He has showed you, O man, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 RSV Catholic edition
For generations of students trained at Kelham, the coming of Lent meant the reading of the ‘Principles’. This collection of short observations on the Christian life had been written by the Founder, Fr Herbert Kelly. In 1893 he inaugurated the Society of the Sacred Mission, a religious community, initially to train men for the mission to Korea, and then generally for the Anglican ministry.Some of the Principles sound strange – even harsh – in a world convinced that personal choice and achievement must be the goal and true happiness of every human being. By contrast, the Principles set before us the single-minded desire to do the will of God, and to serve our neighbour. There is a sharp sense of humour at work here, which cuts through human pretensions and false piety. Here, then, are some of the Principles.
Concerning the essence of the Society
You will be judged by what you are, and of what avail will it be to you at the last, if you have glorified God very little in yourself, that you have talked of His Glory in many lands?
Concerning the Service of God
Knowledge is good, and work useful, but the love of God is above all…The highest service that you can render to Him is the worship of your own spirit: They that worship Him must worship Him in spirit (St John iv. 24)
Be not in haste to know many things but to understand one; since for all things there is but one efficient cause, even the Will of God. … Many sciences make much vanity, but a little understanding of the Will of God tends to self-abasement and adoration.
Concerning the use of Time
If your life is not your own, your time belongs to God.
The conversation of brethren should help and cheer us, but God’s voice speaks most often in silence. He who cannot keep silence is not contented with God.
In the service of God’s glory, it will be of very little help that you should yourself be counted learned and be had in repute among men. We have many teachers but there is only one Judge. Fear Him and you will not be concerned about men.
Do not lament the smallness of your capacities. Such complaints come either of laziness, or of affectation, or of ambition. Everybody is clever enough for what God wants of him, and strong enough for what he is set to do, if not for what he would like to be. Choose for yourself the lowest place, not because of modesty, but because it is most fit for you.
Concerning choice of Work.
You may not choose your work; indeed count not yourself worthy of any work. You may prefer, however, that which is most dangerous, least notable, least popular. There will generally be room for you there. Many read of washing disciples’ feet who think themselves above cleaning another man’s boots. It is better to serve the least esteemed that the great. The service of the king is a high honour for which nobles contend, but to be the servant of the poor and contemptible is to imitate Christ.
Obey gladly; even if that cannot be, at least hide your unwillingness.
Concerning the Surrender of Work
Many men can see their own success: few can measure their own failures. As you accept the office or work to which God calls you, so be prepared instantly to lay it down if a better or more capable person be sent by Him.
On getting work done
It is great vanity to be always busy, so that we can find little time for prayer and none for study.
Concerning life in Community
Do not think too much about yourself. Your own opinions and feelings may well be of less importance than they seem to you. You may have much to bear, most people have, but it is not well to make everybody bear it.
Have a blessed and holy Lent.
The silence and beauty of the place in which the monastic community dwells – a simple and austere beauty – are like a reflection of the spiritual harmony that the community itself seeks to create. The world, particularly Europe – is spangled with these oases of the spirit, some very ancient, others recent; yet others have been restored by new communities. Looking at things from a spiritual perspective, these places of the spirit are the backbone of the world! Pope Benedict XVI ‘A School of Prayer’ p. 186