Are rituals important?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 12,295
    Rev. Rock Schuler discusses the role of religious rituals in life.

    Rock Schuler

    Rock Schuler is the Rector (Pastor) of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Olney, Maryland. He has served as an ordained minister of the Episcopal Church since 1990 after studying for the priesthood at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. He was awarded a Doctorate of Ministry in Congregational Development in 2002. In the course of his ministry, Rock has served on an Indian Reservation, in rural Wyoming, and in major suburban areas. In addition to pastoring the people of his congregation, he has been involved in community service projects to serve the homeless, refugees, and the addicted. He’s also been involved in international outreach projects in Latin America and Africa. Rock’s spiritual roots lie in the early Christian Church, in Native American spirituality, in the liturgical worship and traditions of the Episcopal Church, and most especially in his own personal relationship with the living Lord Jesus Christ. He appreciates the mystery and mysticism of the Christian faith while offering thanks for a lifelong and joyous love of Jesus. Rock, born in 1965, is from Wyoming, where he served his first two churches. He is married to Jennifer, whom he met while serving a parish outside of Philadelphia, and has two beautiful daughters, Leia and Rebecca. Rock is into science fiction and fantasy (especially "Battlestar Galactica," "Star Trek," "Lost," and "The Lord of the Rings"), movies, reading, kayaking/canoeing, hiking, and running.

    Are rituals important?

    Rock Schuler: Rituals are important because they are the conduit by which the spirit is constantly fed it into our life. Rituals uphold us in times of stress, in times of hurt and pain. When we have undergone a loss, when we are mourning, when we are grieving, when we have been terribly disappointed, when we have suffered a great tragedy, we can hang on to life through rituals.

    Even if we undergo the rituals we just go through it by road if you will. Nevertheless the ritual itself has an inherent power that is feeding us, that is sustaining us, that is nurturing us. St. John at the cross found this one. He went through what he calls his dark night of the soul. He was going to through a time when he felt God was not present to him. He could not see or understand God anywhere. He felt God no longer loved him and yet he continued his prayer life. He continued his worship life and when he came through that dark night of the soul to the light on the other side; he saw how those rituals sustained him in his time of need.

    Rituals also enhance our celebrations. When we have the birth of a child, we have brought a new life into our family, when we are getting married, when we celebrate something joyous in life of people we love, rituals can greatly enhance that joy and they give meaning to the celebration itself.

    This is why we have rituals associated with great events like the birth of a child or the marriage of a couple. Rituals put us in touch with the joy that is God s fundamental desire for us