The Community Libraries
“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” –Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
This is a pretty accurate description of the Sisters’ attitude toward reading. Reading is an important part of our spiritual discipline, a focus for our ongoing education, and a source of entertainment.
We have a library in each of our houses with books on spirituality, prayer, the Bible, theology and literature, and excellent collections of both non-fiction and fiction.
The main Convent library houses about 16,000 volumes. There is also a library with another 2,000 books on the second floor of the Guest House, specifically for our Associates and Oblates, who may take books home from that library.
Other guests are welcome to use both the Sisters’ library and the Associate/Oblate library and may sign out books to use while in residence at the Convent, but they may not be taken out of the Convent.
The library offers a good reference section, study tables, comfortable reading chairs, and wireless internet connection.
St. John’s Convent Bookroom
The Bookroom offers merchandise for sale at the Convent, but unfortunately cannot accept mail orders.
It offers an interesting selection of books, including traditional classics and many contemporary writers. These appeal to our Associates and Oblates, clergy, and others who frequently visit the Convent, as well as those on retreat and the many visitors who join the Sisters for chapel services and meals.
Some of the authors the Bookroom has carried include: Joan Chittister, Margaret Silf, Diarmuid O’Murchu, Judy Cannato, Joyce Rupp, Macrina Wiederkehr, Louis Savary, Brian Swimme, Rowan Williams, Jean Vanier, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton.
Subjects cover spirituality, prayer, theological reflection, Christianity and the new cosmology, daily devotions, coping with illness, desire for Christian growth, and many more.
New publications continually arrive. The Bookroom also sometimes carries a selection of CDs by artists such as Margaret Rizza and Tim Elliott, and recordings by the Taizé Community and the Wild Goose Worship Group.
The Sisters’ creativity is also offered for sale in the form of beautifully crafted cards, silk scarves, crocheted angels, Anglican rosaries, and hand-knitted teddies (to support Amnesty International).
The Birth of a Labyrinth
The labyrinth is an ancient tool of prayer. When the Sisters built the new Convent in 2004, we were excited about the possibility of continuing that tradition here.
Heather Lindsay, a landscape artist from Metropolitan United Church in Toronto, helped us construct our labyrinth with prayer and reverence. On a cold November day in 2004, the Sisters and volunteers, together with Heather, battled pouring rain as we laid the river stone that forms the boundaries of the path. Each stone was laid with prayer, and the rainy day brought out the stone’s beautiful colours.
We chose the 11-circuit pattern from Chartres Cathedral, one of the most ancient labyrinths in a Christian church. In the Middle Ages, people who wanted to make a spiritual pilgrimage but were too poor to go to the Holy Land or other famous Christian shrines walked the labyrinth as a sign of devotion, penitence, and prayer.
We laid down a thick layer of mulch as the walking path, so it’s possible to walk in wet weather without getting muddy feet. We placed a large rock at the centre of the labyrinth to symbolize that Christ is the centre of our life. The rock is slightly off-centre so that when you sit on it or stand before it, your feet are in the exact centre.
Walking the Labyrinth
The labyrinth symbolizes our spiritual journey as we move in towards the centre, letting go of whatever burdens us, and then returning by the same path freer and lighter, with the assurance of God’s love and support as we face the tasks of our lives.
Labyrinths are a powerful meditation tool. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has only one path to the centre, so you don’t have to think about where you’re walking – you can just relax and go with the flow of the path. The many different turns have the effect of naturally slowing the body down. As the body slows and relaxes, so does the mind, and then inspiration, creativity and grace are allowed to surface. We become more aware of God’s presence, our true self, and the world we live in.
For suggestions about using the labyrinth, see our brochure below [link provided].
The Anglican Church
- Anglican Church of Canada
- The Anglican Communion (worldwide)
- The Church of England
- Archbishop of Canterbury
- The Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA – Anglican)
- Dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada
- The SSJD Convent is located in the Diocese of Toronto
- BC House is located in the Diocese of British Columbia
- Anglicans Online
- Anglicanism (Wikipedia)
- The Anglican Communion (Wikipedia)
- Anglican Church of Canada (Wikipedia)
- Diocese of Toronto (Wikipedia)
- Project Canterbury: Anglican historical documents
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
- Anglican Nuns/Convents & Monks/Monasteries: a world list (Anglicans Online)
- ACRCC – Anglican Conference of Religious Communities in Canada
- CAROA – The Conference of Anglican Religious Orders in the Americas
- SSJE – Society of St. John the Evangelist
- CSC – Community of the Sisters of the Church
- Emmaus Community
- NAECC – National Association of Episcopal Christian Communities (US)
- OHC – Order of the Holy Cross
- OHP – Order of the Holy Paraclete (Whitby, England)
- SFF – The Society of St Francis (USA)
Bible, Worship, Spirituality
- Bible online [NRSV]
- Blueletter Bible [KJV + others]
Strongs Lexicon, a Concordance, the Greek and Hebrew text are available on Blueletter: click the “C” box found to the left of any bible verse.
- Anglican Church of Canada Liturgical Texts Online: BAS, BCP, For All the Saints, Occasional Celebrations, Supplementary Eucharistic Prayers, Services of the Word, Night Prayer
- The Revised Common Lectionary online
- Daily prayer services online [Church of England]
- Labyrinth Community Network
- Contemplative Fire
- Spiritual Directors International
Anglican News Feeds
- The Journal (Anglican Church of Canada)
- The Anglican (Diocese of Toronto)
- The Anglican Communion News Service
- ENS – Episcopal News Service
- RNS – Religion News Service
- Anglicans Online (News page)
- The Church Times (UK)
- The World Council of Churches
- The Canadian Council of Churches
- The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
- The Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada
- The Canadian Baptist Ministries
- The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (in communion)
- The Presbyterian Church in Canada
- The United Church of Canada
- The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Sites of Interest
Some Parish and Cathedral websites
- Cathedral Church of St James [Toronto]
- Christ Church Cathedral [Victoria, B.C.]
- Christ Church Cathedral [Vancouver, B.C.]
- Canterbury Cathedral [UK]
- Westminster Abbey [UK]
- Washington National Cathedral [USA]
- Trinity Church Wall Street [NYC]
- The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine [NYC]
- St Bartholomew’s [‘St. Bart’s’ NYC]
- Grace Cathedral [San Francisco, USA]
- Royal Canadian College of Organists
- Royal College of Organists
- Anglican church music [Wikipedia]
- Christian music [Wikipedia]
- Church Music Association of America
- List of Anglican composers [Wikipedia]
- Give us A Word: a short daily devotional text.
- 3-Minute Retreat: take a short prayer break at your computer
- Sacred Space: pray here and now with the help of scripture and on-screen guidance
- Forward Movement: a daily meditation on a verse, with prayer and daily readings
- The Text This Week: lectionary, scripture study, worship links, art and resources on the Sunday readings