Getting Our Priorities Straight  

Posted by Joe Rawls

The following comment by Fr John-Julian of the Order of Julian of Norwich (a small Anglican religious order) appeared October 22, 2007 in Derek Olsen's excellent site Haligweorc. I'm reproducing it here almost in full because I think it can stand being read, marked, and inwardly digested by the Marys and Marthas of the church--especially the Marthas, who tend to control the institutional aspects of it. Take it away, Father:

I went into my last parish with the commitment that I would place sacramental ministry (including its quality, nature, and frequency) in absolute primary place; secondly, I would preach/teach solid history, theology, and prayer--in the pulpit and in adult forums. I would refuse to promote other projects or programs of social service or justice or "mission" (including those of the diocese or the national church--and I filled the circular file with a whole lot of brochures).

Attendance almost doubled in 18 months! Pledges more than doubled. A ten-year loan was paid off in two years.

It took a little less than two years of this kind of focussed ministry before the questions started to be asked: "Shouldn't we be doing some kind of outreach ministry? Is there some way we can apply the Gospel to the community outside our parish? Could we undertake support for a missionary? (etc)".

It was on-the-ground proof of my conviction that deepening spirituality and theological learning will automatically produce a concern for social justice and action. (And my second conviction is that primary emphasis on good works does not tend to produce deepening spirituality and/or learning).

I know this position is considered heretical by many, but for me there really is a cause-effect paradigm here...True spiritual development will eventually not ALLOW one to ignore the social justice needs.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 at Tuesday, October 23, 2007 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

4 comments

And here Fr John-Julian, you and I agree entirely.

October 24, 2007 at 4:23 AM

The Apostle Paul would agree also. Paul's "law of faith" (Romans 3:27) speaks of cooperaton of our will with the will of God. How can we cooperate with God's will if we have not been taught what it is?

Too many programs in churches encourage dead works. "Dead works" are seemingly good acts done to glorify self or the local church's status in the communinty. But "living works" are divinely inspired and bring glory to God alone.

October 25, 2007 at 4:33 PM

I realize that this post is five years old right now, and the odds that you'll see this comment are next to nil.

I don't care.

YES. THIS. SO VERY MUCH. That is all.

February 21, 2013 at 4:25 PM

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