Further Thoughts on Excommunication

23 August 2007

The idea behind excommunication, Chittister holds, is eventual reconciliation: you are excommunicated only to be called back, eventually and with your repentence/recognition/healing begun.

In this sense, I don’t feel called back to the Breviary I have stopped praying.  The Office, the way I have been praying it, has become one more thing to do, one more “busy-ness”, and not something leading me to God.

I feel the need for something a little more contemplative for a bit.

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7 Responses to “Further Thoughts on Excommunication”


  1. Regarding excommunication, by Jorge you’ve got it. 🙂

    That came up when Episcopal minister Ann Redding’s apostasy to Islam made the news. What was really scandalous was the local bishop’s approval. Her own ordinary (she belonged to one diocese but lived in another) was extremely kind when she didn’t have to be but still did the right thing and inhibited (Episcopal lingo for suspended) her from the ministry.

    Excommunication would have been appropriate exactly for the reason you describe. It’s not what people think – a ticket to hell! If you separate yourself from the body of the church it’s an invitation to repent and come back.

    Regarding the office, are you officially a Benedictine oblate? What obligation do oblates have to pray the office in some form? If you’re not then of course you don’t have to use it. That said, part of the point of doing it is its objectivity: you grind out all those boring old psalms every day whether you feel like it or not.

    (Also see the Spanish mystics on the dark night of the soul where you carry on regardless, without the sweetness of ‘enjoying spiritual life’. There are three stages in the spiritual life, they say: the first where all is sweetness, which most people mistake for the third and final stage; the dark night where most people quit in disgust; and finally the third stage of union with God.)

    That discipline leads to spiritual maturity. And of course as you were considering training for the priesthood not too long ago, the office is a big part of the discipline that sustains a priest’s life. (Church of England priests, like Roman Catholic ones, are obligated to pray their form of it. I think in the Episcopal Church it varies by diocese. Ask your rector!)

    Just some constructive criticism.


  2. Regarding the office, are you officially a Benedictine oblate? What obligation do oblates have to pray the office in some form?
    No, I’m not, but I’ll probably become an Oblate novice this October. Oblates have to pray the Office in some form as they are able, but do not have a strict requirement of particular hours and it can vary.

    (Also see the Spanish mystics on the dark night of the soul where you carry on regardless, without the sweetness of ‘enjoying spiritual life’. There are three stages in the spiritual life, they say: the first where all is sweetness, which most people mistake for the third and final stage; the dark night where most people quit in disgust; and finally the third stage of union with God.)

    I’ve carried on pretty well most times, and in a meeting with a spiritual director today, things became clearer.

    That discipline leads to spiritual maturity. And of course as you were considering training for the priesthood not too long ago, the office is a big part of the discipline that sustains a priest’s life. (Church of England priests, like Roman Catholic ones, are obligated to pray their form of it. I think in the Episcopal Church it varies by diocese. Ask your rector!)

    The discipline does lead to spiritual maturity, and I think I have developed it some. Later today or next week I’ll have the opportunity to ‘blog a little about my meeting with my SD, but . . . well, I’ll explain later.


  3. Oblates have to pray the Office in some form as they are able, but do not have a strict requirement of particular hours and it can vary.

    Which is what I do!

  4. Beverly Moore Says:

    Excommunication in my case meant being thrown out of the church. It felt like being thrown out of the church and there was for the most part no care or communication from church officials and no attempts or investment in my returning to the church. I was excommunicated from The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina when I would would not be quiet about a parisheoner Mack swafford, who has since been arrested, prosecuted,pled guilty, and convicted of criminal sexual misconduct with a minor ten years of age. He also through plea bargaining was convicted of two counts of asault and battery of a high and agrivated nature on two other minor youths. After Swaffords arrest I was issued a letter from the National church acknowledging that I now was in good standing, however little has changed and I am still treated as trouble and not wanted. See the Charleston City paper Nov. 2005 archived articles “Breaking Faith” with the caption reading; The Episcopal Diocese of south Carolina protects one parisheoner that preys on its flock and excommunicates another who trys to defend it.” Articles concerning Swaffords arrest can be reviewed in archived articles through the Charleston Post and Courier Sept and Oct. 2004
    The church recked my life and estranged me from the church to protect someone they knew had molested children. Though they knew of Swaffords activities they never reported him to the civil authorities. What swafford did was not a secret of the confessional and was known by founding church members, vestry members, and high church official who established guidelines for him to remain in the church. Swafford received no jail time and has been according to the Priest welcomed back into the Episcopal church as a ” repented Sinner”. His case cane be seen on the South Carolina sex offender website with his zip code being 29407.
    What happened to me is pretty much usual when problems of this nature arise in churches. Preditors go where they can gain quick access to children. Churches provide a place where people trust and where preditors can groom parents and children.
    People need to know that child sex offenders hide in churches and molest children right in front of parents and care giverers wuthout their being aware, The average molester sexually molests between 100-150 children before they are arrested the first time.
    Churches need to begin to care more about children and families than they do about number’s and money coming into the church otherwise when things like this happed people will leave with their children and pocktbooks to flee for safety.
    I love the Episcopal church. I do not appreciate what they did to me nor do I appreciate that they would rather have a known child molester than to have me as a member of the church. I stood up for what was right and I lost my church and my standing in the Christian community. I lost many friends , at least people I believed were my friends and my life in the ruins of the church.


  5. The excommunication I was speaking of does not include the hurtful, harmful treatment you experienced.

    I’m sorry for your loss and hurt; I will pray for you and your family.

    Let me know what i might do.

  6. Beverly Moore Says:

    Dear Jorge,
    Thank you for your kind words. Most people react as if what happened to me is unimportant. Most peop0le don’t acknowledge my loss and hurt. Usually people just suggest that I cut my losses, nove on and find another church (denomination).
    There are so many churches and different denominations therefore I should just find another social club to join.
    The church wasn’t just my social club.
    Thank you for your offer of help.
    I am not sure that there that there is anything that anyone could ever do to fix the problem and sadly as it is, I doubt that church will ever be a place of safety and comfort to me in the future.
    The Protestant Episcopal Church USA issued me a letter acknowledging that I am in good standing at the National and Diocessan level, though it has little effect on how I am treated.
    I did the right thing, what the church official should have done and I would not change it.
    If you can’t stand for what is right there would not be much point in being a christian. Jesus is pretty clear in how children are to be treated. He says to harm one of his little ones you might as well have a millstone around your neck and be cast into the depths of the sea. I think this means child molesters and those who attempy to harbor and protect them.

  7. mercerd Says:

    interesting material, where such topics do you find? I will often go

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