Let me put this more practically. One of the fruits of this type of liturgical participation is a sudden and deep interest in issues of social justice. Organizations in which I have previously participated have often required of me social outreach and volunteer work, often to my dismay. I am busy, after all. Yet now I welcome such opportunities even when inconvenient and bothersome because I know that living liturgically extends beyond the walls of my parish; being attentive to the joys and sorrows and needs of others is much like being attentive to the life of Christ as experienced in the liturgy. It’s a very pragmatic type of prayer the liturgy is, for when we pray fully with the Church in the liturgical year it brings us to the work of the Church, of serving others, usually the least of these, as if they were Christ Himself. As much as our participation in the liturgy is participation in the prayer life of the Church, so is the work of seeking justice, acting charitably, and practicing kindness. Liturgy, as I said before, means the “work of the people,” in Greek; our work is our prayer.
This type of work can take on many forms, whether those be counseling friends in time of hardship, or donating your time to a charitable organization that helps the poor and oppressed. In Waco we have many opportunities to do these types of things. Just to name a few to get your brain juices flowing: Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, the Waco Urban Gardening Coalition, the Waco Arts Initiative etc. I even hear that CareNet Waco is building housing for homeless pregnant women. The point isn’t what you do, but that prayer leads to awareness of others in the community.
As a last point, I am reminded of the chosen three with Jesus as he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. They fell asleep as Christ prayed and anguished asking the Father to let the cup pass from him, if it be the Father’s will. Asleep, napping, content in simply satisfying their own needs while Christ suffered so close by. “Can you not stay awake with me one hour,” Christ asks of them. The same luxury was not later afforded those same apostles whose stories in the book of Acts show them being attentive to the needs of others (Acts 2:42-47 describes the Christians living together and providing for the needs of others; Acts 10: 9-16 takes this one step further and shows how Peter extended this hospitality to a gentile centurion – someone who would have been outside of the Church at the time). The apostles had “been crucified with Christ,” and much as Christ acutely experienced our dereliction in his incarnation, suffering, and crucifixion, we as His mystical body, crucified with Him, are brought to communal awareness of others. Of course, it is not all suffering and dereliction for us when we live liturgically. Christ was joyfully and gloriously resurrected and so shall we be.
“For me, prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it
is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry
of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as
well as joy; finally it is something great,
supernatural, which expands my soul and
unites me to Jesus,”
-St. Thérèse of Lisieux