Audio ReflectionAudio Reflection

March 16, 2012 – Seeing the Cross – 4th Friday of Lent

Jeffrey Reed, consultant for Seeing the Word, shares his reflection on the illumination “Life in Community” (Acts 4:32-35).

Join us every Friday this Lent as we continue to look closer at some of the crosses of The Saint John’s Bible, journeying from the Birth of Christ, to the Crucifixion.

Audio ReflectionAudio Reflection

Seeing Lent – Holy Thursday – 2013 – Life in Community

Each week during Lent, two video reflections will be shared: one from a student at the College of Saint Benedict / Saint John’s University, and one from a faculty member or professional.

Life in Community
Acts 4:32-35

“When your people gather you will be my praise.” -Psallite #277

Bailey Walter
Graduate Assistant at Seeing The Word and candidate for a Master of Divinity at Saint John’s School of Theology.Seminary

Cody Maynus
Senior at Saint John’s University studying English, Theology and Gender Studies.

Written ReflectionWritten Reflection

The Way of Beauty: A Liturgical Minister Retreat

By Jessie Bazan, M.Div. candidate

The Way of Beauty: A Liturgical Minister Retreat was first hosted at Saint John’s University in November 2014. The retreat was developed in the spirit of Pope Francis’s encouragement to revel in the beauty of proclaiming Christ. In Evangelli Gaudium, Francis declares, “Every form of catechesis would do well to attend to ‘the way of beauty.’” Every expression of true beauty, he writes, fosters “a renewed esteem for beauty as a means of touching the human heart” (167).

This call to engage beauty is a main focus of Seeing the Word, a project developed to help people listen, meditate and pray with the Illuminated Word of The Saint John’s Bible. As the first handwritten and illuminated Bible in more than 500 years, The Saint John’s Bible was commissioned by the monks of Saint John’s Abbey with the hope that its beautiful illuminations and calligraphy would ignite the spiritual imagination of readers. We think delving into its beauty will ignite the hearts of liturgical ministers, too.

The half-day retreat includes an introduction to The Saint John’s Bible, a visio divina prayer service, individual art time, small group discussions and the talk posted above. Seeing the Word graduate assistant Jessie Bazan created and facilitated the retreat, and would be happy to talk with you about bringing the retreat to your parish or school. For more information, please contact

Written ReflectionWritten Reflection

Illuminating the Encounter: Life in Community

Illuminating the Encounter is a series of audio reflections focusing on our encounters with Christ, the church community and each other, as highlighted by the illuminations of The Saint John’s Bible.

Life in Community
Acts 4:32-35

Peter Bierer
Senior High Formation Minister at Pax Christi Catholic Community in Eden Prairie, MN. Peter is also a graduate student at the Saint John’s University School of Theology and Seminary.

Written ReflectionWritten Reflection

Illuminating Triduum: Life in Community

Holy Thursday Reflection
Acts 4: 32, 34-35

Life in Community, Aidan Hart with contributions from Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Life in Community, Aidan Hart with contributions from Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Ask any monk or nun to name the best and the worst parts of their religious life and you will likely get the same answer: life together in community.

Community can be difficult, regardless of the form it takes. Living together, studying together, working together, praying together takes an immense amount of work. In an age such as ours, which prides itself on individualism and uniqueness, it is often—always, even!—a real challenge to share space with another.

On the other hand, there is something absolutely holy and formative about community. When we live intentionally with other people, we privilege the needs and desires of others before our own. Not because our needs and desires are wrong or harmful or selfish, but rather because the experience of the whole is more important than the experience of the individual. Living in community allows us to step back, to take check of our lives and the lives others, and to respond with spiritual detachment. We become detached from our own agendas in order for collective wisdom—always inspired by the Spirit—to emerge. Our weaknesses are met by others’ strengths. Our gifts build up others’ weaknesses. Individually, we are small players in an awfully large and daunting game. In community, we have substance, we have gravitas, we have a body.

And Jesus had a body. In fact, Jesus’ body has been, is, and continues to be of absolute importance for Christians. Our God is the God who took on our human flesh, who was born of a woman, who was raised in a family, who engaged with others, who lived a human life, who died, and who rose again. Ours is a God who looks like us, who is re-membered, re-fleshed in every human being.

And that is the real gift of community: when we live together, study together, work together, pray together, we do so surrounded by God incarnated in the other members of our community. God makes Godself known—physically, literally—in those with whom we share our life.

This is the gift the Church gives us today: a vision for an incarnated community—a community who prays together, serves together, holds life in common together, breaks bread together. We gather tonight in our churches, monasteries, and cathedrals to begin practicing the good, hard work of living together in community. We will break bread together, pray for the world together, give to the needs of the poor together, and wash each other’s feet.

And, as a community who shares life together, we will move into the darkness of Holy Week. We will clear the altar tonight, removing the candles and cloths and contending with a naked and broken table stripped of everything comfortable, everything sacred. We will take the Eucharist from its usual place of reservation and move it—together, in procession—to a temporary place of holding, a place removed from the heart of our liturgical life.

The only way we can contend with Holy Week—the awful crucifixion, the terrible rejection, the silent abandonment—is to come together around the altar of our God who, in a few short days will smell like fiery hell and musty tomb, but who tonight smells like soap and oil and bread.


Cody Maynus is studying monastic spirituality and history at Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary. He is presently discerning monastic life in the Episcopal Church.