~ MISSION AND PURPOSE ~
A Personal Mission Statement
~ 10 RELATED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ~
~ Reverend John-Brian Paprock ~ 1999/2000 ~
1. What do you think needs to be done in the world today, and what do you intend to do about it?
· Spiritual healing of individuals and groups
· Greater understanding of each other’s beliefs to end prejudice and bigotry
· Respect and love of all life as created by God
· Honor of elders and concern for future generations
· Bringing down spiritual light into the darkness of this world for the nurturance of greater spiritual progress and healing
I am already involved with all of the above and have dedicated my life to the service of God and humanity, knowing that all things done for the glory of God and the welfare of mankind shall be blessed.
2. Please summarize what is most important to you.
Following my heart with the visions and gifts of insight that I am unworthy to have; being in service, doing the “right” thing for the “right” reason, to God, the source of all Light and Love, and humanity, the principal creation of God. This includes: continued personal spiritual development; honor, love and fidelity for my wife; honoring fatherhood; community service; honoring the autonomy and integrity of individuals and their relationship with the loving, compassionate, merciful God of Truth.
3. Tell us a little about your spirituality and your search for meaning.
My spirituality is based on decades of discipline, synchronicity and lessons about the frailty of our human existence, the stubbornness of our human will, the invincibility of God’s love through Christ, the endless mercy and compassion of God the Father, and the power and guidance available through the Holy Spirit the giver of life. Meaning is found in the continuing instant, the only time and place we may be completely with God. Observation of my inner life and the outer life of humanity and the created worlds give ample opportunity for continued spiritual improvement.
4. Please briefly your philosophy of life concerning its meaning and purpose.
The purpose of life is to become fully conscious and aware of who and what we are and who and what God is; to assist in the raising up of the densest of the fallen matter back to the rarified essence that was originally created; to always begin this work with ourselves, seeking to improve knowledge of our true selves and our shortcomings and sins which will lead us to eventually understand our true relation to our compassionate and merciful Creator; then, to reach out with compassion and assistance to others for “as the least of these...”.
Here is an analogy I have used before. It is called:
Every time I articulate this story, which comes from a dream that I had several years ago, it always seems slightly different, but always meaningful for me in the articulation.
5. Please give your top five values, that is, what motivates you.
· Service to God and humanity
· Loving-kindness (compassion)
· Enjoyment of beauty and laughter
6. Please list your top five priorities for accomplishment in your life.
· Continued personal spiritual growth and development
· Serving, protecting and nurturing my wife and family and all my relations (including economic stability).
· Healing of individuals and the community.
· Building (or rebuilding) the Church with communities that are balanced spiritually and physically. Understanding that communities need to be seen as individuals, groups and as a whole.
· Writing the books that I am called to write.
· Bringing beauty into the world as I am able.
7. Please characterize in brief your present spiritual orientation and religious outlook.
God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, the source of light and life. The human life is growth toward this source of light much like plants grow toward the sunlight. The best repository and revelation of that light and life is the Truth lived and passed on from the early Christian Church, kept alive in the Eastern Orthodox Community of Churches. St. Justin the martyr said that what Christians believe is true and reasonable because Christ is the Logos, which is usually translated “Word” but also translated as “Reason.” So, he said, whatever is reasonable is part of the Christian beliefs. St. Justin was also one of the first to point out and explain that distortions of truth have also been taught through the ages. These need to be corrected even into the present age. As a Christian, I believe in acknowledging truth and goodness wherever it may be, that our worship and devotion is public, but not to unduly draw attention to us, but give God all the glory. In a pluralistic society, such as our modern existence, Christians, as agents of God’s love, need to be involved in interfaith and other cooperative efforts for the betterment of our shared human condition, including dialogue with non-Christians. There is no need in this for a lessening of my Christian teachings, but rather it is the opportunity to be an example of Christianity in truth, wisdom and loving-kindness toward all.
8. How would you envision the Church of the future, what would be the Ideal?
The Church of the future will be readily available, public and using the fullness of technology. Yet there will be a profound continuance of the need for human presence in real time as a testament of the compassion and endless mercy of God through the agencies of the Church, that is the clergy and other ministers of various gifts as well as locations where to gather. The Church will be more of a unified body that works toward greater reconciliation of humanity’s broken relationship with God, allowing and celebrates diversity, at the same time, acknowledging mystical paths that require unique blessings, devotions and discipline
There will be great strife, as the Christian Church needs to take the lead in a growing world ethic, acknowledging a universality and inclusiveness of all creation, even as former Christians will more openly attack the Church. The Church will never have to give up Christ and will not be directly persecuted in an age of pluralism and eclecticism, but will have to contend with no longer having the influence of the majority religious belief. This time, the Word will not be lost.
The ideal would be the natural evolution of the Universal Church toward the devotion, inclusiveness, clarity and compassion of the best of the early Church without the horrors of persecution and crusades.
9. Please name the five people whom you admire most and briefly state why.
The difficulty is that I admire so many spiritual, intellectual and world leaders as well as the ordinary person doing the extra-ordinary and the simple person of devout faith. My first list had 25 people that I truly admire. Knowing that there is a necessary discrimination to complete the task in this question, howbeit seemingly arbitrary, I will give the following as those I admire most:
· Jesus Christ – the exemplar of Life and Light itself
· King David – the beloved penitent
· Gandhi/Martin Luther King, Jr. – non-violent change of injustices, coalition building, integrity and public acknowledgement of their faith willingness to work with diverse peoples.
· Paulos Mar Gregorios – the late Metropolitan of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church of India. He wrote that people of diverse faiths need to learn to live together peacefully and opened the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago.
· St Seraphim of Sarov – one of many I admire for simplicity and depth of faith, discipline and loving-kindness.
· Archbishop James Toombs (Blessed Memory!) – he sacrificed so much for an American Orthodoxy that could build better human relations and teach mystical teachings directly. (Ok, that’s really seven, but these are the tops.)
10. Please list your top five books and state briefly why you rate them at the top of your list.
Like the people I admire, my list of significant books is large and always growing. My first list had over 20 books. Again, with the disclaimer that this list has a certain but necessary arbitrariness, I submit the following five books:
· The Holy Bible (Septuagint canon – KJV) – the source of truth and revelation
· Beginning to Pray by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom – probably the best introduction to Christian prayer ever written
· Tie = Mere Christianity by C S Lewis & The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos Ware – these are probably the best modern introductions to Christianity written.
· Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous by Bill W. – one of the most profoundly spiritual books ever written.
· People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck, MD – a clear, accurate and necessary explanation of evil for our modern age.
Other top books but not the top five: The Human Presence – Paulos Mar Gregorios, Tao Te Ching, The Way of A Pilgrim, Wonderful Revelation to the World (St Seraphim of Sarov’s story), The God Illumined Cook-Brother Lawrence, Meditations on the Divine Liturgy-Gogol, The Flexible Organization, Being Naturally Therapeutic, Works by Kahlil Gibran, Works by Herman Hesse, Dune-Frank Herbert, The Earthsea Trilogy – Ursula LeGuin, Be My Priest-A Monk of the Eastern Church, Drama of the Gifted Child – Alice Miller, Byzantine-Slav Liturgy-Kucharek, The Golden Journey-unknown, Adult Children of Alcoholics-Woititz, Philokalia (especially single volume – Art of Prayer), My Life in Christ – St. John of Kronstadt, and many many others.
A PRAYER FOR MINISTRY
God, my Father in Heaven, the Creator of the Universe, be gracious and merciful to your unworthy servant and grant my needs to the fruition of ministry. Amen.