Liturgical Discipline

Driving in a car. On a long car trip. Drives me nuts.

In the first one and one half hours of the trip I cleaned my jacket, planned my week, planned my diet, planned my Kumon, texted, went on Facebook, read some of Cardinal Newman, chatted to my dh, prayed my rosary.

So then I was, well, restless . And I pondered how others live; how do they fill their time if they are not always doing two things at once?

When my turn to drive came, I enjoyed the road, singing along with Madonna and Fleetwood Mac.

Then circumstances meant that I had time to sit in the car and think.

I thought about a homily I heard last Saturday morning. Fr pointed out , on the feast of St Charbel, that true enculturation begins with the Church and the public worship of the Church. The Church is one, catholic ( as in universal), holy, apostolic. We celebrate this universality in our prayer, our worship, our liturgy that spans all cultures and brings us united as one, before God.

As Fr said, it is superficial to assume that adding a few different languages to our celebration of the mass, throwing in a few liturgical dancers from another culture, asking people to wear their national costume to mass, means that we are celebrating the universality of the Church or that we understand the concept of enculturation.

Instead, Fr gave us the example of St Charbel and a life of prayer and of thus being an example of the Gospel to others

Let’s be honest here. Celebrating costumes and dance and a part for everyone in the liturgy up-the-front ends up as self idolatory, the self idolatory that Archbishop Ranjith of Colombo warned against in a recent letter on reverence in mass.

The Archbishop wrote of liturgical discipline. And, really, when we pray at masses celebrated with liturgical discipline , that is to say at masses celebrated with reverence, according to rubrics, then we come on our knees to adore Our Lord and not each other. And true enculturation means this prayer together, bringing the Gospel to every culture and within each culture.

The Church has given us the example of the Saints, of those who have walked before us, living lives of holiness, within different cultures, different times, different vocations.

When we read of the Saints, we are inspired to live as Christians, wherever God has placed us, Western, Eastern, male, female.

As I heard in another homily, we are called to emulate the saints who ” did extraordinary things within their ordinary lives.” Or, in other words, they lived ordinary lives in an extraordinary manner, with prayer throughout the day, with giving their day to God, with offering up joys and sorrows, prayers and penances, good and bad, virtues and, yes, vices or faults.

Pope Paul VI, writing of St Charbel, said ” May he make us understand, in a world largely fascinated by wealth and comfort, the paramount value of poverty, penance and asceticism, to liberate the soul in its ascent to God…”

This is true Gospel living, true universality…spreading the Gospel news first through our lives as Christian, where we are at.

And liturgical discipline, true reverence, true worship and adoration, are the tools that help shape us as Christians.

All this, pondered during and post a long…long…car trip!


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