Contemplating God Through the
Ritual Gestures of the Liturgy:
An Introduction and Overview



The Church worships the Trinitarian God through the Liturgy - the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Sacramental Rites, Sacramentals, and so on.


Thanks to the gracious action of God in and through our history, the Church is able to encounter the living God by means of very human actions employing very physical 'things.' Bread, wine, oil, water, wood, and stone become vehicles for this encounter.

For example, the Church does what Jesus did at the Last Supper. We take the bread, give thanks and praise to God, break the bread, and share it out among the members.


So, it is true that very human beings use very physical 'things' sacramentally to encounter, worship, and be sent on mission by the living God.


On Liturgical Contemplation — Part One:

In the "Existential Approach to Liturgy" I quoted Kathleen Hughes, who said this:

Paying attention, then, involves the continual practice of discerning the presence of the mystery of God in Christ as disclosed to the members of the worshiping community in and through the ritual actions of liturgical prayer.

One way to promote a more profound conscious participation in Liturgy, then, is to foster a deeper capacity for paying attention in the members of each worshiping community.

The wager here is that "full, active, and conscious participation" depends upon the ability of worshipers to grow in their capacity to meditate upon the prayers, ritual gestures, and symbols of any sacramental rite of the Church.

How can Liturgical Contemplation aid the worshiping assembly? It can do this by these several means:

First, Liturgical Contemplation is inherently communal. One may practice it in the quiet of one's heart. But, one always practices it as a member of a worshiping community.

Second, the community practices Liturgical Contemplation after the fact. It is the servant of active participation. By means of it, members of the congregation seek to 're-enter,' or 're-encounter' the ritual gesture or symbol as a vehicle for meeting themselves in relationship to the Triune God.

Third, Liturgical Contemplation slows down the action so as to experience the symbol or gesture anew. By taking time to notice, reflect, and discover together, a community can plumb the depths of their own life — and their common life — in relationship to God through the medium of the symbol or gesture.

Finally, Liturgical Contemplation, once completed, leads its participants back to the liturgy. By practicing Liturgical Contemplation and continually returning to the Liturgy, the participants come to a deepter capacity for conscious participation by attending to previously undiscovered depths and riches of the Liturgy.

How? That is the next step.

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Go to Liturgical Contemplation Part Two


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