In preparation for my upcoming chalice bearer duties, our Rector assigned readings from Liturgy For Living by Price and Weil. They argue that the liturgy makes present, rather than simply representing, the very life and death of Christ:

“The New Testament enshrines an understanding of liturgy which has been almost lost in translation. Christ’s life and death is in fact the one liturgy; and Christians whose lives are ‘in Christ,’ formed and shaped in his likeness, constitute a liturgy also. It would be even better to say that they constitute a working out and a making present ‘in all times and in all places’ of the one liturgy. To speak in such a way is obviously not very different from saying that Jesus worshiped God truly, not only in his ritual actions but also in his ethical response to the holy. We worship God truly when we acknowledge Christ as the absolute made present and given to us. He is the Word made flesh” (23).

Catherine Pickstock’s essay, “Liturgy and the Senses” makes clear as to why Price’s and Weil’s understanding of the liturgy is so important. If we loose this sense of a genuine making present or even continuation of Christ’s salvific life, then we run the risk of seeing Christ’s life as “only a human example and not the God-man who infused into us a new sharing in the divine life by conjoining his own body with the body of the church” (Paul’s New Moment, 128). In other words, regarding Christ’s life as liturgical and the church as participating in this very life through the liturgical process, avoids the pitfalls of extrinsicism.

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