Thoughts on the Mysteries of Ordination 2
- The Order of Doorkeeper
by Fr Paul Kitchenham Ob. OSBA, Ph.D.
expected to ring the church bell as a sign that he is “to mark the set hours for calling upon the Name of the Lord”. Both symbolic ceremonies may be familiar to those from an Anglican background too, as they have been included in the service for the induction of new incumbents in that jurisdiction.
For all of us, ordained and lay, there is a profusion of spiritual insights which can be gained from these ceremonies. Firstly, and most directly, we may reflect that the apparently humble job of caretaker is here treated as a part of the Ordained Ministry – the
care of the physical things which facilitate worship (our bodies as well as our churches and chapels) is not to be disregarded. Just as the Doorkeeper is the first Minor Order on which the others are then built, so it is true that if we have a well cared for bodily environment to worship in then we are set free to concentrate on the higher things of our Faith. A similar lesson is taught by the
mention of “the set hours for calling on” God – it is good for us to have a framework or routine on which to build our prayer life, whether we are “full-time religious” or work full-time. The habit of turning our thoughts to God first thing in the morning, as we travel to work, as we prepare our main meal, or whenever fits in with our lifestyle, is the mental equivalent of a well-maintained place of worship, providing the environment for us to grow spiritually.
A second reflection on this Order springs from the duty of guarding the church doors –they say first impressions are the ones which really count, and we must recognise that each of us, as we move through our lives, constantly meets new people and is in a position to give them a good“first impression” of the Faith. We can easily put people off with a thoughtless comment or selfish action: we can put them off too by being too “churchy” and we should bear in mind that in this regard actions certainly do speak louder than words. Am I suggesting then that we should be in a constant state of watchfulness over our words and actions, consciously thinking about how to give those good impressions? Not entirely, for the key to this aspect of “opening the House of God” to those of good will, is to nurture an attitude of love in our hearts, so that loving words and actions will naturally spring forth
from within. Let our prayer be always that God will help us to grow in love therefore. The Liberal Catholic rite for ordaining Doorkeepers rightly observes that “Your task as doorkeeper is not to ask love, but to give love”.
Finally, a third thought that arises from the Porter ordination is contained in this admonition: “to close the unseen dwelling of God, to wit, the hearts of believers, by word and example, against the devil, and to open them to God”. The physical church building,
responsibility for which is given to Doorkeepers, is symbolic of each of us as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, and it is our responsibility to do all that we can to nurture and grow the divine presence in our hearts. This calls for discernment, about not putting ourselves in situations of temptation or “occasions of sin” but instead placing ourselves in the best environment in which to nurture the power of God’s Spirit within us. Think of the people you spend time with, the places you go, the books you read, the websites you visit, and apply to each and every one of these the thought that your heart is the “unseen dwelling of God”. This thought calls also for reverence for the body, avoiding its abuse and neglect, thanking God for our physicality, and recollection that Christian Faith teaches belief in a bodily resurrection.
Whether or not ordained to the Order of Doorkeeper ourselves, we could all do well (in the Liberal Catholic words) to “guard the keys to your heart, to open it for all expression of that which is noble and good, and to keep it closed to unworthy suggestion”.