Susan Haynes

Infusing Prayer

By: The Rev. Susan B. Haynes

" ‘We believe that the divine presence is everywhere and that in every place the eyes of the Lord are watching' (Proverbs 15:3, 19.1 -- Rule of St. Benedict). This sense of the constant presence of God is something which St. Benedict is anxious that we should never forget. God's gaze is fixed on us, our thoughts and actions lie totally open to his view, we are always seen everywhere in God's sight (Rule of St. Benedict -- 7.10-13.) Our awareness of God's presence must be the ever immediate reality which underpins everything else. How amazingly uncomplicated St. Benedict makes the way to God. It is totally demanding but it is not out of reach." (Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict, Esther de Waal)

While traveling back and forth to South Carolina over the holidays, I read the book cited above. The author underscores St. Benedict's exhortation that praying can never be set apart from the rest of life, because prayer is life itself. Monks did not take a vow of prayer, be-cause it was assumed that their whole life would be undergirded, infused with constant prayer. Prayer was understood to be the Opus Dei, the work of God, and nothing was to be preferred to it. Love, of course, was most important; but prayer, particularly praying the Divine Office, was thought to be the most excellent witness to the community's love of Christ. Human love asks for time and attention in order to be cultivated, and as humans we come to love someone as we come to know that person. The same is true in our relationship with God. Love of Him calls for time and attention to Him, and we come to love Him as we come to know Him in prayer.

The beginning of prayer is a dialogue...we begin by entering a dialogue with God. Our first task in this dialogue is to be silent. In this silence, we are watching, waiting and listening. And then we respond, both corporately and personally. Our times of prayer should also be rich with Scripture...prayerful reading of Scripture. The fruit of our prayer should be the realization that God is present everywhere, constantly keeping us in His sight, constantly moving in our lives and attentive to us.

God desires conversation with us...and prayer is the beginning. St. Paul's has a strong tradition of prayer, its walls having received the voices of countless thousands of Christians over the last two centuries.  In January, we held an Adult Education Series about prayer led by Bishop Francis Gray.  He helped us reflect about prayer, sharing some of his own experiences and sharing suggestions for strengthening our prayer lives.

What is Your Apostolate?

By: The Rev. Susan B. Haynes

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)

Everyone likes to talk about the Mission of the church. We all want to be more missional. We are in fact commanded, as in the Scripture above, to find ways to preach the Gospel everywhere we go. Many of us feel ill equipped to do so. Where do we find the wherewithal to become evangelists?

We come to church on Sunday morning and sometimes during the week too, because we desire renewal and strength. Our life of worship at St. Paul's is something we do out of a commitment to stability and a desire to be obedient. In this weekly observance, we are renewed then to go out again into the world to exercise our various ministries.

Our life in the world is not and should not be compartmentalized from our life in the Church. The way we exercise our Baptismal vows in the world is actually an extension of the ministry of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. And so it's a cycle, renewal in the church leading to ministry in the world. This ministry in the world is called our apostolate. Each of us is called to exercise an apostolate and for each of us, that apostolate looks different. For some it is a call to the ministry of companionship through volunteering at places like Hannah's House, St. Margaret's House or Hospice. For others it is working with the homeless or the illiterate.

Sometimes the apostolate looks like this: a young mother staying home to mother a child who will grow in God's love. Or it is the line worker who gives his very best in the factory to build a part or a product on which many will come to depend. Some are teachers, some healers...the list goes on and on. The lines of hope and healing which extend from St. Paul's are as many and varied as the members who gather on Sunday to make up her body.

What is your apostolate? How are you called to express and fulfill the promises you made at your Baptism? During the months of October and November, we will be hearing during worship from various parishioners who express their apostolates or ministries in different ways. All of these disciples of Jesus depend on St. Paul's to be the place where they can come to be fed and renewed so as to venture out again to bring the Word and Hope of God to others. In a way St. Paul's is a haven of renewal. Many depend on it as the source of strength and nurture for their own ministries.

As you think about your own ministry or apostolate, know that I am giving thanks for you and praying for your renewal.