The Way of Wisdom is a major initiative at The General Theological Seminary to integrate all the disciplines of formation in seminary education. Rather than separating education, formation and experience, The Way of Wisdom requires a complete blending of each. To read more about The Way of Wisdom, including Dean Kurt H. Dunkle’s article, “Diving into the Deep End,” go to www.gts.edu/wisdom.
Each month GTS News is featuring one faculty member’s reflection on The Way of Wisdom.
The Rev. Dr. Patrick Malloy
Professor of Liturgics, H. Boone Porter Chair
Psalm 119 is the longest. Section by section it follows the Hebrew alphabet, and each section contains a number of verses beginning with that letter. It is the longest chapter in the Bible: far larger than many of the books. As sprawling as it is, it sings of one thing: the Psalmist’s love of God’s law. We–we Episcopalians–pray through Psalm 119 in sections over the course of seven weeks as we celebrate Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer.
The Psalm speaks of the law of the Lord–called by many names in this poem–not as a task master but as a program of life that is, indeed, life. To follow the law of the Lord is to live. To live is the yearning of the human heart.
Our liturgy puts this ecstatic love for God’s vision of human life into our minds and onto our lips over and over across the seven-week cycle of the Divine Office. We cry of our desire for the life that God intends for us. In choosing life, we reject every thought and every deed that would draw us from God’s intention for us, because we instinctively know that to live in harmony with God’s will is alone to live.
The Way of Wisdom is a way of life. It is a way in which the words of our worship, the embodiment of our common prayer (We bow and surrender our stiff-necked impulse.), the strenuous engagement of our minds, the foregoing of even good things, the embrace of the works of charity and justice, the rejoicing in the sure and certain triumph of our Savior over everything that is death-dealing… The Way of Wisdom is all of this. It is a way of life.
What is it to be wise? The liturgy tells us, shows us, and enables us to “try it out.” The wise one embraces the stranger, bends the knee before the presence of the Holy One, senses God-in-Christ made present by the power of the Holy Spirit in Word and Sacrament, bows under the burden and rises up in the liberation of going forth in peace to love and serve the Lord. The liturgy calls all of this forth. It calls forth, too, specific responses known only in the celebrating assembly and in the individual person who celebrates. Such is the Way of Wisdom.
The Way of Wisdom is the way of being Christ’s Body in the world. In the liturgy, we learn in our minds and hearts–and in our mouths and noses and ears and bones–what it is to live a wise life, a life overflowing with life. It is a way which always turns away from the death that, even when it draws us in, is a false god.
The commandments of the Lord are sure.