From the Rector
I hope this message finds you well.
As many around the Church are sharing their reflections on All Souls on social media, I thought I would take the opportunity to share some of mine, for those who have not read it before (our little newsletter list continues to grow).
November, at least it seems to me, is a month of memory. From All Saints Day and All Souls Day to Remembrance Day and All Gnostic Saints, November has a almost Lenten quality of its own as we become reminded of our own mortality through the remembrance of those who have gone before and those we have lost. Perhaps that's just me. Fitting I think as the days go darker that we have so many things which call to mind the transitioning light.
Those who have passed, at least in my own experience, pass from the vibrancy of life to a static and snowy ice sculpture of memory. Frozen eternally in recollection just as they were, yet alive in so many glints of light shining from different perspectives as memory and mind move together.
Death is not a subject that many Gnostics take up, less still a subject that many Gnostic Churches take up, most of our rites are geared for those who are alive, even if their passing may be soon. Just as few are those who attempt to define or outline a post-life experience for their members, which is I think as it should be.
Not unlike Gnosis, grief and loss are subjective experiences of an objective reality. Words fail to prepare you for the experience if you have not had it, and if you have, then you know that words often also fail to communicate it or do it justice. The Church, rightly I think, steps back from this experience, even if only slightly, to make room for a space in which we can meet it of our own accord, and then steps up as we step back, to offer the support and love of a spiritual community which shares and walks the most human of paths, because it is made up of people as human as ourselves.
Grim and hard as all this might sound, the month of memory, like the rest of the liturgical calendar, holds a place among many, not above many- and the significance of memories do not stand out or apart from the events which make them in the first place. The calendar of the Church seems to dedicate so much time to these recollections yet it is not so as to make an emphasis over the rest of our spiritual and life experience but rather to place it in context.
This month, though we commemorate St. Gregory Palamas through the practice of the Jesus Prayer, I invite you to join us for liturgy on November 8th, and during our customary meditation, spend some time with those who have gone before and those you have lost. If you cannot make it, why not dedicate a small bit of your time and break out some photographs, or play a favourite song of remembrance.
If you've not done so lately, why not take the time to connect with a veteran (of any age) or any of our elders, the winter months can be especially lonely, and no one knows transition and loss like they do- they have wisdom and humour to share as well. I think you'll both be enriched by the experience.
This Month at St. Joseph's
Join us we commemorate the saint of Hesychast practice, Gregory Palamas with the Contemplative Liturgy of the Apostolic Johannite Church- Wednesday November 8th at 730pm.
Later on in the month, on November 22nd at 715pm, we will be sitting down to break bread at Jerusalem Shawarma to discuss the Gnostic Saints in our calendar and the nature of Sainthood.
I hope to see you there.
Ad Sacram Flammam,
+ Shaun Mar Iohannes