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Human beings were created to bless and adore their Creator and in the offering of worship to experience their highest joy and their deepest communion with one another. In our fallenness we continually turn in upon ourselves to seek fulfillment without self-offering. We squander on lesser things the love that is due to the one source of all being. But the Father never ceases from seeking true worshipers to worship him in spirit and truth. God sent the Son into the world to heal and raise us up so that, empowered by the Spirit, we could surrender our whole selves in adoration and be reunited in the love of God.
God draws us into our Society so that our calling to be true worshipers can reach fulfillment in the offering of the continual sacrifice of praise. In this life of worship together we are transformed in body, soul and spirit.
We offer our worship in the Spirit as a community of the Church on behalf of the entire world. Our life is ordered so that we can sustain the full expression of the Church’s worship in the constant offering of the Daily Office and the Eucharist. We bear witness to the riches of the liturgy and its power to permeate life with the remembrance of God. Our liturgical life is in itself a vital ministry. We lift up the Church and world in prayer, and strengthen those whom we encourage to take full part in our worship. We also influence the renewal of the Church’s worship by our example, and the value we place on beauty in music, dignity in ceremony and depth in the word.
If we become the true worshipers whom the Father seeks, no part of our life is untouched by our worship. It makes our experience of time itself sacred. The offices express the inmost meaning of the times of each day from dawn to nightfall. The weeks are sanctified, beginning with the commemoration of the resurrection on the first day. The liturgical cycle of the year redeems the passage of time by making the months and seasons the means of appropriating again the creating and healing acts of God, reaching its climax in our renewed experience of the life-giving cross and resurrection in Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost.
Our worship will bind us in community with one another and with those for whom we intercede in the liturgy. It unites us with our brothers who have gone before us and to the entire communion of saints. In worship we are not bound to our own time and place; the commemoration of the saints links us with all the ages and every place where God has been glorified. It reveals to us the great cloud of witnesses in the heavens, encouraging us on our straight course to God.
Worship sanctifies work, continually interrupting it so that we can offer it to God in thanksgiving. Worship, like play, is free from the need to produce tangible gains, but it is work. It takes skill to craft and carry out the “work of God,” as monastic tradition calls it. Worship makes costly demands on our time and energies. It calls us from the inertia of self-centeredness. When we come to worship in dryness and fatigue, we learn to make the offering of sheer faith and allow ourselves to be borne along by the devotion of our brothers.
In times of dryness, one monk can “be borne along by the devotion of our brothers.” I know, from experience, that one believer can be borne by their devotion too. The image that often recurs to me is that of a buoy. The liturgy feels like a kind of tide, waxing and waning, ebb and flow. Yet even when I do not feel up to active participation, because of distraction or fatigue, I know that I can float, like a buoy, on the devotion of others. Even more than the passion of involvement, sometimes I love simply to let myself be borne along.
Worship at the monastery, where it is apparent that value is placed on beauty in music, dignity in ceremony and depth in the word, is the most important and sustaining quality of participation for me.