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Liturgical Time

Discussion in 'Ecclesiology' started by judechild, Dec 20, 2011.

  1. judechild

    judechild Catholic Socratic

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    Sacred Space is a concept that is understood by quite a number of people. It is the thought that there are places where God's Grace specially touches where people receive more grace. The concept is seen in the book of Exodus, when God entered the tabernacle of the Hebrews in the desert: "then the cloud covered the meeting tent, and the glory of the Lord filled the Dwelling" (40:34). The concept is extended in the New Testament to include even the physical presence of the Apostles: "[the people] even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them... and they were all cured" (Acts 5:15-16).

    The Western Church preserves an understanding of Sacred Space in her churches, tabernacles, and Sacraments, but also has an understanding of Liturgical Time - which is Sacred Time.

    The Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel in his book "The Architecture of Time" says that it is significant that the first consecrated thing in the Old Testament was a day; the people were not just to remember God's rest - they were to enter into that rest by resting themselves. The Catholic Church takes this concept and applies it to the life of Christ, which all people are called to enter into.

    In this season of Advent, the tone of the Church's prayers, Masses, and celebrations throughout the world are anticipatory; we are waiting for the coming of the Lord. In the Liturgy of the Hours, which are the prayers said seven times a day throughout the world by priests, the first antiphon is "The Lord will come from His holy place to save His people." We profess the coming of Christ every day in the Mass during the Sactus when we say the words that the angels said at Jesus' birth: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts. Heaven and Earth are full of your glory; hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest." But during Christmas we will enter into the mystery of His coming in a special way, and it requires preporation. The Incarnation is so very central to salvation that the Church has a preporatory season so that we become like the faithful Israelites waiting for the Messiah.

    During Advent, we are like Simeon and Anna - who represent faithful Israel. We wait daily in the temple and watch for the coming of the Lord. We say with the Psalmist of Psalm 144 "Reach down from heaven and save me; draw me out from the mighty waters." We weep with the musicians of Psalm 137 who say in exile "by the rivers of Babylon there we sat and wept, remembering Zion; on the poplars that grew there we hung up our harps." Because we have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God. But we have hope, because we know that Christmas is coming.

    When Our Lord arrives, then we will sing the Gloria again; during Advent it is not sung (see below). We will proclaim with Zechariah that "[the Lord] has come to His people and set them free" (Lk. 1:68). Anticipating our final end, we will say with Simeon "now You let your servant go in peace; Your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people" (Lk. 2:29-31).

    Pope Benedict XVI says of the Mass "let us discover the intimate riches of the Church's liturgy and its true greatness: it is not we who are celebrating for ourselves, but it is the living God Himself who is preparing a banquet for us" (Heart of the Christian Life, 25). That is the reason that we really don't care when the literal date of the birth of Christ is; we enter into it intimately and completely - body and soul. During the opening prayer of the Mass on Christmas day, the words are "this is the night, that Christ is born;" the words are in the present-tense, not past. It is as if we celebrate the incarnational coming of Christ right now.

    Forty-nine Christians from the city of Abitene in the year 304 were captured by the Roman proconcil Anulinus. When asked why they disobeyed the Emporer's order forbidding Christians to gather on Sunday, one of them responded "Sine dominico non possumus" - without Sunday we cannot live. Those martyrs understood Sacred Time, and that by entering into the Eucharist, they were entering in to the live of Christ Himself. In this holy season of Advent, may we all come closer to the incarnational reality of the imminent Lord.

    W.A. Mozart: Gloria (Coronation Mass in C-major K317) - YouTube
     
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  2. James4_14

    James4_14 Veteran

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    Having a program to satisfy the flesh is not worshipping in Spirit and Truth. This worship is not delegated to any day of the week.

    ***Col 2:20-3:4
    20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
    21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
    22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
    23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
    3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
    2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
    3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
    4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

     
  3. Knee V

    Knee V It's phonetic.

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    To what "program" are you referring?
     
  4. judechild

    judechild Catholic Socratic

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    It is not true that observing a concept of Sacred Time is "to satify the flesh" or "not worshipping in Spirit and in truth."

    The concept of Sacred Time has to do with the fact that our Salvation is a matter of been grafted to the Vine: "I am the vine; you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing" (Jn. 15:5). In other words, in order to be with the Blessed in Heaven we much die and rise with Christ: "For we are buried together with Him by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4).

    The way that we do this is by entering into Sacred Time. We do not just look to the events in the Gospels and say "oh how nice, Jesus was baptized by John, and the Holy Spirit came down; ho-hum." Instead, we look at Luke 2, and read "that Jesus also being baptized and praying, heaven was opened; and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, as a dove upon Him; and a voice came from Heaven: Thou art my beloeved Son; in thee I am well pleased" (vs. 21-22). Then, we see that Baptism is the "new circumcision" (cf. Col. 2:12) the way of entering into the New Covenant - which is Christ Himself. Taking these, it is clear that the Baptism of Christ is the prototype and completion of our own baptisms - so that when I was Baptized, the Holy Spirit came down on me as well, and the Father said "this is my beloeved son, in whom I am well pleased." Naturally, I am adopted, while Christ is begotten; but I am "hid with Christ" in Baptism.

    My Baptism, then, was an instance of the concept of Sacred Time - when the events of the past in salvation history are experienced in the present; the same concept is present in our celebrations of Sunday - which is entering into the mystery of Christ's Resurrection from the dead. The Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, in his book "The Sabbath" has a similar concept of Sacred Time, as did the ancient rabbis. Since Catholicism grew out of Judaism, that makes sense.

    Your objection does not affect Sacred Time. In the first place, Paul's references to "set your affection on things that are above, not of the Earth" does not mean that physical things have no efficacious nature, or that God does not give grace through physical signs. After all, Paul in 3:1 says "if you be risen with Christ" and "for you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God" (v.3); both these things came about through the Sacrifice of Christ, and were then experienced by us in Baptism: "buried with Him in Baptism, in whom also you are risen again by the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him up from the dead." To say that physical things have nothing to do with things of the spirit is gnosticism.

    Sacred Time means that I do worship in "spirit and in truth," because it does not depend on me; it depends entirely on the operation of God, and His actions in the world for the salvation of souls.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012
  5. Ignatius21

    Ignatius21 Can somebody please pass the incense?

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    I think you phrase this well. These ideas, of the sacredness not only of space but of time, are very largely lost to most modern Christians. They're entirely gone (rather, were purged) from most Evangelical theologies. They're present, to a diminished degree, in some Reformational-descended churches, and they're the very fabric of the Apostolic churches (in which I would include Catholic/Orthodox/Coptic). However, even within these communities there seem to often be very few who actually grasp just what it is they're doing when they worship--a modernist mindset has gripped us all, to some degree or another.

    My experience has been that to many Evangelicals, observing any sort of ritual, or calendar, or what have you, amounts to only so much man-made rubbish designed to score points with God...or else, is an admission that we somehow don't think God is sufficient as he is, so we have to add all these bells and whistles to Him. The idea that our baptism is a participation in the Baptism of Christ...that our taking of the Eucharist is a participation in the sacrifice...and the Incarnation...of Christ...that Liturgical eucharistic worship is an uplifting of the worshippers to the very worship of heaven itself...is mostly lost today. Many will say that we're baptized like Christ was baptized. But it's merely a similarity...not the reality.

    Your description of salvation runs opposite to the understanding in many churches today also. In that ecclesiology, people are saved by a direct and unmediated encounter with God, and then the Church is the colleciton of all the saved individuals. In the ancient understanding--still held today by apostolic churches--it is the "vine" that is saved...it is Christ who is the true elect one--and we are saved by being grafted into that new creation.

    Yup. It ruffles feathers, but I do believe there's a strain of dualism inherent in much evangelical thinking. To say that God makes use of physical means to convey his saving energies to us, is to somehow diminish God, or give away part of his glory to some created thing. Which misses the very point of the Incarnation, which was the union of created and uncreated.
     
  6. James4_14

    James4_14 Veteran

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    Any program my brother. Here is worshipping in Spirit and Truth at its best:

    ***Col 3:15-16
    15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
    16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

    There is no time set aside for prayer and reverence. The muslims pray a set number of times daily. Prayer and worship comes from the heart. We are united with a Living Saviour by way of our new nature:
    ***Rom 8:16-17
    16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit (new nature), that we are the children of God:
    17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
     
  7. Knee V

    Knee V It's phonetic.

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    As opposed to... something that we do?
     
  8. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

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    Actually, Sacred time and Sacred space, our Churches, the Calendar, the Lectionairy, the Festivals are not something that we do, as much as they are all about what God has done, and continues to do for us. These concepts keeps not only an individual, but the Church firmly rooted in Law and Gospel, Word and Sacrament. God is eternal, His Church is eternal, and transcends both time and space. God has given us instruction on how to worship throughout Scripture, including Revelation. The "tradition(s)" of the Church show the devoted desire to follow God's Divine Will for orderly continuity within His Church, both here on earth and in His heavenly kingdom.
     
  9. Knee V

    Knee V It's phonetic.

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    I'm just trying to figure out exactly what it is our friend is talking about.
     
  10. judechild

    judechild Catholic Socratic

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    It is true that worshiping in spirit and truth is in letting "the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." And it is because of that that we have a concept of Sacred Time.

    Our Faith is not something static, where we say "Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I've been saved by God at some-time-in-my-past; aren't I a happy boy! That means that now I can get warm fuzzies whenever I think of God and I never have to think of my relationship as changing with Him ever again because I've already been legalistically redeemed!" Our relationship with God is instead something dynamic and relational, where we experience the mystery of our salvation in our own time and life.

    An additional example of Sacred Time has to do with the Col. 3 passage. In the set of Catholic ritual prayers known as the Liturgy of the Hours (I know a comparable rite exists with the Orthodox and Confessional Lutherans), the morning prayer is known as Lauds (praises). In this prayer, the Canticle of Zechariah is prayed - it is found in Luke 1:68-79. This prayer is prayed during the morning because it involks the image of the rising sun as a sign of Christ coming into the world: "In the tender compassion of Our God, the Dawn from on High shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace" (1:79). This is "teaching... in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs."

    What is more, the Liturgy of the Hours is affected by the liturgical calendar - where we experience and enter into the specific moments of Christ's action; for example, Christmas is when we specially enter into the coming of Christ into the world. The antiphons for Christmas are sung in the present tense, not the past; for example: "A little child is born for us today; little and yet called the might God, alleluia." The psalm that is sung immediately after this antiphon is Psalm 149, which includes the proclaimation "Sing a new song to the Lord, his praise in the assembly of the faithful. Let Israel rejoice in its Maker, let Zion's sons exult in their king." During Christmas, we don't just remember "Oh yah, that's right; Jesus was born way back then." We enter into it; it becomes a part of our lives. In Advent, we wait with the prophets and captive Israel "Oh come, oh come Immanuel and ransom captive Israel that morns in lowly exile here." In Christmas, our waiting is done, and we celebrate: "Good Christian men rejoice with heart and soul and voice; give ye heed to what we say: News! News! Jesus Christ is born today!" The Apostles observed the temple prayers before the destruction of that edifice, and those prayers were at a set time: "Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o'clock hour of prayer" (Acts 3:1). The same tradition continues in the Liturgy of the Hours (there's even still a prayer called "none," which is prayed at three o'clock).

    As for the little shot about Muslims; yes, they do pray several times a day. But that objection doesn't carry any weight at all, since there are many things that Muslims do which Christians also do (e.g. giving alms, meeting in common for prayer); the fact that James doesn't pray at certain times a day does not make the Liturgy Muslim, or even relevantly similar. It's true that Muslims have a concept of Sacred Time, as do Jews and Orthodox Christians, and so it makes sense that they also would pray at certain times a day. It's easy for a person to belittle something beyond his or her reach, or something that he or she does not do.

    Sacred Time is worshiping in spirit and truth. The time is there (every Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection of Christ), and it is there whether I acknowledge it or not. It does not, then, depend on me. Everyone who does not think that everyone is saved and bound for Heaven believes in some kind of Sacred Time, because there must have been a period where the person was not saved, then an event occured that brings the person to salvation. The profundity of Sacred Time is that this "event" is not a static, legalistic, one-time event, but a lifelong relationship that can deepen, or dissolve - just like any relationship.
     
  11. Ignatius21

    Ignatius21 Can somebody please pass the incense?

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    :thumbsup:

    What he said :)

    Yes, the hours of prayer (definitely observed by Roman/Eastern/Oriental rites from the beginning, and retained in some Lutheran and Anglican confessional rites also) predate Christianity. This Jewish form of worship was observed by the Apostles and was likewise retained by the Christians up to, and after, the split from Judaism. The early forms of synagogue and temple worship carried over into Christian worship in many respects...that form is still found in the Eucharistic rites of all the apostolic communions.

