Editor’s note: please enjoy this guest post by Alex Fogleman, one of the Brazos Fellows tutors and director of the Institute for the Renewal of Christian Catechesis. If you’re unfamiliar with the crucial work of IRCC, be sure to peruse its website and blog.
It’s been a delight for me to join the Brazos Fellows on a number of occasions in the Course of Study as an instructor, as well as to get to know the fellows and pray with them on a regular basis. This is an extraordinary group of people.
I have often had the experience, however, of not knowing quite how to describe what makes the Brazos Fellows so special. Yes, the directors, Paul and Paige Gutacker, are exceptional people, wise beyond their years. Yes, the integrated approach to learning is truly inspiring—a rigorous course of study, life together in community and common worship, a rule of life and spiritual disciplines, and spiritual direction and vocational coaching. These are all amazing facets of the program.
But even still, when trying to put words to the unique practice of education that is Brazos Fellows, I’m often left with few examples to compare it to. At least not in this century.
However, as a student of early Christianity, and particularly the history of catechesis, I am struck by the parallels of the Brazos Fellows with the early Christian “catechetical schools”—particularly those associated with one of the greatest theologians and biblical scholars of the early church, Origen of Alexandria (ca. 185–251).
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing!
Editor: please enjoy this guest post by Fr. Lee Nelson, rector of Christ Church Waco and guest instructor for Brazos Fellows.
For it was to Him no lowering to put on what He Himself had made. Let that handiwork be forever glorified, which became the cloak of its own Creator. For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker.
Saint John Chrysostom
This past summer, at the close of the GAFCON Conference, I rented a car and drove into Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity, the traditional site of the birth of Jesus. A church has stood there since the 4th Century. Saint Jerome says that in 135, the Emperor Hadrian dedicated the site to Adonis to wipe out the memory of Jesus from the world. Now, the church stands in the middle of Palestinian territory, surrounded by walls.
Editor’s note: we’re glad to share another post by Brazos Fellow Jess Schurz.
I am not sure I ever learned how to be lonely. By that, I do not mean that I’ve never experienced it. In fact, quite the opposite: loneliness loitered like a shadow for much of my time in college. Somewhat ironically, this seems to be a prevalent issue, at least in the West. Social isolation, in the words of Professor James K.A. Smith, is a “quiet epidemic,” what social scientist Robert Putnam named Bowling Alone. Poet Franz Wright laments this sentiment in his poem “Flight,” written to his absentee father: “Since you left me at eight I have always been lonely / star-far from the person right next to me.” Although written about something foreign (I hope) to most of us, this ‘star-far-ness’ seems to be a familiar feeling to many. Continue reading “Learning to be Lonely”
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.
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.