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August 28, 2008


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prayer beads
making the sign of the Cross
kneeling for prayer

All of the practices you list are used by one or more of the following denominations: Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Eastern Orthodox churches. I can't speak for the non-denoms; the ones I am familiar with threw everything on the list out but the Bible.

Good stuff, I can not think of much more, but I am sure that I will.

What I notice with a lot of the things you list is that they bring a sense of rhythm to us personally, and to the calendar. So often as evangelicals (and some non evangelicals to be fair) we forsake things that keep us at a certain pace for the bigger better faster and flashier things. We need to repent of it and I think using some of these things will help.

Good additions to the list. Thanks!
"threw everything on the list out but the Bible" -- So sad. So true.


Good thoughts. I think you're right about our preoccupation with "bigger, better, faster, and flashier." We're probably addicted to change, don't you think?

- Chris

Change is good when it brings balance and focus. You are right that we are addicted to change for changes sake I think. With the hyper entertainment culture we live in today we can not stay focused on something for very long, and therefore we go on to what looks bigger and better and forget the last program or discipline in no time.

It takes work to slow down, focus, see the divine rhythm and let God speak to us in the silence. I think this is why sabbath is so important.

Ahh Chris, you are on the slippery slope now. :)
I think all of these things are rightly called catholic in that they are practices that are "in accord with the whole"- katholicos.
I think the problem is that most people still equate Catholic with "Roman". I think that anyone who does the things listed is a more "universal" christian, one who practices what most christians have practiced through out time. These things are more mainstream - when considered across the contimuum of time, than those protestant traditions that do not.

I also agree that many have adopted these practices too quickly, essentially divorcing them from their native "economies". When approached like that they are shadows of what they truly are since they are not practiced within the context of a larger economy of spirituality.

Carl, you said:

"It takes work to slow down, focus, see the divine rhythm and let God speak to us in the silence. I think this is why sabbath is so important."

I'm not sure if I could agree with you more. My hunch is that our greedy, affluent, individualistic culture has encouraged us to seize whatever we can to spend on ourselves... including the day of the Lord. :(

Fr. Matt,

The widespread misunderstanding over what is Catholic vs. Roman-Catholic is a source of ongoing frustration and inconvenience. The damage done by many years of Roman Catholic bashing has left a nasty stain on the Evangelical church (and others, I suppose)that just doesn't go away with with a simple washing. Despite this, I am confident that there is nothing the blood of Christ cannot eventually cleanse the Church of. I often remember this when serving the Eucharist.

Your observations/warnings about divorcing our ancient faith practices from their contexts are ones that evangelicals in particular need to hear over and over, until we "get it." In my own congregation, that "larger context" needed to unfold gradually, accompanied by patient teaching and explanation. Years down the road now, I'm more convinced than ever of the incalculable value of catechism.



i agree with comment #1 and would like to add that Anglicans practice all of those: prayer beads, sign of the cross, and kneeling.

We might also add chanting, religious orders/monastic communities as well since these are found in Anglicanism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and in Ecumenical settings (such as the monastery at Taize). And maybe in high church Lutheranism (neo-lutheranism) as well, I'm not sure.

Also, respect for/use of the great saints in teaching examples (the Book of Common Prayer [1979] is full of useful prayers of thanksgiving for the major Biblical and canonical saints).

I think those of us who are trying to recover catholicity (though not necessarily Catholicism) in evangelical/protestant contexts should try to re-claim the word "catholic" itself since for so many (especially here in Louisiana) - that is only understood as the name of a denomination (the one true denomination for many).

Good additions. Thanks! And by the way, I'm with you on re-claiming the word "catholic."


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