Last week I wrote about the phrase “Reverence the Integrity of Self,” our truest, deepest Self in Christ, and how when we truly reverence that creature, we will desire to bring her to full life. More than that, when we commit to that reverence in the Lord’s presence, we will be obeying Him.
This week I continue with Fr. Bonnell Spencer’s explanation of the vows that monks take. So, what about the vow of “chastity?” You might very well say, “Dorothy, what does that vow have to do with me? I have no intention of becoming a monk or nun.” Most of the time, those of us who are not part of those kinds of religious communities, misinterpret their vow of chastity by making it too specific – i.e. meaning celibacy – meaning not having sex with anyone. That's all it means. Right?
But what if I told you that’s not what Fr. Spencer’s next definition says? He writes that...
How often do you think of the word “reverence?” When you do think of it, what is it in reference to? A lot of people I know would answer that "reverence" refers to the sensation they feel when they worship God, or when they know they are in His presence.
I would agree. However, what if I would tell you that another way to think about the word “reverence,” is this: we are to “Reverence the integrity of Self.” What do you suppose that might mean? The phrase comes from the writings of a monk of the Episcopal Order of the Holy Cross. Fr. Bonnell Spencer, in an attempt to define what monks mean by taking a vow of obedience, wrote that it means to “Reverence the integrity of Self.”
When I first read that, I thought, “How can reverencing myself be the same thing as obeying God? Then I read on. Clarification happened: Fr. Spencer said that when we seek to reverence in every way...
When we’ve been abused, our spirit feels crushed, our soul feels shame, and our body’s energy is down. We can even think that somehow the abuse is our fault. The “friend” who is the abuser has behaved in such a way as to move us from perhaps a healthy outlook on life, to the line of thought and swamp of emotions, that not only do we hurt, but also we think that we’re so unworthy that no one could value us anymore. And so we don’t value ourselves either. Spiritual abuse is a real downer.
I’m here to tell you that that’s not the way it’s supposed to be in the Body of Christ. That kind of abuse is utterly abominable, and it’s not your fault. Let me say that again. It’s not your fault! Spiritual abuse is an external event that someone else caused to happen to us. And it is abominable and totally opposite of anything remotely Christ-like!
How is it supposed to be? ...