Tuesday, December 26, 2006
All Our Stammered, Incoherent Love
The supreme expression on earth of the rhythmic Law of God is the Liturgy.
The poet is loved by his fellow men, because he gives them a voice; he gives words to the dumb love of the world and sings its song. The priest at the altar lifts the world's voice above the world to the feet of God. There is no universal emotion that is not given a voice in the Liturgy, no individual experience that is not in it like the words in a poem. Love, joy, mourning, contrition: all have their expression, and so to the stronger passion of the soul, the longing for the descent of the Spirit and the adoration of God....
The Liturgy expresses every passion, every experience, every emotion, of the human heart. It is the song of the whole world, but it is also much more: it is the song of Christ in man, the voice of the Mystical Body of Christ lifted up to God-- all our inarticulate longing and adoration, all our stammered, incoherent love, set in the tremendous meter of the Liturgy and lifted on the voice of Christ to our Heavenly Father.
All those things which manifest the beauty of the Law are integrated in the Liturgy: music, poetry, rhythm. The slow, majestic movements of the celebrant at the altar, the great Sign of the Cross, the deep obeisance, the lifting up and wise spreading of the arms-- all are ordered, measured, disciplined, to be the medium of Christ's adoration.
The words, new on the priest's tongue at every Mass, are the words that have worn deep grooves in the human mind through the ages, like the riverbeds worn in the rocks.
Prophecies of the budding forth of a Savior, uttered thousands and thousands of years ago, are still, today, promises of the flowering of the wilderness of the human heart.
By Caryll Houselander in Wood of the Cradle, Wood of the Cross. First published in 1949.