In the previous post, I looked at three aspects of Pope Francis’ pontificate that address areas where liturgy might be healing of culture. Liturgical prayer provides an alternative to the technocratic paradigm, tribalism, and a culture of forgetfulness. In other words, a liturgical culture of life upholds the importance of matter, community, and an embodied approach to memory.
One of the problems with liturgy is that it is often treated exclusively as an intramural activity of the Church. That is, liturgical education is about making sure that we ‘say the black’ (the words) and ‘do the red’ (the rubrics). Studying the liturgy, then, is basically learning to read the cookbook. Lay folk have their parts in this cookbook, and therefore, the Catholic school, family, and parish must teach these parts.
This means that liturgy becomes entirely a “churchy” thing, unrelated to the rest of life. However, this is a poor understanding of the liturgy. Liturgy has to do with culture—the way that we live our lives in the world. Liturgical culture means that liturgy “informs” what it means to be human in the context of the school, the family, and the parish.
Take a moment to visualize the Nativity scene that was in your home as a child. Try to see it through your childhood eyes once again. What do you see? Do you remember that sense of wonder as you look at that familiar figurine of baby Jesus in the manger?
One of the oldest reflections on friendship is Plato’s Lysis in which Socrates suggests that a friend “somehow belong[s] to his beloved either in his soul or in some characteristic, habit, or aspect of his soul.” Developing this intuition, Aristotle, later argued that in a perfect friendship, friends must “live together,” by sharing deeply in one another’s inner life, famously describing such a friend as “another self.” True friends are those whose hearts and minds pursue the same thing—goodness for Plato and virtue for Aristotle.
I started daily 16-hour fasts in July of 2019 after researching the benefits of intermittent fasting. When I was presented with a concrete plan for turning fasting into a more intentional spiritual practice, I discovered something much more rewarding than physical discipline.