Dcn Francis Capitanio
Christians are a ridiculous people.
by Fr Adam
Christians are a ridiculous people. Any community that gets together every week to say more-or-less the same two thousand words has surely lost its mind.
If you were a Christian for your whole life, you’ll die having spent almost four thousand hours in church, saying those same two thousand words. What a waste of time!
Can you imagine how that suggestion would go over in a Fortune 500 company? (“Guys, I have an idea, let’s spend three-hundred-odd hours a year repeating ourselves!”) It’s not like you’ve never read the Creed before, guys. It’s not changed in the six days since you were here last time.
But this is exactly what Christians do. Every week Christian gather, they sit, and stand, and kneel. They cross themselves. And they say those same two thousand words. What would motivate a people to get up, on a Sunday morning of all days, and do this?
In the Christian tradition, there are two reasons: first, that God’s glory and nature is such that he deserves our praise, as a matter of justice; and second, that the actions a person takes forms one’s soul.
And that latter idea, that Christians believe in spiritual formation, has deep implications for how Christians think about life. Because sometimes it’s not about efficiency, it’s about the health of our souls and the actions we take to mold them. Christians believe their time is well spent, saying every week, Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from your ways like lost sheep…
And Christians believe that’s a good use of their time, not least, because there will come a time when there’s not time. There will come a time when there’s no more thinking, no more pros and cons, no more brainstorming, no more Googling it. Your father says, “Are you saying you’re not going to let me drive anymore?” and you need to be a particular kind of person, on the spot. Have you spent thousands of hours submitting to wisdom? Become humble? Repenting? Learning to listen? What sort of person are you now?
In the Christian tradition, this is how practices become habits, and habits become dispositions, and dispositions become virtues (or vices). You won’t be working “from scratch,” you’ll have spent thousands of hours in tiny acts of compassion, tiny acts of self-sacrifice, and when that moment comes, you’ll act in courage, because those tiny, repetitive acts have trained you to into something else.