Summary: The Wellspring of Worship by Jean Corbon, O.P.

The following are my notes from Jean Corbon's Wellspring of Worship:


Central Question:

  • Do our celebrations, lively though they may be, change the lives of Christians? Where is the vital link — or, possibly, the divorce — between liturgy and life? (13).

Central Purpose:

  • My purpose in this book is to help readers rediscover the unity of liturgy and life in Christ… through a prayerful discovery of the wellspring of worship [guided by] the experience of the Church: an experience that is at once liturgical and spiritual, personal, and communal and is illumined by the Bible and by the Fathers (13).

Central Symbol:

  • The river of life (Rev 22:1f) will serve to light the way for our gradual discovery (14). The wellspring is ever the same, but the living water that flows from it is ever new (14).

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations”. ~ Revelation 22:1–2

Central Thesis: If we let the river of life permeate us, we become trees of life, for the mystery that the river symbolizes takes hold of us” (29). 

  • Jesus is the supreme embodiment of the synergy that will give life to everything, for in him there is no longer a divine action on the one side and a human on the other, but the single action of the one Christ (40).
  • In this covenant between his two energies, the divine and the human, the risen Christ is the inexhaustible wellspring of the liturgy 55.
    • When seen in this perspective, the question of the relation between celebration and life becomes secondary. The important thing is the relation of both to the paschal event that wells up at the heart of every event. In the living Christ who “is not here” but is risen and who fills all things and holds the keys of death, the heart and God and the heart of man are as it were the two heartbeats of the heart of history. There the wellspring flows. 57.

Part One: The Mystery of the Liturgy

Ch.1: “The Mystery Kept Hidden through All the Ages” (Eph 3:9)

1st Phase of “Tradition”: Creation

  • The first phase is the communication of love that is the Blessed Trinity: “The Father “gives away” his Word and his Breath, and all things are called into being” (32). This creation is God’s first kenosis: “his love reveals itself there, but in the shadow of a promise to which no attention is paid” (33), a “pure gift, but one that still waits acceptance” (32). When man appears, man “becomes the locus of the living God’s most far-reaching kenosis because it is the treasure he most loves” (33).

2nd Phase of “Tradition”: The Time of the Promises

  • The second phase is “the time of God’s venture in history and his preparation of man for the full truth; it is the time of reciprocal searching and of the fidelity of the Holy One that is maintained despite the infidelities of his sinful people” (35).


Ch.2: The Fullness of Time or the Coming of the Mystery

3rd Phase of “Tradition”: The Fullness of Time or the Coming of the Mystery

  • The third phase is the Word Becomes Flesh: The Kenosis of the Son –> The entire energy of the gift, patiently poured out at the heart of Jerusalem, ends here in a fountain whose entire vital energy takes the form of acceptance (37).
  • * Mary has been fashioned by the Spirit and sees without realizing it that the most fruitful activity of the human person is to be “able to receive” God (37).
  • The age of the mysterious “synergy” between the river of life and the world of the flesh has begun (38).
  • When the river of life joins the energy of acceptance, it acquires a name: JESUS.
  • Jesus is the supreme embodiment of the synergy that will give life to everything, for in him there is no longer a divine action on the one side and a human on the other, but the single action of the one Christ (40).


Ch.3: The Hour of Jesus or the Mystery as Event

  • The total kenosis of the Son “achieves completion only if it accepts our human condition without reservation, including death” (44).
  • This is the central “moment” in the fullness of time. Where mystery becomes event.
  • If the coming of God as a man did not reach to these depths [the disastrous tragedy of death], he would be simply poking fun at us (45).
  • The coming of the river of life into our history is the only truly important event because it confronts the death that lies in wait for us.
  • Jesus conquers death by his death and thereby bestows his life on us – that is the most important event in all of history: his Cross and his Resurrection. These are not two events, but two phases or moments of the same mystery (46).
  • At the moment when the kenosis is complete, the nonviolence of love is omnipotent 49.
  • At the core of every human event, at the bottom of every human heart, there is a night of death and rupture, of nonmeaning and absence 50.
  • The Cross is the first theophany of the wellspring 52.
  • On this day of birth the river of life becomes LITURGY as it spreads out from the tomb and reaches us in the incorruptible body of Christ. Its wellspring is no longer the Father alone but also the body of his Son, since this is henceforth wholly permeated by his glory. If it be true that the drama of history is the interplay of God’s gift and man’s acceptance of it, then the drama reaches its climax, and its eternal beginning, on this day, because these two energies are now joined together forever (54-5).
  • In this covenant between his two energies, the divine and the human, the risen Christ is the inexhaustible wellspring of the liturgy 55.
  • The river of life can now flow forth from the throne of God and from the throne of the Lamb. The liturgy has been born; the Resurrection of Jesus is its first manifestation 55.
  • The event that is the Cross and the Resurrection is the only true event in all of history. All other events are dead and will always be dead; this one alone remains 56.
  • Henceforth the economy of salvation takes the form of liturgy 56.
  • When seen in this perspective, the question of the relation between celebration and life becomes secondary. The important thing is the relation of both to the paschal event that wells up at the heart of every event. In the living Christ who “is not here” but is risen and who fills all things and holds the keys of death, the heart and God and the heart of man are as it were the two heartbeats of the heart of history. There the wellspring flows (57).