    "Liturgical Time" is the understanding that time itself is redeemed, that it too has become sacramental and a created thing through which God now communicates his transforming grace.

    It seems that many who attack the idea of liturgical time, or liturgical anything, are just having a knee-jerk reaction against what they perceive to be an "addition" to what's taught in the Bible. The Bible doesn't explicitly command us to observe hours of prayer on specific days, etc. But the Bible was written by people who were already observing those hours of prayer, and was first read and then copied and defended and canonized by people observing those hours of prayer. So much context is lost.
     
  12. Girder of Loins

    Girder of Loins Future Math Teacher

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    I find Liturgical services quite fascinating, but I would disagree with the idea that God has a "special" Presence associated with different times and places. God is all-present. In every moment, God is with me, and He with you. God is not bound by time, nor by space. Therefore, God is not affected by them. The reason Paul's shadow healed people was because his mind was in-line with Christ's mind enough that his spirit, mind, and body became "super" Christ-like. It's hard to explain what I mean.

    Our spirit has been renewed in Christ. It is redeemed. Our mind is becoming like Christ, meaning it is in a skewed half-and-half state. All will be revealed when we die. Our body/flesh is still broken, and we get the renewed one in New Jerusalem. So, when our mind goes past the halfway mark, becoming more like Christ, our spirit can start interacting with the physical. So, if that is true, then it isn't that God is having some "special" Presence in a place, but that the physical is becoming more in-tune with the spiritual.
     
  13. judechild

    judechild Catholic Socratic

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    A lot of what you've said here is very good. It is true that God is not bound by space or time and that he is not affected by either (although, the former does not quite make the latter necessary). St. Thomas has quite a lot to say about that, and you'd probably like his very mathemical-like way of proving it.

    It is also true that St. Paul's healings come out of his union with Christ. It is sometimes called in theology ''synchronization of the will.'' Paul was able to heal because he willed the same thing that Christ did, and hence was receptive to the grace that Christ wished to give.

    Here, though, we come to the problem: basically you are thinking too small. When you said above that God is not affected by time, you forgot two things: that we are affected by them, and that Christ - Who took our nature and is our model - was affected by time and space as well.

    The life of the Christian, as you put very well, is about becoming more Christ-like - or, in other words, to be immersed into the life of Christ, so that when the Father sees us, He sees the image of His Son. That is why Scripture calls us sons, because we are ''hidden in Christ'' as St. Paul says; when we are united to the Son in His life, death, and resurrection, then we have by adoption what Christ is by nature. This, though, is neither existential (that is, it doesn't happen between you and God alone and by yourself), nor angelic (that is, space and time may not affect the angels salvation, but it does yours - because you are affected by them by nature).

    Liturgical time means that the spiritual life is not self-directed; it also means that the events of Christ's life are made sacramentally present in our own. One example I gave was of a Christian's baptism. The words of Christ in Matthew's gospel ordering the apostles to baptize all nations is not isolated from the fact that Christ has just been resurrected. During Jesus' own baptism, he foreshadowed in a real and physical way His approaching death; He identified with sinners, and went down into the water in order to rise again - just as He would go down into the earth and rise from that as well. The death and resurrection of Christ is first effected in our own lives through baptism, as St. Paul says when he writes ''do you not know that when you were baptized, you were baptized into His death?'', and the reason that baptism effects this is because it is mystically unified with Christ's own baptism - which He Himself connects with His passion: ''will you be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?''. In short, in our common baptism with Christ, we go down with Him into the water ''for the remission of sins,'' and we rise with Him attain, hearing the words of God the Father in Heaven ''This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.''

    That is what Sacred/Liturgical time is about: the idea that we actually experience in time the events of Christ's life and passion, and hence become ''conformed to Christ.''. It means also that the Christian life is not existential; I need other people, since I cannot baptize myself. I don't have the time right now to complete that point, so I'll end this here for now.
     
  14. Knee V

    Knee V It's phonetic.

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    I agree. God is not limited to certain times or places. But what God has given us He has not given us because He somehow benefits from it or somehow needs it in order to work with us. Rather, He gives us what He gives us because He knows that it is good for us. God can meet us anywhere we are (and does!), but as created beings with particular dispositions, the Liturgy and the prayers are good for us.
     
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