|I was a Priest-Sociologist when
the Lord initially drew me to community twenty-plus years ago. I
was a believer, who treasured the transforming message of gospel grace
for its effects in my own life and in the history of the West. I was also
a trained and dismayed observer of the corrosive trends that were secularizing
the traditional values of the western world.
Celebrating 30 years of Covenant
Community Life gives me the opportunity to look to see how these trends
have developed. It also gives me the chance to understand more clearly
why God called Covenant Communities into existence at this particular time
in many parts of the Western world.
By the early seventies urbanization,
social mobility, and the spread of higher education had already destroyed
closely knit local natural communities and many extended families
There was a breakdown of social net-works. As a result of rapid change
since World war II society existed in that classic state of anomie (lawlessness,
normlessness, "do what you like") first described by the great German sociologist
Max Weber (1). Twenty-five years later these trends have continued &
the nuclear family itself, though not destroyed, is under the pressure
of constant challenge. The massive rise in the divorce rate, the challenge
of so-called "alternative life-styles", the constant bombardment of difficult
and bad news from many and various media, the development of a distinct
youth culture heavily influenced by MTV and drugs, and the marginalizing
of the older members of society - traditionally the bearers of wisdom and
providers of continuity in society, have all worked together to make it
more and more difficult to raise children as Christian disciples.
The increased work load on fathers,
brought about by the destabilization of the working environment and the
computer revolution, have lead to a well-documented lack of role models
and the erosion of authority within the nuclear family life that does remain
(2). Working mothers & double income families have become the
norm, where childcare is a commercial service provided by strangers, and
women have less and less time for the works of service and refined charity
that in past times often civilized a harsh society and taught youngsters
to serve others unselfishly; now women will even kill to preserve the acquisitive
lifestyle & sexual freedom to which they have become accustomed (3).
Children are routinely deprived of life, and those that survive lack the
consistent nurturing, stable context and self-sacrificing role models they
rely on to grow in faith, love and unselfish service. The Spirit of the
Age is selfish, individualistic, thoughtless and hedonistic.
God is building an army to stand
against the Spirit of the Age. He has invited us to enlist in that
army. He is calling forth a people to stem the tide of evil in the
Church and in the world. He is building a bulwark against these evil pressures
in society. Part of that bulwark is known as Covenant Christian Community.
By design, its characteristics are completely and deliberately counter-cultural
to the prevailing Spirit of the Age.
In Covenant Christian Community
we treasure human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural
death. We prepare people to die to themselves so as to live for others
and for God. In an unstable world we prize stability. In an adult-oriented
society we cherish the gift of children, and see them as the hope
of the flock (4). We promote and sustain family stability in an age
of easy divorce, cultivate simplicity in an age of acquisition (5) and
self control in a season of hedonistic anarchy. We practice hospitality
& acceptance in the face of calculating individualistic selfishness.
At a time when society is breaking
down, I see God in his mercy creating an antidote and an alternative way
of life for his people. A counter-cultural way of life that is salt of
the earth and light of the world. A way of life that stands against the
current tide of despair and dissolution. A way of life whose faith and
wisdom constitutes a sign of hope in that harsh and barren world that one
of our major poets has called a Waste Land (6) . That way
of life is Covenant Christian Community. Chuck Colson has called
attention to the need for contemporary faith communities of Wisdom
and Light. Blessed be God for creating them! I thank God for associating
me with this major work of salvation. And I thank Him for calling me to
belong to one of these communities. May it be a blazing Beacon of Hope
for all God's people and all those it was designed to serve.
1 Max Weber:
Protestant Ethic & Rise of Capitalism
2 D. Blankenhorn: The Fatherless
3 M.Teresa. It is poverty
indeed if a child must die to preserve the way you live.
4 Abbot Columba Marmion: Christ
the Life of the Soul; Spes Gregis - the hope of the flock
5 Ann Arbor Bumper sticker: He
who dies with the most toys wins
6.T.S.Elliot: Four Quartets
30 Years of Godís Faithfulness, by Don Schwager
Rooted Together in Godís Word, by Jeanne Kun
of Hope, by Rev. Patrick W. Egan
You Bet!, By Van & Janet Vandagriff
Out the Best in Us in Christ, by Bob Bell
in a Non-Christian World, by Ellen Gryniewicz
Long Distance Commitment,
by Tom Gryniewicz
God at the Center, by Sue Cummins
The Servants of the Word,
a lay ecumenical brotherhood in community, by Dick LaCroix Abding
in the New Song to the Lord, by Nancy Murphy
Call to be a Missionary People, by
Christian Community, by Steve Clark
Fr. Pat Egan, ordained in
London, England, has been active for many years in church renewal, ecumenism,
and in lay movements in the United States and abroad. He is presently
chaplain at Dominos Farms. He is the founder of the Ann Arbor Catholic
Men's Movement and a liason for the national Cathoic Men's Movement and
Promise Keepers. He has a weekday radio broadcast, and in his spare
time he leads the University of Michigan men's boxing club. See Fr.
Pat's 35th Anniversary Celebration, Credo Publications article, entitled
with a punch.Also check out Fr.
Pat's WebSite. which includes a biography
and personal profile.