Last week we looked at paragraph 13 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and saw the ways in which we are called to enter more fully into the celebration of the Mass by having the proper dispositions, being attentive to the words we say, and removing any barriers to God’s grace in our lives.
Paragraphs 13-14 draw attention to the reality that, though the Mass is the source and summit of our faith, “the spiritual life, however, is not limited solely to participation in the liturgy.” Prayer is and must be more than the one hour we spend a week at Mass. Even outside of the Mass, a Christian is called to “pray with his brethren, […] [and] he must also enter into his chamber to pray to the Father, in secret.” The effects of the Mass continue to bear fruit in our lives when we seek opportunities throughout the week to pray with our brothers and sisters in Christ. To this end, being part of a prayer group is greatly beneficial.
Additionally, we renew our encounter with our Eucharistic Lord in the Mass by drawing away by ourselves to a place and time of silence. Personal, private prayer fosters our relationship with Him.
Communal and private prayer outside of Mass is not simply a nice addition to our spiritual life. Rather, they extend and broaden the effects of the Mass. It is for this reason that the Church has always warmly encouraged devotions as we see in paragraph 13: “Popular devotions of the Christian people are highly recommended.”
What are examples of these devotions? Things like the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, novenas, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, enrollment in the Brown Scapular, religious processions, a Marian Consecration and others like them. These prayers flow from the Mass and prolong its effects throughout our week and, at the same time, lead us back toward a fuller celebration of the Mass in the future.
If we do not already have a devotional life, than embracing one or more devotions can be a concrete option for developing our spiritual life and deepening our appreciation for and the fruitfulness of the Mass in our individual lives. Devotions need not be static realities. Some devotions, like novenas, are only for nine days. A procession might happen only annually. The rosary could be prayed either daily or occasionally. Some devotions may only be for a few minutes, others for an hour. Also, we need not embrace only one devotion as a lifelong commitment. There was a time that I practiced the devotion of the 15 prayers of St. Bridget of Sweden, which I no longer do. However, the practice of the Rosary has continued with me over the years of my Christian faith.
Wherever we are at in our lives at this moment, embracing a devotion can enhance our spiritual journey and foster a deeper love for the Sacred Liturgy.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!