During the academic year of 1995-1996, forty young people (twenty boys and twenty girls) were prepared for the sacrament of confirmation at St. Peter’s (Upper Gullies) Conception Bay South by Joyce Howe and her sister Mary Dawe. Myself, along with fellow former columnist of Anglican Life Allison Billard, were part of that group. One of the things that we were instructed in during that time, is something that has stayed with me:
A Rule Of Life.
On page 555 of The Book of Common Prayer, it states:
Every Christian man or woman should from time to time frame for himself a RULE OF LIFE in accordance with the precepts of the Gospel and the faith and order of the Church; wherein he may consider the following: The regularity of his attendance at public worship and especially at the holy Communion. The practice of private prayer, Bible-reading, and self-discipline. Bringing the teaching and example of Christ into his everyday life. The boldness of his spoken witness to his faith in Christ. His personal service to the Church and the community. The offering of money according to his means for the support of the work of the Church at home and overseas.
At the time of writing this article for the deadline for this edition, in the midst of Christmas, it is hard for one to wrap my mind around the fact that Lent is just around the corner. Yet in thinking about Lent this year, I cannot help but think back to the Rule of Life completed during those days of being prepared for Confirmation.
On the night of confirmation, 16 June, 1996—The Feast of Pentecost—as part of our offering during the liturgy, not only were the collection and elements brought to the altar for consecration, but so too were two baskets with forty white envelopes holding the Rule of Life of each person who received the sacrament of Confirmation. I do not remember what I said I would do during that time but I do remember writing it. Now that I am much older and more mature in my faith, I keep coming back to the Rule of Life. I keep coming back to the Rule of Life because it is something that helps me connect closer not only to Jesus and my practise of faith, but it is something that helps my relationship, my discipleship as it were, with Jesus, the worshipping community and to love God and to love my neighbour.
So, as I prepare for Lent, I am going to examine my Rule of Life; I will change the things that need to be changed, and challenge myself in ways that will improve my priestly ministry. As we approach Lent and prepare ourselves for the joyful celebration of our Lord’s glorious resurrection, I invite each and every single one of you to create for yourself a Rule of Life so that in the words of Richard of Chichester can be not only something of Lenten Discipline but of Easter Christian living:
Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ
For all the benefits you have given me,
For all the pains and insults you have borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother,
May I know You more clearly,
Love You more dearly,
Follow You more nearly.
To those of you who instruct and prepare young people for the Sacrament of Confirmation, and; if you wonder if are you making an impact on a young person’s life, know that you are. To Joyce and Mary, you certainly made an impact, as I remember from 1996 about the Rule of Life. Thank you!