Monday, January 3, 2011

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi

Fr. Dale Matson
Our lectionary Psalm for the second Sunday after Christmas was Psalm 84, a Psalm of worship and praise to God. It wasn’t until after I talked with our organist about the gradual hymn that she had selected that I realized that it was also based on the 84th Psalm. What struck me in particular was the last line of our Hymn "How lovely is thy dwelling place". “…for thou shalt surely bless all those who live the words they pray.” Immediately I thought of the Latin axiom Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi which essentially means, As we Worship (Pray), So we Believe, So we Live. I would also add and so we become.

There is a more modern version of this concept, “You are what you eat” (Victor Lindlahr) but originally this concept was from the Liturgy and had both a literal and figurative understanding. “We offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee that we, and all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him.” (Thomas Cranmer, Book of Common Prayer, 1549).

The liturgy not only predated the Creeds, it predated the Christian Church. The liturgy was the form used for worship by the Jews in the Temple. The Christian church added primarily the Eucharist and Apostolic writings to an existing liturgy. Christians are the children of Abraham by faith and form.

There is an obvious reciprocity and interplay between worship, believing, living and becoming but it is this order which has fostered stability in the Christian Church and in the spiritual lives of those sustained by the Church. The first and great commandment is to Love God. It is God that provides the faith to believe and the reason to live. It is God that Sanctifies us in a life of service empowered by and dedicated to Him. A life lived in this order is rational, ordered, meaningful, efficacious, sacrificial, virtuous, prioritized, empathetic and unencumbered.

In the liturgy our personal and collective history is grounded in eternity. After The Gospel is proclaimed in the liturgy of the Word, we then have the liturgy of the table which contains the Gospel also. In the anamnesis we remember the atoning sacrifice of Christ, in the epiclesis the Eternal Word is reincarnate and in reception we experience the mystery of reunion. We are in God and He in us. Hallelujah.

The liturgy, the psalm and our lives have Selah moments that upon reflection are mystical. There is an indescribable joy in all this. Amen

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