March 1, 2013

To Learn What We Need


The recently retired Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams delivered a talk in 2012 to the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome.  In it the Archbishop argued that when the history of Christianity of this present age is written it will show how important grass roots spiritual networks like St. Mary's Sewanee are to the reforming of Christian faith and practice.  Because, Williams said, these places "offer a discipline of personal and common life that is about letting the reality of Jesus come alive in us." 

This "discipline of personal and common life" Williams says are the great Christian traditions of prayer, liturgy, art and ethics rooted in contemplative practices.  These practices are the key to the " essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom--freedom from the self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that comes from them." Williams continues, "to put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit."

St. Mary's Sewanee seeks every day to offer resources for folks seeking the spiritual tools the Christian contemplative tradition offers for transformation into human being God creates us to be.  Practices of prayer, liturgy, art, that help us live more open to the presence and action of God in ordinary life.  It is, again in the words of Rowan Williams, "to learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly."