Let me begin by introducing to you a cleric who devoted his life and
ministry to the work of uncovering the meaning of and purpose of the Divine
Liturgy. This cleric was Amalarius of Metz, Archbishop of Trier
approximately between the years 811 to 816. His express goal was to effect
within European Christendom a unity of liturgical observance based on the
model of the ancient traditions of the Roman see, a practice that was more
austere and pure than that of the developing northern liturgies. His scholarly
praxis was stimulated by a Carolingian royal decree issued by Charlemagne,
the Admonitio Generalis of 789. This decree required the bishops of the
empire to ensure that their priests understood their liturgical roles, the content
of the prayers and the practice of and rationale behind the liturgical actions
performed. His work was rooted in a passionate understanding of the totality
of Liturgy as Praedicatio, that is, Preaching. No doubt, he was informed by
Paul’s proclamation to Timothy ‘ I solemnly urge you : Proclaim the
message : be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable;
convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. ‘2
Timothy 4 . 2 This evangelical mission that informs the very way that holy
Church operates in her liturgy finds its roots in the biblical texts and in the
emerging traditions established by the authors and compilers of our liturgical
corpus. Amalarius believed that this work of the church began with our
Lord’s solemn command enshrined at the heart of the Canon of the Mass ‘ As
often as you do this, you do it in memory of Me.’ Luke 22 . 19b Many might
adopt a different approach, one that is primarily confessional and secondarily
historical and thus would echo Paul in Philippians 2 . 11 where he writes ‘
every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father. ‘ To this they would add the moral and ethical practice appropriate to
the new kingdom reality. Today, I would like to use Amalarius’ concept as my
point of departure. If this be a good starting point, then we must bring in to a
working relationship memory and practice – the memory of the communion 2
of the Last Supper interpreted as an act of divine spiritual providence, a
feeding with super-substantial food as Jerome’s Vulgate reads Panem
nostrum supersubstantialem da nobis hodie. Matthew 6 . 11 This text
alternatively rendered by the translators of NRSV reads ‘ our bread for
tomorrow ‘ thus giving it an eschatological bearing, points toward the
influence of the Spirit that makes of Christ the “ last Adam, “ a living being.
To this will be added the commission to minister implied in the ritual of the
washing of the feet. This exegesis I link back to Matthew’s 4th beatitude ‘
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be
filled. ‘ 5 . 6 The worship life of those who spiritually hunger after a food that
is the true Bread from Heaven will always begin with the petition voiced by
the crowd in John 6 ‘ Sir, give us this bread always. ‘ 6 . 34 Thus, their
worshipful approach to God will become a blend of eschatology, looking
ahead to the great day of the Lord joined to the practice of loving
communion, the art of living after the model of Christ, both in the world as
we know it and in that perfect template exemplified in the life of the Holy
Trinity. Both of these find their optimal realization in the Eucharist. Both
demand a careful balancing of the life of the local church with that of the
universal Body of Christ. Both demand that the oneness of the Church be
safeguarded in her systems of belief, in her worship life and in her ministry in
the theatre of the world as expressions of the one unfolding Kingdom. As the
Holy Spirit animates and directs holy Church, He points her beyond history
and beyond memory toward an understanding that may be described as
sacramental, for it straddles both the present time and the end time through
the vehicle of prayer as living, dynamic communion between Creator and
created. This vital relationship causes the church as institution to seek her
existence in the reality to be found between Christ Who institutes her and the
Spirit Who constitutes her.
All this has profound implications for the worship life of those who
follow Christ. It has very profound implications for bodies like ours that seek
to hold to the great traditions of the catholic faith despite the manifold
pressures to conform our way to that of a modern, soi disant enlightened
world view. We must remain faithful at all cost for we are founded on that
strong Rock that will not be moved though the winds of change and the
floods of modernism rise up and beat upon the house of faith. Matthew 7 . 24, 25
In the new life in Christ Romans 12 . 2ff we cannot be conformed by worldly 3
pressures! The only option is transformation and renewal after the already
perfect template of relationship with God our Father provided for us by our
Lord Jesus. Our model as we approach this portal that leads to the experience
of God is perfected for us in Jesus’ prayerful humility before the Father, in
His farewell Discourses and in His practice of going apart in prayer as He
invokes the Father’s will here as it is realized already in heaven. All this is
based on the sanctity of God, His absolute otherness if you will, for we must
approach His presence in fear and trembling. The mountain of God is still
cloud-capped, from it thunder still rumbles. As children of Jesus Messiah, the
new Moses, we still need the shelter of the protective cleft in the rock face.
