Just call me Father Prof. Today I taught my first class at the Grand Seminary of Montreal (my alma mater). I have the course in “Fundamentals of Liturgy and Sacramental Theology”. It was great fun! Today we covered a few basic questions:
- What is liturgy?
- Why liturgy?
- What is the liturgical movement?
- What does the liturgy contain?
- Different families of liturgical rites
As you can see from the links I’ve provided, I actually drew on some of my blogging to be able to teach the course. Yes, I actually used the “analogy of the tropical island” within my class! After all, these future priests are one day going to have to explain this to others, right? Might as well give them some pedagogical tools while they are learning about it all themselves.
One new insight that came to me recently as I was preparing the course, was the connection between liturgical worship and a life of virtue. Worship is part of the activity that flows out of the virtue of religion, which is itself a category of the virtue of justice. Now the cardinal virtue of justice is typically defined as “a spontaneous interior motion to render to others according to their due”. When this “other” is the Almighty himself, it is called “religion”.
What makes the virtue + actions of religion so special, however, is the simple fact that God does not *need* our worship. If he calls us to worship Him, then, it must be for *our* sake. And indeed it is. To grow in the virtue of religion helps us to grow in other related elements of the virtue of justice, which in turn prepares us for the theological virtues of faith, hope, and (especially) love. There can be no real love without justice, if you think about it, so while being a just person does not guarantee being a charitable person, it certainly helps pave the way. Since we are all *commanded* to love by the Lord himself, and since love is itself the very essence of God’s nature (cf. 1 John 4:8), when we worship in justice and truth we are actually setting the stage for growing in the very image and likeness of God in us. Worship is by its very nature gratuitous: the recipient (God) does not *need* our worship, which actually allows for the possibility for our worship be become a pure gift on our part. The more sincere and joyful that gift of worship, the more we know that our spiritual journey is progressing to perfection. And so the liturgy is a very powerful tool for us to live our true vocation as human beings: a vocation of love and holiness.