A Life-Long Springtime: The Life and Teaching of Fr George Congreve SSJE


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Book Details

Format: Hardback (270 pages)

Publisher: Sacristy Press

Date of Publication:

ISBN: 978-1-78959-198-9

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​Fr George Congreve SSJE (1835–1918) was a spiritual giant in his own times but is now largely forgotten. A Life-long Springtime shows Congreve’s contribution to the development of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, the first community of men in the Church of England, and the themes of his spiritual teaching which was wide ranging and influential in its day. After an initial chapter, the book focuses on the second half of Congreve’s life, after he joined the Cowley Fathers shortly after he turned 40. As R. M. Benson’s Assistant Superior, Congreve offered amplification and important correction to Benson’s teaching on the Religious Life. Personally well connected, Congreve had influence in late Victorian society and the Church. More than a century after Congreve’s death, many of his beautiful writing are strikingly contemporary. Congreve was master of community life whose advice is relevant to all those who strive to live well with each other. He saved his own community from the possible disaster of failed relationships and persuaded the Founder to step down. Congreve lived to be old and writes on what it is to age—not the extension of middle age but the decline and death we must all face. Congreve’s hugely attractive character shines out from his writing—he was one transparent to the love of God.

​The founder of the Society of St. John the Evangelist to which Father Congreve belonged, believed that members of SSJE should be men of the moment, men precisely up to the mark of the times. In showing Father Congreve to be a man of his moment, Luke Miller in A Life-Long Springtime, shows  Father Congreve is a man of every moment, including our moment. Many of Father Congreve’s concerns, the wonders and beauty of creation, racial justice, aging, are concerns echoed by numerous people today. By looking at the issues of his day through a particular Christian lens, Father Congreve can help us look at our concerns today through a similar lens, and ground our concerns about creation, racial equality, and aging in the Christian doctrines of Creation and the Incarnation. The book will reward any who are not only interested in history, and the history of an Anglican monastic community in particular, but any who want to reflect deeply on the issues of our day.

James Koester SSJE, Superior, Society of St. John the Evangelist

George Congreve was a leading influence on the development and work of the Cowley Fathers, which for decades flourished as the Church of England’s pre-eminent religious community for men. Apart from his expertise in the spiritual life, he was in his own day also an acknowledged expert on pressing topics of the time, including the morality of war and overseas mission work. His reach was considerable, and he still has much to say to those with ears to hear. With this book Luke Miller has rescued from relative obscurity one of the most significant Anglican theologians of the last 150 years.

Serenhedd James, author of The Cowley Fathers

Father Congreve was a person of great spiritual significance, and he was a gifted writer who inspired commitment to the ethos of the religious life by many, within monasteries and beyond. As he said: ‘Here is the power of the life in Christ rediscovered among us, a long-forgotten spiritual force breaking out to our surprise within the Church.’ Father Luke Miller has done a great service to the Church at this time by recalling the witness and teaching of so significant an Anglican spiritual father. In the words of Father Congreve himself: ‘The rediscovery of the consecrated life of self-sacrifice brings us a steady light of hope.’

The Revd Douglas Dales, author of The Spring of Hope

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