Br Roger Stewart

Homily For Easter 2 B – Preached by Br Luc

Scripture Readings

br luc

Good Morning and a very Happy Easter to you!

The beauty of Easter is that we celebrate it for a very long time and intensely. First we have the Octave, which is an eight day celebration of this great event in the history of creation with the same solemnity as the resurrection Sunday itself, followed by at least six weeks(42 days to be precise) of what we call Eastertide to allow the message sink. The gospel readings during this period are passages that deal with one or the other account of the appearances of the risen Lord

Today’s passage majors on Thomas, popularly known as the doubter but was he really? Humanity has a way of putting labels on people based on perceived negatives at the expense of the numerous positive or good things the same individuals may have done. If we follow scriptures closely, slightly before Jesus went to Bethany to raise Lazarus, shortly after the Jews attempted to kill him by stoning and the disciples were cautioning him about it, it is Thomas who is quoted declaring… “Let us also go that we may die with him” (John 11:16). That right there is courage even in the face of death but instead of Thomas being called the ‘courageous one’, all we seem to remember is the doubt. Thomas is portrayed as a person who operated from the mind or experiential knowledge level and therefore had to see in order to believe. Some preachers make Thomas sound like he wanted to believe but his mind or intellect, or call it want of empirical knowledge, kept him from following his heart in what it desired.

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March 2024 News – Initial Profession of Br Aelred Edwin Kriel OHC

The highlight of the past month for us was certainly the Initial Profession of the Monastic Vow by Br Edwin, who has taken the religious name Br Aelred, by which he is now becoming known to us. The happy occasion took place during a noon Eucharist in the Volmoed chapel on Saturday 23 March. Having completed his novitiate, Br Aelred committed himself to live according to the threefold monastic vow of stability, conversion, and obedience, for an initial period of three years. Many of those from his family and friends in Worcester and other parts of the Anglican Diocese of False Bay, as well as from the Volmoed community, who had been present just over a year before to witness his Clothing as a Novice of the Order, were there to witness this joyful commitment. In addition to affirming his own sense of vocation to monastic life, and the fulfilment that comes from living into that vocation, Br Aelred has strengthened the life and witness of the monastic community, by adding his own presence to the variety of ways in which we pray and hope that God’s love will be made known through us. Br Scott preached the sermon at Br Aelred’s profession, the text of which can be found here.

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Sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

Scripture Readings

Today’s Gospel reading starts halfway through a conversation Jesus has been having with Nicodemus, the Pharisee who came to visit him at night. Nicodemus has been struggling with what Jesus has been saying about the need to be born again from above in order to enter the kingdom of God. Nicodemus knows that Jesus has come from God, and so he perseveres.

Whatever difficulty Nicodemus might have had with understanding Jesus, there was at least one thing that Jesus said that left an impression on him. Later, when a group of chief priests and Pharisees are trying to have Jesus arrested and have just cursed a crowd of people for believing in him, Nicodemus reminds them that their Law requires that they give everyone a hearing before judging them. Perhaps Nicodemus hoped that Jesus would have the same effect on them as he had on Nicodemus, if only they would listen to him.

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January/February 2024 News

The change from January to February brought with it a change in the monastic community. Br Edwin returned to us after 4 months at our Holy Cross Monastery in the USA. Br Luc accompanied him, and will be with our local community for almost 3 months. Br Josias departed on the plane that Brs Edwin and Luc had just arrived on.

Br Josias will be visiting the monastic community at Holy Cross Monastery for a little over 2 months, living as a member of the novitiate there during that period. While in the USA, he has recently been interviewed by our Order’s Council, which has approved his application to make his initial profession of the monastic vow, which will take place after he returns to us.

Since his return from the USA, Br Edwin has visited his family in Worcester for a week. He is to make his initial profession here at Volmoed on Saturday 23 March, taking the religious name Aelred. Please pray for him as he prepares to make this joyous commitment.

January/February 2024 News Read More »

December 2023/January 2024 News

Having entered the monastic community on 15 July last year, Mpumelelo Khambule completed his six-month Postulancy and was clothed as a Novice in the habit of the Order on Saturday 20 January. The happy event was witnessed by numerous people from the residential and dispersed Volmoed community. John and Isobel de Gruchy also represented the Associates of the Order. Two members of the Community of Jesus’ Compassion (CJC) in KZN, Mo Yeki and Sr Ntombi, travelled to Volmoed for the occasion. CJC is the religious community with whom Br Mpumelelo lived for a time before joining our monastic community. They nurtured his initial discernment of a monastic vocation, and so it was wonderful that they could be with us as he entered the next stage of his initial monastic formation. Mati Mzamo, a friend of CJC who used to spend time at our former monastery outside Makhanda (Grahamstown) in the Eastern Cape, has relocated to the Western Cape and it was lovely that she could also attend Br Mpumelelo’s clothing ceremony.

