A while back, I posted about reading Girl Meets God. I finally finished it last weekend, and I wanted to share a few of my favorite parts. A review is likely in the future, but for now, here’s one part that jumped out at me:
Regarding liturgy and its benefits:
- Sometimes, I think I have come up with something poetic. One day, when I was full in the flush of agony about what I should do with my life, whether I would always be alone, whether I should become a nun, whether I should drop out of graduate school, and other high-pitch anxieties, I heard, reverberating around in my brain, “Go out to do the work I have given you to do.” The work I have given you to do. The work I have given you to do. What an ingenious sentiment, I thought. I can’t believe I dreamed that up. Maybe I should drop out of grad school and enter a poetry-writing Master of Fine Arts program. All day, all week I heard those words, the work I have given you to do, heard them and was deeply consoled by them, sure that God had given me work to do, that He has sent me out into the world to do it, that He had even woke me up too early in the morning to do that work, it was mine, I was consecrated to it, and it was given of Him. I heard those words all week, and I felt peaceful. Not only had God given me work to do, He had given me poetic snatches of reassurance, too.
- Then I got to church on Sunday. We opened with a hymn. The crucifier and the priest processed in. We prayed the collect of the day, we read three passages from Scripture. Milind gave a rousing sermon about forgiveness. We sang some more, we prayed the prayers for the people, and exchanged the peace. Milind consecrated the Eucharist and we received it. Then we said the prayer of thanksgiving. “We thank you for receiving us as living members of your Son.” And there, in the middle of that prayer, the words God had given me all week: “And now, Father, send us out to the do the work you have given us to do.” It was the liturgy that had lodged in my brain, words of the liturgy I barely noticed Sunday to Sunday when we said them, but here I was, noticing them raptly, in the middle of a weekday afternoon, when I needed them most.
- Habit and obligation have both become bad words. That prayer becomes a habit must mean that it is impersonal, unfeeling, something of a rouse. If you do something because you are obligated to, it doesn’t count, at least not as much as if you’d done it on your own free will, like the children who says thank you because his parents tell him to, it doesn’t count. Sometimes, often, prayer feels that way to me, impersonal and unfeeling and not something I’ve chosen to do. I wish it felt inspired and on fire and like a real, love-conversation all the time, or even just more of the time. But what I am learning the more I sit with liturgy is that what I feel happening bears little relation to what is actually happening. It is a great gift when God gives me a stirring, a feeling, a something-at-all in prayer. But work is being done whether I feel it or not. Sediment is being laid. Words of praise to God are becoming the most basic words in my head. They are becoming the fallback words, drowning our advertising jingles and professors lectures and sometimes even my own interior monologues.
- Maybe St. Paul was talking about liturgy when he encouraged us to pray without ceasing.