Paradox and Benedict’s Rule

This morning, the Brazos Fellows discussed the Rule of St. Benedict with Fr. Lee Nelson, who invited us to consider how this ancient rule, and the monastic spirituality that it inspired which resonates down to today, teaches us to embrace paradox.

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Indeed, for Benedict, paradox is at the heart of the Christian life. This life is full of seeming contradictions–God’s unconditional love for us and the need for us to pursue sanctification, Christ being both fully man and fully God, and chiefly, the way of the cross being the way of life. Along these lines, Fr. Lee shared these wise words from Esther de Waal’s book, Living with Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality:

Life does not add up: the longer I live the more that is brought home to me. It was not the message that I received from my parents or one that was taught to me by any educational establishment as I was growing up. Nevertheless I think, looking back, that it is probably one of the most useful lessons that one can hear. It is curiously liberating to realize that I shall go on until the day of my death trying to hold differing things together and that the task (for which I need all the help I can get) must be to do it creatively, so that the tensions may become life-giving.

 

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On Poetry and Place

Editor’s note: we’re glad to share another guest post by a Brazos Fellow, this one written by Jess Schurz.

My love for poetry disappeared when I came to college. I could never quite slow down enough to enjoy it. Poetry demanded a pause of sorts – decidedly unhurried time to contemplate, re-read, and re-read again. This discipline, however, proved incompatible with my college pursuits. College was a time, I convinced myself, to maximize every opportunity.

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Continue reading “On Poetry and Place”

“We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ”

Over the last three weeks, the Brazos Fellows have been studying Christology–how Christians have understood the person, nature, and work of Christ. It’s a topic that, over the course of several hundred years in early Christianity, occupied the church’s greatest thinkers, sparked some of the most intense and heated controversies, and led to the foundational creeds of our faith.

To study Christology isn’t easy work! In addition to reading overviews of this doctrinal development, the fellows have been poring over influential texts from the fourth and fifth centuries: Athanasius’ On the Incarnation, Cyril of Alexandria’ On the Unity of Christ, and Gregory of Nazianzus’ On God and Christ. Thankfully, we’ve done this work with the help of a great team of instructors, including graduate students Cody Strecker, Nicholas Krause, and Alex Fogleman, as well as Baylor professor Junius Johnson.

Continue reading ““We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ””

Apply now for the 2019-2020 cohort

We are pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications to the 2019-2020 cohort! Brazos Fellows invites college graduates to apply to this nine-month, part-time program centered on theological training, spiritual disciplines, vocational discernment, and life together.

If you or someone you know wants to learn more about Brazos Fellows, our program prospectus can be downloaded here (for high-resolution viewing) and here (for emailing). We would also be glad to mail you the prospectus–email your address to director (at) brazosfellows.com.

Continue reading “Apply now for the 2019-2020 cohort”

J.S. Bach on Michaelmas

292 years ago tomorrow, on the Feast of Saint Michael, the people of Leipzig gathered in their churches to celebrate this holy day, one of the principal feasts in the Lutheran church year. One good reason to show up to church, other than being very pious, was to hear the latest holy day cantata written and directed by the local composer—Johann Sebastian Bach. Faithful Lutherans sat in their pews and listened to Bach’s choir ring out ES ERHUB SICH EIN STREIT, translated, “There arose a great fight”. These opening lines introduced the great heavenly battle between Michael and the dragon, Satan, recounted over the course of the first movement.

Bach’s cantata for the Feast of Saint Michael, or, as we call it in the Anglican tradition, the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, is, of course, brilliant. Bach integrates the readings from the lectionary into the cantata, weaving scripture and traditional teaching on angels into a musical tapestry that rewards listening and re-listening. Indeed, ES ERHUB SICH EIN STREIT walks the worshipper through the key roles St. Michael plays in scripture, vividly illustrating the centrality of angels both in salvation history and the life of the individual believer.  Continue reading “J.S. Bach on Michaelmas”

Oliver O’Donovan Shares in the “Common Good” with Brazos Fellows

Editor’s note: readers will enjoy this guest post written by one of our Brazos Fellows, Kelsey Collister.

This August, I moved from the metro-Detroit area to Waco, Texas to join the Brazos Fellows at Christ Church. After working in the advertising industry for six years, I was exhausted from the transitions of life, job searching, navigating friend groups and trying to figure out where I belonged in the church. As Catholic social rights activist Dorothy Day put it, “we have all known the long loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community.” Sometimes the loneliness part is a little too close to home for twenty-somethings, though.

A month into the fellowship, I heard that Oliver O’Donovan, Professor Emeritus of Christian Theology at the University of Edinburgh, was speaking at Baylor University on the topic of “The Common Good.” So I biked across town and found a seat in back of Elliston Chapel.

Continue reading “Oliver O’Donovan Shares in the “Common Good” with Brazos Fellows”

A morning in the life

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During this section of our Course of Study, the Brazos Fellows are looking at Alan Jacobs’ wonderful book, The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography. We had a great morning discussing the rhetorical structure, theological depth, and beauty of Thomas Cranmer’s collects, including the collect for Proper 22:

Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to
hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either
we desire or deserve: Pour down upon us the abundance of
thy mercy, forgiving us those things whereof our conscience
is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not
worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus
Christ thy Son our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Jacobs helps us see and name the various parts of the collect: the opening salutation to God, the statement of a theological truth, our petition, our aspiration toward which the petition aims, and then the closing recognition that it is Christ who makes this possible.

In light of this structure, we considered how the collect works on us as we pray it. How does the truth ground our petitioning? How does the aspiration named in the collect further illuminate the truth it names? How do the asking and hoping invite us to align our desires with Christ’s?