We, like the ancient priests, must consecrate ourselves Exodus 20 . 22 or the
Lord will break out against us. In Christ, we have indeed come close to God
Who knows us by name yet we still cannot presume to behold His glory. This
transformation of attitude and practice before God is one that fuses agape and
the ecstasy of eros as we accept the gifting of grace and express it in body,
mind and spirit as love to God in our worship in the sacred liturgy. Liturgy
must be for us that place within the heart of the community and the heart of
the individual alike where dwells the acceptance of God’s love for us,
profoundly, powerfully and dynamically, dwells as the engine allowing us to
participate in the transfigured Christ Who enables us to take His Light into
the darkness of the world. This is especially significant for those called into
Holy Orders by Christ. We need to ground our worship life in such a way that
sacraments resemble in some way those things of which they are outward
signs. Here, we have an echo effect at work as our worship life is connected
authentically to its pure source at the level of integrity, of spirit above letter,
grounded in the implanted imago Dei as we render to to God those things
that are Gods and leave behind those that are Caesars. This brings me to my
real point of departure – liturgy, ‘ our work ‘ in the one body, most especially
in the sharing of communion, must begin with memory, a consideration of the
Church, the Catholica, that work of spiritual restoration made imperative by
sin, that divine work begun in Christ’s Incarnation and extended in the
Sacrifice of Calvary here interpreted as the singular work of the one Body
begun in the explosion of the Spirit’s power on the Day of Pentecost. This
finds its source in the wholeness present, though tarnished, in every believer
as the agent that welds them into one in Christ in such a way that depth of the
experience of God’s abiding presence is revealed. This worthy goal is 4
hymned in the text of Psalm 64 . 7, 8 – the LXX reads ‘ man shall come to the
heights of the heart and exalt God ‘ or if you wish the Hebrew version ‘ of the
singular thoughts in the depth of the heart. ‘ Either way, the elevation or the
immense profundity of the experience is a universal, unified motion of the
human heart that Christ brings us, that we should not appear before God
empty. Deuteronomy 16 . 16 Such a worship life should, I believe, reveal our
desire to approach as closely as possible the practice of the Church
Triumphant in heaven as it gathers before the heavenly Throne to
acknowledge the utter worthiness of our God. It must take place before that
open door in heaven Revelation 4 . 1, 2 as our response to the great voice that
cries ‘ Come up here! ‘ What I suggest is that our worship must be a
movement of ascent, a motion taking us well beyond the limiting boundaries
of our mortality, moving us to kneel in adoration before the throne of Grace.
The mystic reality of holy Church thus unites us with our unsullied past in
Eden through our common food, the flesh of the God man under the unifying
experience of the Spirit Who empowers us to bring forth fruitful increase in
the Father’s unfolding kingdom. Thus, the Church, through her priests in the
presence of all the faithful, is the constituted body through which Christ
renews on our earthly altars His divine sacrifice on Calvary carrying out the
work of redemption as He brings us into closer union with His offering upon
the heavenly Altar. So great a task, so solemn a charge, requires careful
preparation, humble, respectful performance and an aspect of constant
adoration as God in Christ brings our earthly bodies into configuration with
the Body of His glory and prevents a hardening of our minds. 2 Corinthians 3 .
12 – 4 . 2 : Philippians 3 . 21 Here, in the unity of the catholic discipline of faith
and observance, we find the value of Origen’s consonantiae disciplina, the
discipline of harmony, that is a unity but not an absolute cult of uniformity.
