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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Liturgical and Contemplative Prayer

Liturgical prayer and contemplative prayer, when authentic, immerse the soul in the same mystery, and raise our hearts above this life and our present sorrows, into the awesome majesty of God. When we actually and fully participate in the public worship of the Church, faith joins us to our Great High Priest who is the threshold to Heaven, the Bridge to the Father's House, the Bridegroom coming for his Bride. Liturgical prayer provides a sure reference point for our contemplative prayer - the reference point is Christ and the true participation in Christ's prayer the liturgy of the Church opens for us. Contemplative prayer quenches itself on the rivers that flow from the wounds of Christ made present in the liturgy. This is why the new translation of the liturgy coming out in November is so important for our life of prayer. More attentive to the Scriptural references of the Latin texts, the new translation connects with the deep streams of tradition that have sustained contemplative prayer for the last 2000 years. Contemplative prayer opens up the deep recesses of the heart any meaningful participation in the liturgy demands. Without contemplative prayer, liturgical participation remains only on the surface of the heart, unable to pierce into the depths of our humanity. With deep prayer, the grace of the liturgy flows through the arid and difficult parts of our lives, transforming them into something beautiful for God. Drinking in the rivers of grace flowing from the Fount of Life, contemplative prayer also extends the fruit of our liturgical life - turning the prayerful soul into a fount of life for others. Here, the Bride becomes like her Bridegroom - and the most beautiful of all friendships is truly anticipated. As Dr. Edward Sri explains, the Mass is really "the wedding feast in which the Lamb unites Himself to his Bride, symbolizing the final consummation of the union between Christ and the Church... It is in this heavenly marriage between Christ and the Church we participate through the Eucharistic liturgy here on earth as a foretaste of the communion we hope to have with our divine bridegroom for all eternity." Dr. Edward Sri has recently published two wonderful works on the new translation of the Mass. A brief and succinct review of the changes and the rationale behind them are in: A Guide to the New Translation of the Mass, West Chester, PA: Ascension Press (2011), and a longer reflection on the parts Mass as the new translation relates to the Bible is in: A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, West Chester, PA: Ascension Press (2011).

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