THE LITURGY -
 
A SOURCE of  CHRISTIAN
CONTEMPLATIVE
 
PRAYER
 

 The Last Supper, St. Apollinare, Ravenna

THE freedom of religious practice accorded the Christian religion by the Emperor Constantine in the early fourth century meant both that texts and prayers of the liturgy could become more uniform, and also that they could become more widely-know and publicly commented upon than had been possible during the era of persecution.  The immense numbers of persons seemingly eager to enter the Christian Church (i.e. the emperors favored religion) also meant that Christian ceremonies, especially the rites and sacraments of initiation, became important means of catechesis, instructing both neophytes and the Christian faithful.  The ceremonies of the Church became means of learning about the Christian religion, and especially about Christian prayer.  Thus the texts and rituals of the liturgy were regarded not only as didactic instruction in, but also as specific means of  attaining, contemplative union with Jesus Christ.

IN liturgical prayer we bring to bear all the skills we have learned in the arts of psalmody and lectio divina. We learn to treasure the alternating rhythms of:

[1] silence and song;

[2] speaking to God and then gently listening for His voice;

[3] rejoicing in images, history, and complexity, and then letting go of all of these to rest in the divine simplicity.

IN the liturgy we encounter: [1] the biblical texts that accompanied our forebears on their spiritual journey; and [2] the poetic encouragement of our forebears, in the form of hymns, antiphons, responsories, sequences, and liturgically-based commentaries on the biblical texts.

 


This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 2000....x....   .