Monday, January 18, 2016

Dioceses and Societies

It's the birthday of our Diocese on 24th, so our Mass contains a commemoration in recognition of this. Historically, a Diocese consisted of a single city, like Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch. This meant that each city had its own Bishop. The Church of England Bishop of Rochester would only have had oversight of Rochester. This is before Chatham and Gillingham were invented. This means that the Diocese used to comprise a single geographical society of neighbours.
How were these societies to be run. St Paul in his letter to the church in Rome, that little band of Christians, gives rules for how a Christian society should work.
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
St Paul tells us that we are each individuals with different abilities and therefore different roles that we can play in our society. God has not made us to be the same, but has given grace to us to be individuals. Yet we must operate together in His Love working for the Common Good. We are individuals who rejoice in each other's individuality. The key thing is that it is God's Love and not any love made by human definition : this is a love that begins in God and works through us.
As Anglican Catholics, our Diocese is the whole United Kingdom. That means we have a mandate to minster to the whole country bringing God's Love which He has given us in the Catholic Faith, organised in the Apostolic Order by which we can offer to Him Orthodox Worship. It's an enormous task, and there are so few of us, but as long as we love God and others in His righteousness, we cannot really fail, can we?

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