Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spiritual Freedom

In St Peter's Basilica there is a side chapel where tourists are never allowed in. That is, no mere tourists. It's the Blessed Sacrament chapel, and in order to enter you have to give the guard a lot of money. No, just kidding. You have to convince the guard that you are going in to pray, not to sightsee. One photo and out you go.

But you can pray just as long as you like, and pray any way that you want. There's a beautiful peace about the place that way. You'll see nuns, bishops, young couples, all sorts of people from everyplace in the world, praying in silence and perfect freedom.

I think this is something to keep in mind as we enter  great mysteries of our redemption. The Church's prayer is careful not to constrain the praying faithful. In a few places, our prayers are quite specific, and corporate: in collects, for example, and in the prayers over the gifts and after Communion. Otherwise, our minds and hearts are left free to range over the sacred texts.

It might be a good moment to look over our hymns and motets, to see whether some of them might not  a little bit bossy.  Ubi Caritas is of course prescriptive; it tells us what to do. But this example stands out precisely because it is, or should be, rare.

Overall, the liturgical texts give  the freedom of a kind of group lectio divina, a fathomless group spiritual experience, rooted in the Holy Word of God.