Gregory of Nyssa

By Sota Alberty Originally published in eLectio July 21, 2017 St. Gregory was born in the region of Cappadocia (modern-day Turkey) around 335 AD into a large, wealthy Christian family. (Among his siblings were St. Macrina–excellent reading if you’re interested in the role of women in the early church–and St. Basil the Great!) Despite his Christian pedigree, Gregory was slow to the draw when it came to his own faith. He dragged his feet in getting baptized until he had a terrifying dream of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste beating him with rods for his indifference! Quite understandably, he had a change of heart and devoted his life to prayer. When his older brother Basil became a bishop, he would force Gregory (quite against his will) to become bishop of the small town of Nyssa. Gregory’s gentle spirit was not suited to leadership, but time would reveal him to be a theological powerhouse. He would fan the flame of the faith with his own unique mind, and become one of the most potent defenders of the faith during the fourth century. Gregory, Basil, and Basil’s friend Gregory Nazianzen (who, together, became known as the “Cappadocian Fathers”) would work out what has become the time-tested, Church-approved “formula” for describing God: the Trinity, God is “one substance in three persons.” Part of Gregory’s genius was that his God was so big. Far bigger, in fact, than any words we use to describe Him. But Gregory also maintained that God had revealed Himself as Trinity, and in that regard, He could (and must) be described. God is bigger than the words, but the words still...

Benedict of Nursia

By Dcn. Adam Gosnell Originally published in eLectio 7/14/2017 Saint Benedict was a college dropout. He was born about 480 AD to a Roman family of means, but, in his 20s, would abandon his literary studies and the security of noble life. In his travels, Benedict happened upon a monk named Romanus. He left their conversation with the gift of Romanus’s habit (a robe worn by monks) and a zeal for the monastic life. Benedict would then live for three years, alone, in a cave. During this very simple, very quiet time, Benedict wrestled his demons. In silence, he matured. He grew in knowledge of the soul. Then, he left the cave. Over the course of his life, he would lead different monastic communities (the first went particularly badly; the monks hated him and tried to poison him). But eventually he’d move to Monte Cassino, in southern Italy, where he would institute the most famous document in all monasticism, “The Rule of St. Benedict.” Broadly, the Rule is about spirituality (how to live Christianly) and administration (how to run a monastery), but its great contribution to Christianity is the connection it sees between these two emphases. Benedict finds it very important to order life on purpose–to create a kind of everyday liturgy, a rhythm for living ordinary life. This structure, like the painted lines of a football field, provides a space and an order for things to work rightly. On an individual level, particular monks would “Ora et Labora,” pray and work. Monks would do manual labor and work in the kitchen as part of their spiritual formation. And this simple, quiet,...

ACNA Assembly: “Mission on our Doorstep”

During the last week of June, the Anglican Church in North America (of which CTR is a member) held a provincial Council/Assembly in Wheaton, Illinois. The theme of the Assembly was  “Mission on our Doorstep”. This was explored through a vast array of talks, workshops, and networking events. I was privileged to be a delegate to the Council business meeting and then became part of the 1,400 visitors from North America and around the world attending the Assembly. Amid the plethora of  activities, two events stood out. The first was the welcoming of the former Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and its Bishop into full fellowship with the ACNA. The second was the consecration of Andrew John Lines as a missionary bishop, focusing on Great Britain. The Archbishop of Nigeria and leader of GAFCON, the Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, was preacher at this service. What are some of the benefits of attending event like this? We understand better the benefits that we enjoy because of our participation in the world-wide Anglican Communion. We become more aware and appreciate of the very high quality and commitment of both clerical and lay leadership in the ACNA. We learn more about the sheer volume and variety of its mission efforts. We experience the blessing and pleasure of getting to know our Anglican brothers and sisters from around the world, around one table. Perhaps attending the next Assembly should go on your “to do” list. Bill Harper Vestry   *Sign up to receive regular news updates from the ACNA and the worldwide Anglican communion....

Irenaeus of Lyons

“Why can Christians tell me more about Abraham Lincoln than St. Augustine? Clearly, they’ve been catechized by someone, it just wasn’t the Church.”  A few weeks ago, Dcn Adam wrote this sentence in Crossings, in his series on Human Spirituality. If we are going to “capture the imagination of Boston’s North Shore,” we need truly to be an alternative community to the world. Part of being that alternative community is being formed by different stories–claiming the Church’s story as, in a real sense, our story. And so, eLectio is going to do some storytelling of its own. For the next several weeks, we are going to devote some time to the saints of summer: St. Irenaeus of Lyons, whose Feast Day is June 28. St. Benedict of Nursia (July 11th). St. Gregory of Nyssa (July 19th). We hope you enjoy our “weekly story time” this summer. Irenaeus of Lyons Dcn. Adam Irenaeus (eye-ruh-NAY-us) was the Apostle John’s spiritual grandson. The Apostle John discipled Polycarp. And Polycarp discipled Irenaeus (b. 130 AD). When he was a boy, he often heard Polycarp teach and preach. He says, “I could describe the place where he’d sit and talk, his coming and going, his life, his appearance, his retellings of conversations with John and the others… I listened attentively and treasured his words not on paper, but in my heart” (Fragments, 2). Irenaeus grew up following Jesus and eventually became a priest in Lyons (modern day France). By 177 AD he had built a reputation of being a solid, faithful man, because he was given the great honor of delivering a letter to Rome on the church’s behalf. But, when he returned from Rome, he found that all...

Summer’s here. Let’s make the most of it!

By Dcn. Adam Gosnell Originally published in eLectio 6/19/2017 Christians… are boring. (Insult the reader right away? Smart move.) But it’s true! Ask someone on the street, “Hey, you’re having a party, who do you invite?” I’ll bet money they don’t say, “You know, Christians are super fun. I’d probably invite lots of them.” And so when I think about spirituality and the summer—flip flops, sprinklers, iced tea, the beach summer—I just think, “This… is going to be a lot of work.” Olaf comes to mind. If you haven’t seen Frozen (is that possible?), part of the enchanted winter is that the princesses’ childhood snowman, Olaf, becomes magically animate and decides to help Anna and Kristoff go find Elsa, to stop winter. (Wait… a snowman wants to stop winter?) I know. But Olaf LOVES summer. I mean, he’s never experienced summer, but he loves the idea. When the audience first meets him, he actually breaks into song about how much he’s looking forward to it. At one point he sings, Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle But put me in summer and I’ll be a — Happy snowman! … It’s really cute. Anyway! Often, Christians and summer are like Olaf and summer. There’s something in our constitution that’s just… against it. So, if I were going to prepare you for summer I could say, “Okay, go to church, pray (Luther’s small catechism has great instruction on short, Christian prayer), don’t break the Ten Commandments, etc.” And you should probably still do all of that. But I want to say more. Because that alone reinforces the presumption that summer isn’t actually God’s idea, and...