Current Service times:
Holy Eucharist: Wednesdays, 9 AM Sundays, 10 AM
Solemn Benediction and Healing Service: Second Wednesdays, 7PM
Sung Rosary: Fourth Wednesdays, 7 PM
East Side of the Square, Fairfield, IA
51 N. Court Street
IN THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST
We are a church of love. We accept Saint John’s testimony that God is Love For us, Christ’s ministry is the law of love: “Love the Lord, thy God, with thy whole heart, thy whole mind and thy whole strength; and love thy neighbor as thyself. This is the whole of the Law and the prophets.” Saint Augustine epitomized Christian ethics in the precept, “Love and do as you will.”
We are a branch of the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church, the Mystical Body of Christ. We acknowledge the Christ as our founder, living head, and eternal high priest.
We are radically inclusive: everyone, no matter who you are, is welcome. We don’t discriminate against anyone for any reason. As St. Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Hence women enjoy full participation in the Church at all levels of leadership from the priesthood to the office of Bishop. Married people are clergy too!
HONORING THE DIVINE FEMININE
We hold that a chief purpose of the church is to perpetuate the historical sacramental tradition as instituted by Jesus Christ, and as preserved through apostolic succession. Even so, we honor God as both Father and Mother, the Creative Source of all Being that is both and neither. God is beyond gender and beyond comprehension, yet is worthy of recognition in all forms God may take be they male or female or neither. People need to see themselves in the worship, in the liturgy as a true “work of the people”, and so we choose to be inclusive of all and to honor how the Holy Spirit moves through both men and women.
We are fully Catholic in a way that goes deeply beyond sectarianism. We are a Catholic church in the original, universal, sense of that word as well as in our form of sacramental worship. We are neither Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, nor Anglican. We are Catholic. Our bishops and priests trace their Holy Orders, or “apostolic succession” (the tradition of bishops consecrating other bishops), through Roman Catholic and Orthodox lines. In this way we trace our roots as far back as the Disciples themselves.
We maintain that the Holy Spirit acts through pure channels everywhere, regardless of age, sex, race, creed or culture. There is only one true God however this God is known or worshipped; hence, there is eternally only one holy universal Church, regardless of the cultural form it happens to assume in a given time and place. We revere the saints, sages, and holy ones of all ages and places.
We recognize that the one true God speaks with both feminine and masculine voices. We listen for it. We maintain that God touches us in many ways. We respond. The Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine manifest through and in us. We act. We seek not one or the other, but rather the comingling and integration of all that is God. Experienced inwardly and expressed outwardly, the Divine Presence moves us with Grace toward a stillpoint where we can abide in Peace, rest in God, and coexist with all that is.
We are a sacramental church. We hold that the sacraments are visible signs of a manifestation of divine grace, and are powerful aids to spiritual growth. Holy Eucharist (Communion), Reconciliation (Penance), Holy Unction (healing of the sick), and Holy Matrimony are made available to all who seek them. Baptism is the rite of formal initiation into Christ’s church. Confirmation seals the commitment to a Christian way of life. Holy Orders is an initiation available to those who wish to serve as clergy.
MYSTICAL YET MODERN
We are a mystical church, keeping in mind the Old Testament words, “Be still and know I AM God.” We give a primary place to Christ’s saying, “The kingdom of heaven lies within you.” and acknowledge that the greatest advancement in spiritual truth is made by those who discover that divinity resides within. If God is Love, then it is through our love that we come to a real and abiding knowledge of God. For Christians, love is spiritual knowledge par excellence.
We are a modern church. We maintain that eternal truth cloaks itself in garb appropriate to the age, and that the outward form of religion should keep pace with human development. We do not shrink from new knowledge. All seekers are encouraged to explore every relevant resource for spiritual development.
We seek to draw back the veil, first to discover the deeper intellectual import and then the experiential dimension, which is the true meaning of spiritual symbolism in scripture, ritual, liturgy and theology.
Our church is a spiritual fellowship of followers of the Spirit. We give ourselves and others encouragement to live the truth. To live the truth is to become ever more the Christ, the true Self of all and the source of real happiness and abiding fellowship.
