Having trouble viewing this email? Click here



December 2023

Into this world, this demented inn

in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,

Christ comes uninvited.

But because he cannot be at home in it,

because he is out of place in it,

and yet he must be in it,

his place is with the others for whom

there is no room.

His place is with those who do not belong,

who are rejected by power, because

they are regarded as weak,

those who are discredited,

who are denied status of persons,

who are tortured, bombed and exterminated.

With those for whom there is no room,

Christ is present in this world.

Thomas Merton.

Lately I’ve been baking a lot of bread, trying out new varieties and techniques, with the goal of creating something delicious. Paradoxically when I bake, my goal is to create a lot of nothing, that is, copious amounts of tiny bubbles within a mixture of flour, water, salt and yeast. When I put those four simple ingredients together, they become something far greater than the sum of its parts, but not without bubbles of air, bubbles of nothing, inside. With time and technique, the ingredients are brought together to form a structure, the gluten, that encapsulates the bubbles. A nicely baked loaf of sourdough bread is filled with large irregular bubbles. In regular sandwich type breads there are tiny bubbles of fairly consistent size and distribution that aerate the bread and give it its lovely almost moist crumb texture. Well baked bread is soft - even spongey - and delicious because of the thousands upon thousands of tiny bubbles held within the confines of the golden crust. Bubbles form as the yeast digests the flour and expels gas. The dough is worked by kneading it, to form gluten. The gluten is stretchy and acts like a little balloon which expands as it fills with gas and puffs up the bread. As I bake, as I measure ingredients and mix them together, as I check in with my rising dough and spend time kneading and shaping I have a lot of time to think. And at this time of year I can’t help thinking of the coming of Jesus who is the very bread of heaven. We are in the season of Advent which helps us prepare for Christmas, prepare to once again find Jesus, Jesus the bread of heaven, as a tiny infant in a manger. As a baker I have always loved the fact that the word Bethlehem means ‘house of bread’, and that Christ, who first appeared in Bethlehem, is bread for the world. Advent is a time when we can intentionally make space in our lives to open, and expand, in the love of God for us in Jesus, and in God’s love for the whole world.

At St. John’s Convent we keep the seasons of the church year including Advent. Advent is a holy space and time to prepare a way in our lives for the Christ child. We do not decorate for Christmas at the Convent until December 23rd and we consider ourselves fortunate that we can avoid the commercialization of Christmas. Although the world races ahead to the commercial opportunities of Christmas shortly after Halloween, here at the convent we are able to keep the season of Advent. Taking time to observe Advent holds open that space within that we need to prepare in our hearts a home. The structure of our lives of prayer and service is like the gluten in bread which creates space, the space which seems to be nothing but is filled with something. If we didn’t make space in our lives and prayer to prepare for Christmas, then there would be little room for Christ’s love to grow within. We would instead be like a loaf of bread which hasn’t expanded or puffed up and results in an inedible brick. Making room in our hearts for God, for others, for ourselves, is a gift that Advent offers. As our hearts expand and grow like the bubbles in bread, we share Christ with others. What kind of bread will you be for others this Christmas?


~~ Sr. Elizabeth Ann Eckert, SSJD

When the Sisterhood recently received the final cost report for the Guest House renovations, it was far more than we had anticipated. Our initial design work had been done a year earlier, and the increase in construction costs in Toronto has contributed to an increase in the overall project budget. Because the total project cost is now at $6 million, the Sisters will contribute $2 million from their Endowment Fund rather than the initially planned $1 million. This means we need a total of $4 million from our donors. There has been tremendous generosity to date, but we still need your help more than ever!

For more detail about the campaign click here. https://ssjd.ca/capital-campaign-a-home-for-the-heart/

Join us for the last retreats of 2023 -

Guest House closes after the

New Year's Retreat

To Sing is to Pray Twice

Christmas Retreat

Saturday, December 23 - Tuesday, December 26, 2023

(Deadline - Saturday, December 16, 2023)

Led by Sr. Constance Joanna Gefvert

The music of Christmas expresses our heartfelt vision of God coming into our world, and our deep human longing for peace even as war seems to overcome our World...

Read More

Ring out the Old, Bring in the New

New Year's Retreat

Sunday, December 31, 2023 - Monday, January 1, 2024

(Deadline - Thursday, December 21, 2023)

Led by Sr. Elizabeth Rolfe-Thomas

Join Sr. Elizabeth Rolfe-Thomas, Reverend Mother of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine, in celebrating all that was good in 2023, letting go of what was not so good, and looking forward to the creative possibilities of 2024...

Read More

To register for available retreats, please visit our website: www.ssjd.ca

Covid Protocols:

Please do not attend if:

  • you have any signs or symptoms of a cold or COVID or
  • you tested positive for COVID within 2 weeks of the event or
  • you have been in contact with anyone who has had COVID 10 days before the event
Not Getting SSJD Emails?
Depending on your computer’s security settings, our emails may end up in your
Spam/Junk folder. To solve this, kindly check your Spam/Junk folder and add the SSJD
email address to you contacts.


Facebook  Twitter  
Read the latest edition of The EAGLE