Book of Common Prayer, Evangelicalism, Monasticism/Neo-Monasticism, neo-monasticism, spiritual disciplines

What I’ve been reading…

Now that I’m back into the swing of things at work, after my P.O.T. residential last week, I’ve been trying to catch up with my reading. Most of it consists of other blog articles and a select list of books. In my reading, I’ve come across a site called Even from the blog title I could tell that I’d enjoy it. But one of the articles I most recently read is here. As I read, I felt like I should have been looking over my shoulder, so that no one would see me. At the same time, I felt a twinge in myself, which resonated with my own journey. One book I read a while back is Evangelical is Not Enough by Thomas Howard.  Both the article and book highlight what I’ve been feeling for quite some time. When are we as evangelicals (I can’t bring myself to capitalize it) going to see what is happening? Or have we, as Internet Monk notes, lost the plot? Are we too caught up in consumerism to separate the gospel from our inculturated, dare I say it, gospel idol? When are we going to pursue the disciplines needed to mature our own faith, let alone the faith of others?

I received an email today asking if I knew of any good confirmation courses. I could not recommend one. All the confirmation courses I’ve found are so watered down that I couldn’t recomend one. What I had to say was what about the Catechism? The previous times I’ve taught confirmation classes, which is not many, I’ve used the catechism as my basis.

When are we going to return to the disciplines which disciple and mature followers of the Way? For instance, I know that many of the evanglical anglican priests which I’ve spoken to do not hold to a literal praying of  Morning and Evening Prayer. Why not? Because, I’ve been told, it’s about spending time with God, a quiet time, rather than joining with the form and structure of Morning and Evening Prayer.

But if you read the canons about Morning and Evening Prayer, (C24 to be precise – Every priest having a cure of souls shall provide that, in the absence of reasonable hindrance, Morning and Evening Prayer daily and on appointed days the Litany shall be said in the church, or one of the churches, of which he is the minister or see C26 – Every clerk in Holy Orders is under obligation, not being let by sickness or some other urgent cause, to say daily the Morning and Evening Prayer, either privately or openly; and to celebrate the Holy Communion, or be present thereat, on all Sundays and other principal
Feast Days. He is also to be diligent in daily prayer and intercession, in examination of his conscience, and in the study of the Holy Scriptures and such other studies as pertain to his ministerial duties.
), it is to be publicly proclaimed. What ever happened to the process of saying the Office as a church? Isn’t this the reason Cranmer reduced and simplified the Office, so that we could all say it?

If we want to remove the shallow, consumer-driven, Christianity-lite, which evangelicalism has become, then a return to our heritage as Christians is needed. No matter your ‘brand’ or background this is what is needed.

Whoo…. I feel better. Read the article.


Monasticism/Neo-Monasticism, spiritual disciplines

Advent reflection from- Why We Are Waiting…

I’ve been receiving Advent updates and reflections from one site  in particular that is intriguing. It is called: Why We Are Waiting… It has been very helpful so far.

What I would particularly like to highlight is today’s Advent reflection excerpted from Abbott Christopher Jamison’s book Finding Happiness. Unfortunately, this excerpt rang true about some Christian groups I’ve been a part of in the past. Moreover, if we are to really pursue/be pursued by God then does it not stand to reason that Abbott Jamison’s suggestions would be the case? In a culture that is obsessed with physical exercise, could we not pray that we would have such devotion spiritually?

I’ve included the entire reflection below.

May Christ the Daystar continue to dawn in our hearts as we await his advent!

The interior world of human beings is a mixture of irrational and rational forces. The spiritual exercise of reason was the ancient and monastic response to this world, with daily reflection on the workings of my innermost soul; from such exercises flowed the solutions to life’s challenges and temptations. By contrast, in our culture, we are brought up without explicit and systematic spiritual formation, being informed that we can do and think what we like providing we don’t harm others. Spiritual practices such as meditation are considered purely optional extras for an eccentric few and so we are subtly led to understand that the spiritual struggle is not worth the effort.

While we want music with ‘soul’ and condemn ‘soulless’ bureaucrats, we have created a culture of spiritual carelessness that neglects the disciplined life of the soul. This state of mind is often accompanied by statements such as ‘I have not time for that sort of thing’, where having no time means both not having enough hours in the day and not having the inclination.

…A parallel can be drawn with the world of medicine. Before the discovery of germs, hygiene was not considered essential so many deaths were caused by infections that nobody could see. Once the existence of germs had been identified, physical hygiene became rigorous and lives were saved. Similarly, the cause of much unhappiness lies hidden from view but is truly present. Our demons are unseen thoughts that make us unhappy and spiritual hygiene is as necessary as medical hygiene if these diseases of the soul are to be healed. But we are a spiritually unhygienic society. While we know we must find time to brush our teeth, to visit the doctor and to take exercise, we have no such shared conviction about the need for spiritual exercises.

Finding Happiness. Pp56-57 by Abbot Christopher Jamison. Published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson

spiritual disciplines

It has been a long time

Well, it has been a long time since my last post – almost a month… Hard to believe.

Much has happened on our end of things. We’ve finally made it across the pond the somewhat sunny ole England. We are enjoying finally being here. It has been a long time coming.

Also, this past Saturday I was ordained at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Quite the experince. Photos soon to follow. Before the ordination we spent a few days on retreat. Part of the retreat was to maintain silence and ‘greater’ silence. I’ll explain.

After the first day, we were invited to maintain silence, which meant we could only talk during mealtimes. Then from Thurs. after Compline until Sat. morning @ 11 we were asked to maintain ‘greater’ silence, which meant total silence, even during meals.

What struck me during this time is who was able to maintain silence versus who was not. Interestingly it broke down into the differences between churchmanship. (I’ll let you decide who was whom) But this got me to thinking. Why are we so uncomfortable with silence? What is it about silence that makes us (me) want to fill it?

Part of it I believe is the fact that we are taught from a very early age that being silent/still is not something that we should do, except in certain situations. Even then our silence/stillness is not to sink into the presence of God, but because something external is requiring it of us. Also, the silence/stillness is perceived to be idle. And one of the ‘deadly’ sins of our time is idleness or lack of production. For when you are silent/still you are not ‘producing’ anything. You are not ‘contributing’ anything.

The other issue with silence/stillness is that we are forcing ourselves into being attentive to God. If we are attentive, we then must listen. And if we listen, we then might hear something that we don’t want to hear or be asked to do something we don’t want to do. In the end it just becomes easier to not listen in the first place.

These are just a few thoughts on our need for silence/stillness.
With all the discussion about making mature disciples of Jesus, as I look around I’m not sure we’re doing such a good job. Maybe returning to the ancient practices, such as silence/stillness, is the answer we are seeking.

Grace and Peace…

Glory to ….