OPEN HOLY ORDERS
Holy Orders are open to all, regardless of gender, marital status, or sexual orientation. While we value of the principle of the “priesthood of the laity,” we also recognize the importance of valid Holy Orders for the administration of the sacraments. Our solution is to make orders available to all qualified candidates who wish to serve Christ through ordained ministry. Such candidates are required to have a level of academic achievement and prior life experience which demonstrates the potential for the successful completion of a program of formation and for the professional practice of ministry. This formation is supervised by the church’s seminary, Ascension Theological College.
Do you want the freedom to read and investigate the best of modern thinkers and writers, at the same time keeping your roots in the beauty and form of the traditional church? Do you wish to be a part of a Church that honors, accepts and values all people as Children of God? Large numbers of clergy and lay members are leaving their traditional churches because they have realized that there was no longer a possibility of their using their intelligence to utilize the best thinking, and the heart to act upon it and yet remain in their churches.
If you are such a person, it could be that you are spiritually ripe to join us and perhaps do not even realize it. This is the church which sets no limits to your thinking but, to the contrary, encourages you to use your intelligence to find the deepest spiritual truths that you can. You are urged to read all you can on scriptural interpretation, comparative religion, mystical traditions, as well as the best works in psychology, psychiatry, philosophy, and anthropology. At the same time, you can share with your fellow seekers the experience of worshiping in the rich traditional beauty of Eucharistic fellowship.
By Father Jeff Genung
Blessed are they who meditate on God’s Word day and night. They shall be like a tree, firmly planted beside streams of living water, which yields fruit in its season, whose leaves shall not wither, and whatsoever they do will prosper. Psalm 1
Lectio Divina is a call to love. Now more than ever, each of us, and our world need prayer, but who will give prayer a home? Of all the different forms of prayer, there is one that has for all time beckoned the hearts and souls of contemplatives. The form of prayer that we Christians refer to as Lectio Divina (pronounced Lexeo Divena) is a method of prayerful reading and listening to Divine Scripture. Lectio Divina was practiced by the early church Fathers and has also been practiced for centuries as the foundation of prayer within the monastic tradition. The monk becomes immersed in a life of prayer. By the grace of the Holy Spirit the monk gradually becomes transformed into the image of Christ, according to the Gospel. By living a prayerful, contemplative life, our resemblance to Christ is gradually restored and we awaken to the truth of our Divine nature, Love.
If we follow the most ancient roots of this form of prayer, we discover that Christians actually inherited much of this tradition from Judaism. The ancient Jews practiced a method of prayer referred to as Hagah, which consists of the reciting and chanting of sacred texts over and over again, at times interspersed with periods of reflection and silence. The text, usually memorized and almost always chanted over and over, serves as a kind of mantra. The meaning of the text was often considered of secondary importance. The most important thing was the purification that was happening to the one praying, as they continued to be drawn into deeper states of mystical union.
The most common practice of Lectio Divina includes a series of slow, contemplative readings of sacred text, most often from the Scriptures. It can be practiced in either solitude or in community.
Just as with Centering Prayer, we are instructed to find a quiet place from which to engage this prayer. In Lectio, we are invited to listen deeply and with reverence, to hear with more than our ears. In the Prologue to the Benedictine Rule, Saint Benedict directs the reader, “Listen carefully to my instructions and attend to them with the ear of your heart.” In the Old Testament, the Prophets would exclaim “Sh’ma Israel: Hear, O Israel,” Listen! In the New Testament Christ proclaims to his disciples “be watchful” and “I am with you always.” So it is in the first reading of Lectio, we are invited to listen with our heart. If in community, we simply listen, savoring the Word of God. If we are practicing Lectio in solitude, we should both read the words and listen deeply to the words that have been spoken.
After each reading there are periods of silence lasting several minutes or more. During this silence, the spoken words begin to penetrate us mentally, physically and emotionally. In Lectio we are attuning ourselves to that still, small voice which is always present within us. It requires only our consent and attention for its presence to become revealed. Lectio opens us up to prayer by inviting the Holy Spirit, which is already present, to now become active. By becoming receptive to the Spirit, we also invite the grace that the Spirit imparts.
