Spiritual Formation is the process of allowing our spirits to be transformed into the character of Christ through God’s grace and the working of the Holy Spirit. While we cannot by our own will power conform our spirits to Christ’s, we can make intentional choices that help us to open ourselves to this process.
The decision of a candidate for The Episcopal Community to study St. Benedict’s Toolbox by Jane Tomaine and to implement some of the “tools” recommended in each chapter (i.e., journaling, lectio divina, the daily office, creating a Rule of Life) is an example of an intentional decision to allow God’s spirit to work within.
There are many ways to continue our journeys of spiritual formation after Toolbox. One way we deepen our relationship with God is through study of spiritual writings, both individually and through our Circle groups or with other members of The Episcopal Community by telephone, Skype, email, or other online means.
This site provides recommendations of books, videos, and other resources to aid you on your journey. Links connect to study questions and other discussion and reflection aids.
An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith
By Barbara Brown Taylor, Harper One ISBN 978-0061370472
Taylor shares how she learned to encounter God far beyond the walls of the church. She reveals meaningful ways to discover the sacred in the small things we do and see, from simple practices such as walking, working, and praying. Something as ordinary as hanging clothes on a clothesline becomes an act of meditation if we pay attention to what we are doing and take time to notice the sights, smells, and sounds around us. Making eye contact with the cashier at the grocery store becomes a moment of true human connection. Allowing ourselves to get lost leads to new discoveries. As we incorporate these practices into our daily lives, we begin to discover “altars” everywhere we go, in nearly everything we do. Through Taylor’s expert guidance, we learn to live with purpose, to pay attention, and to revere the world we live in.
Questions for reflection and discussion are written by The Rev. Rebecca Edwards. Click on the link in blue: An Altar in the World – A Geography of Faith – Barbara Brown Taylor
This was a challenging read for me, but I was glad that I didn’t give up on the study. I know I was stretched and challenged out of my comfort zone. I learned more about searching and finding God everywhere. I recommend this book. Sally N.
I believe this book calls me back to what is truly beautiful in life and that as we participate, we really recognize what “the ALTAR of the world” is—it is the reality of everyday: what we do and how we see what is surrounding our existence. Then, as we make the time to enter God’s dwelling, His Altar becomes real, not just another part of our Sunday worship effects. The beauty of Taylor’s book is in the now of life as we journey with the One who created life. Pat T.
The Story of Ruth: Twelve Moments in Every Woman’s Life
by Joan Chittister, Eerdmans Publishing Co. ISBN: 978-0802827357
Using the Biblical story of Ruth, Chittister describes twelve moments in every woman’s life: loss, change, transformation, aging, independence, respect, recognition, insight, empowerment, self-definition, invisibility, and fulfillment. The Bible story of Ruth is a simple one and an old one, but Chittister uses her talent to make it a story for today applying to each one of us.
The study guide is adapted from questions written by the Rev. Rebecca Edwards, Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, San Diego, CA; used with her permission with our many thanks. Click on the link in blue: The Story of Ruth – Twelve Moments in Every Woman’s Life
In my bible study group at Church of the Good Samaritan, we read a chapter a week and gathered Wednesday morning to discuss each chapter. This was a good study for me to do on my own when I was unable to be with the group. I recommend this to you, dear sisters! Sally N.
St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine, Morehouse Publishing ISBN 978-0-8192-2152-0
This book is the foundational study for the discernment period for membership in The Episcopal Community. In modern language, with practical, insightful applications, it shows how The Rule of St. Benedict can be a guide for living a Christ centered life in the modern age. Designed to be read slowly and reflectively, each chapter presents a different aspect of the Rule. At the end of each chapter are several “tools” or applications, designed to assist in applying the spiritual concepts in everyday life. The author provides additional assistance in an online resource: www.stbenedictstoolbox.org
Our Circle reviewed our study and talked about how this book and this study have changed our lives. We spent some time in talking about what we were looking for when we started this study. Different sisters spoke of their need to draw closer to God, to grow spiritually, and to find ways to serve. Without exception, every one of us felt that we had gotten everything we were looking for and more.
We shared experiences of how the study has helped each of us. The Toolbox has helped us to achieve peace within. We all feel better able to withstand problems when they occur. We discussed our own “realities” and frustrations. The idea of “always doing the immediate and never doing the important” is all too real. However, we agree that St. Benedict shows us the way to live at peace in the world (our world).
We know we have grown spiritually. We are striving for balance. We are remembering to tend to our own needs. Above all, we are remembering to thank Him always and for everything. We are learning to live in the moment. We share the things we are doing intentionally to grow.
The Rule of The Episcopal Community and the Personal Rule of Life
Below are links to The Rule of the Community and Creating a Personal Rule of Life. May these enrich your journey with The Episcopal Community and your walk with Christ. Click on the links in below: