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Christian Action

Aquinas got it right: prayer is 'loving God in act so that the divine life can communicate itself to us and through us to the world. ' Christian action is not action of which Jesus approves but action that he performs through his incorporated, and therefore prayerful, disciples  Martin Thornton in "Spiritual Direction"

There are three primary assumptions in an Anglican approach to Christian action. The first is that civic involvement is a good thing. We are called to involve ourselves. For some of us it is a vocation that lasts a life time, for others during a part of their lives, and for most of us in the routine ways of voting, serving on juries and in neighborhood or other groups. The second assumption is that the primary way in which the church carries out this ministry is in the daily life of the baptized member. The third is that the more our action flows from a life of prayer, the more it is grounded in awe and adoration, the more faithful and useful the action will be. The starting place of the baptized person's action is in the Sunday Eucharist and the Daily Office.
A good thing
"We see Christian faith as having political implications. Episcopalians have a long history of involvement in the civic life of communities and the nation. The individual Christian is called to both inform and act on their conscience. The church doesn’t usually ask its members to accept particular political views but it does ask members to consider in their thinking and decision making what might be understood from the Scriptures, what the church has learned over the centuries (as seen in the Tradition and the contemporary councils of the church) and in their own Reason. As a church we take positions on public issues. While these positions are often on what is seen as the more liberal side of the political spectrum; they frequently exhibit an Anglican comprehensiveness in affirming the complexity of a situation." From Episcopal Spirituality, Robert A. Gallagher, OA
In the daily life of the baptized member
“Nine-tenths of the work of the Church in the world is done by Christian people fulfilling responsibilities and performing tasks which in themselves are not part of he official system of the Church at all.” In a later work, Temple wrote of the organic reality of the Body, “the stream of redemptive power flows out from the church through the lives of its members into the society which they influence.” William Temple in "What Christians Stand for in the Secular World" 
From a life of prayer
“One’s first duty is adoration, and one’s second duty is awe and only one’s third duty is service. And that for those three things and nothing else, addressed to God and no one else, you and I and all other countless human creatures evolved upon the surface of this planet were created. We observe then that two of the three things for which our souls were made are matters of attitude, of relation: adoration and awe. Unless these two are right, the last of the triad, service, won’t be right. Unless the whole of your…life is a movement of praise and adoration, unless it is instinct with awe, the work which the life produces won’t be much good -Evelyn Underhill in "Concerning the Inner Life"
Holiness is the brightness of divine love, and love is never idle; it must accomplish great things. Love must act as light must shine and fire must burn  James Huntington, OHC


Parish development

  1. Keep the three elements in front of people
  2. Take notice of distortions and correct them. For example, even though William Temple is clear, some members will continue to think about Christian Action as something the parish does as a corporate body. There are some reflections on the web site of the Order of the Ascension about this – explorations.
  3. Affirm specific examples of the daily life ministry of the baptized in work, among family and friends and in civic life. 
  4. Provide regular instruction in prayer life and coaching/guidance for those open to it.