Yesterday amid the celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Orders to the Diaconate I heard yet again those amazing words: “Believe what you read; teach what you believe; practice what you teach.” A very beautiful part of the ceremony as they touch the book of the Gospel, listen to those words and then respond. For most there it was just another part of the ordination rite for those 17 men. But for some who are there, those who are within the ceremony participating in it prayerfully it means more. These words are words that every follower of Christ should live by, not just the ordained – though they impose upon those ordained into Holy Orders a grave responsibility.
What these words proclaim is that if this calling that we acknowledge, the calling of the Royal Priesthood for all believers, is to be lived in its truth, in its fullness – it can’t be equivocated – it must be lived totally. There is no relativism associated with the calling of discipleship. We belong to our Heavenly Father through our relationship with Christ His Son. By virtue of this gift of belonging we must live within the Triune God, within love. Our very being is one with God. Contained in this beautiful sentence “Believe what you read; teach what you believe; practice what you teach.”, at least to me is that as Christians:
- We accept His revelation about Himself. We trust in this loving God who comes to us and shows us Himself. We accept His mystical body, Holy Mother Church, as Himself. We have strength of family with His Church and we have sureness of truth being proclaimed through her because of His promise to us that she would not fail.
- We have a need to let those around us know about this peace and hope we have been given by God. It can’t be helped, it is in our being to introduce our most beloved Lord to everyone, and to witness to His glorious plan. In a very real way we should feel the urge to proclaim as a primal drive within us.
- And we can find no other way to live, than by His code, His laws and teachings – they bring us contentment and fullness.
This final exhortation “practice what you teach” is what struck me yesterday and today the most. It the result of the first two but in a way it is also the structure in which the first two are nurtured. Not only is our living His words as an outward proof of our belief, and the best method of evangelization (as St. Francis reminds us); but it is gauge for how we are as disciples, how we are truly living our lives. Of course, as we all know, we fall wide of this goal during our journey (maybe even much of the time); and when we do, we feel a discontent and uneasiness within us – it is the irritation of us pulling away from the path of God. As water finds the easiest path in which to flow, so we are wired to find the right and easiest path in our journey; and as creations of God, made in His image, this path is through His plan. We can feel when we are flowing where we should, the internal peace that radiates us from us is undeniable. Though our outward dynamic might chaotic and in turmoil, God’s peace stands within us to keep us steady. When we have that strength our actions are consistent, our witness of action is in line with our teaching and both point to the Word, Jesus Christ.
My prayer for each of us is to take these words: “Believe what you read; teach what you believe; practice what you teach.” Make them a daily maxim for our lives; and by doing so create within us a healthy live in Christ – which in turn will be noticed and emulated by those around us.