Read by Br. Keith Nelson
Just as we believe that our Society had its origin in the response to God’s creative call of our founders Richard Meux Benson, Charles Chapman Grafton and Simeon Wilberforce O’Neill, so we believe that it is sustained through our own obedience to the voice of God continually calling us on.God speaks to us in many ways to maintain and renew the vocation of the Society.God speaks to us through the Scriptures and the Christian tradition, through men and women of the Spirit of different ages and cultures, through our own experience and through contemporary voices that engage us with the challenges of our own time.Among the many voices that mediate God’s call to us, the witness of our founders and predecessors in the Society has a special importance.
God calls us to remember them and to value their testimony.Reflection on our community’s own tradition, and a dialogue between our contemporary experience and that of our predecessors, helps us to sustain our identity as we strive to rise up to the demands of the present.As we explore the spiritual legacy of our forbears we remember that they are not dead figures from the past.Risen in Christ, they belong to the great cloud of witnesses who spur us on by their prayers to change and mature in response to the Holy Spirit who makes all things new.
Faithfulness to tradition does not mean mere perpetuation or copying of ways from the past but a creative recovery of the past as a source of inspiration and guidance in our faithfulness to God’s future, the coming reign of God.As we meditate on the grace of tradition each of us will hear the call to become, in Father Benson’s words, “a man – not simply of the day, but a man of the moment, a man precisely up to the mark of the times.This makes the religious – so far from being the traditional imitator of bygone days – most especially a man of the present moment and its life.”
Our Society was the first religious community of men to be firmly established in the Anglican Church since the Reformation and embraced from the beginning both the contemplative and active dimensions of the religious vocation.As we struggle with God’s call to us today to be active in ministry, prophecy, teaching and service, and to have a deep life of prayer and worship, we shall find encouragement in remembering the example of our forbears in their dedication to the mystical and apostolic aspects of our calling.
There are many aspects to the witness of those who formed our Society’s tradition.Their lives inspire us to be indifferent to celebrity and success and to trust the power of hidden prayer. They stir us to be prophetic critics of Christendom and its compromises and to be dedicated to the renewal of the Church.They summon us to have a world-wide vision of mission, to be adaptable to a wide variety of settings, to be available in ministry to all classes of people.They teach us to integrate the catholic and evangelical traditions and dedicate ourselves to the ministry of reconciliation and unity.
Inevitably, the Society’s past is also marred by many failures.God will have much to teach us through them, as long as we humbly keep in mind our own biases and shortcomings.