About Melodius Monk

I'm 30 years old, and I grew up at the Community of Jesus. My parents moved from Ohio to live at the Community two years before I was born, so with the exception of a few years at college, I’ve lived in the Community my whole life. I became a Novice Brother in 2003, and made my profession as a brother in 2005. Currently I have a pretty varied life as a brother. In addition to daily responsibilities in our liturgies, I cook, sing, play trumpet, and am responsible for various cleaning and maintenance needs in the church building (my favorite jobs is changing the light bulbs at 45 feet!) I also arrange transportation for brothers to various appointments, work on repairing musical instruments, clean the barn, give tours of the church, make the weekly food menu for the Friary, and help out with various other needs as they arise around the Community. Growing up, I was not particularly interested in the religious life, but I met Jesus at an inter-varsity fellowship meeting my second year in college, and that re-directed my life drastically. I feel very fortunate to have found my life’s calling, and the hope for more wholeness is what keeps me on my monastic journey on difficult days.

Sts. Timothy & Titus – January 26th

Sculpted wooden panels of Saints Timothy and Titus at the Church of the Transfiguration on Cape Cod

Saints Timothy & Titus

On January 26th, we celebrate the feasts of St. Timothy and St. Titus, two men best known for their companionship and commitment to the Apostle Paul. They were converted to the Christian faith at an early age by St. Paul, and spent their lives serving the Gospel and assisting Paul in his missionary work. Their lives remind us that we are strengthened by each other and that few, if any, can carry out God’s purposes alone. Timothy and Titus inspire me to ask God, who am I meant to be companion to and what missions are you asking me to assist or encourage? In a culture that stresses the importance of “do-it-yourself” or “make it you own,” Saints Timothy and Titus exemplify our need for companions and trusted friends to help us on our journey.


Advent IV


It was cold and cloudy with little moon and no stars as I walked home late in the evening. The wind lofted the cow barn smell pungently into the air. Seeing the barn reminded me of choir earlier in the day when sang a setting of Richard Crawshaw’s poem In the Holy Nativity of our Lord.

In the Crawshaw poem the shepherds sing of this blest night: Gloomy night embrac’d the place Where the Noble Infant Lay; The Babe look’d up and show’d his face, in spite of darkness, it was day. It was thy day, Sweet! And did rise Not from the east, but from thine eyes. Great little one, whose all-embracing birth Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav’n to earth.

With the fresh smell of the stable and the shepherd’s song running through my mind, I imagine what it was like for Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds that night. I wonder how the shepherds felt seeing the Christ-child. I wonder how I would have felt being a shepherd. Would I have recognized His light, would I have been excited, or afraid?

As I continued home, I cast prayers into the night. Prayers of things I don’t understand and questions longing for answers. I hope for healing in broken relationships, and courage to make bold choices when I feel afraid. I ask Jesus what to do with my many wants and desires. And then my heart smiles remembering how bright and sweet Your face is. I smile knowing that as sure as anything, Jesus will come again this season.  And in His coming, His all-embracing birth will bring sweet light into any place we will welcome it.


In this passage about prayer from Ronald Rolheiser’s book, Sacred Fire, the words seem to articulate unconscious thoughts swirling in the back regions of my brain. It’s from a section of the book about prayer in which Fr. Rolheiser poses a question we all face from time to time. He writes:

“We all have our moments of chaos and crisis. Loss, death, sickness, disappointment, hurt, loneliness, hatred, jealousy, obsession, fear—these come into our lives and often we find ourselves overwhelmed by the darkness they cause….How can we pull ourselves out of the dark chaos they put us into?”

I’m sure most of us can relate on some level to this dark chaos, the slippery slope that seems to have no ladder out, only pathways to more darkness. Fr. Rolheiser suggests we too naturally try to climb out or resolve the chaos ourselves, often to our detriment:

“Sometimes when we try to pray when hurting, the prayer serves not to uproot the hurt and obsession, but to root them even more deeply in self-pity, self-preoccupation, and over-concentration. We end up further letting go of God’s Spirit and, instead, giving in to more panic, fear, chaos, bitterness, obsession, and resentment…it is important that our prayer be focused upon God and not upon ourselves…we must force ourselves to focus upon God or Jesus or upon some aspect of transcendent mystery.”

I find hope in Fr. Rolheiser’s simple wisdom to “force” my prayers away from myself and onto God. However large or small my prayer offering may be, in the difficult choice to force my thoughts upon Jesus, this becomes a way of letting go of darkness and a way of recognizing His transcendence. In recognizing my inability to save myself, I’m given a path in which Jesus promises to carry me out of my dark chaos.


