Transparency, Liturgy, & Contemplation

In the context of writing about the Rule of St. Benedict, James Finley writes, “In this … loving awareness, all that is opaque becomes translucent, and then utterly transparent” (Christian Meditation p. 139).

This is the connection between liturgy and contemplation, between liturgical theology and contemplative prayer.

A tree, writes Catherine Pickstock in her After Writing: on the Liturgical Consummation of Philosophy, is unintelligible if seen in utter disconnect from God. Without God, Rene Descartes and Duns Scotus nothwithstanding, a tree is unintelligible.

Alexander Schmemann makes similar points in his For the Life of the World.

Bathed in God’s light, however, the tree hints of God, and begins to display God. This is precisely what (the) liturgy, chiefly the Eucharist (and chiefly within the Eucharist the logic of the anaphora), celebrates.

What the Eucharist celebrates, then, contemplative prayer fosters and develops, training the disciple in this sacramental awareness, that all of creation shines with divine light which  is — ultimately and paradoxically — uncreated. When we (by “we” I mean Christians, children of God, although non-Christians can participate in true contemplation to various degrees) radically slow down and practice the disciplines of ascesis we can begin to glimpse God with the eyes of the heart.

“You made all of creation with wisdom / May the glory of Jah endure forever.” – Sinead O’Connor, “The Glory of Jah”

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