A text from the 4th century written by a Bishop in Nyssa has inspired many to live an ascetic life and given us great lived examples of the Christian faith. The Life of Macrina was written by Gregory of Nyssa, the younger brother of the same. This work by the great Bishop of Nyssa shows the reader the exemplary Christian life of his sister. Included in that same work is a short account of their sibling Naucratius.
Naucratius was an exceptionally gifted individual who excelled at everything he set out to do and was known for being a gifted orator. Having so much promise and opportunity at his fingertips, Naucratius decides to give all of it up and travels home to his family estate to live in solitude and simplicity.
While living as a hermit in the woods, Naucratius would fish and hunt to provide for his mother and the elderly nearby. He did this for several years until he and a friend were killed in an accident while hunting. An unfortunate end for such a gifted and selfless individual who modeled his life around the teachings of Jesus.
Fast forward to the 21st century and some seminarians who were assigned to read The Life of Macrina are sitting around discussing their love of hunting and fishing at Seminary of the Southwest. Those seminarians would leave school and move onto their own churches, bringing their idea of a group of Episcopalians who like to hunt and fish with them to the new folks they would meet. The seeds of what would become the Order of Naucratius were planted.
These opportunities to engage in hunting and fishing are meant to show a parallel to the fourfold aspect of the Eucharistic prayer: Take, Bless, Break, and Give.
The Order of Naucratius is a young ministry within the church, less than a decade old. The Order has a threefold rule of life that members follow and a way in which we engage with these activities of hunting and fishing that follows the fourfold aspect of the Eucharistic prayer. Our rule of life is our commitment to prayer, conservation, and Christian charity. We commit to this rule of life to order ourselves toward God, growing as disciples in Christ through a discipline of regular prayer, being a steward of creation through conservation efforts, and providing good-quality, harvested protein for the hungry. This rule of life is expressed in not only our personal lives but also through the community as we host fishing and hunting opportunities for people to participate in. During these trips, there are built-in times of prayer that follow the Daily Office, with shared meals and intentional fellowship. These opportunities to engage in hunting and fishing are meant to show a parallel to the fourfold aspect of the Eucharistic prayer: Take, Bless, Break, and Give.
As the Order of Naucratius, we harvest protein, we give God thanks for the gifts of his creation, break the protein down into its new form that is ready for consumption, bless it as it is packaged, and then proceed to distribute that food for people to consume. We believe that hunting and fishing are intrinsically sacred activities and that it is important for the church, and people in general, to consider them theologically.
This past March, the Order hosted its annual wild hog hunt in Louisiana. West Missouri was represented by three people from our diocese. There were so many new faces and connections across the church made, hogs harvested, laughs, delicious meals, opportunities for prayer, and Holy Eucharist. The Order was able to donate meat from that trip to those in need just one day after the trip had ended. Fresh, safely handled and packaged, and ready for our neighbors in need to consume.
In our modern world, there is a great disconnect between people and their food, and where their food comes from. There is a great disconnect between people and the natural world, and God’s good creation is suffering because of that disconnect. We believe the Order of Naucratius, a ministry of folks within the Episcopal Church and friends of the church, is one way for people to engage in activities they love, to think theologically and grow spiritually, and to do good work for the betterment of God’s Kingdom, human and natural alike.
If this is a ministry of the church that you find yourself drawn to learn more about or be involved with … join the inaugural meeting of the West Missouri Chapter of the Order of Naucratius on Thursday, May 25, at 6 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church, Carthage,
If this is a ministry of the church that you find yourself drawn to learn more about or be involved with, I encourage you to join the inaugural meeting of the West Missouri Chapter of the Order of Naucratius on Thursday, May 25, at 6 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church, Carthage, to learn more about what the order has planned for West Missouri. If you cannot attend, but want to be involved, or if you want to find out more about the Order of Naucratius, contact Fr. Collin, at email@example.com.