By Rev. Canon Val Kenyon
While some of the components of Education for Ministry remain constant over the years (study of Old Testament, New Testament, Church History, Theology, Ethics and Interfaith Issues), the program also has a different theme each year around which much of the discussion and reflection are centered. Within EfM groups, space is created on a regular basis to work through the many questions that are part of our spiritual journey, allowing those in the group to gain experience in thinking theologically and reflecting faithfully as they learn how to articulate their faith.
During the course of the year there are always two books chosen to promote discussion around the theme, which in 2019-2020 is Living as Spiritually Mature Christians. The first book chosen this year is Life in Christ: Practicing Christian Spirituality, by Julia Gatta. At its essence this book is all about spiritual formation and the heart’s longing. “You speak in my heart and say, ‘Seek my face.’ Your face, Lord, will I seek.” (Psalm 27:11). Rev’d Gatta invites us into both the spiritual depths of the sacraments and a celebration and exploration of who we already are and who we are becoming in Christ.
In chapter three entitled Sanctifying Time through the Liturgical Round, among other things, use of the Daily Office is examined as an instrument of prayer, noting that it places “us in harmony with the cosmic rhythms of day and night, light and dark, as the earth runs on its axis and rotates around the sun in an annual cycle.” Even if the Daily Office is prayed in private we are “always praying with the praying church” immersing ourselves in “the full mystery of Christ as we pray with the church over the course of the liturgical year.” For it is through the liturgical year and the annual observance of pivotal moments in Christ’s life that we continue to grow. These mysteries are full of inexhaustible meaning Gatta reminds us as they have “eternal significance and infinite depth.”
The final chapters also give us much to reflect on as they address both a variety of forms of prayer that are available to us and the place of a Rule of Life for each of us, not so much as an exercise in spiritual perfection, but rather as a “faithful response to our Christian vocation.”
If you would be interested in learning more about EfM, groups in your area or upcoming Open Houses, please contact Libi Clifford, the Diocese of Huron EfM Coordinator or myself Val Kenyon at [email protected]
Rev. Canon Val Kenyon is EFM Animator in Huron.
(All quotes from Julia Gatta, Life in Christ: Practicing Christian Spirituality. New York: Church Publishing Incorporated, 2018)