How we pray is who we believe ourselves to be. We profess our faith with the use of symbols, organization of time, and rites which make up liturgy. In this podcast, we explore some of the underlying ideas beneath these aspects of liturgy. Through these actions and words, something inexpressible is finally said: repent and believe, the reign of God is at hand.
And this good news isn’t a matter of private redemption. Rather, something for all humanity, once for all. This reality contributes to the Church’s insistence that liturgical prayer is not private because it is always a celebration of the church. It is the whole Body of Christ who prays each time any of us does. This is especially true of Mass, all of the sacraments, and all liturgical prayer.
Public and private prayer
While personal and private prayer is a necessary aspect of all authentic Christian life, the individual Christian’s participation in the public prayer of the community is even more important. The public prayer of the church is powerful precisely in the reality that the people gathered for prayer (liturgy) are not the only ones present. In any liturgical prayer, the whole Mystical Body of Christ is present as well as all the choirs of angels. The church at prayer –liturgy, in a word, is indeed a celebration of the whole Heavenly Jerusalem!
The mystery of Christ is so unfathomably rich, that it cannot be exhausted in any single liturgical tradition. Even though the liturgy we pray around the world is one and the same, it is always set in a cultural context. In this way, Christ reaches out to all people, while maintaining unity in love and charity. We are not isolated or alone, but united in love in the liturgy, always and everywhere!
Liturgy is a primary place where we humans meet God the Creator, we experience in Christ the love of God reveled, and we are given the Spirit of God’s love in which to live eternally. While liturgy is a foretaste of encounter with God –holy communion, we will only truly begin to understand the significance of the liturgy when we are participating in the heavenly liturgy –an experience that will bring us true joy and fulfillment.