Thus, I put it to you that our efforts spent in worship before the throne
of God should determine the whole course of our ministry, a ministry whose
purpose is to interiorize at the level of our reality the very Mystery that is
God Almighty. Our efforts should also be determinate in the totality of our
individual lives. No less can be found acceptable! Our communion within
Christ’s one Body implies communion with His total Divine Nature, that is
with the Father and the vivifying Spirit in the unity of the Godhead. Our real
vocation, defication by grace in the totality of our being, body, soul and
spirit, is thus to be experienced in Christ where ‘ dwells all the fullness 5
of the Godhead bodily ‘ Colossians 2 . 9 in such a way that this communion with
the A ll that is renders us as Christ-bearers. Our persona must thus unite as
one before God, this union being our reasonable service. Prayer in the body
counts! Gestures, postures, even our respiration, that animating gift of the
Spirit, all aid the body as it moves the mind and soul within into a new focus,
there to join in spirit in a prayerful unity acceptable to God, a motion that
activates the mind and eyes of the heart rendering us open to the return of
communication from our God. So too, the externals of worship in their
totality within the worship space, and in all the objects which adorn the
offering of the Mass and the praying of the Offices, along with the offering of
liturgical music – all these must be ‘ the exalted house ‘ to quote Solomon’s
Prayer of Dedication of the first Temple, 1 Kings 8 . 13 that place where the
Lord God may dwell forever, for ‘ there is no God like You, our God, in
heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love. ‘ v. 23
Solomon prayed that the Lord’s eyes would be ‘ open night and day toward
this house, ‘ the place of which the Lord God said ‘ My Name shall be there. ‘
v. 29 The worship houses of the new Israel of God continue to be the places
where God’s great Name dwells. Here priests and faithful are still sealed in
the covenant relationship, albeit within the New Covenant in the blood of our
Lord and Saviour. Our worship as praise thus must be of such a quality that it
is our best attempt to approach God’s greatness and glory, to offer before the
Throne only that which is best, the most holy and perfect offering that we can
achieve. The quality of our worship must thus symbolize the kingdom of
heaven by gifting our fellow worshippers with a fore-taste of the heavenly
riches that await us. All these ideas point us toward a change of heart as the
first requisite of effective worship, worship infused with a greater sense of
recollection welling up from liturgical time and liturgical silence as the
optimal stilling of the inner voices as we sense, however tentatively, a greater
Presence, a greater Love and a greater Peace that passes normative
understanding. This spiritual activation, a lifting up of heart and mind in the
body accompanied by a transfiguration of the senses must be our goal as we
are moved by the Father past the limits of our natural body into the new
experience of the spiritual body, from the man of dust toward the goal of the
heavenly Man. 1 Corinthians 15 . 44, 49
What a challenge this presents contemporary believers and those 6
charged by God to be their shepherds! This spiritual activation must begin
with a dual cultivation – with both spiritual and liturgical formation in
parishes, in the clergy and in seminaries charged with their formation.
Perhaps I should say restoration of that which has been lost, forgotten or
wilfully set aside in the quest to woo the modern world and in the great tide
of fear engendered by the rapid decline of institutional Christianity. Benedict
XVI locates the crisis of faith which we have inherited in a crisis of liturgy,
most especially at the level of its mystic essence, as a manifest need to
rediscover tradition as a stablilizing element in a world that changes too
rapidly, that has been radically desacralized, made into a machine that is
denuded of soul and thus downgrades mystery and sacrifice in favour of an
ingrown community that celebrates itself just as it diverts itself from the
escalating repetitive banality of life and its own weltschmerz. In the corridors
of religion, we have long forgotten a salient fact – we are not the host of the
the banquet of life, God is! He alone is drawing us in to that which is other,
that profound counter-cultural reality which is a gifting sent to change the
world, not to please and entertain it, not to join its frenetic rush toward
destruction but to point towards the new Jerusalem descending from heaven
that God may again live among men and be their God.
