In 1970, near a small fishing village on the shores of Cape Cod Bay, God called the Community of Jesus together—some 25 mostly Protestant Christians, who felt a common sense of vocation to live, pray, and work together. Today the Community of Jesus has grown into a contemporary Benedictine Monastery in the form of a modern ecumenical abbey comprised of people from many walks of life and varying occupations. Religious Sisters and Brothers and married families with children all live, work, and pray together. Many of the adults work at the Community’s Christian publishing house, Paraclete Press.
At the heart of the Community is the new Church of the Transfiguration
. The Church of the Transfiguration
tells the story of this contemporary expression of a fourth-century style of architecture filled with mosaics and frescos, sculpted bronze, glass, and stone images. This church is a visible sign of God’s saving action redeeming humanity, drawing on Scripture and Church tradition and on the Community’s Cape Cod setting. This volume is also the story of lives that were shaped and formed by planning and building this church, and of the transformation of those lives, through the daily prayer that takes place within its walls, into faithful witnesses to the gospel of Jesus Christ, promoting a vision for reconciliation and Christian unity, and, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, glorifying God through worship, common life, creative arts, and hospitality.
This fall Paraclete will publish The Last Monk of Tibhirine
– the story of Jean-Pierre Schumacher, now the only surviving monk from Our Lady of Atlas
monastery where seven monks were abducted and killed by Algerian terrorists in 1996.
I just finished reading the manuscript copy and what struck me the most was the humble commitment that led these monks to remain in Algeria and simply be present with their neighbors in a time of unchecked violence in their country. Their goal had never been to convert their Muslim neighbors – but to simply show Christ’s love and live alongside them. I have been thinking a lot about a portion of the last testament written by Prior Christian just before the abduction, where he says that he saw himself as an accomplice of evil in the world. He depicts it as “sitting down at the table of the sinners.” As it is described “all of us deserve part of the blame for everything that goes wrong in the family of mankind, and it is our duty to change this and to heal. If we neglect doing this, if we do not take action and carry out the task that we have been given, then we are jointly responsible for the result.”
I am so struck by the humility of these thoughts. I so often get angry about this or that, and it take me quite a while to discover what I need to take responsibility for in a situation. These monks were quietly going about their business, believing themselves to be doing the will of God, but at the same time meditating on the evil in all human hearts and its contribution to the violence around us. They felt that their task, as an antidote to violence in their country was simply to remain. Even after the death of seven out of nine members of their monastery, the two remaining monks at the time continued on and reopened their monastery in Morocco with a few others, with the hope to return to Algeria in the future.
Actions speak louder than words in a way that is profound.
One of our most favorite authors, Jerusalem Jackson Greer, was interviewed on her local NPR station ahead of the Books in Bloom Festival in Eureka Springs.
Great conversation about slowing down, writing, living a good life, and growing up with a name like ‘Jerusalem’. Click here to listen.
After a long winter, our blog is coming out of hibernation!
Outside our front door there is a tiny patch of daffodils, a little stunted by too many snows, peeking out reminding us that spring has truly begun.
Inside, the spring new releases have been pouring in, and we couldn’t be more excited! Just today we just received The Rule of Taize, (our first bilingual book) a treasury of wisdom for anyone seeking to live in harmony with others and with God.
We just received these two books today. I’m so excited about both of them. The Intentional Christian Community Handbook “is a book we’ve needed for a long, long time” – plus it is our first book ever printed on 100% post consumer recycled paper. Anyone interested in life in community – looking for it, found it, whatever your story is – will find this book full of help and wisdom.
Soul Unfinished is my personal favorite book this season. The subtitle is “Finding Happiness, Taking Risks & Trusting God as We Grow Older” but I’m not 30 yet, and this book taught me a lot. Older people read it and remember how much you have to offer, young people read it and remember how much you have to learn!