Liturgy - from personal soul to Holy Trinity
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I wrote a book on "liturgy" that is concerned about the interior life, the interior work of Christ in the personal soul: The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father. This thread, however, is intended to draw together all liturgy, from that in the personal soul, to that celebrated in a local congregation, to that celebrated eternally in heaven, to that finally and ultimately, eternally and infinitely, lived in God Himself as He IS, God the Holy Trinity.
I see now that all liturgy is one - and to see that eternal truth of holy worship allows one to enter it wholeheartedly. Indeed, how else can we enter worship, except "in spirit and in truth" as Jesus taught?
I'll stop here and see if there is any interest in pursuing the matter....
R. Thomas Richard
I have read both of your books. The first one, The Ordinary Path to Holiness, is a book I recommend often to help others, as it helped me. The second one, The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father seems to "pick up where you left off" in the first book, in that it explores further the perfect prayer, Jesus gave us.
Since you are beginning a thread on "liturgy" as one work of God, which we enter, and work with Him "in spirit and truth", I am very interested and would be happy to pursue the matter with you and others.
I am actually an Episcopalian, but I do believe that liturgy can be the touchstone of our existence. So, I am interested in this discussion.
Thanks for your response. As to the two editions of "Ordinary Path" - I grew impatient after more than a year of looking for a publisher, and so finally decided to self-publish. Thus, "Fidelis Publications" was born, and the first version/edition was printed in 1999. Then, after another year or so, the book got noticed by some influential people and was recommended to Alba House, a publisher. Alba House published the 2003 version/edition. You can see both covers and some description on my website, www.renewthechurch.com - click on the book title.
There are a very few differences in the text, but there are some. I'd recommend the 2nd version, given the choice, but the 1st is worth the read as it is (my humble opinion, of course!). But please don't combine the two books - they have separate ISBNs, and covers, and as I said some textual differences also.
As an Episcopalian, you would probably have no difficulties in reading and understanding either book. A non-Catholic with little understanding or experience of what we would think of as (formal, or structured) "liturgy" should be able to find good in "The Ordinary Path to Holiness," but would probably find it difficult to follow much of "The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father" - at least without some introduction to (and appreciation of) liturgical worship.
The Ordinary Path offers an explanation of, and is based upon, what is best called "traditional Catholic spirituality." Since many people, including many Catholics, are unaware of this rich spiritual treasure and resource, traditional Catholic spirituality, I really wanted to get the book published. Anyone who seriously wants to grow in the interior life, the life of prayer, can benefit from the wealth that is in that tradition, and that is introduced and explained in the book.
To some extent the second book, The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father, depends upon an understanding of that spiritual tradition. There are several "facets" of great beauty in the prayer, the Our Father - one facet is that it presents to us an "interior liturgy", and thus the title. But my point is, the "interior" part of that "interior liturgy" has to do with one's personal journey along the path to holiness. Thus the two books work together, although to some extent they can be and are meant to be helpful as they stand.
But maybe you could help me understand how this conversation might be helpful to you. What do you mean, that "liturgy can be the touchstone of our existence"?
There is also the sense of both receiving and giving in the liturgy is paralleled by our own lives which can't function well without some sort of the same giving and receiving. One could see the mass or liturgy as something given to the laity, but if this all one believes, and the lay person remains as deadweight in the pews, there doesn't seem much point in all that the clergy and laity do to make it come about.
I like the sense that there is a liturgical year. Every year we cycle through birth, death, resurrection, and being shaped for accomplishing. Our life is one of learning, and we also go through periods of joy and darkness, which the liturgical year takes us through.
I think I used the word 'touchstone' partly because this a Librarything term, but also because I think about liturgy when I am not in church.
The Catholic Church has, because of her many saints and holy men and women, a very well developed and articulated spirituality or spiritual theology. It was this beautiful and practical spirituality that I wanted to "put out there" in my first book, The Ordinary Path to Holiness. In my continuing reflections and prayer on that spirituality, the parallels and correspondences began to shine forth, between the interior work of God for our holiness, and the celebrated liturgy of Holy Mass, and of course the prayer given us by Jesus, the Our Father. Thus The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father.
It all works together so beautifully, so perfectly - but what else should we expect from our God! He is calling us to holiness, to intimate personal communion with Him in God the Holy Trinity. Of course all will work together toward His purposes.
Now I see what "touchstones" are! I just used two.
The external, celebrated liturgy can indeed be a source and a reference for us personally, if we know how to "read" it. The God who worked in us to form our communal liturgy, also is working in us personally, and interiorly.
Because self-giving is essential in God, in His life as He is in Himself, we can begin to understand and to know that it is also essential in us - we who were made in His image. This knowing is the path toward our own personal place in the liturgy - it is where liturgy becomes "my life", "my vocation" in God, whose kenosis in the Son - even to the Cross - we present and receive in the liturgy.
This sound like a book worth getting. I copied the Contents from the Wellspring of Worship:
Contents: PART ONE: The Mystery of the Liturgy -- "Mystery kept hidden through all the ages" (Eph 3:9) -- Fullness of time or the coming of the mystery -- Hour of Jesus or the mystery as event -- Ascension and the eternal liturgy -- Pentecost: the coming of the church -- "Last times": the Spirit and the Bride -- Transfiguration -- Holy Spirit and the church in the liturgy -- PART TWO: The Liturgy Celebrated -- Celebration as epiphany of the liturgy -- Outstreaming of the liturgy in the celebration -- Sacrament of sacraments -- Sacramental epicleses -- Celebration of a new time -- Sacramental space of the celebration -- PART THREE: The Liturgy Lived -- Liturgy and life -- Prayer, the liturgy of the heart -- Divinization of man -- Liturgy in work and culture -- Liturgy in the human community -- Compassion, the liturgy of the poor -- Mission and the liturgy of the last times -- Liturgy, handing on of the mystery.
One book on the liturgy I have is Sacred Games: a history of Christian worship byBernhard Lang. This book is probably less strong on the Holy Trinity. Its contents are:
The First Game: Praise. Thanking God by Proclaiming His Mighty Acts in Song and Testimony.
The Second Game: Prayer. Asking for God's help.
The Third Game: Sermon. God's Word in biblical Reading and Preaching.
The Fourth Game: Sacrifice. Giving to God and Receiving from Him.
The Fifth Game: Sacrament. Meeting Christ at the Lord's Supper.
The Sixth Game: Spiritual Ecstasy. Exercising the Gifts of Glossolalia, Prophecy, and Healing.
Epilogue: Divine Meekness, Divine Majesty. The Familiar and the Awesome Deity.
The epilogue chapter deals with the two ways of orientation: with God the Father as majestic and superior, and with Christ the Son as familiar and loving.
The fourth part of the Catechism, Prayer, however was entrusted not to a committee of bishops, but to one humble and prayerful priest: Jean Corbon. Fr. Corbon, a priest of an Eastern rite of the Church, was in Beirut, writing on the Prayer section of the Catechism as bombs were falling on the city, in the midst of war! Card. Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict), wrote with Card. Schönborn, in the Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"After having resolved to add a distinct fourth part on prayer to the first three, we looked for a representative of Eastern theology. Since it was not possible to secure a bishop as author, we settled upon Jean Corbon, who wrote the beautiful concluding text on prayer while in beleaguered Beirut, frequently in the midst of dramatic situations, taking shelter in his basement in order to continue working during the bombardments."
Now that is a test of a prayerful heart! To understand the holy liturgy, one must have a prayerful heart.
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