The Liturgy method of prayer

Through the liturgy method, we allow ourselves the flexibility of spiritually seeing the transcendental, spiritual, supernatural aspects of the sacred liturgy

Sep 15, 2023

Young adults pray during eucharistic adoration at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City in a 2015 file photo (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

By Fr Jeffrey F. Kirby

All Christians are called to pray. They must actively seek ways in which they can pray and pray well before God. The Church nurtures the life of prayer. She readily offers her various prayer methods to all.
The prayer methods are guides on how to do mental prayer, which is a speaking and listening to God. The task of mental prayer should not be dismissed or neglected. The Christian way of life demands a life of prayer.

Of the various prayer methods, the liturgy method is the one that is the closest to the sacred liturgy and the Church’s public life of prayer. While all prayer is fed by the sacred liturgy and flows from it, the liturgy method is expressly about the praying and spiritually experiencing of the sacred liturgy itself.

In the liturgy method, we employ our spiritual imagination. In this way, the liturgy method is similar to the composition of place prayer method. Although, the composition of place itself is always in reference to the Sacred Scriptures, the liturgy method is focused on the prayers and rituals of the sacred liturgy. And so, while similar approaches are used, the content and focus of the liturgy method is very different from that of the composition of place method.

The Eucharistic Sacrifice is an anamnesis, a remembering, of the Lord’s sacrifice. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: “The Eucharist is a sacrifice because it represents (make present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit.”

Since the Holy Spirit is doing such a powerful supernatural work, we are able to tap into the divine action and allow ourselves to experience it fully. And so, by provoking our spiritual imagination, we attempt to form in our minds the images and scenes of the sacred liturgy.

While we are at Mass, we are only seeing the human component of worship. We know by faith that there is an abundance of other actions and realities taking place. Through the liturgy method, we allow ourselves the flexibility of spiritually seeing the transcendental, spiritual, supernatural aspects of the sacred liturgy.
We compose the scene by asking ourselves what we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. We create the scene based on our knowledge of the sacred liturgy and the mystery of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. We ask ourselves what is truly happening in front of us and use our spiritual imagination to set the scene.

We are able to engage in such a supreme mystery because we are a part of it. As baptised Christians, we are members of the Body of Christ. The Catechism again teaches us:

“The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church. The Church which is the Body of Christ participates in the offering of her Head. With Him, she herself is offered whole and entire. She unites herself to His intercession with the Father for all men. In the Eucharist, the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of His Body… Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with His offering.”

Since the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is also our sacrifice, we are able to actively participate in it. This participation is enhanced by praying about the mystery of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and possibly using the liturgy method to consciously understand and realise the reality of what is occurring during the sacred liturgy.

For example, at Mass, we can see the priest or deacon proclaiming the Gospel. Through the liturgy method, we allow ourselves to spiritually see the Lord Jesus Himself announce the Gospel in our midst. We can imagine his face, emotions, bodily movements, tone and pitch of voice, and other aspects. We allow ourselves to see what is truly happening. Through the liturgy method, we move beyond the material, utilitarian, and practical, and let our hearts encounter what is fully and actually happening.

Still further, during the institution narrative of the Eucharistic Prayer, we can see the Lord Jesus nailed and dying on the Cross. We can spiritually witness His blood, sweat, groans, and tears before God the Father. Rather than simply seeing and hearing the priest pray the Eucharistic Prayer, we lift the veil and come into contact with the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

The liturgy method is an invaluable resource to believers who live in a secular age where supernatural realities are denied and mocked. The liturgy method helps us rendezvous with the presence and action of God within the Eucharistic Sacrifice and so realise more deeply what has been offered for us and how we are called to live as the chosen people of so loving a God. --Crux Now

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