Today I want to feature Rowan William’s thoughtful epilogue the interesting collection of essays published under the title Praying for England: Priestly Presence in Contemporary Culture. For a number of reasons I have an interest in the role of the priest in the midst of priestly community in the midst of a wider culture and context; indeed in particular places.
On might hope that Williams, in the coming years, might reflect more on the role of the priest, and of priestly communities in the midst of contemporary Western Culture. And these themes in relation to contemplation / spirituality and mission in Western Culture.
Williams begins, “All societies have maps; they give you messages about where you fit in; in relation to each other and in relation to the landmarks that are scattered around the territory of social life…”
Later he writes:
“…Priesthood is over and sacrifice is now unnecessary. That is what the Christian gospel says, at first sight: Jesus has offered his life ‘once, only once, and once for all’ and the distinctive anxieties of religion are behind us for ever. More specifically, this is what the Reformation reaffirmed, with some violence, in the belief that the Church had in effect reinstated a system of priesthood where none was needed, thus compromising the uniqueness of the action and suffering of Jesus in his crucifixion…
But in fact this represents a damagingly limited reading of the gospel. It is not that the categories of priesthood and sacrifice have been evacuated of meaning: they have been drastically reimagined…”
The full epilogue (PDF) is attached below, courtesy of this site.