God’s Power

The last few weeks have provided ample evidence of God’s power. I’m reminded of how precious life is. The creator of life and the weather can far out-wit and out-muscle even our greatest ambitions.  We truly are helpless as to the timing of these events, either death or the weather. Not that there ever isn’t evidence, but it has been more at the forefront of my daily activities and therefore more on my mind.  We just celebrated the fourth funeral in our Monastery since the first of 2018. Yes, celebrated, is the purposefully chosen word. Each funeral rite has been a rich celebration of life and a pointed reminder of how uniquely precious all life is.

Over the last six weeks, our neck of the woods has experienced three nor’easters. These destructive storms force trees down, power outages, injuries, and even take lives. Sitting inside during a powerful storm is a helpless feeling. We sit helpless against dangerous rising tides, and wind powerful enough to drop a giant tree flat on its back- helpless to stop it, but in awe of its power.

I hope I can start each day with this helpless feeling so as to be reminded of the gift that life is.  To be reminded just how precious, unique and awfully special each day we are given can be.


At first glance, I generally think of silence as still, inactive, quiet. While silence can be these things, there’s also a silence that allows for more to be heard. In Madeleine
L’Engle’s poem, Ready for Silence, God does many extraordinary things in silence. He
enters, He moves, He rises and He ascends– all in silence.

Ready for Silence 
Then hear now the silence
He comes in the silence
in silence he enters
the womb of the bearer
in silence he goes to
the realm of the shadows
redeeming and shriving
in silence he moves from
the grave cloths, the dark tomb
in silence he rises
ascends to the glory
leaving his promise
leaving his comfort
leaving his silence
So come now, Lord Jesus
Come in your silence
breaking our noising
laughter of panic
breaking this earth’s time
breaking us breaking us
quickly Lord Jesus
make no long tarrying
When will you come
and how will you come
and will we be ready
for silence
your silence.               — Madeleine L’Engle

Often I find myself calling, even yelling to God “I can’t hear you! Can you be more obvious?!” Time and time again I need to create and search out silence in order to break or be broken into a place of silence. Without this silence I have too many worrisome, fearful and panicking thoughts blocking my capacity to hear. I must find a place where I can quiet my noising laughter of panic in order to hear His ever beckoning and loving voice.

Blind Noel

Our region saw the first snowflakes of the year this weekend. Small heavy wet flakes as it was just cold enough in the sky above to see snow crystallize.  The snow fall spins my mind to a short Christmas poem by R.S. Thomas that I’d read earlier in the week.  The poem is titled, Blind Noel.

Christmas; the themes are exhausted.

Yet there is always room
on the heart for another
snowflake to reveal a pattern.
Love knocks with such frosted fingers.

I look out. In the shadow

of so vast a God I shiver, unable
to detect the child for the whiteness.

Isn’t it both distressing and hopeful that love has to knock with such frosted fingers?

When this knocking comes, and it always comes, will I be able to hear it? Will I have the courage to open its door, the courage to extend, even slightly, into the unknown vastness of God?

I long for love but am scared to open the door to those frosted fingers. Perhaps they are my own, longing to be let into my heart. Longing to have God reveal to me who I am and who he has created me to be; to find and have revealed to me what of Himself God has planted in me. And I thank God for His Blind Noel that will undoubtedly come.


Have a seat

by Melodius Monk

“We as followers of Christ don’t have some kind of special super power. We are not the spiritually elite. We just have the authority to show up. To show up and proclaim the nearness of God that scatters the darkness. And we can show up for life and for each other and for the world because what we need for healing and sustenance is always the same as the simple, ordinary things right in front of us—that’s just the way God works.“     -Nadia Bolz Weber

Early this morning, I was reading the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and already knowing the end, I started losing focus when surprisingly the story grabbed my imagination—as if to say, “don’t be so bored”—I have more to teach you. Jesus then took the loaves and gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.”

And I started thinking of Nadia’s quote in relation to being seated. Being seated is simple un-profound, and not hard to do. The people with Jesus that day simply had to show up, sit, and Jesus did the rest.

Daily I’m crying out to Jesus, where are you?  What are you saying to me? Why can’t I find more answers? I want more assuredness from God, more peace, more answers, less doubt. I assume I must need to do more of “something” to gain access to God.

Sitting can be challenging. It feels unproductive, a little boring, vulnerable and uncomfortable. Yet I need not run, hide, or try to produce, but simply sit and take in what God puts right in front of me today.

Perhaps in the rootedness of staying put, we open ourselves to the possibility to receive from a God who wishes to give us as much goodness as we dare to want.

Abundant life

By Melodius Monk

Ever ask yourself the question, is this all life has to offer? Coming off the “holiday” season (you know the one that was supposed to make you feel peace and joy?) or the start of the New Year (when I realize that all of the grand resolutions I vowed to fix in my world may either be impossible, or not part of God’s timing)—perhaps this is a time when this question surfaces! It’s like when you work really hard planning a dinner party: the dinner happens—ends—and I’m left feeling disappointed. The party was fun, really fun in fact and enjoyed by all, but two days later I’m sad it’s over and start to wonder how long it will be until the next enjoyable moment in life. Instead of savoring the fun evening, I start to think if only I had prepared a little better for the party, maybe the feeling of satisfaction would have lasted a whole week instead of two days. Maybe next time I can buy better wine, or not invite so and so, or have the bruschetta just a little crisper, or add one more desert (even though we already had four, but I didn’t know my friend was off sugar)!

