Both Liturgy and Contemplation are prayer responses to the same Reality. Our response to the Lord who calls is not whole, adequate, balanced unless it grows and develops in the liturgy and expresses itself in contemplation. And so there cannot be a false dichotomy established between Liturgy and Contemplation.
The Mystery of Christ
The Church has no two-track system of prayer - one for liturgists and one for mystics. Let us look at the reality of liturgy. The basis of the liturgical reform in the 20th century is centered in baptism. By baptism we belong to Christ.
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By baptism we worship the Father with Christ. By baptism we are incorporated into Christ's body, the Church. One fundamental principle of Christian liturgy is this: Jesus Christ is Liturgy.
The Mystery of Christ : The Liturgy As Spiritual Experience
The word liturgy comes from the Greek word which means service, a work performed on behalf of the public. Jesus Christ is God's work. He is God's service to His people. Jesus Christ is what God has done and still does for us.
All of God's actions, all His interventions in the history of man culminates in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God's wisdom which can now be ours through the gift of the Spirit. His life is God's life, now given to us. He is the definitive revelation of God's plan for us, the plan which scripture calls the mystery: "God has given us the wisdom to understand fully the mystery, the plan He was pleased to decree in Christ.
Liturgy is Jesus Christ. His every word, His every gesture, His faithful obedience, His love of the Father's will, the pouring out of His blood in sacrifice: this is the divine liturgy. In Him God "Opened His arms on the cross. The Church, spouse and minister of Christ, fulfilling the role of priest and victim together with Him, offers to the Father and, at the same time, offers her whole self with Him. Liturgy testifies to and is itself the continuation of those powerful deeds of God in salvation history.
The activity of God in Jesus Christ is an event. It is something God has done freely, without any merit on our part. Christian liturgy is the liturgical expression of the Christian event.
What this means is that Christian liturgy is not primarily celebrations of human events, of human realities but participation in Jesus' celebration of the Father's love, an involvement in the life of God Himself. God has continually intervened, through His marvelous works, in man's history. The fact and meaning of these interventions are revealed in the scriptures which we hear over and over in Mass and the Divine Office : creation, exodus, the prophets, events in the life of Israel culminating in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the culmination of the saving deeds of God because He is God's saving deed. Jesus is the focal point of salvation history. This means that which happened in the humanity of Jesus Christ is communicated to the rest of humanity. It is not a matter of a new event, or intervention on the part of God in addition to His activity in Jesus Christ.
Rather it is a matter of fulfillment in each one of us of that which was realized once and for all in Christ Jesus our Lord. In other words, the divine liturgy is the efficacious celebration of the paschal mystery. This is the mystery of Christ's passage through death in the order of flesh and to life in the order of God's spirit. This passage is to be realized in each one of us: "Continually we carry about in our bodies the dying of Jesus, so that in our bodies the life of Jesus may be revealed.lieheredstic.tk
Byzantine Liturgy and Spirituality : University of Dayton, Ohio
While we live, we are constantly being delivered to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh. The purpose of the Mass is not only to offer Christ to the Father but to offer ourselves with Him - the spiritual sacrifice as the fruit and the ultimate purpose of the ritual sacrifice.
It is also the purpose of the Divine Office. This latter involves the consecration of time, and that means of ourselves. In its deepest reality, the Divine Office is thus linked with and liturgically expresses what is the very purpose of Christian Life: the consecration of oneself and of the world to God. We celebrate in liturgy the deepest meaning of Christian life. The believer's life has become part of Christ's life.
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