There is a common theme with my Sunday messages; they are not consistent to any lectionary schedule only to a situation that is in my mind at the time I begin to commit these words to print.
Each week I am confronted with the details of life, this confrontation of the week varies from very mild and relaxing, to intense. This is the nature of life and this is what awaits all of us in one form or another week to week.
This week I was confronted with something that I felt I needed to speak on. Arrogance. Namely, arrogance in the guise of Spiritual Leadership.
The issue of the moment, where arrogance plays such a regressive part is unfortunately, In many ways found in the work of Spiritual Leadership.
We often forget, due to our titles, our place in front of the Altar, or in some protestant circles, the Pulpit, that we are to remember that we are the Servant. When someone comes to you with curiosity, with questions, do not do yourself or that individual the disservice to throw arrogance around as some badge of certainty of your message. You have been tasked to serve that individual, to meet them at the crossroads at the level of ground that they are walking.
You are never to look down upon the needs of those whom you serve. If you see behavior that is counterproductive, that is in some way destructive to the spirit of that person, then you must express that concern with Love and consideration. All the while, do not become so thin skinned that you overlook the major battles a person may be facing and focus on issues about a person that are of no real spiritual consequence.
Remember that we must seek to eliminate pain and suffering, to ease hearts and help combat fear. We are to give hope to the hopeless! Not badger humans for trying to make it through this world in one piece!!!
I was the officiating Priest at a wedding the other day, afterward I came across a group of Pentecostal missionaries. The wedding happened to be outside at a national Forest, a very beautiful day, but very hot. As the Pastor of the community saw me walking down the hill toward my car I nodded at him in recognition. He said, “I have had countless weddings in this park, it is beautiful.” I agreed. I noticed that he was concentrating on my collar and asked me What my “Rate of return” was. I asked him to clarify as I was unsure what he was talking about. He responded, “Well I don’t know if it is me or what but when I marry, I marry people for good.” He then narrowed his eyes and said, “so tell me, what about you.”
I replied to him that I do not marry people. He gave me a quizzical look, so I continued, “I am only a servant for the moment, the marriage, as all things, comes ultimately from God, I do my part to represent that spiritual reality here on earth for the people present. I am a vessel for the Sacrament to be properly transferred but I have no original hand in its creation, which belongs to the Divine only.
The Pastor laughed and said, “Well I think we have something to do with it.”
This illustrates the most basic problem in modern times with the leadership of the Church, of any church. We allow our Ego to convince us of a reality that is fiction; the false notion that we are of some grand importance. We think that like some kind of mythological wizard, we wield some power to control the forces that we in truth are only subjects of.
We must remember that we are funnels, albeit our roles are critical and in a way, it is not wrong to be proud of the part you are allowed to play in the divine theater, but we must remember, we must always remember who and what we truly are.
For those of us ordained into the Liturgical, Sacramental world, we must always remember that we are firstly Deacons, then we are Priests and then some are called to be Bishops, but always deacons first, we always begin and remain the servant of the Widow and orphan, the lost and those in pain. Becoming a Priest is an addition of responsibility, not a replacement of it. The obligations and the object of my service as a Deacon does not differ now that I am a Priest.
In fact I am an Arch Priest in my church, this is a title given to me in recognition of my work, it is an honor but it is not a rank to be wielded like some kind of level in a video game because ultimately, I am a flawed person, who is also trying to make it through in one piece. Because I am, I can meet you where you are, because we are all on our eternal pilgrimage.
Humility must be the cornerstone of service to people. It is in the deep wisdom of notable saints such as St. Meinrad, or St. Francis of Assisi that we find not only the requirement of personal humility, but of also of humble service and service in fidelity with the Holy Spirit and with the loving care of the Queen of Heaven, the ever virgin Mary who is the Mother of us all.
If we meet the person at the place of love, if we serve in the spirit and by the example of the Compassion of Jesus Christ, then we begin to take the steps on the right path for our calling.
We are Servants and in that service we find Life.
In service to you and to the Logos,
Msgr. Meinrad, n/OSC – Priory of the Rose Cross