Learn to Love – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke DitewigMatthew 5:43-48

St. Benedict described the monastery as a school of love. So is the Church. We are children following our teacher Jesus as we learn to love. Today we hear again one of the hardest instructions: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” Not simply tolerate or have patience. Welcome fully, without restriction. Love unconditionally.

Yet these are people who intend us harm, who hurt us or at the very least get under our skin. We resent, accuse, and fight our enemies, trading hurt for hurt, barricading in bitterness. How in the world can we love them? Continue reading

Stop: Compilation

To balance our relationship to Time, we first must simply Stop. Speaking from their own experiences, the Brothers suggest ways to carve out time for rest.

Watch the Videos | Write your Answer | Share #ssjetime


Stop 1: Sit in total stillness for five minutes today. How does it feel?
Write your Answer – click here

Stop 2: Where is your invitation to stop during the day?
Write your Answer – click here

Stop 3: What taskmasters do you need to be liberated from to reclaim your dignity?
Write your Answer – click here

Stop 4: How do you picture a day spent “being” – as opposed to “doing”?
Write your Answer – click here

Stop 5: Where are you drawn when you follow your heart?
Write your Answer – click here

Stop 6: Are you content right now?
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Stop 7: Schedule a day of complete rest: What does it help you realize about your life and heart?
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Praying Our Lives in Holy Week

Experience Holy Week as a journey into the heart of God through prayer.

In Lent 2013, the Brothers offered a video series on “Praying Our Lives,” exploring the gifts and modes of prayer. Click on each video below for inspiration on how to pray this day of Holy Week.

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For a resource page on prayer, including select videos from “Praying Our Lives,” click here.

To view the full “Praying Our Lives” series, click here.


Praying Tuesday in Holy Week


By loving us first, God makes it possible for us to love others, and Jesus asks only that we share that love. But in so doing he tells us that we must take up our cross and follow him. Our hands must reach out, pick up the rough wood, and carry it – for ourselves and for others.”

– Br. Robert L’Esperance

On Tuesday in Holy Week at the Monastery, we celebrate the Eucharist in the evening. This evening gathering around the Lord’s Table invites us to join the disciples at the Upper Room, sharing a meal with the Lord.

We reflect together on the words of used at the presentation of the Bread and Cup here at the Monastery, which derive from St. Augustine’s Sermon 57, On the Holy Eucharist: Behold what you are.  May we become what we receive.  

These words point to one of the deep truths of Christian faith: Through our participation in the sacraments (particularly baptism and Eucharist), we are transformed into the Body of Christ, given for the world.

How is God transforming you into Christ’s Body and giving you to the world?


Psalm 78:14-20, 23-25


“The Legacy of Judas” – Br. Curtis Almquist
Judas’ presence at the table of our Lord is an invitation to us all: to mercy.

“Now, Now, Now” – Br. James Koester
Pay attention: Now is the time when Jesus shall draw all people to himself.

“I Like Your Christ” – Br. Mark Brown
On Tuesday in Holy Week, we recall our primary vocation as the Body of Christ: to lift up Christ himself.

“Catch the Wave” – Br. Mark Brown
Between intimate moments and cosmic upheaval, Holy Week invites us to step into the drama and experience it as our own.


Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 2.24.51 PMExperience – Br. Mark Brown

Praying Sunday of the Resurrection


“Our memory fails us if we think of Jesus’ resurrection only in terms of “then” and not also in terms of “now.”  We are not reenacting Jesus’ resurrection; we are reappropriating Jesus’ resurrection power.”
– Br. Curtis Almquist


The Great Vigil of Easter is the most solemn and ancient liturgy of the entire year.  It is the culmination of Lent and Holy Week, and the Triduum.

Ring the bells!  Worshippers at the Great Vigil of Easter ring handbells as we sing God’s Paschal Lamb at the beginning of the first Eucharist of Easter and during the singing of Jesus Christ is Risen Today. The tradition of silencing church bells on Maundy Thursday and ringing them again on Easter Day likely reflects an even more ancient custom of keeping silence before a spring equinox or a winter solstice, then celebrating it with a joyous celebration of light and sound announcing that the darkness has fled and that new life is coming back into the world. We know that this is true on Easter Day.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!




