A community is a communion of sharers. Not every aspect of our lives is shared here, but for a time we commit to sharing a great deal. Mutual respect is our watchword, guided by the Golden Rule to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Servant Year members form a community within the community of either Saint Mark’s or St. James School, which is larger and more dispersed. Your place within the community is important, and you represent both communities in a public way.
In choosing to live together this way we commit, with God’s help, to live by a Rule of Common Life, shaped by these expectations:
For eleven months, you will call home a building that is closely linked to others. It is home to others who live there, and in some ways a home for the people who work, learn, pray and have fellowship in its broader community. A home is a safe place, by definition, and we commit to safeguard one another’s safety in every reasonable way, primarily by taking responsibility for ourselves and our own actions.
Community life is shaped by a daily round of prayer. Each community has its own regular pattern for this prayer. Although we will not all always be able to be in the same place at the same time, we commit to sharing in this pattern of prayer, and participating in it as best we can as leaders, servers, and participants.
The Angelus, a practice of prayer that is signaled by the ringing of a bell in a particular pattern that corresponds to prayers, is used to anchor our pattern of prayer.
The worship of God is fundamental to Christian practice, and a central charism of the communities at Saint Mark’s and St. James School. Worshiping God in the beauty of holiness is a daily aspect of our vocation as a community. Engaging in the worship of God contributes powerfully to our formation as the Body of Christ, and as Members within that Body. Members actively participate in the larger worshiping community of Saint Mark’s or St. James. Your involvement in worship will reflect your community.
Christian service begins with the recognition that we are called by our baptism to be servants of God. Our identity as servants in this way is not demeaning or denigrating, rather, it locates our work in the service of God and the building up of his kingdom, in response to the echoing command of Jesus to his disciples to “go” and do something! First, we are called to serve God.
Second, we are called to serve God’s people, especially those who are in need. Members of Servant Year have offered themselves for a year of intentional, considered service, modeled on Jesus’ assertion that he is among his disciples as one who serves (Lk. 22:27).
Joy is a gift from God, and a joyful community is blessed by God. Living together and working in God’s service are not always easy, but we trust that our lives will be characterized by joy because so many of the hours of our days are devoted to God’s service. We look for opportunities to enjoy ourselves in our work, in our leisure time, when we are near the rest of the community, and when we are far. We commit to allowing for or making time to enjoy ourselves and one another not only in our work together, but in times of recreation and fun.
In a eucharistically centered community, table fellowship is a natural extension of our eucharistic fellowship. Shared meals provide important time for the development of bonds of affection and mutual service in a focused and joyful way. Residents of a faith-centered community are naturally drawn to extend hospitality to one another and to others, regarding that hospitality as a basic Christian virtue. Around the table we celebrate, we give thanks, we feed one another in many ways, and likewise we quench our thirst.
We should expect to share at least one meal a week together in a focused an intentional way, around the table with time for discussion and the enjoyment of one another’s company.
Our common purpose is to build up, and not to tear down. We pray that in our community life, our prayer, prayer, our worship, and our work we will build up the church of God, help establish God’s kingdom, and build up one another as well. We are wary of our own tendencies to tear down things, ideas, or people with whom or which we disagree, and who challenge or threaten us. Mutual up-building makes everyone stronger: the builder and the built. We can afford to be generous with one another, and we commit to try to be so. The Psalmist says that “there is a river the streams whereof make glad the city of God;” our common purpose is to row together on that river, in the same direction, working together.