Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything. —St. Moses the Ethiopian
Nothing in the universe resembles God so much as silence. —St. Eckhart of Hochheim
Our project is not just to become a better human being—as desirable as that would be for our friends and relatives—it’s to become a divine human being, or to learn how to live human life in a divine way. The project is the transformation of individuals, and at some point the whole human family. —Fr. Thomas Keating, OCSO
We are a consecrated fellowship of monastics, vowed religious, and oblates in the Anglican Communion with a distinctly Marian and Sapiential devotion, some living under traditional monastic vows of Solitude and Celibate Chastity, and others in the stability of married or partnered life—all, save oblates, under vows of Simplicity, Obedience, and Conversion of Life. All three expressions of the religious life are honored equally within our charism, and vowed members who are living the Rule as householders are invited and encouraged (though not expected) to make the optional commitment to what we call the ‘Eldership’ of full renunciation if and when God naturally presents the circumstances in their lives that allow for that commitment. Others, called to be traditional monastics from the start, in the semi-eremitical context of our charism, move toward this goal throughout formation and take full, traditional monastic vows at their Solemn Profession, renouncing finally all the ways of the world, and vowing to persevere for life, by grace and supreme effort, in Celibate Chastity, Solitude, Simplicity, Obedience, and ongoing Conversion to the monastic way of life.
Our focus as seekers after Wisdom is on the core inner work of Christianity, which, if faithfully pursued, opens out into the direct, felt experience of interior transformation at every level of being. In essence, we are a community that supports and strives toward the deep, integrative living of transformative spiritual practices in the Christian contemplative and mystical tradition. We find useful, life giving touch-points along this ‘one needful journey’ in those streams of ancient mysticism flowing from the Graeco-Egyptian origins of the early Church, through the Alexandrian school, the Neoplatonic traditions, and into the mystical pool of Christianized medieval Europe. These modes of wisdom and praxis we consider to be the ‘pearl of great price’, the truest and deepest treasure of the Christian religious inheritance.
Unlike most vowed religious orders, we are not primarily occupied with the Office Liturgy and other such outward dimensions of the Christian monastic tradition as commonly understood and experienced in the West. Though we certainly do daily Liturgy, our ultimate concern is with the inner, transmutative or ‘alchemical’ work of the mystical life: the contemplative practices and theologies of the apophatic witness; the deep, symbolically charged work of discursive meditation on the Christian mythos; the proverbial polishing of the heart, and the inner work of theosis (‘divinization’, or, ‘deification’) attained through the cultivation of a deep and totalizing interior silence (hesychía).
We live by a demanding Rule of Life, in order to keep our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls trained on the Great Work: the attainment of wisdom and illumination. We embrace a deeply Incarnational and Creation-affirming theological outlook, emphasizing an ethos of inclusivity, a celebration of novelty, a radical affection for the living Earth and all her creatures. We have a great love of the feminine divine, and a special devotion to Christ as Sophia or Divine Wisdom, as well as to the Blessed Mother, María, in the fullness of her veiled and mystical origins as a 'first fruit' of the fully realized Christian life.
Above all, we seek to reclaim the largely lost but perennially potent efficacy, the living heart and soul of Christianity as an initiatory path, a way of transformation, and a way of Life for the benefit and ultimate liberation of all beings.
Folks often ask us: ‘What do you actually do?’ Here is an answer to that question, which we hope will offer a clear sense of our approach to the vowed religious life as we live it daily, and of the ways in which we strive to embody the foregoing concepts and values in our personal and communal practices:
For us there are three great tasks: 1) Contemplative practice, i.e., the inner works of prayer and meditation; 2) Study of the sacred writings of the sages, and assimilation of the great wisdom of those who have walked before us on this path; 3) Work, in order that we may live blamelessly, 'by our own hands'; and into this work is integrated the continual practices of unceasing interior prayer and discrimination between the Real and the unreal.
Our daily lives as vowed religious consist of practicing and integrating the core spiritual arts and inner disciplines of the mystical Christian Way. These include: contemplative prayer and visualization techniques; breathwork; sacred study of Scripture and theology, with an hermeneutical lens that is both mystically and mythically oriented; the meditative use of icons and similar discursive meditation practices; daily liturgical devotions; and the ancient hesychastic contemplative techniques, including mantric prayer. We strive to live more fully each day into the inner work that leads to illumination and theosis through the discipline of putting on these practices and approaches, which together constitute for us the vowed religious life in a mode of deep-rooted and effectual Christian mysticism.
While holding this unyielding contemplative commitment as our core raison d'être, we simultaneously engage in a variety of ministries in the Church and in the world at large, which involve sharing the fruits of our contemplative life and mystical theology to the hearts of others. We strive to order all things in our life according to the guiding principle articulated so well by St. Evagrius of Pontus: 'Make stillness (hesychía) your criterion for testing the value of everything, and choose always what contributes to it.'
Though we meet regularly as a community for support, teaching, holy conversation, and fellowship, our discipline as monastics is always to gather our strength, rouse our spirits, and tend to the deep interior labor we've each been called to, in our own cells, as solitaries with God: to live the mystical life, day by day, moment by moment, and not merely discuss it or appropriate it as a facade.
Ad Maiorem Matris Gloriam — For the Greater Glory of the Mother +