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Rowan Williams - Orthodox liturgy in his spiritual formation

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  • Robert Thompson
    The place of the Orthodox liturgy in the spiritual formation of Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, is noted in the recent news article excerpted below.
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 9, 2005
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      The place of the Orthodox liturgy in the
      spiritual formation of Rowan Williams,
      Archbishop of Canterbury, is noted in the
      recent news article excerpted below.


      Archbishop reveals his unorthodox way to God
      By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
      Times Online (UK)

      The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams,
      has revealed how his first encounter with God was
      not at an Anglican or even a Roman Catholic
      service but at a Mass of the Russian Orthodox
      Church.

      Dr Williams was only 14 when his local Anglican
      curate took him along to an Orthodox Mass in
      Swansea celebrated by a visiting Russian priest.

      Although his long journey of faith began at his
      "mother's knee", Dr Williams said the Russian
      Orthodox Mass was one of only two moments in his
      teenage years when he met the "living God".

      Dr Williams's encounter with Orthodoxy came when
      he was living with his parents in a modest house
      in Oystermouth on the western edge of the bay in
      Swansea.

      In response to questions at a conference, Dr
      Williams described how strong the impact of the
      Mass was on him. "I found myself that evening
      kneeling at prayer in tears and feeling that I'd
      been taken somewhere new.

      "I had to change, I had to grow, I had to repent.
      I had to let that reality become more real for
      me," he said. The future leader of the Church of
      England and primus inter pares of the Anglican
      Communion grew up in a Christian household but
      started out with his family in the dominant Welsh
      non-conformist Presbyterian tradition.

      When he was 11 the family moved and became
      members of the Anglican Church in Wales. Welsh
      Anglicans, particularly in South Wales, have long
      a tradition of "high" Anglo-Catholic worship.

      To a highly intelligent, devout teenage boy,
      however, even their elaborate incense-perfumed
      rituals would have seemed tame by comparison with
      the three-hour Divine Liturgy of St John
      Chrysostom as celebrated weekly in Orthodox
      churches worldwide.

      Dr Williams said: "When I came away, I felt I had
      seen glory and praise for the first time. I felt
      I had seen and heard people who were behaving as
      if God were real."

      "I came away with the sense of absolute
      objectivity and majesty and beauty of God which I
      have never forgotten. If people worshipped like
      this, I felt God must be a great deal more real
      (than) even I have learnt him so far."

      ...


      On-line source:

      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1868327,00.html


      END
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