Ch.4: The Ascension and the Eternal Liturgy

The Last Times and the Liturgy of the Last Times

  • Just as the hour of Jesus has his Cross and Resurrection are inseparable phases, so too the “moment” or “date” that begins the “last times” has the Lord’s Ascension and the outpouring of his Spirit as inseparable phases (58). There is but a single Passover, but its mighty energy is displayed in a continual ascension and Pentecost (59).
  • The Ascension is a decisive turning point. It does indeed mark the end of something that is not simply to be cast aside: the end of a relationship to Jesus that is still wholly external. Above all, however, it marks the beginning of an entirely new relationship of faith and of a new time: the liturgy of the last times (59-60).
  • In His Ascension, then, Christ did not at all disappear; on the contrary, he began to appear and to come (61).
  • The Ascension is progressive “until we all…form the perfect Man fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself” (Eph 4:13). The movement of the Ascension will be complete only when all the members of his body have been drawn to the Father and brought to the life by his Spirit (61-2).
  • The work that the Father and the risen Son “still go on working” (Jn 5:17) is the heavenly liturgy – the fontal liturgy in which the life-giving humanity of the incarnate Word joins with the Father to send forth the river of life (62).
  • Only when the life that burst from the tomb had become liturgy could the liturgy finally be celebrated – only when the river returned to its fountainhead, the Father. The liturgy begins in this movement of return. 64-5.
  • The liturgy is this vast reflux of love in which everything turns into life. 65.
  • The liturgy is the celebration of the Father’s joy. 65.
  • The joy we give to the Father by letting him find us inspires the exultation that keeps the liturgy ever alive. How could he, the wellspring, not be filled with wonder when he sees men becoming a wellspring in their turn and responding to his eternal thirst? 65.
  • The Ascension of Jesus is the reflux of the river of life to its fountainhead. 67.
  • The heavenly liturgy celebrates the ongoing event of the return of the Son – and of all others in him – to the Father’s house 67.


Ch.5 Pentecost: The Coming of the Church

  • Pentecost marks a new beginning. Whereas the Spirit was simply the one whom the Father sent with and for his beloved Son; now the Spirit is poured out by the Father and his Son – the Lamb (The river of life flows henceforth from the throne of God and of the Lamb).
  • The Holy Spirit is now shown as the Spirit of Jesus and becomes the gift that Jesus gives us (71) … to transform seemingly poor men into “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4): “the life of the Spirit has permeated their nature down to its ontological roots (73).
  • Pentecost marks the beginning of the Church. The Spirit of the Risen Lord becomes the river that makes the Church apostolic, a visible, present, accessible fountainhead allowing the mystery of the liturgy to become incarnate by rousing faith in the hearts of the disciples and uniting them to the body of Christ (74-5). “Through the Holy Spirit the liturgy finds “embodiment” in the Church” (74).
  • “People do not invent the liturgy and therefore do no invent the Church; they come to birth in it and experience it as a reality” (75).
  • “The Church is the manifestation of the Spirit of Christ in a new community of men and women who have entered into life because the Spirit has brought them into communion with the living body of the Son of God” (75).
  • “The Church as it were the human face of the heavenly liturgy, the radiant and transforming presence of the heavenly liturgy in our present time” (76).


Ch.6: The “Last Times”: The Spirit and the Bride

The Mystery of the “Last Times”:

  • The “Last Times”, in which the fullness of time has entered into our mortal time places history in a new and paradoxical situation (77). Jesus has conquered death, yet death is still influential. Since “the mysterious suffering of the Father [has] determined the entire economy of salvation, (80) at the heart of the last times is the compassion of the Blessed Trinity to permeate the suffering of each man (80).
  • These “Last Times” are filled by the hour of Jesus: not only the Cross and Resurrection, but also the sabbath, the great Holy Saturday.
    • It is the time of silence before the Lamb opens the final seal of history, the time of hope and groaning, in short, the time of meeting.
    • The last times, then, are the time of this dramatic and jubilant meeting. In the last times history has entered into the great sabbath of the Christ, the long Holy Saturday during which the Living One communicates his life to the depths… Yes, we are still wounded by death, but the wound no longer leads to corruption; it is the wound left in the gaping earth, and from it the river of life will flow (82).
    • The liturgy’s “point of insertion into our history is precisely this death, this cry of shed blood that mounts up to its Redeemer” (79).

