A member of my parish offers reflections on his Healing Journey Daily Blog on Facebook, and I appreciate his post yesterday from Oswald Chambers reflecting on Paul’s insight into Christ and his determination to “know nothing among you except Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2).
Chambers says, “The lasting characteristic of a spiritual man is the ability to understand correctly the meaning of the Lord Jesus Christ in his life, and the ability to explain the purposes of God to others. The overruling passion of his life is Jesus Christ. Whenever you see this quality in a person, you get the feeling that he is truly a man after God’s own heart” (My Utmost for His Highest).
One of the lenses that helps me find insight into Christ is the Prayer Book pattern of orderly prayer — especially the Daily Offices — which was inspired in large part by the monastic pattern established by Benedict in the sixth century.
“Prefer nothing whatever to Christ,” says Benedict, “and may he lead us all together into everlasting life” (Rule 72). The Rule, the pattern of prayer, study, and work that Benedict established for his monks, was intended to free them from distractions and enable them to focus on worshiping God.
In a similar way, the Prayer Book pattern of Daily Offices and weekly Eucharist is intended to shape our lives and help us maintain our focus on the face of Christ in the face of a very distracting world. It doesn’t matter whether you use the Prayer Book itself or the online offices from Forward Movement or Mission St. Clare or some other daily devotional; all of them promote the same rhythmic, steady, daily approach to prayer.
If our guides are doing their work — Chambers or Benedict or the Prayer Book or any other guide — they help us understand how Christ is present in our lives right now, and they encourage us to share that insight with others.
May we prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he lead us all into everlasting life. Amen.