HAVING written Enfolded in Christ as an encouragement to the clergy to attend to their inner life in Christ, I found this small, leather-bound book containing 40 “meditations” continuing the theme. The author, a regular visitor to Taizé, whose “Rule” inspired this book, ends each with words of wisdom from a variety of (mainly) Roman Catholic writers. Viewed overall, it’s a reminder for any priest or deacon that “the search for God is the dynamic which vitalises the whole of our ministry.”
He highlights many valuable reflections, not least about Daily Prayer and Mass Without the Priest, noticing the value of the daily Office because it contains words that Jesus would have used. His reflections on the dangers of clergy viewing themselves as “leaders” seem especially important, because this can permit them to become “parochial autocrats”. These pensées on the dangers of the “person-dependent model” are addressed in the chapter “Leader or Servant”, where he makes some interesting suggestions about the possibility of modelling “leadership” on the abbot (or abbess) who walks with the people “into the mystery of God”.
There are also helpful reflections on Mary, the Contemplative, reminding us that the “highest” form of Christian living is not to be found in what we do, but in the contemplation of God. In this context, I was attracted by his observation that praying the Litany of the Saints with the sick is of real value, because it can increase their awareness of being part of a great, heavenly communion.
Because this book is written for RC clergy, it’s addressed to a male priesthood, but that need not limit its appeal; for that is to the sanctification of the clergy, whatever their gender.
The Revd John-Francis Friendship is a senior team member at the London Centre for Spiritual Direction.
A Rule for the Clergy: Meditations on ordained pastoral ministry
Catholic Truth Society £12.95
Church Times Bookshop £11.65