Humans are simply more than genetics and environment. There is more
to life than these two and the tortuous out-workings of evolution. American
psychologist James Hillman offers a counter suggestion – that we are all in
search of character and calling. The Soul’s Code Random House 1996 These two
values can become for us the entry codes to an new engagement that this old
world so desperately needs, a re-engagement that is a kind of return to our
source in the God Who loves us and saves us. As he suggests this, Hillman
laments a certain lacuna in contemporary culture – the demise of the wise
elder, the custodian of a people’s inner heritage and the keeper of those values
that make for a healthy culture and vital life. The wise elder does not explain
as much as he points inward toward that which has provided the optimal
point of orientation for ages and can, when rediscovered, revivify the
wastelands of modernity’s bankruptcy. He is the gate keeper to the real
secrets, the guardian of the mysteries and the guide on the journey of
realization that Joseph Campbell calls our Hero Journey. There can be no
doubt that the modern church has willing exchanged the transcendence of
God for a god who is my best buddy and with whom I could party. It has 7
forgotten the God on Whom it is dangerous to look, Who inspires awe and
reverence. She has sought a god who can be explained by the shallow
motions of cause and effect, one who behaves predictably after the
mechanistic model of His creatures. However, transcendence cannot be
explained, only experienced and pointed towards by the opening of a
mysterious dimension that permits alternate experience and reveals the
otherness of God. This is the task of holy Church in the Sacred Liturgy .. to
move men and women well beyond the restrictive limitations of time and
space, the world and its shallow pursuits towards the water of life and the
bread of eternity, towards a fuller life grounded solidly on that Which cannot
be moved, that Whose Truth knows no end. In the Liturgy, permeated as it is
with Sacred Scripture, and founded on the spiritual, doctrinal, moral and
pastoral bedrock of holy Church bequeathed us by Christ through the
Apostles, the Fathers and the ongoing tradition of the Catholica, we have
preserved this intact as a wise elder, ready for our use. It enshrines a Code of
and Practice of Holiness demanded of us by the very nature of God, a manner
of Being that stands in dramatic contrast to a worldly mode of being both
individual and corporate. In it we gather before God’s altar for an encounter
of a non-normal dimension, an encounter designed to transform, to burn
away the earthly dross as it encourages new growth, an encounter that must,
to be authentic, be intensely related to the fire divine, that fire whose burning
does not destroy but renews. For me, as I echo Jeremiah, the key is to return.
‘ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return unto the Lord Thy God ‘ reads the conclusion
of the Lessons from the Lamentations of Jeremiah read at Matins in Holy
Week. We cannot sing the Lord’s song in a strange land, only before Sinai’s
cloud-capped height, only when we perform a kenotic rite, when we come
through the Red Sea waters of a Mikvah before entering the great Temple
with an acceptable sacrifice. Here, in the sacred Liturgy, performed in a way
that evokes a timeless interior reality, here is the gift that this old world so
desperately needs, here is the key to the journey of return. Of this precious
gift we are custodians, servants for a time, those who must hand it on
unsullied as a spiritual gift made by God to generations to come. The Liturgy
can never be our possession, our right and something that we may fashion as
we will! No, it is a gift for use, a tool of transformation to be used as it is in
heaven, so here on earth. As priests and bishops of God, as men who are the
new inheritors of Aaron, we must again permit God to impress us with a 8
priestly character, to stamp it upon us as we celebrate His mysteries as an
expression of God’s endless love for His creation and as a mark of our divine
calling as an order set apart in the service of His great glory. We are ministers
of Transcendence, servants of the servants of God, those who seek to live the
kenosis of our Master and we are keepers of the divine portal where mankind
can approach God appropriately. Are we prepared, called to serve God as His
ministers of the New Covenant, prepared to again become wise elders, wise
not in the worldly sense of learning and reason, but wise in the Wisdom of
God? wise as willing and able to pass on the historic deposit of our faith
unsullied? If we are able to say a resounding Yes to these questions, then, and
only then, will we not appear empty handed before our God. Ecclesiasticus 35 . 4
When we, as His ministers, can wholeheartedly endorse God with a complete
trusting belief in Him and His justice, then God will behold us with both eyes
knowing that we celebrate Him as the One Whose every way is just. Genesis
18. Then, we will give back to Him in worship imbued in spirit and in truth
that which is His alone as an echo of His greater donation to us.
