Participatory Sanctification


The passage of time is the means by which the liturgy of the heavenly Jerusalem unfolds into human life. The Liturgy itself, especially the part of it contained in the Missal and Breviary, is primarily concerned with how time is modulated and varies to indicate across time the whole mystery of salvation. Taken as a whole – the texts of the liturgy, the rubrics (the manner and means of the way the work is to be done) and the calendar all work together to make each specific liturgical action part of a much greater, more complex fabric. Inasmuch as the liturgy is itself the means of the sanctification of time, the passing of time (by which here is meant the movement of the heavens) is the availability, and opening, of time itself to be sanctified. Time, as the rising and passing of the sun, the phases of the moon and the rising and falling of the seasons, ‘lets unfold’ the time of the opus Dei, the work of sanctification. The fabric, constantly woven together by the intertwinement of the sacred liturgy with the passage of cosmic time, is a fabric of meaning, a fabric that explains the being of the cosmos as God’s letting of man into God’s own self-understanding. As we ourselves are lifted up in the very weaving of this fabric, we share in the divine life and we are redeemed.

Laurence Paul Hemming, Worship as Revelation,” p. 125.

Iow the Missal and Breviary weave together the seasons and the calendric cycles into a participatory account of creation, fall, salvation and fulfillment is given to us and by our performance of them we are grafted into that very (complex) fabric. Poor Dr. Cranmer could not see this and rather complained about the rubrics (aka the Pie) being too complicated and therefore mutilated the Office and Mass to his own private understanding. Thereby depriving us of much of the means to this participatory sanctification. To be sure not all of us can do all the Opus Dei (work of God = liturgy) but we don’t need to. The “Work” is not for any one individual but for the whole people. The work “I” cannot do can and will be done by “others” – there is no submission to the Cartesian subject of the liturgy in the pre-reformed liturgy so that here it truly belongs to the people rather than the Protestant (Cartesian “I”). It is precisely the so-called reformed liturgies which are accommodated to “me” and “my needs” and “my perceptions” thus the liturgy is fragmented into as many liturgies as there are Cartesian subjects – to me. Cranmer’s reforms – and others like them – take the liturgy as participation away from the “body of the faithful” by subjecting it to the un-formed (rather than re-formed) mind of an individual. The “reformed” – rather un-formed – liturgies are an expression not so much of an Invisible and Divine Author but the expression of a finite and erring human author.

Gregory +

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About Father Gregory

I am an Anglican Catholic Priest, currently residing in Orvelte, the Netherlands.
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