“Those Five Words” – Br. James Koester
Those five words turned the world upside down. They renewed love. They restored hope. They rekindled courage. “I have seen the Lord.”

“From Still Days to Dawn” – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
We stand with the women at the empty tomb, at the dawn of universe, at the threshold of Life.

“A Cause For Great Joy” – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
On Easter, we celebrate that Jesus has called us brothers, as he rolls the stone away from our hearts.

“Court Robes” – Br. Mark Brown
Even as we face the messiness of past, present, and future, we proclaim the glorious news.

“Joy Comes in the Morning” – Br. David Vryhof
The evidence for the Resurrection lies not in the empty tomb, but in the encounters of the first disciples with the Risen Lord.

“The Power of God” – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
The power of God, which raised Jesus to life, which is more powerful than anything else in all creation, is the power of love.

“Shekinah” – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
We need all the help we can get to keep us awakened to the wonder and significance of Easter: that “because he lives, we live also.”

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Praying Holy Saturday


“Will we escape suffering in this world?  No. Can we bring this suffering to God?  Absolutely.  And the God who loves us more than we can ever love ourselves, will take and use this suffering for our greater good, and use it to bless us and the world.  “Do not be afraid,” God says to us.  “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
– Br. David Vryhof

Holy Saturday is a day of waiting, anticipation, and preparation for Easter.  We know that Jesus is in the Tomb.

An ancient homily for Holy Saturday, which you can listen to below, meditates on the mystery of this day: “Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness.  The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.”

You might pray today with stillness, silence.

What parts of you are dying? What parts of you are waiting for new life?

Consider what in your life is giving you life right now – and give thanks.  Consider what is draining or destroying life in you right now.  As we await the glory of Easter, ponder what God’s invitation to ‘new life’ might look like in your present circumstances.


Liturgy of the Word, an ancient lyrical homily


Emptiness (3:15)
Br. James Koester
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Holy Saturday (2:01)
Br. Curtis Almquist
Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 6.15.09 PM “Resurrection and the Life” (55:37)
Br. David Vryhof

Praying Good Friday


“Sometime this week, someone will need you to lay down your life for them, and you will need another to lay down their life for you; when that happens you will be in the presence of love. You will be in the presence of God.
– Br. James Koester

Good Friday marks the second day of the Triduum (from the Latin for ‘three days’), the day on which we commemorate the Lord’s crucifixion and death.

The worship offered at the Monastery is in fact a continuation of the liturgy begun last night and it will not ‘end’ until the Great Vigil of Easter. The vesture of the sacred ministers is deep red, accented with black, recalling the solemnity and sobriety of the day, and the Gospel according to John is chanted to an ancient tone, which you can hear below.

The liturgy crests as a cross is carried in and venerated by the gathered congregation. All depart in silence to the awkward waiting of Holy Saturday and the restrained anticipation of the Great Vigil of Easter.

How will you stand beside Jesus in his hour of greatest need?



“Life out of Death” – Br. Curtis Almquist
We are not spared the experience of the cross, we are shared the experience. And the only way to survive the many deaths of this life is to surrender to Christ, taking him at his word: that life comes out of death.

“Love Upon a Cross” – Br. David Vryhof
We have been captured by this love, smitten and overwhelmed by this love, changed and transformed by this love. And how could it not be?

“Life By His Death” – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
Our greatest hope in Jesus is that however dark the day, even as dark as Good Friday, we can look in confidence and trust to the cross. “For he hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death.”


Suffering (3:01)
Br. Robert L’Esperance
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Good Friday (2:55)
Br. John Braught

“Good Shepherd” (52:58)
Br. David Vryhof

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Praying Maundy Thursday


“God’s generosity is boundless and, in turn, prompts in us a generosity that is boundless as well.  This is a generosity that does not count the cost. This is the generosity that anoints the feet of Jesus.   How different it is to the gift that serves to our own advantage.  And be assured, we can and will know God’s generosity if we give ourselves to others without expectations or requirements.”
– Br. Eldridge Pendleton

Maundy Thursday marks the beginning of the holiest three days in an already holy week.   The liturgy commemorates the humility of the Lord in his willingness to do the most lowly of tasks.

