Clergy Prayer and Discipline
I found these words (see sidebar) in a church news sheet when I was a student. They immediately spoke to my hopes and sense of calling as a minister. I cut them out and pasted them into the front cover of my bible.
I am clear about what I want from the clergy. I want them to be people who can, by their own happiness and contentment challenge my ideas about status, success and money and so teach me how to live more independently of such drugs.
I want them to be people who can dare, as I do not dare, and as few of my contemporaries dare to refuse to work flat out and to refuse to work more strenuously than me.
I want them to be people who dare because they are secure enough in the value of what they are doing to have time to read, to sit and think, and who face the emptiness and possible depression which often attacks people when they do not keep the surface of their mind occupied.
I want them to be people who have faced this kind of loneliness and discovered how fruitful it is, and I want them to be people who have faced the problem of prayer.
I want them to be people who can sit still without feeling guilty and from who I can learn some kind of tranquility in a society, which has almost lost the art.
I knew a little about silence and solitude and dealing with depression, but had no idea what was to come. Monica Furlong said "I want [the clergy] to be people who dare because they are secure enough in the value of what they are doing to have time to read, to sit and think, and who face the emptiness and possible depression which often attacks people when they do not keep the surface of their mind occupied.." I would use the word "erupt" rather than "attacks," and leave out the word "possible."
She went on to say "how fruitful it is." She was correct.
It is the special calling of clergy to be involved in the ministry of being still, of solitude, and (at least) melancholy. We are also called to face "the problem of prayer." We are meant to lead and show a way to others; and to be a conduit of insight and compassion. We need to be less busy to do this. However, it is the calling of the religious life which she has written about. It is the calling of us all.
I have not been able to find a source for this text by Monica Furlong. Can you help me... or direct me to where formal copyright permissions can be gained. For more information on Monica Furlong, read the Guardian obituary.