Ordinary Time 24 – Tuesday
Thought provoking article on whether the view that we “hang out with Jesus” is in effect dumbing-down and turning the church into a sort of corporate monster. By Michael Spencer, respected blogger and otherwise known as “The Internet Monk”. Hilarious in parts. I love it.
Also, Fr. Peter Matthews from St. Patrick’s Anglican Church in Lexington, KY has put out his first podcast on Infant Baptism and some theological and biblical reasons as to why it is sound for us to practice it.
Also, another thing I’m curious to see is the upcoming ESV Study Bible. Personally, I find it to be a better translation first of all than the NIV (then again, it is essentially a revised-Revised Standard Version and I am rather partial to the RSV and NRSV) but the study notes in it will be very much evangelical in character. Plus, the design of the study Bible itself is rather handsome and 8 different bindings to begin with, including bonded leather (*yawn*), genuine leather (*now that’s what fine binding is*) and calfskin (*eek, a truly worthy binding for the Word of God*).
Things I’m currently reading or re-reading:
- George Wiegel, Witness To Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II
- Jack Bernard, How To Become A Saint: A Beginner’s Guide
- Saint Augustine, Confessions
- John R. Willis (SJ), The Teachings of the Church Fathers
- Job, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy & Titus (those are the books in the Bible)
The past weekend was a tough one for me mentally. I’m suffering from a severe lack of sleep and some stronger than usual bouts of loneliness and self-worthlessness. Quite frankly, I’m thankful to God that I even managed to survive Sunday without collapsing on the stage at church while song-leading given that the night before, I only really got about 2.5-3 hours of sleep. And in the 2.5 or so hours that I was awake, lying in bed, I spent most of it crying as I tried to get back to sleep.
I found that in that time of rather intense emotion, I ended up praying mainly introductory antiphons from the Divine Office (e.g. “O God come to my assistance / O Lord, make haste to help me”) as well as my “Benedictine” Confiteor (“I confess to Almighty God that I have sinned through my own fault; in my thoughts, in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do. And I ask Blessed Mary, ever-virgin, St. Joseph, St. Michael, St. John the Baptist, Holy Apostles Sts. Peter and Paul, St. Benedict, St. Scholastica, St. Anselm and all the saints of the Church in heaven to pray with me to Almighty God through Christ for forgiveness of my sins, both mortal and non-mortal, and for Almighty God’s strength and grace to be a faithful witness of Christ in the world as a member of Christ’s Church here on earth.”) As well as a few choice words/phrases when it seemed to be getting all too much to bear.
There’s a gut reaction that my prayers for discernment of vocation are being answered through times like this. That the suffering (which is by no means as bad as what others have to go through) I am experiencing on the mental, conscious and existential level is in some way, shape and form a pointer for me. That in this suffering, I am being drawn to Christ who also experienced similar mental anguish when praying in the Garden of Gethesemane on doing His Father’s will rather than His own prior to his bloody torture, crucifixion and death. This is by no means “hanging out with Jesus”. It is “suffering with Jesus” and the bringing of all of my anxieties and insecurities to the foot of the cross where the One who gave his life for mine hung.
If this call to priestly vocation (in Protestant speak: to become a minister/pastor) remains present, this will only be the beginning of a lifelong struggle and process whereby I identify with and continually aim to be like Christ: as a shepherd who is willing to freely and sacrifically lay down his life for the good of his Master’s flock.
This is all leading to a decision about where my “place” will be in the Christian family (in particular within the “Western” side of the Church). It sounds like a broken record playing at the moment as I’m writing this. There is so much about the Roman Catholic Church that I love doctrinally, philosophically and theologically. But at the same time there is much that I strongly disagree with (though in the Eastern Catholic realm, those disagreements are greatly reduced). There is also much that I love about the Methodist church too; I have after all been in it for the majority of my life. The Evangelical aspect, I love. But doctrinally, there is a lot that seems to be missing or inadequate in light of the antiquity of the Church’s sacred tradition and Church history. But ultimately, I am an Anglican at heart. An Evangelical Anglo-Catholic to be more precise. One who treats Word and Sacrament as comprising the fullness and beauty of Christian worship which is something that should be celebrated as often as possible and that doctrinally, philosophically and theologically embraces the best of Catholicism, Protestantism and increasingly now, Eastern Orthodoxy.
This may mean that this anguish and sadness I feel now is also related to that decision that I will have to make sooner or later if I am to be faithful to Christ and His Church on whether there is a place for me to remain where I am now or to sadly bid farewell in Christian love and affection. It is an anguish that I wish upon no-one else. And for which I rest entirely, utterly and completely on God for relief and true guidance. I entrust myself to God and your prayers for me, folks.
+ Pax Christi,