June 29, 2012

The Mystical Life: Where Liturgy and Contemplation Converge

Liturgy and Contemplation converge in the mystical life, a life animated by the mystery of Christ.  There are many who see liturgy and contemplative prayer in opposition - one a shared experience of the community and the other an escape into the esoteric.  Yet neither liturgy nor contemplation are properly understood as experiences.  Nor can they be defined by their psychological outcomes. Contrary to this dominant religious thought, the unity of contemplation and liturgy is grounded in the remarkable access to God faith in Christ makes possible.  


The confidence Christ provides emboldens mental prayer and the liturgy to their ultimate end, to an actual anticipation of the unity with the Holy Trinity to which the life of the Church is ordered.   This means beyond all merely psychological descriptions of the liturgy and mental prayer, these practices converge in the heart lifted up as an offering to God.  Rather than limiting ourselves to the narrowly anthropocentric boundaries of religious experience, the unity of contemplation and liturgy lives in astounding theo-centric horizons.  


Only a vision centered in the Invisible God glimpses the heights, depths and radical extent of his divine philanthropy, and only this perspective begins to provide a sense for how implicated we are in His merciful love.  This astonishing love for man is revealed in Christ Jesus, the Word of God encountered in the Liturgy and pondered in prayer.   Those who have made themselves vulnerable to this Word in holy silence also avail themselves of  liturgical participation which is truly mystical, beyond the limits of our own efforts and even our conscious awareness.  Those who hunger for this Bread of Life in the liturgy are fed with mystical food that nourishes them for the pilgrimage of prayer.