The world and every earth bound soul cries out today ‘ Why are you so
heavy, O my soul? Why are you so troubled within me? ‘ Another voice cries
out ‘ Where is now your God? ‘ What is the restorative answer that we hear
and which we must offer but ‘ Hope in God. ‘ Vast numbers of people today
find our answer to be insufficient! They fail to experience something of the
otherness of our God in our ministry and especially in our worshipful
approach to Him. Our praise seems stale to them and their lack of response
has often chilled our ardour. Yet true praise welling up from the awakened
human heart unleashes a ray of heavenly light upon the implanted divine
image that reveals the nascent kingdom. Worship, when authentic and
patterned upon the greater reality above, will allow a fleeting glimpse of God
thrice Holy as He unleashes in us His energia, an appropriate sharing of His
being. This energy, an expansion of the inner procession of His love, will
give us God’s All, His Self, His Life without depleting His unreachable
Essence. Holy Church, often with the best intent, has wasted God’s trust in
her mission, and stands accused of ‘ wasting His goods ‘ Luke 16 . 1 as she
becomes a dishonest manager. She has much to learn from the children of this
age that the Parable of the Dishonest Manager suggests are wiser than the
children of light. Can we minister forgiveness above judgment, can we
lighten the burden and build up the weary in heart by bringing all who 9
labour and are heavy laden home to God’s altar? In short, can we return to
our true vocation as ministers of reconciliation? Can our worship become less
worldly and more of a union with all creation, a great symphony to the love
of a Creator whose intent is to forgive and restore with the real food of
immortality. Our prayer must become the reality of our worship life – prayer
as bringing the world into the Banqueting House as we aid God in spreading
over us the Banner of Love. Canticum Canticorum 2 . 1
This juncture where we find ourselves in the early history of our
particular church brings before us the same dilemma that Moses and Aaron
faced at the waters of Meribah Numbers 20 . 2 – 13 : in the journey to the
promised Land and in the battle for it, we must face the need for the pure
waters from the rock, we must find Moses’ rod and smite the rock face twice.
We must firmly believe and, in that belief, sanctify our congregations in the
Name of the Lord. I believe that we find this power and the accompanying
strength to accomplish God’s work as He would have it done in the very core
of our corporate existence, in the Sacred Liturgy performed in spirit and truth
as it was always intended to be.
Liturgy must be for us both our point of departure and our safe home,
that point of return from the wilderness journey of actualization. ‘ Let My
people go that they may serve Me in the wilderness ‘ Exodus 7 . 16 the Lord
said to Pharaoh thus setting the agenda for worship, that is, for appropriate
sacrifice along the life journey to the mountain of the Lord, a desert journey
ordered after the will of the Lord. A careful reading of the ancient Exodus
story reveals that that this true worship is an interior journey to the real land
of encounter with God, the activated human heart, the temple where worship,
law and ethics meet in a harmonious unified blend of freedom and mutual
obligation. This blend is driven by the desire to serve the Other, our God,
Whose intent in love is to be our Redeemer, the One Who shares with us the
existence of heaven and the worship of the angelic band. This ultimate human
offering must be a two-way street, an outflow of prayer, praise, thanksgiving
and adoration answered by a return of heavenly favour experienced within
the loop of eternity. This living relationship must be a revelation of God and
His will, a testament celebrating His willingness to relate to us, sinners as we
are, and to bring us home. Thus, genuine worship must be imbued with an
otherness expressed within the blessings of creation as the heavenly altar, 10
the center-piece of the new Jerusalem, is built on the green fields of this
earth. As we seek to erect our house of Liturgy we must be mindful of the
fact that all of our efforts must find their best focus on perseverance and on
attentiveness rather than on technique as an end in itself. The goal must be to
open a channel in which we may discern, with varying degrees of clarity, the
voice of the Lord God in the garden in the cool of the day. Four
complimentary disciplines seem to suggest themselves as the foundation of
our ‘ work ‘ as the people of God – lectio divina, reading and recitation,
meditatio, thorough ongoing reflection, oratio, prayer, and finally
contemplatio, contemplation. These four suggest something of the core of the
worship experience – the personal offering of surrender that opens the self to
God’s presence, opens in relationship not just in ritual act, opens in such a
way that the stimulus of the modern age retreats just as the imaginative
faculties open to the possibility of revelation and communion. This ushers in
the idea, and an important idea it is, that worship is actually not only an
activity of body and mind, something to be accomplished well, but more so a
state of becoming.
So brothers in Christ, fellow workers in the gospel, I offer a series of
potential points of departure as we begin to craft the worship and devotional
life of the Anglocatholic Church.
1 Our worship must find itself within the fullness of the Catholic spirit in
such a way that our mode of celebration is itself an instrument of unity
binding into one our world-wide body of believers, that society of the spirit
who have come into our fold seeking a traditional home. Despite our
diverse backgrounds and specific journeys towards this promised land, we
need a tool of unity to bind us together in all that is essential while permitting
a certain individuality appropriate to specific parish and diocesan situations.
