Friday, July 24, 2009

The Sacred Liturgy, Doctrine and Prayer

The field of liturgy is itself a locus theologicus of inexhaustible wealth, a scattered network, as it were, of doctrinal truths with no systemic ordering. Peguy was right to describe the liturgy as a kind of "relaxed theology". Full of poetry, the Exultet arises in the night of the Easter Vigil, and the dogma of the Redemption illumines our understanding with its light, which is none other than the natural splendour of the truth. The Exultet, the Lauda Sion, the Dies Irae are, as it were, chanted doctrine, infusing directly into the soul both light and love. Dom Gueranger once said, in words which were quite surprising at the time, that the liturgy was in fact Tradition in its most powerful and most solemn guise.


My advice to those of you who wish to nourish your own life of prayer with the public liturgical prayer of the Church is to do as you would if you were prospecting for gold. The cycle of the liturgical year is like a great river freighted with rituals, chants and poetry. One finds everywhere tiny phrases or two or three words shining brilliantly likes specks of gold.

An excellent method of prayer is to read slowly the proper of the day from the missal and day after day sift through, as it were, the water of this river and carefully to keep back whatever answers the soul's needs and desires.

Source: The Sacred Liturgy, by A Benedictine Monk (Dom Gerard Calvet)

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