Lesson 66: Rev.

My duty is . . . to submit myself to my spiritual pastors and masters.

“Pastor” is a Latin word which means “shepherd.” A shepherd, as you know, is one who looks after, cares for, protects and feeds, sheep. There is one Good Shepherd (St. John 10, 1): the clergy of the Church (Bishops, Priests, and Deacons) are his under-shepherds, whom he appoints to look after, not their, but his sheep (you and me and all members of the Church on earth) (St. John 21, 16). All England is divided into parishes: each has its parish-priest (the vicar or rector), who may have other priests to help him. Parishes make a diocese (the Diocese of London, Southwark, Oxford, etc.) : each diocese has a bishop as its head.

The fifth commandment also means that it is your duty as a Christian to obey your parish-priest (unless, of course, he tells you to commit what you know to be sin), for to him God has specially trusted the care of your soul (Hebrews 13, 17); your bishop; the Church’s commandments and laws, which are binding on you as a baptised person (St. Luke 10, 16).

On September 14th, 1925, I was made vicar of the parish of St. Augustine of Canterbury, in Haggerston; shepherd, that is, of all Christians who live between Hackney Road, Goldsmith Row, that smelly old canal in which you (sometimes) catch tiddlers, and Qpeensbridge Road. In his sermon on that evening (I was horribly nervous, only 35, not very old to be a vicar) the Bishop of Stepney said that we must remember the meaning of the word “parson” - “one who is to remind every one of the person of Jesus Christ.” My first duty is to show God to people, and so bring them to him. This is not easy; for parsons are human beings, and have as many temptations (perhaps more) as every one else. So say a prayer sometimes, please, for me; and for all Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.

A priest is addressed as Reverend (“one to be respected”). Often he is called Father. Men and boys touch their hats to him in the street. Even if he looks like the double-chinned, inquisitive, beady-eyed clergyman in this week’s picture, he is to be respected; just because he is a priest.