Before the age of liturgical ferment, the Missale Romanun and the Book of
Common Prayer, to name but two great traditional sources, guaranteed for
Roman Catholics and Anglicans a certain uniformity of practice in their
respective worldwide expressions, however they did not prevent a variety of
practice. In the period after Vatican I when the catholic world was torn apart
by the Roman pontifs quest for universal power, the Old Catholic movement,
from which we spring, continued to use the Missale Romanum and the
Brevarium as expressions of their unity in the ancient deposit of the faith. 11
Given the various national expressions of Old Catholicism, a situation that
we share, one might describe the Old Catholic movement as a concorporation,
to borrow the term used by Paschasius Rabertus in his
commentary In Mattheum, this being opposed to the modern idea of a
corporation. I thus propose that our church establish a basic liturgical corpus
to exercise this function for our worldwide body as both an instrument of
unity and as a point of departure for local expressions of traditional worship
coupled to the necessary expressions of local charisms. I believe that this is
especially requisite when we deal with the Ordinal of our Church, which
Canon 9 . 2 requires to conform to the rites of the See of Utrecht. These rites
are simply a translation from the Latin original of the Pontificale Romanum
editio princeps issued under Clement VIII in 1595/ 96. The same unity of
approach should be the case when we deal with the essential sacramental life
of the church expressed in the celebration of Baptism and the Mass.
2 Our worship demands of its leaders and its participants a certain
‘ staying awake ‘ Matthew 26 . 40, 41 and an element of spiritual preparedness
and awareness befitting the Church expectant as the Bride of Christ Revelation
19 . 7 gifted in this with ‘ worth-ship ‘ as He calls us out of darkness into His
marvellous light. 1 Peter 2 . 9 Thus, the relevance of our worship is as a
motion from earth God-ward, a motion not bound by time, nor determined by
relevance for us as a first principle but as a channel opened in Christ to God,
as the KJV puts it ‘ such trust have we to Christ God-ward ‘ 2 Corinthians 3 . 4
Thus our worship is oriented, is spiritually at least eastward facing, gazing
into the dawning of the Novissimus, the coming of the new day of God. Our
worship is that special wedding garment required by the Father of the
Bridegroom for His guests. It takes place in the Banquet Hall of the kingdom
of which our earthly temples are but a provisional sign. The Banquet was,
and is, and is to come in the sense that it never changes for it is beyond time.
Its location is a looking forward by turning to God as the true rising Sun of
Righteousness according to the ancient call to prayer ‘Conversi ad Dominum.
As we do this, the text of Psalm 80 . 14, 19 will be realized in the psalmists
prayer ‘ Look down from heaven, O Lord, and see; have regard for this vine ‘
coupled to ‘ Restore us, let your face shine, that we may be saved. ‘ Our
participation, that worshipful gazing up to heaven, will join with God’s
descending gaze resting upon us as the double motion of true worship. 12
3 My third point is a request for our church to work hard at a specific
aspect to her worship life that has been significantly downgraded by
contemporary Christians. I speak of the Gethsemane prayer of adoration that
stills the heart and the troubled waters of the mad dash of modernity. We need
to stop, go apart and throw ourselves down before our God replicating our
Lord’s deep prayer before His arrest. ‘ I am deeply grieved, even to death.’
Matthew 26 . 38 Surely this deep grief is nothing but a longing for the old
intimacy of Eden now best experienced before the Tabernacle in stilling the
soul and the mind that God’s gentle voice may permeate the inner landscape
of our being. Years ago, our Roman friends valued what they called L ittle
Visits to the Blessed Sacrament – so should we! We should also encourage
our people to participate regularly in the rite of B enediction of the Blessed
Sacrament. Mother Teresa of Calcutta fostered this practice in her convent.
She records the fact that when her sisters again resumed this devotional
practice of deep prayer after it had lapsed in the years following Vatican II,
her sisters experienced a new influx of postulants and a general revivification
in their spiritual life. This could be a strong evangelical tool for us.
4 I wish to encourage all in holy orders to significantly strive to elevate
their own spiritual practice that they, thus fed, may have adequate spiritual
grounding to feed the Lord’s sheep. This begins with a disciplined and
prayerful praying of the daily Offices of the Church – not as an obligation
and burden, but as a time of joy and illumination that consecrates each day to
God on your own behalf and thus on behalf of your people. The objective
liturgical prayer life that binds the ages into one is not to be confused with the
equally important time spent in personal prayer. The core of this time
honoured practice has always been the mindful recitation of the Psalter
coupled with the contemplation of the scriptures. No better formation exists
for ministry. Ample resources are available both in printed form and on line.
