I got up this morning wondering why it was that I agreed to offer Morning Prayer Rite I at 8am on Mondays... This happened last week as well. However, once I got to the church and another person showed up I got it... It was really pretty great.
Afterward in the few minutes that we had to talk, Josh (the other person who showed up) talked to me about how he was enjoying some of the "whacked-out" liturgies that they had been experimenting with on Sunday afternoons. He said that it gave him some idea of what was needed for worship in a more traditional setting--and he appreciated it.
I have to say that I am continuing to turn a corner about all of this stuff. I mean, I really have strong feelings about knowing our tradition, but I can't help but note that there is a wind of liturgical revolution on the air--if not ecclesiastical revolution. Revolution, y'know, is not a banishing of the old and present for something totally new and different, instead it is a reclaiming of what is right and true about a thing. In this case, I start to think back to the whole Oxford Movement when there was a similar issue of low attendance and lack of interest in the Church (if not open distrust). What the Oxford reformers began to realize was that there was need for a stronger sacramental ministry. There was something profound to be understood in the sacraments, but there was just not enough emphasis on them.
I gotta say that I think we're there again...a new kind of Oxford Movement in which we draw on the depth and power of our sacramental symbol. Only in this revolution we need to also reclaim what these symbols are meant to direct us to--namely the mystery and transcendence of God. But along with this, I would posit that we must also reinforce the fact that these sacraments do not stand in a vacuum, that they not only happen in the community of faith, but also draw into them the community of all creation itself.
Cardinal Fulton Sheen said in his book "The Priest is Not His Own" that at the Eucharist the whole world hangs onto the chasuble as the priest raises the elements which are to become the Body and Blood of Christ. I think he has a point, and I can agree with him to a very close degree. Only, I would go further in saying that when we offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving that all of the pain of the world is brought into the midst of the celebration. And that it is in the Great Amen at the end of the Eucharistic prayers that we affirm not only that Christ is present with us in the elements, but that we have also joined together as his Body to share in the pain of the world. If it is through Christ's Body that the world's suffering is transformed, than as his Body, the Church, we continue to be part of that transforming work. I just strongly believe that it is through the sacraments that we are able to reset and invite Christ to make us more like him so that we have the strength and courage to do that which we are to do...
Thanks Josh for a really powerful invitation to discussion.