Shepherd’s Care: Ancient Vigil

We’ve spent five weeks looking at “The Downard Spiral”—the journey from vitality to anxiety, which can overtake those of us in spiritual leadership.  I thought it would be good for us to see that this tendency is not new.  In the following reading, St. Boniface confesses that he could easily “abandon ship,” yet he cannot….

In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course….I would gladly give up the task of guiding the Church which I have accepted if I could find such an action warranted by the example of the fathers or by holy Scripture. But I cannot.

Since this is the case, and since the truth can be assaulted but never defeated or falsified, with our tired mind let us turn to the words of Solomon: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own prudence….Let us stand fast in what is right and prepare our souls for trial. Let us wait upon God’s strengthening aid and say to him: O Lord, you have been our refuge in all generations.

Let us trust in him who has placed this burden upon us. What we ourselves cannot bear let us bear with the help of Christ. For he is all-powerful and he tells us: My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Let us continue the fight on the day of the Lord. The days of anguish and of tribulation have overtaken us; if God so wills, let us die for the holy laws of our fathers, so that we may deserve to obtain an eternal inheritance with them.

Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf. Instead let us be careful shepherds watching over Christ’s flock. Let us preach the whole of God’s plan to the powerful and to the humble, to rich and to poor, to men of every rank and age, as far as God gives us the strength, in season and out of season, as Saint Gregory writes in his book of Pastoral Instruction.

About jstevenharper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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One Response to Shepherd’s Care: Ancient Vigil

  1. Fr. Rob Goodridge says:

    This has been an absolutely outstanding series. Not only is it deeply rooted, it is practical. As I am challenged by questionable decisions in my church, it is refreshing to see that this is nothing new. Reading Boniface’s assessment and his reasons for staying the course are both comforting and encouraging.

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