The word maundy is an English corruption of the Latin mandatum, from the ‘new commandment’ that Jesus gives his disciples after washing their feet, an event we reenact and remember in the liturgy. At the conclusion of our Eucharist, we are invited, as were the first disciples, to watch and pray with the Lord on the night before his crucifixion and death. We keep watch through the night, here at the moment of Jesus’ greatest need. On Maundy Thursday, as you are fed by God’s body and blood, pray for your deepest need. As your feet are washed, ask God to bring healing to what is broken in you.

Where is your deepest need right now?



“Baptism of Feet” – Br. Mark Brown
In the sacramental mystery of the Eucharist we are put in touch with Jesus Christ and with all human beings down through history who have been in touch with him.

“Feet First” – Br. Luke Ditewig
The foot washing reminds us that love is always vulnerable: emotionally exposing, risky and essential for living well.

“Maundy Thursday Remembrance” – Br. Curtis Almquist
Take what is cut off, broken, lost, detached from your own life, and allow it on this holy night to be reattached, reconnected, remembered.

“Love Is His Meaning” – Br. James Koester
Everywhere we look, everything we taste, everything we feel, everything we hear, everything we smell tonight is a reminder that God loves us.

“The Scandal of Service” – Br. James Koester
When we are prepared to fall on our knees before another in acts of humility and service, we too have the opportunity to change the world.

“Called to Serve” – Br. David Vryhof
As Jesus reveals his true vocation, we learn that we are all called to serve.


Revelation (2:51)
Br. Geoffrey Tristram
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Maundy Thursday (2:26)
Br. Jim Woodrum

“Bread of Life” (40:28) Br. David Vryhof

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Praying Wednesday in Holy Week


Come Home
“God chooses to love us precisely when we are least deserving of it, when we are least lovable. When we come dragging home in our lowest, most unattractive, most undeserving state, God runs to meet us. This is the beauty of the gospel – that God loves us, without the least regard to what we deserve. We are forgiven.”
– Br. David Vryhof

On Wednesday, the Brothers pray the ancient monastic office of Tenebrae, a service that derives from the monastic services of matins and lauds. The liturgy uses darkness and the gradual extinguishing of candles, until only a single candle remains, a symbol of our Lord.  The service provides an opportunity for sustained reflection on the Lord’s suffering and death.

This liturgy, parts of which you can listen to below, is a choral offering, with chanted psalms and canticles set to plainsong and chanted lessons from the Lamentations of Jeremiah (in which each verse is introduced by a letter of the Hebrew alphabet). As you listen, you might light a candle, allowing its light to inspire your meditation.

In what ways has Jesus’ coming penetrated the darkness of your own life? In what ways are you blind, or unable to see? 


Chanted Lessons from the Lamentations of Jeremiah


“In the Shadows” – Br. Luke Ditewig
Jesus was troubled, sad, and afraid – as we all are. This night invites us to linger in the darkness with him.

“Live As Though Death Does Not Matter”  – Br. Robert L’Esperance
An invitation to see Jesus’ death on the cross not as sacrifice, but as the ultimate teaching of Jesus’ core message: we do not have to live our lives as death’s victims.

“And It Was Night” – Br. James Koester
We only know the relief of dawn when the terrors of the night have kept us awake, so spend some time today in the darkness.


Paradox (3:11)
Br. Jonathan Maury
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 On Tenebrae (4:09)
Br. David Vryhof

“Light of the World” (40:37) Br. David V.

Praying Monday in Holy Week


Who is your enemy? Who is difficult for you? Try praying for them. Go to God on their behalf remembering them as fellow humans, as people. Pray as a child of God for these other children of God. Trust the teacher and practice praying, for through this we learn to love everyone.”
– Br. Luke Ditewig

Monday in Holy Week offer a pause, a chance to recollect from the drama of yesterday before plunging into the sacred events to come.

What are the lessons Holy Week has to offer you this year?

Since Holy Scripture is the living word of God, as we encounter again the events of the final week of Jesus’ life, look for those passages, those haunting details of the story that seem to rise up from the page to snare your attention, things you had not noticed before. Ponder what special meaning these passages might hold for you this year? Why is God bringing them to your attention at this time? What might God be saying to you? Take time to meditate on these questions. Be especially alert to listen because God will be speaking to us through the liturgies, through scripture, homilies and also in other unexpected ways this week.


