Prayer, A Participation With Christ

(4th reflection in a series on the Liturgy of the Hours)

We reflected last week on daily periodic prayer and how it has been a staple over the millennia. Today let’s reflect on maybe the most important aspect of this prayer, especially the Liturgy of the Hours – participation with Christ.  As the Mystical Body of Christ Holy Mother Church participates with the constant work of our Lord and Savior.  As members of this Mystical Body, of which Christ is the Head, we are an integral part of this participation.

We are aware that in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass our active participation means that we are participating in Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on Calvary – in His offering to the Father for our sakes. Within this sacrifice we offer up our activities; our joys and sufferings, our hopes and fears. We participate through Christ, with Christ and in Christ.

The same action is in the Liturgy of the Hours. Though it is not the Mass, it is an extension and so:

We pray through Him,

As we read 1 Timothy ‘there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…[1]We pray through Christ the Lord of all, Mediator through whom alone we have access to God.[2]

We pray with Him and in Him as we are told in Sacrosanctum Concilium:

Christ Jesus, high priest of the new and eternal covenant, taking human nature, introduced into this earthly exile that hymn which is sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven. He joins the entire community of mankind to Himself, associating it with His own singing of this canticle of divine praise.[3]

So brothers and sisters, our daily prayer that we offer to God in heaven is a participation with Christ in His constant prayer. As in the Mass where we participate in His great offering to His Father – so too is our prayer, especially the Liturgy of the Hours, a sharing in Christ’s work.

From the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours:

The Head is Son of God and Son of Man, one as God with the Father and one as man with us. When we speak in prayer to the Father, we do not separate the Son from him and when the Son’s Body prays it does not separate itself from its Head. It is the one Savior of his Body, the Lord Christ Jesus, who prays for us and in us and who is prayed to by us. He prays for us as our priest, in us as our Head; he is prayed to by us as our God. Recognize therefore our own voice in him and his voice in us.” [51]

 The excellence of Christian prayer lies in its sharing in the reverent love of the only-begotten Son for the Father and in the prayer that the Son put into words in his earthly life and that still continues without ceasing in the name of the whole human race and for its salvation, throughout the universal Church and in all its members.[4]

Our participation in Christ’s prayer is added to the eternal and continual prayer of the heavenly hosts – it is the obligation and delight of all faithful, in heaven and here on earth, to fulfill our vocation that St. Peter writes about: ‘and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.[5] And again: ‘you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood…[6]

I must admit that when I consider prayer in this light and what it means not to pray the Liturgy of the Hours; I can only think of one explanation: ungrateful and selfish.

————————————————————————————

[1] 1 TM 2:5
[2] General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours #6
[3] Sacrosanctum Concilium #83
[4] General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours #7
[5] 1PT 2:5
[6] 1 PT 2:9

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