From Our Canon Chaplain

Dear Friends and Colleagues,     

As this is the first letter I have written since my return from Scotland you might expect me to be talking about that. At this point, all I want to say is that it was an enjoyable, enriching experience that has left me wondering where I want to end my days  - NOT YET.

It is very good to be back - even if that means being in what, from over there, looks like the American turmoil.
            
Shortly after my return, I spent three days with the Commission on Ministry attending the retreat at Ignatius House for those nominated by 'PCOMS' to continue in discernment for ordination to the Vocational Diaconate or Priesthood. It was very interesting and often challenging event. During my time there I re-read parts of John O'Donohue's book ' Beauty - Rediscovering the true sources of compassion, serenity and hope.' And I would  like to share with you some thoughts deriving from the author's chapter entitled 'Reverence: A Pathway to Beauty.' I thought about this in the context of the title which ordained people are given - 'The Reverend' or some variation of it.

John O'Donohue says: "The notion of reverence is full of riches that we now need desperately.....When a priest celebrated the mass with a sense of reverence, you sensed the depth of his presence to the mystery. Though the church was full of people, he was absorbed in something that could not be seen. Ultimately, reverence is respect before mystery." - "Reverence is not to be reduced to a social posture. Reverence bestows dignity and it is only in the light of dignity that the beauty and mystery of a person will become visible. Reverence is not the stiff pious posture which remains frozen and lacks humor and play. To live with a sense of reverence is not to become a prisoner of dull piety......playfulness, humor and even a sense of the anarchic are companions of reverence because they insist on the proper proportion of the human presence in the light of the eternal. Reverence is also the companion of humility. When human hubris intrudes on or manipulates the sacred, the consequence is inevitably humiliation."
            
I confess that reading this and the rest of his chapter I found myself re-examining what my clerical appellation says of me - or expects of me. If I am to be addressed as 'Reverend' can I live into the deeper implications of this - or is it merely a label that identifies me as a member of the 'clergy': whatever that means to anyone who uses the term. In other words: am I reverend or merely 'a reverend.'
           
Worth thinking about in an age when fewer and fewer people really know what we are about.
           
In any event, I want to recommend to you this and other works by John O'Donohue.

Best wishes and blessings,
JOHN