    • The Church is essentially “eschatological”, that is, it belongs to the last times.

The Spirit and the Bride

  • Now the final vision of the Apocalypse reveals its full meaning.
    • Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1–2).

  • Revelation 21:9 – 22:2 is concerned with the Church of here and now, because the power of evil still exists, and the nations can still be healed.
  • The river of life = Father and the Lamb
  • The crystal clear water = the Spirit –> in the last times it is the Spirit himself in person who is sent and given.
  • Trees of life = apostolic Church
  • Cure of the nations = all men

The Church is the “event” that manifests the Spirit. The Church becomes bride and mother through the Spirit of Jesus who dwells in her. The Church manifests the Spirit because she is his kenosis.

Kenosis and manifestation: this is the unfathomable paradox of divine agape. 85.

In this period, which is the last times, all the torrents of the divine compassion flow together into the river of life; the suffering love of the Father and the Passion of the Son pour out into the depths of our death through the kenosis of the Spirit that is manifested in the Church. 85.

Ch.7: The Transfiguration

(1) We do not really understand the Transfiguration:

Celebrated “after Pentecost and in the bright light of summer (August 6th), “Christians are still too likely to misunderstand this event and look upon it as just one miracle among others, a kind of apologetic proof (91).

(2) The Transfiguration is the “counterpart and fulfillment” of “the theophany of the burning bush”

The Incarnate Word is the true burning bush because “the flame of his divinity does not consume his humanity but illumines it from within and shows through it” (89).

(3) The Transfiguration is deliberately made “the high point in the ministry of Jesus” (91) 

The Synoptic writers place the Transfiguration as the “historical and literary centre of the Gospel by reason of its mysterious realism: the humanity of Jesus is the vital place where men become God” (91). The entire purpose of this event is the salvation of men: “When our humanity consents without reservation to be united to the humanity of Jesus, it will share the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4); it will be divinized” (95).

(4) The radiance of the light in Jesus’ body is the “thrill of the Father” (93)

The transfiguration is a “moment of intensity in which the entire being of Jesus is utterly united with the compassion of the Father” (93). The radiance of the light in the suffering body of Jesus is, as it were, the thrill experienced by the Father in response to the total self-giving of his only Son… “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him” (Mt 17:5).

(5) The change is on the side of the disciples.

 Christ “was transfigured, not by acquiring what he was not but by manifesting to his disciples what he in fact was; he opened their eyes and gave these blind men sight” ~ St John Damascene (92).

(6) “The body of the Lord Jesus is the sacrament that gives the life of God to men” (94-5).

“By his miracles Jesus shows himself to be the great and unique sacrament of God for man and of man for God” (89). “The divine energy no longer acts alone but,in the body of Christ, acts in synergy with a man; that is why Jesus is the great sacrament” (90). Therefore, “it is always in his body that the Word “comes” to save men” (87).

(7) The Transfiguration is the source of the sacramental liturgy (95). 

Eastern Churches consider the Transfiguration as the source of the sacramental liturgy (95). The body of Jesus is a sacrament in that it is “anointed” with the divine nature in the unity of the person of the Son (95). What we call sacraments are in fact the divinizing actions of the body of Christ in our own very humanity (95). The body of Christ is the sacrament of human salvation and God’s glorification. The liturgy creates in the Church the transfiguration of the “whole body”, which is now growing, the transforming union in which men become God (97).