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Thursdays at Volmoed – Sermon for the Conversion of St Paul the Apostle

Scripture Readings

Today in the Church calendar is the feast day of the Conversion of St Paul the Apostle. Last Thursday was the feast day of the Confession of St Peter the Apostle. What with one being designated the apostle to the Gentiles and the other the apostle to the Jews, the week in between has been dedicated to an intensification of prayer for Christian unity.

The story of Paul’s conversion is very prominent in the New Testament. The story itself is told three times in various ways in the Acts of the Apostles, the last of which telling we heard this morning. We also heard Paul allude to it in his letter to the Galatians, as he does in several of his other letters.

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Sermon for the First Sunday after Christmas

Scripture Readings

The Gospel of John has no shepherds directed by angels nor magi guided by a star. There is no baby born to bewildered parents. Instead, we are given what seems closer to a God’s eye view of the Christmas story. The eternal Word of God, the One through whom all things were made and by whom all things are sustained, came into the world, becoming flesh and blood and living among us, in the form of Jesus Christ. The details of how it all came about seem not to matter much to John the Evangelist, the mystic who seems more interested in what it all means.

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November 2023 News

November saw two distinct improvements in the transport infrastructure affecting movement to and from Volmoed. First, a bridge over the nearby national road was repaired, allowing traffic to move along that road again, thus reducing traffic volumes that had made travel along the lengthy unpaved detour road not only unpleasant but dangerous. Second, movement along the main road through the bottom of the valley became possible again, once the single-lane bypass around the damage resulting from the storm of late September was completed.

The immediate benefit of these improvements, apart from ease of access to areas beyond the valley from Volmoed, was that people from those areas could once again come to Volmoed relatively easily. There has been a noticeable increase in attendance of the Thursday and Sunday morning church services since, with those who had found themselves unable to come to Volmoed after the storm expressing their delight at being here again.

November 2023 News Read More »

Thursdays at Volmoed – Sermon for the Feast of St Andrew

Scripture Readings

Today is the Feast Day of St Andrew, one of the twelve apostles who formed the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples as recorded in the Gospels. Andrew is most commonly identified as the brother of Simon Peter. I wonder if he ever got tired of that. Peter and Andrew are often associated with James and John, who were their fishing partners before responding to Jesus’ call to follow him. The four of them shared many experiences with Jesus, but sometimes it was just the three – Peter, James and John – without Andrew. I wonder how he felt about that. I feel sad for Andrew that he missed out on the Transfiguration.

Andrew is perhaps more highly regarded in the Eastern Orthodox church than in the West. The Eastern church has given him the honorific Protokletos, the First-Called, based on the account early in John’s Gospel in which John the Baptist points out Jesus to two of his own disciples, one of whom is Andrew, who immediately goes after Jesus and spends the rest of the day in his company at his invitation to come and see. Andrew then goes to find his brother Simon, tells him he has found the Messiah, and takes him to Jesus, who gives him the name Peter.

As one of the Twelve, Andrew was given authority by Jesus and sent out to proclaim the good news in word and deed, sharing peace with those who would receive it. Andrew continued doing this after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. Throughout the rest of his life, Andrew is said to have travelled far and wide, sharing Jesus’ teachings, and his influence endured long after his death.

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October 2023 News

Gradual recovery from the devastating storms of late September continues, within the Western Cape generally as well more locally within the Hermanus area and specifically in the Hemel-and-Aarde Valley including here at Volmoed, where efforts are underway to clean up the riverbanks (which has also provided material for neighbours to use in repairing roads on their properties) though the main access road onto the Volmoed property remains impassable. The lengthy detour along a dusty unpaved road with increased traffic volumes is still necessary for travel into Hermanus, though work on opening the main road through the bottom of the valley has begun. The electricity supply remains somewhat unstable, and there are water restrictions for townspeople as the water supply is still constrained.

Br Roger travelled to Mariannhill Monastery Retreat House in Pinetown KZN to attend the annual meeting of the Council for the Religious Life, together with representatives from most of the other religious communities in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, as well as the Liaison Bishop who facilitates the interaction between the Council and the institutional Church. The meeting took place over two days in early October, and included reports from each community about its life and work, as well as discussion of challenges that exist within communities and between communities and the church. We also prayed and ate together and had times of fellowship, all of which strengthened the supportive relationships among communities.

October 2023 News Read More »

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