WEEK TWO: Sacraments (Celebrating the Christian Mystery)
DAY 1: Aligning Ourselves with God (Worship and Liturgy)
The secret to winning the game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey is to line yourself up as best you can with the picture on the board. This is not easy to do when you’re blindfolded and have been spun around several times! We tend to miss the mark.
The goal of the upcoming Year of Faith is to make sure that in our spiritual lives, we are aligned with God’s will. This is not easy, but at the same time we are not blindfolded in this task. God has provided us with everything we need to align ourselves with him and his will. Through worship and liturgy, we align ourselves with God. In fact, Catholic worship is the second pillar of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and it encapsulates how we express our faith—primarily through our worship.
To worship (in Hebrew) means to “bow down to.” Notice what we do when we bow: we physically align ourselves—we orient ourselves—with the person or thing to which we are bowing. To bow to someone or something is to say, in essence, “I direct all of my being to you.” This is why the First Commandment directs us to not bow down before any false gods, but rather to direct our entire being to God alone. As Christians, the way we strive to keep ourselves aligned with God is through worship. As Catholics, this worship takes place in the life of the sacraments, and centrally, through the celebration of the liturgy. In fact, the seasons of the liturgical year help us to align all time and all of our activities toward God through the liturgy.
Without worship, we easily veer off path, often unknowingly sliding into patterns of life that take us away from loving God and neighbor and, instead, keeping us focused on ourselves. In a sense, we all suffer from a type of “spiritual amnesia.” In other words, it is human nature to forget to pay attention to our spiritual dimension. Worship is our constant reminder that our lives need realignment so as to be directed toward God who is love. In essence, to worship is to love, for to love is to direct all of our attention – our very being – to the presence of another.
Every so often, our cars need a wheel alignment. The Year of Faith is an invitation for us to get an alignment – not for our cars, but for our souls.
Reflection Questions: Choose one of the following questions and share your thoughts with your fellow retreatants by adding your comments in the comments box below this post.
- How does worship and liturgy help to align us with God’s will?
- What does it mean that “we are not blindfolded” in the task of seeking to align ourselves with God’s will?
- What tends to “throw off” your alignment with God in day-to-day life?
- What does it mean to say that we all suffer from a type of “spiritual amnesia?”
- What does society invite us to worship (bow down to, align ourselves with) instead of God?
- What season of the Church’s liturgical year do you most look forward to and why? How does that season help you to better align yourself with God?
Lord, God, I am so often tempted to direct my energies and attention to things other than you. Help me to align myself with your will so as not to fool myself into thinking that anything other than you can bring me salvation. Help me to worship you – to direct my mind, heart, soul, and strength to you – so that I might not fall victim to spiritual amnesia but will always remember that I was made to know, love, and serve you.
- Why Go to Church?
- From Church to God
- What to Worship
- God Wants Our Friendship
- Do Catholics Worship Statues?
CCC References: 1066 – 1134
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I hope you’re enjoying our online summer retreat, Preparing for a Year of Faith! Take a few minutes each day at your convenience to “gather” here on my blog as we seek to add some flavor to our faith lives by deepening our understanding of the truths of our faith as given to us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Learn more about the Year of Faith. Watch a brief video explaining what this online retreat is all about.
Society invites us to worship “money, beauty, etc.”.. every commercial implies and invites people to buy into worshiping money and/or beauty. It seems that the world today surrounds people with a constant reminder of what money can do for you, how to make more of it, or what to purchase to fit in to societal norms.Ignoring the basic fundamental principles of human dignity and respect for life. To the point where people are literally are overexposed to what society wants you to worship.
However it is through determination and the desire to be closer with God that one can turn off and deflect the societal pressure to bow down to money. Sometimes simple things like turning off the television and going outside to enjoy God’s creation or reading the bible together as a family are alternative to allowing one’s mind to be consumed by the societal pressures to fit in.
Not being blindfolded in the task of seeking to align ourselves with God’s will means not to allow outside influences like the problems of our daily lives be a bigger focus than the teachings of God. God has given us all the tools necessary in the sacraments, the commandments, prayer etc to helpl us to deal with our everyday and very real problems if we trust and have in God to help us to find the answers to these problems the we will not be blindfolded. Worship and liturgy help us to stay focused by placing ourselves in the hands of God we are able to direct our energy to a positive place that will enable to us reach solutions and decisions that will help us not be blindfoleded.
The season I look most forward to is Lent. For me this is the best time for renewal because it is the midyear in which all my stress level is high. This is the time when I feel most focused to going to a quiet place, reevaluating where my life is heading and bring it back to its center.