Psalm 22


Praying Your Way Through Holy Week: A Meditation – Br. Eldridge Pendleton
God who loves us so much and continually delights in our creation, is continually offering us grace in the form of answered prayers, healing, reconciliation, hope and deeper faith, and in the Paschal mystery has given us the means to triumph over death. Two practices to deepen your awareness of this love during Holy Week.


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Compassion – Br. David Vryhof

Praying Palm Sunday


“During this week, as we gather for worship, as we fast, as we pray and meditate on the life-giving events of these last days of our Lord’s life, we try to enter imaginatively into the story of Christ’s passion, to feel the weight of the cross, to understand a little of the immensity of God’s sacrifice for us, and the immensity of God’s love for us.”
– Br. Geoffrey Tristram

On Palm Sunday, we begin the journey to Calvary that we will live out across the next week. We are invited to join the crowd in shouting “Hosanna” and “Crucify.” And we are invited to accompany our Lord in the dramatic events of his final days.

How will you journey alongside Jesus this week? 


The Passion According to Luke

The Passion According to Matthew


“Why?” – Br. David Vyrhof
Why must God’s Servant enter into the darkest rhythms of the human condition? Perhaps it’s the only way they can be challenged and undone, once and for all.

“Singing Hosanna, Screaming Crucify” – Br. James Koester
Palm Sunday is a chance to discover once more all that is within us, both light and dark, both good and evil.

“That We Might Lovely Be” – Br. Luke Ditewig
On Palm Sunday we encounter again how Jesus is Love shown to the least, the lost and the last at every opportunity.

“Steal Away” – Br. Tom Shaw
Letting the power of Jesus’ humility, self-sacrifice, and surrender soak into us during Holy Week gives us the power to stand on the edge of glory every day.

“How Awesome” – Br. Mark Brown
Palm Sunday prepares us to be restored, renewed, renovated, recreated—born again.

“The Weight of the Cross” – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
On Palm Sunday, we embrace both the weight of the cross and the wealth of its love.


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Vulnerability – Br. Curtis Almquist


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Inauspicious Matthias – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis AlmquistActs 1:15-26; John 15:1, 6-16

This is the feast day of St. Matthias, the Apostle… and there’s little to be said about him.  Even our opening prayer, the Collect, identifies him by who he is not: Matthias is not Judas, the false apostle. (1) Matthias replaces Judas.  There is no mention of Matthias in the gospels; there is only the briefest mention of Matthias in the Acts of the Apostles, our first reading today.  There we hear that Matthias had been present at the Jordan River on the day of Christ’s baptism and that he was sent out to participate in Jesus’ public ministry.  What else is only a guess.  Only that beyond the original 12 apostles, Jesus created a circle of 70 followers – also called “disciples” – and we could infer that Matthias was probably among the 70.  We could infer Matthias was present at the crucifixion, and we could infer that he was a witness to the resurrection… but we don’t know for sure. (2) Continue reading

It’s time to Stop – Br. David Vryhof

Br. David VryhofExodus 20:8-11 and Mark 6:30-32

During this season of Lent we Brothers are inviting you to explore with us our relationship to time.  We believe time is a gift from God, and that often we abuse that gift by rushing through life, or by overcrowding our days, or by squandering our time on things of lesser importance.  We want to imagine with you how we might reorder our relationship with time, so that it may be the gift God intended it to be in our lives.  Tonight we’ll be focusing on our need to stop and to slow down. Then, over the next four weeks, we’ll be asking how we can make time to pray, how we can manage our time for work, how we can incorporate play into our days, and how we can take time to love.

Most of us are aware of how the pace of life has quickened.  Undoubtedly this has been the case over the whole course of human history, but in the last few centuries, with industrialization and the advancement of technology, the pace of life has increased dramatically.  A study done in 2006 showed that the pace at which people moved in large cities had increased by 10% since the early 1990’s. (1) As a result of this quickened pace, many people today are suffering from higher levels of stress and anxiety, from the lack of adequate sleep and physical exercise, and from a constant pressure to produce.  Many of us find it difficult to keep up with the demands of modern life.  We are constantly in motion, moving from one task to another.  We have forgotten how to stop. Continue reading