To listen deeply we need to calm the mind and it’s associations. We do this by relaxing our body, mind and emotions and by feeding ourselves on the influences of Scripture, prayer, and silence. In the Gospel of Luke 17:20 Jesus says, “The kingdom of God does not come visibly.” In Hosea 6:6, the Prophet exclaims, “Hear the word of the Lord, “I don’t want your sacrifices – I want your Love; I don’t want your offerings-I want you to know me.” This is the same thing that the Holy Spirit is saying to us. We live in such a hurried, fearful and uncertain world. Through Lectio, we are called to let it all go, so that we might receive the offerings of the spirit, gently listening for a word or phrase that may be speaking to us particularly.
The second reading invites us to listen again, but now from a deeper place. In Meditatio we open ourselves to a word or a passage that may speak to us in a personal way. We take the reading in more deeply and “ruminate” on it. In this reflective state, we begin to share the insight of Mother Mary “pondering in her heart” what she saw and heard of Christ (Luke 2:19).
The wisdom, mystery and power of Scripture are inexhaustible. If we only read the Scriptures like we would anything else, we can only hope to understand its depths. Casual reading and study are a necessary beginning, but only a beginning. Scripture has the capacity to reveal new and deeper meaning each time. Familiarity with sacred text is very useful, but even more important and spiritually nourishing is the prayerful reading of scripture. Lectio Divina open us up to new and ever more transforming depths of Christ, the Holy Spirit and The Word as God.
The pace of the world we live in and the constant associations of our mind, keeps us skimming on the surface of life, like a person on water skis, but sinking into life requires us to slow down. The same analogy is true for scripture and for prayer. Less reading and more silence, yield less superficiality and more depth of Spirit. In this way, less is indeed more.
In Meditatio we allow the word of God to become God’s word for us. Our receptivity and consent invites the Holy Spirit to become more active, touching us at ever-deeper levels of our being.
In the third period of Lectio Divina called Oratio – our prayer becomes affective prayer, a loving conversation with the one that our soul longs to unite with. Oratio is a prayer of the emotions, wherein our will responds to God. At this point of our prayer, our heart begins to communicate its yearning and receptivity to the Spirit and the Spirit in response fills us ever more with Divine love. Here, we gently recite the healing word or phrase given us in Lectio and Meditatio. Oratio becomes a prayer of consecration where the deepest parts of our being are being cleansed and transformed into the image and likeness of Christ. This is the beginning of contemplation, wherein we become more attentive to the presence and action of the Spirit. Oratio enables us to feel the depth of God’s presence in us, without ever sounding a word. What could be more perfect?
In the fourth and final period, we read the passage once more but now we simply rest in the presence of God. Our prayer to God now becomes God’s prayer in us. No words needed here. We have entered into the realm of union. Words are a mere ladder to the Divine. God has given us the gift of words to enable us to go beyond words and into the ground of being itself. This is the realm of union of soul and spirit, wherein we become united with and transformed into the image and likeness of God. In Contemplatio, we enter into our inheritance as Sons and Daughters of the Most High God. We become Divine Love and words are unnecessary. In this deep silence of the heart, we quietly rest in the presence of Christ. Amen!
The Rosary is both old and new. It is as old as the traditions of the Church, perhaps growing and evolving from prayers used shortly after the beginning of the Christian era. It is as new as each individual who begins using it either for the first time, or for the first time in many years. As people grow and change, so does their appreciation for that which is inward and spiritual.
Sacrament is often defined as an inward and spiritual grace drawn from an outward and physical act. The Rosary offers an experience of grace that derives from an outward act which then becomes an inward movement, which then becomes a silence. In this silence lies the power of the presence of God, who from that silence speaks to us inwardly—an act of Grace, a Sacrament of Love.
What makes the Rosary so appealing is that, once understood, it is not understood intellectually by analyzing its structure, or its effects. It is not grasped along sectarian lines and relegated only to Catholics. Many people are today discovering and rediscovering the power of the Rosary to lead them into a richly rewarding experience of their birthright—their relationship with God and with all that is Divine. Protestants, Catholics and non-sectarian people have found common ground in exploring the mysteries of life that are revealed to us through the Rosaries. The Rosary does not teach directly, it allows teaching to reach us. It helps create an open and receptive heart, which then in turn learns to see God in life, and our lives in God.