In the South, there are two major forces:
sports and church.
Church is where you worship God,
and sports is where you worship men.
– Nanci Kincaid
Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent
UNION WITH CHRIST, UNION WITH THE CHURCH
The liturgy is, as the Fathers taught, a work of the active life. It prepares us for contemplation, which is the final perfection of Christian personalism, since it is the intimate realization of one’s perfect union with Christ “in one Spirit.” The highest paradox of Christian personalism is for an individual to be “found in Christ Jesus” and thus “lost” to all that can be regarded, in a mundane way, as his “self.” This means to be at the same time one’s self and Christ. But this is not to be ascribed solely to personal initiative, “private prayer” or individual effort. Contemplation is a gift of God, given in and through His Church, and through the prayer of the Church. St. Anthony was led into the desert not by a private voice but by the word of God, proclaimed in the Church of his Egyptian village in the chanting of the Gospel in Coptic–a classical example of liturgy opening the way to a life of contemplation! But the liturgy cannot fulfill this function if we misunderstand or underestimate the essentially spiritual value of Christian public prayer. If we cling to immature and limited notions of “privacy,” we will never be able to free ourselves from the bonds of individualism. We will never realize how the Church delivers us from ourselves by public worship, the very public character of which tends to hide us “in the secret of God’s face.”
THOMAS MERTON, SEASONS OF CELEBRATION, 26-27