(Get the book here!) (And Leila’s blog is here!)
I know, I’m late to this party, but I’m here! And it’s still June, it all works. 🙂
So what I’m planning on doing is writing about a chapter each Tuesday, and then showing pictures of how it works at my house, OK?
For those of you who are new here–I’m single, so I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s schedule or decorating desires but mine. So that helps, I know. My “family” is tiny–it’s just me in the house.
To begin: Chapter One, “The Christian Life.”
This is more of an introductory chapter than anything else, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it and find many good points to ponder.
The chapter begins with the idea of the Transfiguration–Jesus’ theopany, the experience of the divine in the world, where he is transfigured before three of the apostles. We can experience this as well, and participate in it via the Mass; the Church becomes “the sacrament of communion between God and man….The Eucharist is a continuation through time of the moment of the Incarnation, the means by which we…reach back to the enfleshment of the word, becoming part of it.”
On Mount Tabor, Christ was truly radiant with holiness, with majesty. Are we radiant? “Do we live as if there is an earthly manifestation of light?” the book asks. So, how do we unite our spirit–the life we have at Mass, where we participate in the Liturgy, and come to the Eucharistic Table and receive God, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity–and the rest of the week?
The book gives us an answer:
“We cannot hope to fulfill our calling without God’s grace. That is why is starts with prayer and all prayer should be ordered to the highest and most powerful form of prayer, the Sacred Liturgy, which is the public worship of the Church…After the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours (also called the Divine Office) is the most powerful and effective prayer there is.” (7)
Prayer table front view
So–prayer. Preferrably Mass as often as possible, and then the Liturgy of the Hours (which will be discussed more later), if you’re so inclined.
Happiness can only be found in God, as we know. St. Augustine says that our hearts are restless until we rest in God. The Catechism “tells us that each of us has planted within us a desire for happiness that can only be satisfied by God.” (8)
Does this sound attainable?
Well…maybe not. Right?
The authors jump in here and tell us that it IS attainable. “And not just in the future–it is something we can experience today.” Gradually (“almost despite ourselves”, the authors say, and I like that turn of phrase) “we become better people; each more like the person we ought to be.” (8) We will follow what Pope Benedict XVI called the “way of beauty.” (And who doesn’t want more beauty? I know I do!)
The point, say the authors, is this: The happy life is the good life; and the good life is the liturgical life, which is to say, a life in union with the living God.” (9)
* * *
OK. So we have this idea of the good life. OK, we think.
The second part of this chapter, though, talks about that Thing A Lot of Us Are Not Good At Doing: Evangelization.
Because, you know, we don’t want to be all “well, have you been saved?” How many of us Catholics have had that conversation? I know I have.
“But listen,” the authors tell us, “if we think of ourselves as beggars who have had the good fortune to find a generous bakery, well, then the selfishness of not sharing the news becomes obvious.” (9) So we “accompany the other along the road” (10). That’s what we’re doing! We can also do this by gracious hospitality! (I’m Italian. Hospitality is my thing.)
And now–the little oratory:
Our Lord was born into a family. The family is God’s plan for the world–His divine plan, conceived in the very beginning, to be a way of beauty and spreading His word. The special place of prayer at home, the family oratory (oratory means “house of prayer”) is a powerhouse of grace by which our family may be nourished spiritually and thus be able to transform the world through prayer, proclamation of the Gospel, and charity. That sounds grand, but it is really very simple and humble, like the Holy Family itself.
With this book, we are interested in reviving the little oratory, as the Catechism calls it (CCC 2691)–prayer table, home altar, or icon corner–in the home.” (10)
Prayer Table side view
Here is a brief view of my “prayer table”, and we’ll come back to this. You can see it has a statue of Our Lady of the Smile, a Rosary, and several books: My Ignatius New Testament, the CS Lewis Bible, Praying with St. John’s Gospel, a book of rosary meditations, and then my Moleskine notebook that I use for recording my bible reading notes. This table is right by my couch, and usually I curl up in the couch corner and say my rosary and my Office (the office book isn’t here, we’ll have more of that later). For Bible Study, I go to the kitchen table where I can spread out my books.
Do you have a prayer table, little altar or other niche in your house where you normally pray, or are drawn to pray? Once can pray anywhere, of course, but my prayer table is a special spot for me.