Given our liturgical background, I suggest the use of some form of the Prayer
Book offices or that provided in the Breviary. The latter resource provides for
a regular interaction with the vast spiritual wealth of the patristic homilies, a
resource much to be encouraged for the development of spirituality over the
practice of religion.
5 The expression of this inner formation needs to be externalized in 13
our places of worship, be they personal oratories or public spaces devoted to
God’s praise and glory in the celebration of His mysteries. The pristine
beauty of unsullied creation needs to find its expression in the worship
environment and in those things that are used to enhance it as they point
towards eternal verities. As a new church, we do not enjoy the luxury of great
worship spaces and most often must be content with make-shift rented space .
However, wherever we worship, there we must create sacred space which
promotes the experience of sacred time, both of these expressions of the
otherness of our spiritual quest. Effort expended in creating and maintaining
the beauty of our worship is never wasted as we seek always to ‘ ascribe to
the Lord the glory of His Name ‘ and to ‘ worship Him in holy splendour. ‘
Psalm 29 . 2 Effective worship in this manner is not to be confused with
expensive worship nor ostentatious worship! Members of the community
may be encouraged to share their talents in the creation of artifacts that
enhance the sacrality of the worship experience. Similarly, mindful of
Augustine’s dicta that ‘ to sing is to pray twice, ‘ an appropriate musical
ministry may arise from talented members of the laity willing to share their
gifting and resources. Most professional musicians experienced in the field of
liturgical music, are more than willing to point out appropriate resources and
even to hold workshops. The richness and varied landscape of the liturgical
year needs to be captured in such a way that it highlights the exchange of
feast and fast, solemnity and feria, that our worship Sunday by Sunday is
relieved of a tedium that makes into one Easter, Lent and the lengthy seasons
of Trinity and Epiphany.
6 Lastly, I wish to encourage our clergy to read, to mark, learn and
inwardly digest at the level of practice the ancient neglected art of priest
craft. The way we move within worship, our every gesture in its simplicity
and mindfulness, even the attitude expressed on our faces should always
reveal the fact that we our not the center of the liturgy but its humble servant.
Much of the modern liturgical movement has sought extravagance of gesture
as it views the Presider as an animator of the assembly. Within the practice of
traditional Catholicism, principles of action, walking, reciting of prayers,
sitting, standing and turning etc. require a uniformity of action that does not
detract from the object of our worship, Almighty God. The priest in liturgy
acts in persona Christi and must never be allowed to forget this. All 14
assistant ministers, clerical and lay alike, need to follow this example. We
have no need to re-invent the wheel here. Numerous fine manuals are
available both in print and online. The English publication of Ritual Notes,
the works of the American Father Laurence O’Connell and Father Adrian
Fortescue’s The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite are all wonderful aids. Of
special note is the extraordinarily rich online resources offered by the Canons
Regular of Saint John Cantius in Chicago Illinois USA. Their web address is
sanctamissa.org. Help is there available in many languages, in written form
and in detailed online videos. I would like to encourage our bishops to be
pro-active with their clergy by holding workshops led by competent
authorities who are at the same time fine teachers.
Our worship life must reveal the significance of our encounter with
God within our communities understood as the Temple of God and our
worshippers as a Holy Nation who have in the words of the Letter to the
Hebrews 12 . 23, 24
‘ come to Mount Zion,
and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
and to the innumerable angels in festal gathering,
and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven,
and to our God the judge of all,
and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
and to Jesus the Mediator of the new Covenant
and to the sprinkled Blood
that speaks a better Word than the blood of Abel. ‘
This is to be our transcendent experience of God and His saving powers
activated in the world in the vivyfing Spirit, the new life of Christ in us
joined to the whole company in heaven, this totality of the Church invited to
the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Revelation 19 . 9 in a ‘ latitudinem cordis, ‘ a
breadth of heart gifted to King Solomon that, as it was with his father David,
all will know that ‘ there is a God ‘ in the new Israel. ‘ 1 Kings 4 . 29
Father David Smith
Cathedral of our Lady and Saint Basil, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.