“placing ourselves in the hands of God” – love that image
Worship and liturgy help to align us to God’s will by keeping us in contact with Him. By going to mass we have chance to focus on God and communicate with Him to listen to his word to praise Him with other Christians and most importantly to receive Jesus into our hearts through the Holy Eucharist. I can’t think of a better way to start my day.
The Lenten season helps me better align myself with God. I feel it is a time when I try to do more scripture reading and think about all that was done for us. I try not to be as easily “thrown off” a daily Mass and a daily online retreat schedule which helps to deepen my understanding of my faith & my relationship to the Lord which in turn helps to center me and gives me purpose.
Lent is a time for me sacrifice more and keep focused on reevaluating my Spiritual Life. I attend daily Mass more. I give up more of my time for others. Jesus told His apostles “I have come to serve not to be served”.
Lent reminds me that I too must serve not be served. I also try to fast more. So by the end of Lent I am renewed and refreshed to be better aligned with God
Our faith community provides many opportunities to align ourselves with God.They are always available to us and in ‘plain sight”. One need only connect with a parish and see the schedule for mass, rosaries, devotions, and importantly, the sacrament of reconciliation. These are basics; many
parishes offer many more opportunities to participate in the life of the church.
Something that throws off my alignment with God is the incessant gossip around me. I try so hard not to get sucked in, because I know it isn’t right, but it surely is a challenge at times. I’m generally a positive person and I try to find good things to say about others, but there are certain people who can push my buttons and break down my resolve.
Lent is a highlight for me because I love to see our RCIA candidates reach that special time when they are able to receive their sacraments! It’s so incredibly special. Holy Week is the ultimate week of worship and I look forward to the roller coaster of ups and downs we must go through to reach Easter Sunday.
Some aspects of society are attempting to turn us away from God and slowly taking away morality. Television shows have subject matters we would not have ever dreamed of when we were children. Greed, gore, sex, and violence. Trying to redefine society’s ‘New Normal’. I feel we living in a very challenging time and we are going to need all of God’s strength to face this challenge. Through our prayer and worship we are strengthened by God.
I definitely suffer from “spiritual amnesia” Every Sunday at Mass I try to realign my priorities and refocus my thoughts. I leave masss invigorated and feeling alive and thankful for all that i am blessed with. Yet as the week goes on the spiritual focus tends to fade and i think about the day to day activities and tasks that i need to accomplish. My goal is to someday carry the Sunday after mass happiness with me throughout the entire week.
The liturgical season of Lent and Holy Week help me to align myself with God – again. It is a time during the late winter/early spring when I don’t feel pressured to “get things done” like I do during Advent. I allow myself a bit-less-busy schedule during those 6-7 weeks to focus on learning, giving, and sharing with God’s other children and the Lord. Thank you for these mini-retreats! Bev
Advent and Lent are my favorite liturgical seasons. Both of them help me to realign with God. I spend both with many of the same attributes: Alms, abstinence, and prayer. I think both are a season of preparation and a chance to look at my spiritual life and where I can be better. The liturgies for both of these seasons call me to prepare a way for the Lord and look to Christ’s sacrifice of love. I can ask myself if I’m prepared to meet the Lord and if I’m willing to sacrifice for him as he did for me. I’m not always happy with my answers to those questions. But I am happy for the chance to change. And I’m usually traveling along with my RCIA participants as we head forward to the sacraments and that always makes me appreciate what we have in the sacraments of the church. Each of them helps me see my faith and the sacraments with new, clear eyes.
When I read that worship means to bow down, I thought about the bowing down in the Japanese culture when people meet. What a beautiful way of aligning yourself with the person you are meeting. I’m not sure how much we like to bow down or feel comfortable with it – our bowing down during the Nicene Creed seems quite uncomfortable for lots of people.
The season I have been connecting with lately has been after Easter and moving towards Pentecost. Having worked with Confirmation candidates, Pentecost has taken on a whole new meaning – time to get fired up, preach it, live it, go out and spread the Good News.
I look forward to Christmas in the church because is seems like a fresh start Jesus is born and we are reminded of what will happen and Jesus ultimate sacrifices. I always feel close to my church family and faith at Christmas time. Time to live for Jesus and spread his word.
Well, as I am writing my comment, Christmas 2012 is about a month away. Thanks be to God for another challenging yet grace-filled year. As each of you living saints can attest, we find it impossible to deepen our relational friendship with God without the aid of the Sacraments. They truly help me align myself with our eternal Friend all the time. I also find praying the Rosary tremendously help with my daily conversion. Hmm..Mary is a gooood Mother. We love her don’t we.