Cow Hollow Church News
The Episcopal Church of Saint Mary the Virgin
Identity and Purpose
The Rev. Scott E. Richardson, Rector
One of the common reports of the mystics throughout Christian history concerns the path that leads to union with God. The two steps generally held up are purgation and illumination. Purgation has to do with eliminating those impediments in life that make it difficult to love God absolutely and one’s neighbor mutually. Illumination has to do with acquiring the insight, wisdom, knowledge, and light that allow us to take the next step on the journey toward God. Lent is intended to be a season of purgation and illumination. We are invited to release those things that habitually block us. We are also invited to learn more, to think deeply, to study, and to reflect on the nature and purpose of life. Lent is a season for study but we don’t just mean that in the bookish, literary sense. We are asked to study our deeper motives and yearnings. We are asked to reflect on the essential questions of identity and purpose; who am I and what am I called to do at this moment in life? These questions of purgation and illumination, of identity and purpose, will form the basis of our Lenten Study program this year. We are aware of, and deeply moved by, the good instinct that people at St. Mary’s have in regard to charity, service, and philanthropy. Many people at this parish are asking deep and fundamental questions about the shape of their life and about next steps in their journey of faith. Simply put, many people here want to offer a blessing to the world, and they are wondering about the best way to do that. As they reflect on this hopeful possibility, they are coming to realize that it may be the case that some things need to be released to make room for the new calling; and it is also true that new knowledge will be helpful in order to move forward effectively. We don’t believe we have all the answers to all the questions. We do feel a strong desire to be with our friends and parishioners as they sort out these issues in the confines of their hearts and homes. We want to create space for these questions to emerge. We hope to create a community of support for people who are shifting from a concern for doing well to a concern for doing good. We honor the needs of individuals and families for comfort and security; but we also honor the instinct that some have to extend this concern beyond personal parameters in a way that could include the well‐being of the whole human family. In this spirit, we invite you to join us in a season of reflection and action.