The artwork chosen to introduce section one of part four of the Compendium, on prayer, is, unexpectedly, an icon of liturgical feasts. One expects an image relating to liturgy for part two of the Compendium since the subject for this part is liturgy and sacraments; but it may be less obvious why a liturgical icon has been used for the fourth part, on prayer.
As usual, we can turn to the text of the Compendium which is placed on the reverse side of the picture. This explains this intimate link that exists between prayer and liturgy:
‘All times are good for prayer. The Church, however, proposes special times to the faithful to stress and nurture continual prayer’.
In other words, coming together for liturgical celebrations nourishes personal prayer, and is a continual reminder to pray as one moves through the liturgical year. The important point for us to bear in mind for our catechesis, therefore, is not to separate public liturgical prayer from private devotional prayer. They belong together to nourish our life in Christ.
We can draw attention, also, to the title of section one which is placed over the image. The title is not just ‘prayer’; it is prayer in life and in a baptized life in particular. When we look at this icon we are looking at prayer in Christian life because it is the prayer which characterises those who have been baptized into Christ’s life. We learn, then, that the life of Christ is expressed through the Church, and that the great moments of the life of the Church are always liturgical events. Personal prayer is impoverished if it is not united to, and fed by, the liturgical life of the Church, since this is where prayer in the Christian life is centred.