Episcopal tradition is about accepting Jesus’ constant presence

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Christian faith is about us accepting Jesus’ constant presence in our daily life. The modern Episcopal tradition of Christian living is born of man’s Biblical search for God and the influence of St. Benedict. As Episcopalians derived from Anglican tradition and experience, we learn to let him into our total life. The Jewish-Christian continuum shows us the evolution of our understanding of God’s presence. The role of Saint Benedict’s teachings in 9th century England contributed significantly to how this appreciation developed in Anglican/Episcopalian worship and the Book of Common Prayer as a guide to Christian life.

The early Hebrew tribes at first did not see God in same way we do today. The earliest writings of the Old Testament beginning twelve centuries before Christ’s birth mostly described the role God played as the creator, law maker, and judge who made a covenant with the earliest Jewish people. Their view was of an anthropomorphic deity which had to be housed in a temple nearby.

Beginning about 500 years before Christ they begin to see God as having less direct contact with man now relying on prophets to carry his message. God is seen to live in Heaven with his court of angels. The concept of a Messiah and future apocalypse arises.

By the time of Jesus birth Rabbinic Judaism has arrived which stressed study of religious teachings, regular prayer, and living individual and communal lives following Jewish laws received from God. Religious observances where not just done in the temple. God is recognized as being everywhere all the time.

The coming of Jesus further defines God’s nature as a Trinity. The Father who is creator ultimate source of truth and justice. The Son, Jesus who is the son of God, the Messiah, who is also the Word of God and our constant companion. The Holy Spirit, God’s constant advocate, advisor, interceder, and spiritual enhancer.

Let’s move forward to England in 7th to 10th centuries. The English monastic system had fallen into chaos. During this time period European monarchs supported monastic communities because they thought these efforts were a royal duty and might result in grace from God. There was controversy about how to worship, how to pray, and how to study scripture.

In many places in Europe, St. Benedict’s rule from the 5th century was gaining acceptance. St. Benedict’s writings incorporated the rabbinic principals of living a total life in unison with God. Although it was written specifically for monastical use, the leaders of English Catholic church began to bring its principles into use not just for monasteries but also for general worship.

St. Benedict’s rule had three parts: prayer, work, and lectio divina. To appreciate God’s presence one had to live a daily life not in isolation but in harmony with God and doing one’s duties in the world. He called for prayer five times a day, an equal portion of work which benefits the community, and reading of scripture in a meditative way to gain insight from God’s word in guiding one’s life. Following St. Benedicts guide one could attain stability in life, turn from living just for oneself to living for the community, and be encouraged to be obedient to rightful authority.

A series of Arch Bishops of Canterbury including Dunston and King’s including Edgar stressed the development and continuous involvement of St. Benedict principles. They became key components of English Christianity ultimately contributing to the English Reformation, the creation of the English Bible, and basis for the Book of Common Prayer. Today the Book of Common Prayer is more then just a collection of prayers instead it is our guide on how to live in this world accepting God’s invitation to be involved in our everyday lives.

Professor Tony Magana https://myfindinggrace.com

Dr. Tony Magana is Professor Emeritus in Neurosurgery who spent many years doing international teaching and research including 10 years in Ethiopia. Over the past 15 years he concomitantly intensified his Christian faith through study and worship through the Episcopal Church. He grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Attended Texas A&M University, Harvard Medical School, and trained at the University of Miami. Additionally he took the University of South Education for Ministry as well as attending the Southeast Florida Episcopal Diocesan School for Christian Studies.
Professor Tony Magana, a seasoned neurosurgeon, has not only dedicated his life to medical practice but also embarked on a profound spiritual journey. Over the past 15 years, he has deepened his Christian faith through study and worship within the Episcopal Church. His experiences span international teaching, research, and a decade of service in Ethiopia
Dr. Tony Magana’s writings blend faith, compassion, and wisdom, inviting readers to explore the intersection of spirituality and the human experience. His journey serves as an inspiration for those seeking deeper connections with faith and humanity.

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