As the liturgical life of the Church is tantamount to experiencing the beatific vision in the here-and-now, I vow to make congregational worship an intrinsic and defining part of my life. Gathering to worship with other Christians is to be a weekly exercise, missed only due to emergency situations. Because my tradition celebrates the Eucharist weekly, I will prepare myself to encounter Jesus in the elements, submitting to all the consequences therein. Furthermore, daily interaction with Scripture, specifically a three-fold reflection on the Psalms, an Old Testament text, and a New Testament text, will give shape to my life and guide my worship and imitation of Jesus Christ.
I vow to adhere my prayer life to the Divine Office, rising by 6am to welcome the day with Lauds, and welcoming rest and relaxation with Compline. If schedule permits, I will seek to stop, reflect, and pray at noon. These times of prayer will be dedicated to worshipping the living God, as well as allowing my prayer life to be shaped and formed by years of Christian tradition. Prior to Lauds, I will spend 20 minutes in silent reflection and meditation, pausing before the Ground of Being. Twice yearly, I shall seek out extended times of retreat, that I may be renewed and restored in my spirituality. Once weekly, I will fast from lunch, dedicating time to extended interaction with God through prayer.
Prior to Compline, I will offer prayers of confession, taking care to be honest before God that I might in turn have a clean conscience, so far as it depends on me to remember and confess my sins. As well as confessing sins of the appetitive and spiritual nature, I will seek to take inventory of the ways in which my behaviors and habits oppress others, and oppress creation. Once confessed, I will seek to correct my behavior and leave behind that which doesn’t uplift, or bring glory to God. Speaking specifically to materialism and greed, I vow to take inventory of my spending, that I might see the ways in which my spending is frivolous or gluttonous. I will submit my spending habits to my wife and my accountability partner and/or spiritual director, that they in turn might speak words of hope to me when I myself am not able to pull away from materialism. If indeed my lustful appetite shall cause me to stumble, I vow to make a blunt and honest confession to my wife, who with God is slighted and offended by such sins. Understanding that I am daily in need of conversion, in ways spiritual, psychological, and intellectual, I vow to engage in sustained confession and accountability with a close friend who knows me well and is able to speak life to me in times of distress or failure.
Being that I am a minister, I vow to refuse idleness, and seek to glorify God through the dedication to the hospital in which I work. When ‘on duty’, if I find myself drifting into idleness, I shall put myself to study, reading articles or books that will enrich my theological worldview or my imagination. To continually enrich my intellect and my capacity to think critically and theologically, I shall attempt to read one book a week. If this goal cannot be met, I will at least read daily in such a way as to be enriched and illuminated. Topics that I shall focus extensively on are as follows:
-Ancient Christian practices and ways to utilize them in a modern context
-Theological reflection on sexuality and the body
-Theories of cognitive development and social theory
-Theological language and its ability to shape imagination
-Eschatology and its bearing upon the present order
-Hermeneutics and the Scriptural narrative
To live simply in a complex world is a prophetic act, but we are called to no less. Simplicity is not found only in choices made, but in the vision to which we adhere our lives. Thus, I vow to cultivate a spirit of simplicity in all I do. Two areas of focus for me are image and sustenance. I will avoid adorning my body with expensive clothes or jewelry, knowing that the body as the ‘temple of God’ needs nothing else to be beautiful. In my eating habits, I will seek to eat enough to live, without wasting or wanting beyond my need. These, and other avenues, will be ways in which I live a simple life, modeled after Francis, rooted in Jesus of Nazareth. As with simplicity, all that I do shall be rooted in peace. I commit to living gently in a violent world, treating all human persons, hostile or humble, with the respect and dignity afforded to them by their Creator. Knowing that conflict is an unavoidable part of life, I commit to non-violent conflict resolution, both physically and psychologically. Neither coercion nor manipulation will be the tools I use to end conflict. Only the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ will mark my attempts at resolution and reconciliation. Appreciating creation through dedicated times of enjoying nature will be a normal, weekly part of my life. Running through these vows is the commitment to full and total respect of creation. In all times and places, and in every interaction with another person or part of creation, I commit to ‘being there’, refusing distraction and allowing myself the space to slow down and share in the lives of others and the life of creation.
The mission of my life shall be nothing less than prophetically witnessing to the liberating power of Jesus of Nazareth in every facet of life, both individual and social. As Francis was committed to a life of poverty, emulating the One who became poor for us, I shall seek to witness to the power and privilege of the world by reminding them that “God has chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom.” By refusing to allow class and social convention to divide the Church, I will minister along side of the poor, seeking to learn from them as well as seeking just and equal treatment for them. As a minister, I will strive, without fail, to remind those around me that the poor one from Nazareth is found most clearly in the midst of the poor of the world. By respecting those whom the world has cast out, we align ourselves with a God who, tradition tells us, has had very little toleration for oppression and injustice. However, we must do this without objectifying the poor or glorifying their poverty. We must respect their full personhood insofar as we seek to learn from them what it means to be truly human in a materialistic and oppressive world.
One cannot seek simplicity and peace without cultivating a spirit of humility. Thus, by respecting creation, by seeking peace with all people, and by ridding myself of rampant materialism, I vow to cultivate humility and generosity in all aspects of my life, beginning with my wife, and extending even to those I find myself opposing. Such a life of honest and deep humility is not easy, and will necessitate constant confession. In order to engender humility, I commit to taking inventory of the moments I have acted out of pride, anger, and impatience. I will regularly confess these to my accountability partner, who will have free reign to ask me about every aspect of my life. I will submit to his inquisitiveness, hiding nothing and divulging everything in my right to divulge. Once I am relating to a spiritual director, I will submit to his wisdom, and will seek his counsel about matters of prayer, spirituality, and mission. In all things, I will affirm my need for the wisdom of others, and will refuse the false narrative of self-sufficiency.
My wife is in inextricable part of myself. Thus, my life, and its mission, cannot be lived in abstraction from hers. I will seek to love her without reservation, respecting her personhood and her ability to relate to God and understand God’s will for her life and our life together. She shall be my companion, and I hers. My fidelity to her begins in my thoughts, and extends into all aspects of my life, be they financial, ecclesial, or social. My commitment to the local congregation I worship in shall be total and without reservation. I will seek to be shaped by them, as well as to shape them into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Weekly worshipping with them, and daily praying for them, will be ways in which my commitment to them is expressed.