A Reflection from SSJE

I recently had an opportunity to visit the brothers at the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE), the authors of the Growing  a Rule of Life video series that our Adult Series explored last Lent.  Over the years many have recommended to me monastic retreats, but typically with Catholic Orders. But after learning of SSJE, I was intrigued to experience the discipline of the Episcopal tradition, especially the daily offices, as practiced within their walls and according to their rule of life.

Needless to say, it was a remarkable experience.  To witness the focus, the passion, and the collective will to bring alive every word of worship, despite the constant repetition was inspirational, and, admittedly, quite daunting!  However, as the brothers might say, it is an experience that is not meant to be instantly transformative but part of a lifetime of dedicated and devotional transfiguration.

If I might share one reflection….

At the monastery I started a book by the late Brother Thomas Shaw, who had served 20 years as the Bishop of Massachusetts, entitled Conversation with Scriptures and Each Other.  Admittedly, I was captivated by the coincidence of reading the following quote immediately after seeing several emails about an issue with our sewer at Holy Communion:

As much as you care about your congregation, you also remind me that forming and nurturing a congregation are often hard and depleting work, tending to the inevitable conflict of parish life can seem far removed from the unfolding of the kingdom of God and the spiritual renewal we desire and cherish.  I remember one meeting with a vestry after a long summer of dealing with an expensive and complicated sewer project, when the rector remarked, “There has to be more to life together in leadership than this.”  Sometimes when we are caught up in a project like this, we lose sight of why we are doing any of it in the first place.

What I admire about his approach to the subject of church leadership and its challenges is his focus on the timeless connection between the disparate communities to whom Paul’s letters and the Gospels were addressed and the gathered communities of today.  It is a conversation that reminds us we are not alone, most especially when it seems that the business of worship is impacting our desire to worship, when sewer lines form crosses of a different, more disturbing kind.  It is a conversation that draws us into community with those who were closest historically to Jesus and defines how we listen and respond to God’s purpose for us.  And it is a conversation in which, I believe, our community is uniquely prepared to engage ever more deeply.

Month of Guided Prayer

A Retreat in Everyday Life

Feb. 6 – Mar. 6

The next step on your spiritual journey

Click here to Register

Co-hosted by

The Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion & Trinity Episcopal Church

Overview

  • A retreat in everyday life – pray on your own at least 20 minutes each day and meet privately with a prayer guide for one hour, once per week for four consecutive weeks.
  • A retreat personalized to what you are hoping for – your prayer guide will offer suggestions accordingly.  Many retreatants explore new ways of praying, and for some, it is a first experience of spiritual direction.
  • An opportunity to become more aware of God’s presence in your life, and if you wish, an introduction to Ignatian Spirituality.
  • Couples in committed relationships have the option of meeting as a couple with a prayer guide, rather than separately.
  • Prayer guides are not allowed to companion someone they know.
  • This is an ecumenical ministry, so any adult is welcome regardless of church affiliation or denomination.

 

Specifics of the Retreat

  • The retreat begins on Saturday, February 6 at 1:00 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church. At this gathering, there is prayer as a group and each participant meets his/her prayer guide (lasts about 90 minutes).
  • Confidential, one-on-one meetings between retreatants and prayer guides occur at The Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion on Tuesdays (the same time each week for each participant) selected from the following when registering:
    • Morning – between 8:45 & 12:00
    • Afternoon – between 1:30 & 4:45
    • Evening – between 6:30 & 9:00
  • If you cannot meet in person one or more of the sessions, it is possible to meet via phone or Skype (which need not be on Tuesdays).
  • Closing of the retreat is celebrated as a group on Sunday, March 6 at 4:00 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church (lasts about 90 minutes).
  • You may still participate in the retreat if not able to attend the gatherings on February 6 and/or March 6.

Download the Brochure

Month of Guided Prayer Website

Praise from Retreatants

“My prayer guide was excellent, understood my concerns and goals, and offered many suggestions for types of prayers and activities. My guide listened! I think we were an excellent match, and since there was no information about each other given during registration, I believe it was God’s will.  Thank you, God!”

“I was feeling that my prayer life was in a rut. Now my spiritual/prayer life have started a new, fresh chapter I hope will unfold for years to come.”

“This retreat is so practical – integrating my spiritual life and my work life with simple prayer techniques I can use on a daily basis.”

“For the first time in my life, I am beginning to truly believe that Jesus desires to be my friend.”

“I now recognize ways I was already praying, but did not appreciate.”

“This retreat improved my prayer life more than anything else I have ever done.”