The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Missionary Worship

Authored by Sr. Jude Andrew Link, OP in Issue #10.3 of Catechetical Review

Art painting of monk writing manuscripts of the liturgy of the hoursThere is an interesting phenomenon that occurs in nearly every culture across history: man ritualizes worship. All over the world the similarities are astounding—animal sacrifices, burnt offerings, gifts of grain, the joy of ecstatic praise. It points to a universal sense within man that not only recognizes that there is a God but also knows that man is called to represent the created order before the Creator. This universal orientation toward the divine can help us recognize what it means to become Eucharistic missionaries.

A Little World

Man is similar to the dust of the earth, the plants that grow, and the animals that move and feel. Yet, he isn’t confined to a “fixed pattern” like the plants and animals; rather, he has been given “the privilege of freedom” like the angels.[1] He is a “little world” arranged in harmonious order in which matter is given voice, elevated, and ennobled by its participation in man’s freely offered “spiritual worship” (Rom 12:1).[2] He has a deep capacity to entrust himself. Standing at the summit and center of creation, he is capable of free obedience to God, which allows for the transformation of his life into a living liturgy of praise.

As matter and spirit, man is also capable of seeing beyond. In the novella A River Runs Through It, an expert fisherman shares his thought process for recognizing a good fishing hole: “All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren’t noticing which makes you see something that isn’t even visible.”[3] Looking again and again until one sees the “something that isn’t even visible” is a recognition that the world is sacramental, a world of signs, permeated and ordered by Wisdom. Man comes to see that this world is a gift “destined for and addressed to man” (CCC 299). As anyone knows, the reception of a gift elicits first wonder and delight and then gratitude and praise as we lift our eyes from the gift to the giver. A sacramental view of the world moves man to lift his eyes to the Giver and, on behalf of the entire cosmos, to “offer all creation back to him” in a sacrifice of thanksgiving (CCC 358).[4]

Watered Garden

In the biblical account it is this worship that brings order; or rather, worship is the locus of right order. As a little world, man sums up all things, so when he entrusts himself into the hands of God, he gives everything. This gives his worship an inherently outward dimension—it includes more than himself. When man worships, everything worships, and so everything is consecrated. In the garden, rivers ran through it and out to the whole earth (Gn 2:10–14), making it a paradise in which the first Adam “played with childlike freedom.”[5] One can see here a created echo, a sort of natural catechesis, of Eternal Wisdom playing before the Father like a little child, “rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world” (Prv 8:30–31).

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting [email protected]

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