Vocations 2: The Book of Common Prayer and Work (Pt 2)

Vocations 2: The Book of Common Prayer and Work (Pt 2)

In the first part of our discussion on the Book of Common Prayer and work, we discussed the prayer “For Every Man in his Work,” how our work reflects God’s glory, how the Fall corrupted our work, and how our work is redeemed through Christ and his sacrifice.  Today we will discuss a second passage, with one more to follow.

Read our Introduction to Vocations (Vocations 1) here
Read part one of the BCP and Work (Vocations 2) here

 

Catechesis and Our Bounden Duty

The next of our three passages is the shortest: the description of our “bounden duty” found in the Second Office of Instruction. Our Prayer Book includes two Offices of Instruction, meant for parents and ministers to catechize (that is, instruct in the basic Christian principles) the children of the parish. The First Office (pp. 283-289) mirrors the traditional Anglican Catechism, and is designed to teach the basic beliefs necessary for a person to be Confirmed by the bishop. The Second Office (pp. 290-295) fleshes out the First Office and gives supplementary teaching, especially with regard to basic Sacramental Theology.  In discussing what it means to be a member of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, the catechumen is asked:

Question: What is your bounden duty as a member of the Church?

Answer: My bounden duty is to follow Christ, to worship God every Sunday in his Church; and to work and pray and give for the spread of his kingdom (p. 291, emphasis added). 

The phrase “bounden duty” should be familiar to anyone who has been regularly attending Mass on Sunday morning, as it pops up in the Eucharistic Prayer where we ask the Father to accept our “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” and we offer and present to Him “our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice” through Jesus’ merits. That is, fully admitting that we are “unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto [Him] any sacrifice,” we respond to Christ’s once-offered “full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice” by offering ourselves up to God in praise and thanksgiving (see pp. 80-81).

But how does this relate to the “bounden duty” we find in the Second Office of Instruction? This may be surprising, but this office brings our work, prayer, and giving into the praise and thanksgiving we talk about at Mass.  That is, our praise and thanksgiving isn’t limited to gathering for Mass with our brothers and sisters in Christ, but it extends to our daily work, daily prayer, and to our giving for the Kingdom.  Furthermore, it shows that our daily sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving through our daily work, prayer, and giving all contribute to God answering our prayer, “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” In other words, God uses our work, prayers, and giving as the means by which he advances his Kingdom, in this fallen and broken world, even as we look forward to the day when he will fully establish his Kingdom in the new heavens and new earth at the Resurrection of the Dead.

 

The Pure Milk of the Word

The fact that this shows up in our Offices of Instruction indicates that it is really a basic teaching of the Church; this is milk teaching, not meat.  Unfortunately, we have been so used to creating compartmentalized lives where we make strict boundaries between our “Church lives” and our “work lives” and our “home lives” that we often fail to see how the Gospel impacts our whole selves. This shows up in the tendency to think of some work as “holy” or “godly” simply because it is specifically related to Church or religion, while other work is “secular” or “mundane.” The truth is that the Gospel sanctifies (that is, sets apart or makes holy) all of our vocational work that is done “in truth, in beauty, and in righteousness, with singleness of heart as [God’s] servants, and to the benefit of our fellow men” (see our previous blog post). Living out this bounden duty, then, is part of who we are as Christians, and is not something extra and arduous for only professional ministers or “super-Christians” (as if there were such a thing!).

One further thing: the importance of being catechized and in catechizing others. One of the reasons we have so many lazy and rebellious Christians is that we are reaping several decades of poor catechesis in much of the Church. We’ve been so interested in making converts that we have often failed to raise those converts into disciples. Discipleship begins with catechesis. We can never grow to maturity without starting at the beginning. From there we grow into lifelong discipleship and serious spiritual formation. This takes place in the local parish and in the family (which has often been traditionally called the “domestic church”). We can never grow into our vocational calling as mature Christians if we are not willing to do what it takes to grow up in the faith. That is why we hold Salt & Light classes (our catechesis crash-course) a couple times a year. And we have various opportunities for discipleship every week. It’s the rare Christian that will grow up by himself or herself; we need each other, and we need discipleship. For those of us who are parents, godparents, or teachers, we also need to pass the faith along by catechizing those under our care.  That is one of the most important vocational callings that comes with being a parent, godparent, or teacher.  If you don’t know where to start, come talk to Fr. Chip, Dcn Marcus, your vestry members, or I. We’ll help you out; that’s why we’re here.

 

 

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