O GOD, who hast prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass man’s understanding; Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.-Collect appointed for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity
The Lord has prepared good things for those that love Him, as has been made evident in this past year. May 4th, 2009, in the midst of a personal spiritual breaking point, I first began praying the Morning and Evening Offices. I attended my first Anglican Mass the Wednesday before Whitsunday, 2009. In July of the same year–in the season of Trinity–I attended the Anglican Way Institute (Anglicon) in Plano, Texas. While in Texas I met Nicole, whom less than a year later, became my wife.
This Trinity season marks a year of Incredible change in my life. It marks the completion of a year-long commitment to living a monastic lifestyle. Becoming a monk might not be practical for many of you, and neither was it for me. I didn’t take formal Holy Orders, but I was intentional about where I lived, and the role the local parish would have in this lifestyle. This commitment fostered not just change, but a rich fullness that I hadn’t experienced in quite a while. Coming home to the Church “Ancient” and meeting my wife were the bricks of last year. Everything else was mortar, leaving not even enough room between brick and mortar to slide a sheet of paper through. Our parish priest asked if this past year has felt like a year (observing that time often flies by when we are busy). I can answer without pause “yes”, the previous 365 days I have lived slowly in the present.
Some of the aforementioned mortar is composed of my quest to reclaim my education. This has been a tedious endeavor, breeding patience despite my impatience. God has blessed Nicole and I with a complete set of the Great Books of the Western World. We have begun to read the set, starting with the first volume The Great Conversation by Robert Hutchins. This, companioned with Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book, is proving to be a great start to the Great Books. More on self-education as time goes by.
I want to finish up this post by saying the greatest investment I have made this past year has been the implementation of a structure or rule of life that is found in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. Allowing the liturgies of Western Christianity to permeate my being and placing myself under the spiritual authority of the Church (by way of a parish priest) have been monumental in growing towards my deification. We as humans–and maybe more so as American humans–have no desire to be ruled. Ironically, we are slaves, no mater the master (sin or God).
“Who are these three persons: the shepherd, the woman, the father? Is not Christ the Shepherd, the Church the woman, and God the Father? Christ Who took upon Himself your sins bears you upon His own Body; the Church searches for you; the Father receives you back. As a shepherd He brings us back, as a mother He looks for us, as a father He clothes us. First, mercy, second, intercession, third, reconciliation; each to each; the Redeemer comes to our aid, the Church intercedes for us, the Creator restores us to Himself. It is the same divine mercy in each operation; but grace varies according to our merits.”
-From St Ambrose’s sermon on St. Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 15