and begin to prepare for a new call.

Suzanne Colburn – Boothbay Harbor, Maine
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Why SSJE: Sue Eaves

Sue EavesDuring the retreat, I saw and heard real healing taking place in the opening hearts of those who had had some bad experiences with religion and folks who had had more than they could bear of suffering. I remember looking round the room at one point and thinking that these were deeply thirsty people taking a very long and refreshing drink, making sure they did not spill a drop (me too!). God bless your work.

Sue Eaves – Richmond, Virginia
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Why SSJE: Stuart Pike

Stuart PikeColored light plays across old stone – smoke of incense swirls to the voice of the brothers – and I am at home. SSJE has become a place of pilgrimage for me. I thank God for the times I have spent there and the growth I have experienced. I am so grateful that the brothers are there, praying, teaching, reaching out and spending their lives as an offering to Christ and a gift to so many. Living near Toronto, Canada has meant that I can’t get there often enough. But knowing that the brothers are there strengthens me daily. Thank you, brothers, for your sermons podcasts. I listen to them on my ipod when I go to the gym. Everyone there thinks I’m listening to the regular head-banging music. Only I know that I’m there for a holistic workout of body, mind and spirit. Thank you for your blessing.

Stuart Pike – Burlington, Ontario
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Why SSJE: Stephen Martin

Stephen MartinI have been truly blessed by the brothers of SSJE through their insightful, thought provoking and enlightening Podcasts. It always seems that when I am facing a particular dilemma or stumbling point in my walk, one of the brothers preaches directly to my soul and lifts my spirit! God truly speaks through them and guides me on this winding path called Life.”

Stephen Martin – Wolcott, Connecticut
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Why SSJE: Stephanie Budwey

Stephanie BudweyAs a doctoral student in liturgy, it is a joy to worship at SSJE where the liturgy is so beautiful and treated with such care (and the sermons and music are excellent!) As a church musician, it is such a delight to be able to worship and be nourished while not “working,” but rather be able to sing and participate fully. Finally, as a former Roman Catholic who was looking for a spiritual home, it was an absolute blessing that I found SSJE and realized that I had found a spiritual home at SSJE and in the Episcopal Church. Thank you for your outstanding ministry!

Stephanie Budwey – Watertown, Massachusetts
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