Brother Theophilus and His Gentleness


READ:  Isaiah 61:1-1-6a

“The Spirit of the Lord Yahweh is upon me for God has anointed me.  He has sent me to bring the good news to the afflicted, to soothe the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to those held captive, release to those imprisoned, to proclaim a year of grace from Yahweh and a day of justice for our God to comfort all who mourn, to replace their ashes of sorrow with a garland of celebration, for their mourning garments, the oil of gladness, for sack cloth, festive garb; and they will be called oaks of saving justice, planted by the Lord to glorify Him.  They will rebuild the ancient ruins; they will raise what has long lain waste; they will restore the ruined cities, all that has lain waste for ages past.  Strangers will come to feed their flocks in your green pasture, foreigners will come and work your fields and will be keepers of your vineyards; and you will be called priests of Yahweh, and be known as ministers of our God.” – Isaiah 61:1-6a

This passage is from Isaiah characterizes quite aptly the spirit of the Orthodox monks here at Saint Gregory’s.    They are about the festive spirit of the Lord.  Back at Greyfriars’ Abbey, we are more about confession and contemplation; here, these Orthodox monks with their beards and exotic ritual are more about celebration and glorification.  Where the Benedictines at Greyfriars‘ cherish the Holy Quiet, here at Saint Gregory’s they cherish the Holy Radiance.  And I find myself wishing that I could dwell in both places at the same time … and still … not abandon the treasures of my beloved Methodist Protestant tradition.

I must confess I was surprised by how different these Orthodox gentlemen prove to be from the expectation I had of them.  I thought that with their elaborate robes, their long grey beards, their odd-looking hats, and their over-sized crosses draped around their necks, that they would be a heavy-spirited, soberly serious, otherworldly, and  archaic bunch … but … to my utter delight … they prove to be overflowing with praise, deeply in love with living, eager to dance, and always caught up in song … but most of all, … they possess and they share …  a gentle joy.  Yes, that distinguishes between Greyfriars’ and Saint Gregory’s, in the Benedictine community you are enveloped in gentle peace, in the Orthodox community you are enveloped in gentle joy.

Gentle Peace and Gentle Joy … the first comes by way of quieting all the noise and replacing it with the Presence of God … the second comes by way of embracing all the wonders and celebrating them with all the Glory of God.

Now, do not get me wrong … in each community they have their share of gentle peace and gentle joy; I suppose it is a matter of emphasis, a need for our limited human souls to more fully journey into certain varied realms.  We who live in the outside world, the world outside monastic cloisters, we have the luxury, and quite possibly the necessity, to blend and balance the two … the gentle peace and the gentle joy.

gentlenessBrother Theophilus (a name which means lover of God) so wonderfully radiates with this gentle joy.  This kindly soul smiles at almost everything with a modest smile, a thoughtful smile, a smile that is endowed with a gentle grace and with grace, it is then shared with all.  When you are with Brother Theophilus you can’t help but sense that life is full to the brim with goodness … and after you visit with him, you can’t help but sense that you are also somehow filled with something good.  His face, his manner, his voice, and his smile … bestows a heavenly grace upon you and blesses you with a gentle joy.  Brother Theophilus is a professor of Ancient Languages … yet, Brother Theophilus also loves to make balloon animals for the children in the nearby community!

My Loved Ones, I hope you will begin a lifelong pursuit with me and with the help of God’s Spirit … to become souls who are known for their qualities of gentle peace and gentle joy.  If we do so day after day … it will slowly but surely come to be more of us.  Why ought we pursue these two qualities of spirit?  Because I do believe, I do so profoundly believe, that the world about us needs many more souls who can share with them the holy qualities of … the gentle peace and the gentle joy.

The Lord Bless Thee,

Brother Anthony of the Cross
(jim mcwhinnie)

— For the latest installment of the ongoing story, The Mystic Realms of Shadow Fox, just click …  … The installments are separated by ********* with the latest being at the end (obviously).

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