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Tag Archive: Ecclesiology

We have the duty and joy of sharing in this prayer whenever possible

Posted: Sunday, May 29, 2011 (5:02 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Sunday, May 29th, 2011:

Taken from the website of an Anglican priest in New Zealand, Bosco Peters, on the proper place of the Liturgy of the Hours in the prayer life of the life of the Christian believer:

Many who pray the Daily Office have a personal Rule of Life, or even an expectation or vows that require that regular discipline. These can often end up feeling guilty when a particular Hour has not been prayed by them. Some, in fact, will then try to "catch up" what they have missed – even gluing a number of Hours together and praying them one after the other. This comes out of an individualistic interpretation of Christianity whereby individuals join the church for mutual support of individual spiritual growth. The Liturgy of the Hours seen as the Prayer of the Church, and the spirituality that goes with this approach, flips this on its head.

The Church as Christ’s Body, in that perspective, exists prior to individuals joining it, and individuals become Christians precisely through their incorporation into this community (primarily through baptism). The Liturgy of the Hours, as the Prayer of the Church, and essentially the prayer of Christ (the whole Christ – head and members) is ongoing, and we have the duty and joy of sharing in this prayer whenever possible. When we miss the prayer we can be conscious that the prayer goes on – we do not catch up with it, rather we pick it up again when we can.

Peters makes a great point about how the Liturgy of the Hours should act as a kind of school for understanding the ecclesiology of the Church’s life of prayer. I must admit that I have sometimes done the exact thing he speaks of here, worrying about “catching up” Offices I may have missed. Such an attitude completely misses the point of liturgical prayer. It is the Church who prays – even Christ as Head of the Church – and we believers are invited into that perfect faithfulness as participants in something that totally transcends our own feeble acts, whether pious or impious. Our modernistic mindset resists that wisdom, but the entire enterprise of Christianity is rooted in a self-renouncing, participatory salvation through Christ’s perfect worship of the Father. That is a truth at once humbling and exhilarating.

Reconciling the World

Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 (9:53 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Tuesday, Nov. 30:

Hans Urs von Balthasar, from “The Sacrament of the Brother,” in The God Question & Modern Man, 1958:

The opposition between what is profane and what is sacred is indeed fully justified in its place, else there could be no movement. Yet in this openness and this reciprocally flowing movement the opposition is transcended by the unity of him in whom and for whom all things have been created, and who has therefore been charged by the Father to bring them home.

Nevertheless, a man will find God in all worldly things and especially in his brother who becomes his neighbor only if he is willing to seek and find God also in himself, in the sanctuary of prayer and the Word and Sacrament of the Church, and the Church has not so much to make propaganda in the world, but above all to pray and to remain in charity.

I’ve been reading mostly von Balthasar and de Lubac in my current Ecclesiology course, and von Balthasar had an arrestingly radical vision of the reach of God’s grace, and of the Church’s role in the manifestation of God’s love for the lost and forsaken in the world. I’ve read plenty od theologians who have presented awe-inspiring visions of God; I don’t think I’ve ever read anyone possessed of such an optimistic – and charitable – sacramentalism.

Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.

We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (RSV)