Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi

The liturgy is not something one experiences. Liturgy is not a 3 hour show on a Sunday morning. Liturgy is not where you talk to your best friend. Liturgy is life. Sounds a bit weird when one thinks about it. How can liturgy be life? As the title reads: Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi: "The law of Worship determines the law of Faith determines the law of Life". This 5th century Latin term began to be incorporated into the life of the church. Liturgy is life because it forms not only what we do on a Sunday morning but it forms our entire life. Corinthians chapter 10 accounts the Eucharistic practice and not only does it mention the Eucharist but the climax of the Eucharist is partaken within the contexts of the unity of the community of the believers. The Eucharist is formed and shaped by the community of believers. If this is true and if we are to accept this "formula" then this is how liturgy is life! Liturgy representing life is then something not we do every Sunday rather it is lived out by the entire community on a daily basis. How can liturgy be life on a Wednesday afternoon in the middle of work school or whatever is might be?

Liturgy is lived on a daily basis if we come together in the one body of Christ. Christ living in us and we living in Christ is how liturgy is to be lived out. If that is understood then we will see the good in everything because God's creation is good. If we come to appreciate that point then everyday of our lives will be a lived liturgy not for us but for everyone around us. It is a selfless sacrifice we make to the people around us. This is not a definitive "formula" but rather a starting point to how one is to live out his or her liturgy. Once we begin to respect and appreciate the liturgy inside the church then our own liturgical life will gain spiritual increase from our readings of scripture prayer and service. Liturgy will only truly be lived once we have encounter the mystery of Christ. Living and partaking in the Body of Christ is the true essence of what the church and liturgy represents for us. Only then will  Liturgy stop being a form of archaic methods of worship but rather it will become life as Fr. Alexander Schmemann suggests in the quote following.

Once we take ourselves of what WE think liturgy is and HOW we think liturgy should be only then will liturgy begin to be life for us. Only then will everything within the life of the liturgy begin to blossom. Christianity will then cease to be based on a "set of activities" trying to bring more people to the church rather Christianity will be based on the brokenness of the human being and how can the brokenness of the individual brings the community together into the body of Christ. Life in liturgy will not be based on how "big the church will be" or "how many people come to an event" rather how will the liturgy and the church focus on the inner holiness and spirituality of the individual. If liturgy and church maintain the spirituality and holiness of the believer all other aspects of the church will "take care of itself". Services will be done by servants who are dedicated show love for all. Living there liturgy will be a commitment in there service or whatever else it might be. Essentially, you would never have to have servants meetings to "come up with ideas" on how to serve because rather the church will have people on its feet asking to serve if the holiness and spirituality is the main focus of the church. The church then won't be based on the "gym" or the "Sunday dinner" but rather on the living liturgy incorporating the community of believers in the unity of the one body of Christ. Therefore, Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi"The law of Worship determines the law of Faith determines the law of Life". Life is found in liturgy and liturgy is life!

This beautiful quote from Alexander Schmemann explains this concept of liturgy being life for all. This is taken from his book "Introduction to Liturgical theology" which is based on his PH.D dissertation. A recommended read to all who are interested in the study of Liturgy.                        
"The liturgical crisis consists, first of all, in the mistaken concept of the function and place of worship in the Church, in the profound metamorphosis in the understanding or worship in the mind of the Church. Let us emphasize the fact that we are speaking here about something much more important than the misunderstanding of the texts, ceremonies and language of divine service. We are speaking here about the whole approach to worship and its "experience". Worship-its structure, its form and content-remain what they were before and essentially what they have always been. In this sense it is right to speak of Orthodoxy's faithfulness to its liturgy. But to understand it and to use it are two different things. A discrepancy has appeared between the basic purpose of worship and the way it is understood, while the membership of the Church has simply not noticed this discrepancy, and the "key" which supposedly leads to an understanding of the Church's worship actually excludes the possibility of this understanding. No matter how paradoxical it may sound, what obscures the meaning or worship is that is has become for the faithful an object of love, indeed almost the sole content of Church life...

...The overwhelming majority of Orthodox people have no interest in the meaning of worship. It is accepted and experienced in mystical and aesthetic but never "logical" categories. It moves the soul of the believer by its sacredness, but its mysteriousness, by its "other-worldliness." And everything that happens to fall within its orbit becomes overgrown with complicated symbolic explanations. It is characteristic that in this symbolism there is no symbolism of the Church. Thus, people love to explain the Divine Liturgy as the depiction of the life of Christ. But who explains it as the expression of the life of the Church, as the action by which is is eternally realized? Who ever sees that in this action she is not depicting the life of Christ before the congregation, but is manifesting, creating and fulfilling herself as the Body of Christ? The believer loves the ceremonies, symbols, the whole atmosphere of the church building, this familiar and precious nourishment for this soul, but this love does not long for understanding, because the purpose of the cult is thought of precisely as the bestowal of a spiritual experience, spiritual food. For the membership of the Church worship has ceased to be the Church's self-evidencing.  

And finally, having become a "cultic society," existing in and for the sake of the cult, the membership of the Church has become unable to understand that worship-as the expression, creation and fulfilment of the Church-places the Church before the face of the world, manifests her purpose in the world, the purpose of the people of God, set in the world with a Gospel and a mission. having ceased to be the expression of the Church, worship has also ceased to be the expression of the Church in relation to the world. It is no longer seen as the leaven which raises the loaf, as the love of God directed toward the world, as a witness to the Kingdom of God, as the good news of salvation, as new life. On the contrary, worship is experienced as a departure out of the world for a little while, as a "vent" or break in earthly existence, opened up for the inlet of grace."

Fr. Alexander Schmemann, "The Task and Method of Liturgical Theology" in "Introduction to Liturgical Theology" (New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2033) 28-31.

1 comment:

  1. Yes. Life is Liturgy, you are either living the liturgy of death and following the law of death or you are living the Liturgy of Life, which is living in Christ, who destroyed death by His death. Thank for you writing.