My guess is I’m not alone in this waste of time search for the ever elusive “more” in life.  In her story-filled book, Sister Bridget Haase answers my questioning with a swift and simple belief.  She writes, “You do not need to seek abundant life anywhere else. It is right here, right now, under our feet, and in the air we breathe. This is all there is to life and it is quite enough.”

This often inexhaustible search for more in life can manifest itself in small and large ways. God has planted within each of us exactly what we need for a full and abundant life. In her book Generous Faith, Sr. Bridget teaches us that this type of faith “compels us to mine, with integrity, fortitude, and abundance, the faith within each of us.” She continues; “We, too, are created to savor and enjoy every moment of life. Unfortunately we do just the opposite. When we shower, we plan the day’s schedule rather than simply feel the rush of water on our shoulders. When we smell a gardenia, we draw up future plans for a garden rather than just let the fragrance bless us. When we sit by a stream in a local park, we wish we were at a popular mountain resort, far away from our daily routine and duty, rather than hear the gurgling gift of flowing water. When we see flowering lilac bushes in the spring, do we begin a summer countdown or linger over the beauty of lilacs? When watermelon juice runs down our chin, do we wonder if mangoes would have tasted better?”

Though I believe Sr. Bridget’s words to be true, I need regular reminders that God makes no mistakes, and that in Jesus I will be given precisely what I need each day for a full and abundantly rich life.

"Roses" by Leonid Afremov

“Roses” by Leonid Afremov

Stepping out of the shadows

By Melodius Monk

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” This is a most suggestive beatitude. If we had been writing it, we would have said, “Blessed is he who never has sinned.” But if it read thus, it would have no comfort for anyone in this world, for there are no sinless people here.
-J.R. Miller

The language of this psalm can be so commonplace to church-goers that we easily run right past its true meaning. If we pause a moment and think about the phrase, “Blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven,” it’s mind-blowing. What do we do to forgive our sins? Nothing! It’s pure gift. And in addition to this gift, we are blessed. What type of God is this who blesses those who tell Him what they did wrong? If I stole something and then turned myself in, I would still be guilty of that crime; but with God this is not so. When confessed, our sin is covered, obliterated, and never used against us. Do we live in gratefulness to this love? I think the answer for most of us most of the time is, “Sadly, no.” But what a privilege this gift of sin-covering is. It’s a gift that promises us a hope and a future. It’s a covering that allows us to not live in fear. Ever since our first ancestors hid from God in the garden out of fear and guilt, we have followed suit. Perhaps I can be courageous enough today to step out of hiding toward God, and gratefully accept my blessing.


City of Glass

By Melodious Monk

I met a new friend this week, Welsh poet R. S. Thomas. While recently feeling a little lost and tired of looking for God with seemingly no answer back, I went to a shelf of poetry books in hopes that someone else’s words might open my eyes a bit differently.

Perhaps it was Paul Powis’ colorful illustration on the front cover of the R. S. Thomas collection that caught my attention, but every poem of R. S. Thomas that I read I find compelling, thought-provoking, and profoundly mysterious.

One such poem is titled, “the empty church. “ I spend a significant amount of time in an empty church here at the Community of Jesus– either cleaning, doing maintenance work, or praying alone–so, in quickly glancing through the index, this poem’s title leaped out at me as one to read.

The Empty Church

They laid this stone trap
for him, enticing him with candles,
as though he would come like some huge moth
out of the darkness to beat there.
Ah, he had burned himself
before in the human flame
and escaped, leaving the reason
torn. He will not come any more
to our lure. Why, then, do I kneel still
striking my prayers on a stone
heart? Is it in hope one
of them will ignite yet and throw
on its illumined walls the shadow
of someone greater than I can understand?

In the short time I’ve spent with this Anglican priest’s poetry, I have found a strong sense of the knowledge of God’s presence when, and perhaps especially when, He is not tangible to us. I often ask God why this road through life has so many components that often feel pointless or at cross-purposes with one another. I think Thomas might say that our inability to understand God in our lives is not something to be afraid of. At the end of his poem Emerging, Thomas reminds us that God has destined us for good.

There are questions we are the solution
to, others whose echoes we must expand
to contain. Circular as our way is,
it leads not back to that snake-haunted
garden, but onward to the tall city
of glass that is the laboratory of the spirit.

Poetry by R. S. Thomas. Artwork by Paul Powis

Purple Shade by Paul Powis