A Few Thoughts on Membership and its Relationship to Other Paths
I am sometimes asked what it means to be a member of The Christian Community. It means that an individual has taken part in the sacramental life of the congregation for a sufficient length of time and has come to experience the Act of Consecration of Man, the Communion service as his or her “spiritual home.” Among those seeking for answers to the question of meaning and wholeness in a fractured world are those who find help through communion, through participation in Christ. Such communion is union with a being who is the bearer of one’s “real” self, one’s “higher” self. We experience a kind of unification for a time, the world appears a bit more coherent. Having found a “spiritual home” one can then feel more at home in the earthly world.
Yet membership does not mean that one’s only access to the spirit is in the sacraments, nor need it signify one’s decision that the Christ can be found only in one Church. Christ is at work everywhere in the world and would be heard in the depths of every human soul. Communion with him, which will always be holy whenever it really occurs, can take place in different ways. And it is in the nature of Christ himself that no single path to communion with him, be it meditation, the sacraments or the largely unconscious path of destiny can claim exclusiveness or greater validity for a modern human being. Any path that leads to Christ is worthy, for he said “I am the way …” Yet every path also has its dangers: meditation: spiritual vanity; ritual: spiritual indolence; destiny: resentment and refusal to wake up. These risks are not unique to each path but overlap in large measure just as the various paths can overlap in the lives of individuals. Anyone following a path of spiritual discipline and meditation will be only strengthened in those endeavors by an inwardly active participation in ritual, in the sacraments. But only if, for personal reasons residing deep within the should, they themselves want to participate in ritual. There is no question of should. On the other hand, regular attendance at the Act of Consecration of Man, or any other valid form of the Eucharist, when accompanied by a fervent heart filled with an “active receptivity,” will serve to stimulate one’s thinking by way of the heart. With thinking thus become more lively and flexible it is natural then for an individual to seek for an expanded understanding of the ideas heard, thought and prayed in the ritual. This may lead people to study, for example, the spiritual researches of Rudolf Steiner. Thus, as one would expect of two paths leading to the same goal, Christ himself, the two ways serve to complement and support one another.
Rudolf Steiner was once asked whether an initiate, someone able to directly commune with beings in the spiritual world, would also take communion in the form of bread and wine. He responded that the answer depended entirely upon the initiate, that there is no general principle. In this most personal area there are no rules as to which path or combination of paths any individual or type of individual should follow in seeking communion with Christ. The only certainty is that everyone is individually responsible for deciding which paths are fruitful for him or her.
An individual who has experienced the sacraments in The Christian Community can come to the insight: “Yes, here is reality, here is healing and help for life. Here I find the strength that helps me to help others. Here is a source of THE GOOD in and for the world. I want to unite with this community that the Good endure, that the Good be spread further in the world.” When anyone come comes to this conclusion and wants to become a member of the Christian Community he or she should arrange to meet with a priest to discuss the next step.
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