From the Rector: the Economy of Worship

While I was on retreat and vacation at the end of August, I spent much time thinking about what is central to being a priest. I was lucky to have time on the North Shore, whether it was at the clergy gathering at our camp, or whether it was on my own. Creating space to reflect is always important no matter what one's vocation. I know that this is not true for all priests, but for me celebrating the mass is central to my vocation. I also have told those who wish to become priests that if they do not feel passionate about celebrating the sacraments, than they might be better positioned to be a social worker, teacher, or some other profession. Most things in life can be done excellently as a lay person - celebrating sacraments is what distinguishes the call to priestly ministry.

I have never served in a church that did not have the daily mass. When I was ordained a deacon, St. George's Cathedral in Jerusalem not only had the daily mass, but Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer were prayed daily. When I served as a canon at St. Paul's Cathedral in Buffalo we also had the daily mass, and that cathedral had a vibrant ministry of choral evensong. When I arrived at St. Mark's six years ago, we did not have the mass every day, but the parish did observe this practice in her history, and current parishioners were excited to revive the practice if we could.  Within a few short months we were offering the mass daily, and as expected, people came.

Sometimes people will ask me if I am exhausted by the masses at St. Mark's. I have also been asked if having evensong on Sundays is a burden. There is certainly a routine that can be a bit tiring at times, but the reality is that it is far more burdensome to live without these riches of the faith. There are times when one might be tired, and yet the mass and daily office can so easily and quickly revive us. That is the reality of prayer. When we make the space to be open to God, God quickly replenishes us. 

Yet these acts of worship are not just here to revive us. On a more basic level, and more than any other aspect of life, we were made to bless God, and God was made to bless us, and this is the economy of worship - this motion of endless and abundant blessing between us and God. Our central call is to worship God endlessly. Worship is a joyful vocation. 

Whether it is the simple recitation of Morning Prayer by one or two people during the week, the daily weekday mass in our chapel at the end of the day, the adoration of Christ in the Sacrament at the Sunday evensong, or our glorious Sunday morning high mass when we pull out all the stops, we have an economy of blessing occurring at St. Mark's. As we seek to bless God every morning and every evening at St. Mark's, God bestows innumerable blessings upon us. The question is then answered through faith. How can we not worship God every waking moment of our lives?

Father Paul Lillie+