If you’re like me and hit Facebook a few times a day, you’ve seen the “I Did 100 Lunges a Day for a Week and Here’s What Happened” types of posts. They’re everywhere; they usually contain something aspirational for the desk-worker set, and I find it interesting to see which of my friends shares which of the posts.
Now, I’ll admit my headline is misleading. I didn’t go to church every day for the last month. But as the Rector of an Anglo-Catholic parish, I’m at church almost daily, and saying the Offices and Mass is a huge part of my vocation. My parish schedules anywhere from one to four services, six days a week, excluding the summer months, when that scales back to three days week. So it’s safe to say that I go to church a lot.
Here’s what has happened:
Jesus has changed my life. I am, as a priest and as a man, profoundly changed. In both receiving and being the presence of the Blessed Sacrament almost daily, I am a different person than I was nine years ago.
As a seminarian, contempt was once named as my spiritual gift, and my friend was only half-joking. I have become much more patient and more tolerant of differing practices and local customs (though my bishop and colleagues might be surprised to hear that). My prayer life is better. My pastoral care is more consistent and more, for lack of a better term, caring. I’ve read more Scripture and more of Scripture than I would have on my own. I am more grateful for my vocation and for my parish. My people know that I am praying for them, that I’m available to them, and that our parish is open and available to our community.
The parish has changed as well. After re-instituting the weekday Masses, attendance at them was spotty and sometimes non-existent, outside of a server or the random seminarian. But in the last, say, seven years, only a handful of the weekday Masses have gone unattended. There’s usually only a few of us at weekday worship, but those few are faithful and joyful. There’s a community built in those Masses that couldn’t exist without them. And the fact remains that if the priest and his people join together as often as possible in worship and prayer, the parish can’t help but be healthier for it.
Let me clear that this is something that has happened to me, through the grace of God and the good people of Christ Church Bordentown. In just showing up, God has moved me to a better place. Do I still need a lot of work? Most certainly. Am I the disciple I could be? Of course not. But I know from whence change comes and how sanctification works, and that begins and proceeds in being with Christ and His people at every opportunity.
That’s what has happened. I want to thank my wife, Doan, who puts up with me. And my deepest thanks to the Rev’s J. Connor Haynes, Alan Salmon, and Tinh Huynh; without them and their work, influence, and prayer, the ministry of Christ Church would suffer.