"Cloistered in Simplicity"

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Christ The Sower Stained Glass

Nicholas Ferrar and George Herbert shared the conviction that a life of regular corporate prayer and close spiritual fellowship is the calling not just of monks, nuns and priests—religious specialists—but of all Christian people, whatever their station and in whatever circumstances they live. Long before either of these men formed their visionary communities in the 1620’s, another visionary, St. Benedict of Nursia, founded a community and wrote a rule, a letter of instruction, outlining his ‘little way’ of practicing simplicity and holiness some 1,000 years before.

To say that Benedictine spirituality has had a profound impact on the British Isles is probably an understatement. The way of St. Benedict influenced the early Reformers with its ecumenicism, its simplicity and its emphasis on the ordinary. Among Christian spiritualities, the Benedictine is perhaps the lest spectacular. It is down to earth, not dramatic, with a very modest measure of spiritual guidance, not directed toward ‘interesting’ experiences of enlightenment or ardent moments of conversion.’ Thomas Merton wrote, “that concern with doing ordinary things quietly and perfectly for the glory of God is the beauty of the pure Benedictine life.”

In Benedictine spirituality we do all things for the greater glory of God, by seeking to do all things prayerfully, attentively, and with a quiet mind. Doing the dishes requires just as much care and attention as worship on Sunday. It is this charism, this spirit of attending to ordinary details with extra-ordinary attention and care, that is at the heart of the Little Gidding spiritual journey and the rule of the Community.

A rule is simply a guide, an outline if you will, that enables us to better live by the Scriptures and share in the fellowship of the Church. It helps us to be open to the working of the Holy Spirit, to each other and to the needs of those around us.

The vows of our Community are Benedict’s:

STABILITY
sta-'bil-i-ty noun 1 : the quality, state or degree of being stable as: a : the strength to stand and endure : FIRMNESS b : the property of a body that causes it when disturbed from a pattern or equilibrium to develop forces to restore the original condition c : resistence to chemical change or to physical disintegration.

Stability does not allow us to run away from where we are, who we are and what we are called to do in this moment. Stability forces us to stand our ground and fight the good fight right here, right now, and with all of the grace that God graciously offers us. It is the commitment to remain committed, to respond to whoever and whatever legitimately demands our time and attention, regardless of personal feelings or convenience. It is the statement which reads, ‘Here I stand. Here I remain. Here I will not be moved: I will be present in this moment, one to the next, aware of myself, my environment and my commitments.
Stability urges us to fight the tendency to surrender to meaningless daydreaming and wishful thinking. It grounds us in the moment, serving God where we are, with what we have, by doing the ordinary things we do every day, intentionally and thoughtfully, for his greater glory and our own conversion. It binds us to our Community and our Lord, without equivocation or apology.

OBEDIENCE
o-'be-di-ence noun 1 a : an act or instance of obeying; b : : the quality or state of being obedient.
o-'be-di-ent adj 1 a : submission to the restraint or command of authority; b : submission to the control of another.

The modern word obedience is derived from a word which meant ‘to hear’ or ‘to listen.’ Obedience then is not about blindly following orders or simply doing what you’re told. In fact the Prologue of St. Benedict’s rule is this: ‘Listen, my son, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart. Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father’s advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.
Obedience is not the end of personal freedom, but the beginning of personal liberation—it liberates us from the tyranny of the capital ‘I’ and requires that we orient ourselves to who or what has something to say to us. Obedience is allowing others to tell us something, being willing to listen to advice, and giving up our own conceit, as difficult as that is. In the practice of obedience we hear what is being said to us, we respond willingly and readily to what we’ve heard, and we do so in a spirit of humility and good humor. This can entail doing what we’re told; not with an attitude of blind submission, but instead with charity, consideration and respect.

CONVERSION
con-'ver-sion noun 1 : the act of turning around, transforming : the process of being changed; 6 : something changed from one use to another.

Conversion is about openness to change and the demands of spiritual growth. Conversion is allegiance to the demands of the gospel to ‘be ye therefore perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.’ Conversion calls us to respond to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit and surrender who we are for who he is helping us become. Conversion calls upon us to use our time intentionally and wisely and well; to consider our beginnings and endings. We are called in conversion to order our days so that we might gain all that the Lord has planned for us: this includes work, study, prayer, leisure, ministry, rest, and all the gifts of an ordered, ordinary Christian life.
Conversion challenges us to order our days so that we might open our hearts. Conversion asks that we consider our choices and choose that which produces simplicity and growth. It calls us on to be what we were not, and to become who we were not, so that we might more perfectly grow from grace to grace.

SIMPLICITY is the watchword of our order and our rule. As we often say, we are cloistered in simplicity. In many orders the monastery wall create a cloister, a closed area safe from the outside, a place where holiness is kept in and worldly distractions are kept outside. For us, simplicity is that cloister. It is our mantle, our wall and our habit. In simplicity we order our lives and our worship, our relationships and commitments, our work and our play.
Simplicity for us is more than a watchword, it is a lifestyle. We keep vows of stability, conversion of manners and obedience. We commit ourselves to Daily Prayer, Communion, Covenant, Stewardship, Reconciliation, and Ministry. We stive to do all these things simply, purposefully, faithfully, and with good will.



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This page last updated on 22-oct-2016


Community of Christ the Sower
Yreka, California
Rev'd Chris Enda-Luke CCS, Superior
vicar@stmarymagdalenes.org
530.643.0858




Related Links
Anglican Church in North America
Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA)
St. Mary Magdalene's Church, Yreka
Anglican Prayer Beads ~ Anglican Rosary
Hymn Organ Accompaniment CDs

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