I am writing a series of posts for the purpose of stating basic issues as plainly as I can. I’m doing this because I think this will be good for me. I also think that it may be helpful for the spiritual family that is St. Mark’s Church.
The basic issues are in my mind because I’m working on answering the question, Why St Mark’s Church?
I’m asking this question—and, with God’s help, finding an answer—for two groups of people: (1) those currently enjoying Jesus’s presence at St. Mark’s and (2) those whom we pray will be drawn to Jesus by his presence and work at St. Mark’s.
So, why St. Mark’s Church? That question naturally invites another, more basic question. Why Church? After all, for growing numbers of people Church participation is optional or, perhaps, a waste of a good Sunday morning.
So, why Church? At the risk of being rudely simplistic, I’ll state the obvious. Church is about God. Church is about God, because everything is about God. As we say or sing at the Sanctus every Mass, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts: Heaven and earth are full of thy glory.”
Heaven and earth really are full of the glory of God. I realize this is claim is debated, contested, and even excluded from the category of knowledge in many of our leading institutions. But in the Church we should count on this claim and learn as much as we can about what it means to live in a place full of the glory of God.
One thing this means, according to David Bentley Hart, is that “God is not only the ultimate reality that the intellect and will seek, but also the primordial reality with which all of us are always engaged in every moment of existence and consciousness, apart from which we have no experience of anything whatsoever. Or, to borrow the language of Augustine, God is not only superior summon meo—beyond my utmost heights—but also interior intimo meo—more inward than my inmost depths” (The Experience of God, p. 10).
Many of us are not frequently or happily aware of God’s glory of God’s presence on a daily basis. Neither are we conscious of the extent to which we depend of God even when we forget or deny him. The solution? As St. Anthony the Great teaches, “Pay attention to what I tell you: whoever you may be, always have God before your eyes.” At St. Mark’s Church, this is one of our major aims. We work to remember God and to remember that Church is about God, because reality is about God. “Heaven and earth are full of” his “glory.”
But why St. Mark’s Church? Aren’t there enough churches in Arlington already? That will be the subject of my next post.