December 16, 2018 - Pastor Message01/19/2019
THE YEAR OF PRAYER PART 2: DEVOTIONAL VS. LITURGICAL PRAYER
“The body is one and has many members, but all the members, though many, are one body; so it is with Christ. It was in one Spirit that all of us, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, were baptized into one body. All of us have been given to drink of the one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:12 13).
“The liturgy then is rightly seen as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ...In it full public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and the members. From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of his Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others” ( Sacrosanctum Concilium 7).
Continuing our Advent reflection on the meaning of prayer, we turn this week to the first major division in prayer: personal, or devotional, prayer and communal, or liturgical, prayer. As the term suggests, personal prayer is that which is done by individual persons. Through it, an individual devotes personal time and attention to God, cultivating his or her spiritual life in ways that are best suited to his or her temperament and personality. As such, devotional prayer takes as many different forms as there are people, though certain devotions, such as Eucharistic adoration and the stations of the cross, have stood the test of time and proven spiritually nourishing for generations of Christians.
Communal prayer, on the other hand, is the prayer not of an individual but of the entire Christian community. The word “liturgy” means “the work of the people,” and we call communal prayer liturgical because it is the spiritual work of the whole People of God, for the whole People of God. This work begins with Christ, who came to gather all people to himself and raise us up to share the life of the Father through the working of the Holy Spirit. Christ established the Church here on earth to continue his saving work, which we do in many ways but most uniquely and most powerfully through liturgical prayer, when the Body of Christ gathers together with her Head and the one Spirit through whom he joins us to himself raises the hearts and minds of all in one act of praise to the Father. Since liturgical prayer is the prayer of the Church, the Church herself determines the forms the prayer takes, such as sacramental celebrations, and individuals are invited to participate in the prayer by conforming to the prescribed rituals.While there are many differences between devotional prayer and liturgical prayer, we should not think of them as being opposed to one another. Devotional prayer helps to better dispose us to participate more fruitfully in liturgical prayer, building up a close, personal relationship with Christ, and liturgical prayer, especially Sunday Mass, serves as the source and summit of our devotional prayer and of our entire life as Christians, which we never truly live alone but always as members of Christ’s Body. So let us take advantage of this Year of Prayer to refocus and renew both our devotional and liturgical prayer here at St. Boniface to the benefit of each and of all.
Fr. Marc Stockton