The Liturgy of Life
By: Deacon Keith A Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
I awakened feeling very old and tired this morning.
As I have done for almost three decades, I chose to make what many spiritual writers have called the “heroic minute.” Upon opening my eyes I immediately made the sign of the cross and gave my “Fiat” of surrendered love to the Lord who had called me to one more new day. I know, at least on an intellectual level, that every day is a new beginning, an invitation to “begin again.” But somehow, my offering this morning did not have the usual liberating impact it often has upon my spirit. I felt like I was enmeshed in cobwebs.
This morning simply did not feel like a new beginning.
All of that changed after I went down the stairs for my morning coffee. Since it was the weekend, the pattern in our home was a little different. There, in his high chair, filled with the energy of a dozen men, was my grandson. He smiled as he saw my face and gave me a precious gift! That is all it takes anymore to turn a grump into a grin! How I love to look into his bright young eyes and see the wonder of life reflected.
To a child, life is new every morning, without any effort. He receives the world, in all of its beauty, for the first time! The whole world is pure gift for children. So can be for all of us. That is one reason Jesus told us to become as children. We can to receive the gift of spiritual childhood daily, if we ask. The great spiritual writers extolled this gift and Jesus’ words in the Gospel of St John still echo through the ages “Unless you become as this child…” I was able to open up to this grace this morning because a little child helped me to perceive the meaning of life.
After the encounter with my grandson (and a good cup of coffee) I was able to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. There I encountered the God of love. There is a connection between both encounters that I will now try to articulate.
Life is like a Liturgy. It has its beginnings and its ends, all in between it is filled with instruction, invites us to repentance, calls us to make an offering, orients us toward communion and equips us for mission. It has its seasons and its times; celebration, mourning, repentance, encounter, offering, giving, receiving …and all are invitations to deepen our communion with the Lord who has called us into existence for love..
Through the liturgy of our lives, we can learn how to truly live and love, if we become like children and learn to receive the gift. Every day we are invited to begin… and begin again. There is a pattern to our daily life. By coming to see and participate in it, we can learn to embrace the grace that the present moment has to offer. This is true on a daily basis and it is true across the spectrum of the years assigned to us before we are called to the fullness of communion with the Lord.
As I age, the richness of the liturgical life of the Catholic Church has unfolded like a flower for me. I love to pray the Morning “Office”, the Liturgy of the Hours. They provide a structure not only for my prayer but also for my day. The Sunday Divine Liturgy (the “Mass”) has become not only the center of my worship but also a continual source of grace that informs my whole week. I draw nourishment from the food that was given at the Ambo, where the Word of God was proclaimed, and the Altar, where the Bread of Life and Cup of Salvation were offered-heavenly food for earthly men and women, throughout the day and the week that follows.
It is precisely in this pattern, its “sameness”, that Liturgy provides a sure anchor in a world so often rocked by unpredictability. In regularly being present at the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and entering into its timeless participation in the eternal Act of the Love made manifest on Golgotha, we mere mortals participate in the eternal. Liturgy provides a structure and a continual source of fresh food for the hungry and drink for the thirsty; that is when we cultivate an intimate relationship with the Lord who always gives Himself away in love to those who respond to His invitations of grace.
Liturgy forms a framework into which we are invited to respond and participate in God’s love story with His creation. He who is Love, created us for communion. When we exercised our freedom wrongly and made the wrong choice, He did not give up. He came among us in His Son and, through His redemption, created us anew. Now, He enlists all who live in Christ through Baptism, to continue with Him on His mission. The Church carries forward the invitation - and provides the means - for all men and women to enter into that communion of love with the Father, in the Son and through the Holy Spirit. This work of love is the continuing mission, the work, of the Church.
We who are baptized into Christ and His Body are called to ...
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