Friday, June 30, 2006

Friday ++Rowan blogging

Since I’ve spent much of the week wishing that (truly) beloved Archbishop Rowan would do all sorts of things differently (after all, it’s incredibly easy to proclaim what ought to happen next, until you’re the one responsible for making it happen) I’m glad that during my retreat I found myself reading some words of his, originally written about the Rule of Benedict,- but applied helpfully to the vocation to parish ministry, to its necessary focus on God in the small things. They remind me of the widom of the man, and the reason I was so overjoyed when he was elevated to Canterbury...
They also make me think. Hard!.

What is useless and destructive is to imagine that enlightenment or virtue can be found in seeking for fresh stimulation. Ths pastoral life is a refusal of any view that will make human maturity before God dependent on external stimulus, “good thoughts”, good impressings, edifying influences and ideas. Instead, the pastor must learn to live with her own darkness, with the interior horror or temptation and fantasy. Salvation affects the whole of the psyche; to try to escape boredom …by searching for fresh tasks and fresh ideas is to attempt to seal off these areas from grace. Without the humiliating and wholly “unspiritual” experiences of parish life – the limited routine of trivial tasks, the sheer tedium and loneliness – there would be no way of confronting much of human nature. It is a discipline to destroy illusions. The pastor has come to the parish to escape the illusory Christian identity proposed by the world; she now has to see the roots of illusion within, in the longing to be dramatically and satisfyingly in control of (or at the centre of?) life, the old familiar imperialism of the self bolstered by the intellect.
(from The Wound of Knowledge cit Peterson p20/21)

Edit: Just realised I've not made it clear the the words in brackets (or at the centre of?) are mine and not ++Rowan's....For me, control just isn't a temptation (which is just as well...I can't even control the chaos in my own study, let alone anything else) but to be at the centre of a community, to feel myself pivotal there....ouch..yes, well....
Time to get real, methinks!

6 comments:

Mary said...

Yes, this seems exactly right even with my limited perspective (16 hours pw as Pastoral Asssistant plus other ordinand bits) and very Benedictine, but I don't understand the reference to "illusory Christian identity proposed by the world". What do you think he means?

Kathryn said...

I think it's a reference to the way that the world would like to use God...as Peterson puts it "sprinkling holy water on consumerist complacency".
But I may be completely wrong!

Fiona said...

Just seen the edit before posting so will have to think again - apologies in advance if this makes no sense at all but it's very pertinent to me even if it means nothing to you!

"Control", "in control", aaaggghhh - terms i've had to think about rather a lot. The trouble is the couple of self-confessed "control freaks" that immediately spring to my mind when I consider this point really DO seem to have their lives and "ministries" in some sort of balance, or even one might say "under control" whereas those of us who are floundering (and almost undoubtedly trying to be the centre of attention) but who are not in control of anything are the ones who may be labeled "controlling" - hmmmmmmm

Mary said...

It's a great phrase anyway....

Mary said...

Just to clarify, because I got caught out by intervening posts and edits, the great phrase I meant was "sprinkling holy water on consumerist complacency". As for control freakery, in a parish where the leadership tends heavily towards INFJ, any comment would be dynamite!

Fiona said...

Mary, just interested, can you think of many places where comments on control-freakery WOULDN'T be dynamite? (speaking here from a marriage where a tentative attempt at discussion on a very generalised level using examples from the outside world rather than anywhere near home has led to the immedaite departure of the other half into town to buy yet another electric gadget -grrrr)