Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Our Bounden Duty

Father DeHart and a parishioner at St. Mary's

The following is a column from
The Angelus, the newsletter of St. Mary's Anglican Catholic Church in Akron, Ohio. The rector of St. Mary's is a very dear friend and fellow servant of Christ in the priestly office, the venerable Rev. Fr. Joe DeHart. With permission, this is his "Information Bits" column from June 2009, Volume XXXI Issue 6:

There is a danger that can creep into parishes when things in general are going smoothly. The issues that that can cause division and strife within the parish family such as financial instability and large debt loads; dissension within vestries or amongst parishioners; tension between the clergy and parishioners and between choir members; major liturgical changes; ambiguous theology, sermons and homilies; and "party spirit".

All of these issues and more can and do cause havoc within parishes. Many of St. Paul's epistles address these same causes of dissension. But what dangers exist where none of the "usual suspects" are present, where life within a parish is nearly serene and strife-free? Where the clergy are not crazy (or at least not certifiable), the finances, liturgy, etc. are all stable? The danger is the spirit of the lackadaisical, the drowsy, the lack of zeal, the sluggish, etc. All's well, so let us sit back and relax, so to speak.

A few clergy of my acquaintance past and present initiate building projects and other like activities to keep everyone "pumped up." However, spending church funds and starting new programs in order to revive a parish's spirituality flies in the face of true Christian spirituality! What more could anyone possibly need to prompt one's zeal than the fact that God the Son became one of us to save us, and to provide us detailed instructions as to how we are to respond to His boundless love?

It is a great error to think that a particular parish will always be there! Many Catholic, Episcopal, and other churches have recently closed down, 50+ Roman churches in this area alone! Many of our regularly attending parishioners travel great distances to worship at St. Mary's and they are all very busy people. Others overcome physical pain in order to obey the Office of Instruction response to the question: "What is your bounden duty as a member of the Church?" Answer: "My bounden duty is to follow Christ, to worship God every Sunday in His Church, and to work and pray and give for the spread of His kingdom" (BCP 291).

No ambiguity in that question and answer!

One of the easiest habits to break is the godly habit of putting Christ and His Church first! Of course, the enemy of souls does not want us near our Lord! All must ask themselves now, or at the Last Judgment, "What have I thought preferable rather than obeying our Lord?"

No comments: