Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Random thoughts on Ordination

Ritual has an important place in society.

It is often the recognition of work well done, of efforts proposed and successes achieved. Awards, medals, dinners, prizes, promotions, all of these have their own little rituals.

Religious rituals should reflect the common human experience, and six of the seven do: Baptism for Birth, Confirmation for Adulthood, Marriage for the formation of a family, Reconciliation for the acknowledgement of wrongdoing and attempting to make amends, Extreme Unction for the final transition, either debilitating sickness or death, and the Eucharist as a spiritual reflection of the meals that sustain us physically.

Holy Orders is the only sacrament that is not in the common human experience. In some ways it's simply the recognition of a job that certain individuals are already doing. It's one of the sacraments that few people will experience, for the harvest is great, but the workers are few.

And yet, it is a very communal of the sacraments, at least as it's peformed by the Apostolic Johannite Church. It is the community blessing the Priest as their servant, their representative, their guide. The laying on of hands by the bishop(s) confers the approval of the hierarchy, the laying on of hands by the people confers the blessings of those who are to be served.

For those of you who haven't seen it, the deacon is presented to the bishop, who asks the people and the presenter if the deacon is worthy and ready to be a priest. The prospective priest is made to prostrate himself before the altar. This is to remind the priest that he is not the master, but a servant: A servant of the Church, the Sacred Ecclesia.

And the church is the people.

It is all the people, coming together to renew their commitment to wholeness, compassion, and understanding, to make themselves part of the greater humanity we all share, to choose to ignore the separations that the world foists on us as reality. And I don't care if a person comes to my church once, or a thousand thousand times, they are part of the Sacred Ecclesia, whether they know it or not.

Ordination does not grant me a bigger part, or reduce the part that others play one bit. The Holy Orders marks me as a servant, but no more or less than my fellow servants and fellow travelers in the Sacred Ecclesia of all humanity. We are all priests, we all have a chance to minister to those around us, and see Christ in the person of our fellow humans. I simply have been given a chance and the desire to formally acknowledge that ministry.

Rituals are a culmination of hard work, and they often bestow a title in their enactment. I am now Reverend Father Scott Michael Rassbach, and that is a wonderful honor and a daunting task all in one. They often bestow some benefit: I have been granted the authority to bind and loose in heaven and on earth, the sins of the people. I can celebrate our communal meal in a magickal and mystical way, to bring the people closer to the oneness of reality. I am empowered to bless and consecrate, so that the oneness of the universe may shine more clearly through the individual things which surround us.

I am astounded by this weighty power and responsibility. Who am I to determine who's sins are forgiven, or retained? Who am I, to bless this and that, and make it holy? Who am I, to call down the divine into bread and wine, so that we all might commune?

I am Reverend Father Scott Michael Rassbach. I am Anointed, as we are at Baptism, at Confirmation, at Marriage, at Reconciliation, at Extreme Unction. I seek not to be a Christian, but a Christ.


As are you.

May Grace and Gnosis be with you.


Juliana said...

That's really lovely, Scott+. You write beautifully and from the heart.

I sincerely hope we can make our June date happen, with you here to raise the chalice and share the event.

All love, hugs and good wishes,

Your sister in SF

Anonymous said...


My grandfather was a second vocational Irish Catholic priest, now deceased. I believe he would have very much appreciated what you have written here, just as I do.

Reverend Father Scott Rassbach said...

Thank you for your kind words.

I checked your blog, saw that you travel and do shows. If you happen to be out Midwest way at some point, drop a comment on the blog, I'll come out and see the show.

Merry Christmas.