Ch.8: The Holy Spirit and the Church in the Liturgy

  • The liturgy is the overflow of Christ’s life-giving Spirit 99.
  • The Holy Spirit is present in our hearts because the Father wants us to know Jesus, be incorporated into him, and share his life 100.
  • In the body of Christ and flowing forth from it, the Holy Spirit is, as it were, the impatient desire of the Father’s glory that men should live 100.
  • When the Holy Spirit elicits our response to his multiform energy, the Spirit and the Church become one in an astounding “synergy”: the liturgy.
  • * The “synergy” of the Holy Spirit and the Church is a key idea for an understanding of the mystery of the liturgy 100.
  • Threefold Extension of the Energy of the Spirit (according to the 3 times of the economy of salvation that the body of Christ experiences):
    1. Manifest –> the fullness of time.
      • to make known to us the body of the Lord Jesus.
      • enlighten the eyes of our hearts to the body of Jesus.
    2. Transform –> the last times.
      • to transform us into the glorious body of the Lord.
      • to offer our whole beings & be transformed into the glorious body of Jesus.
    3. Communicate –> the consummation of time.
      • to send us into the world as the Son was sent by the Father.
      • to be sent into the world as Christ was to help transform others too.
  • ** Primary tragedy of history –> the Word comes among men as their light and their life, and they do not recognize him (102). Why? Jesus cannot be known from outside, since exteriority is the wound afflicting our mortal knowledge.
  • Solution –> the Spirit reveals Jesus to us from within, not by means of a technique reserved to initiates but through the personal commitment of anyone who receives him.
  • The Spirit manifest Jesus to those who are poor enough to believe in him, leave everything for his sake, and become capable of carrying him within their tribulation… by purifying our hearts for him.
  • The 1st synergy by which the Spirit transforms us into disciples and theologians –> through loving faith in his Christ (renounce ourselves & seek him in love).
  • We need only acknowledge that we are blind from birth, and his Spirit will enlighten us; but if we claim to see, our sin remains (Jn 9:39ff.). The Holy Spirit teaches us the humility of heart that reaches beyond the limits of all out “external knowledge.” 105.
  • * The question that is concealed in every event: Are we to be the slaves or the conquerors of death? 106
  • The Lord is here and is coming, given to us as promise of Resurrection at the heart of every event.
  • The Spirit carries on an inexhaustible pedagogy, for the discovery of the Lord is always new.
  • Love alone gives sight and the power of discovery.
  • * The Spirit will make the body of Christ known to us until it fills our entire field of vision: nothing is alien to it, as we shall see in the lived liturgy. 106
  • The Spirit teaches us first to rediscover the way of the heart, where he pours himself out in us and where prayer becomes life itself 106.

The Passage of the Body of Christ

  • The Holy Spirit transforms everything he touches, but his energy will be all the more transformative as our faith is more naked and sacrificial (107).
  • Just as an “epiclesis” is an appeal to the Father to send the Holy Spirit on what we are offering to him so that this Spirit may change the offering into the reality of the body of Christ, so the Holy spirit accomplishes in us the passage of Christ from the present world to the life of the Father – both situations there is a groan of appeal with appearances remaining unchanged but reality changing (cf 2 Cor 5:17).
  • That is why the only thing we can do in this synergy with the Holy Spirit is be truly ourselves with the accepted truth of our being in relation to the Father, a truth that consists in believing 108.
  • The wellspring creates a thirst in us and slakes that thirst with the Spirit, so that we become the body of Christ.

The Communion of the Body of Christ

  • Transfiguration is completed in communion… in the “indwelling” of love in which the Three Persons commune with us in oneness.
  • This body is a living body because the Holy Spirit is communion (2 Cor 13:14).
  • We are sacramental beings; in the body we share in the kenosis of the love of the Lord and his Spirit 110.
  • The Church is a communion because she is so much one with Christ that her entire being shares in her Lord’s death and Resurrection.
  • What the Holy Spirit effects in this 3rd energy is expressed in the last symbol of the liturgical vision recounted in the Apocalypse: the trees of life. The image refers to the communion of the body of Christ. We bear fruit all year (having been crucified with Christ) and become a cure for the nations (the entire mission of the Church in the last times). 110-111.

The Liturgy, Synergy of the Spirit, and the Church

  • 2 predominant images for the mystery of the Church:
    1. Body – One with Christ.
    2. Bride – Distinct from Christ. Pure receptivity toward her Lord b/c Holy Spirit lives in her by his energies, his personal kenosis. Then, being one with the Spirit, the Church becomes fruitful, bearing the “whole” body of Christ.
  • Source of communion = risen & living body of Jesus
  • River of life = Spirit
  • Bride of Lamb = the liturgy (mysterious synergy).
  • The kenosis of the Spirit in the Church reminds us that the liberating event of Christ’s Pasch-Passage is simply offered to us in every event and that it must be brought to bear with us and through us. 112.
  • The “Yes” of kenosis – allows the liturgy to be celebrated and lived (just as it allowed the Incarnation & Transfiguration to take place).
  • The sacramentality of the Church = means that in her everything is the joint energy of the Spirit and of the humanity that he transfigures 112.


Part Two: The Liturgy Celebrated

The liturgy becomes ours when we celebrate it.

A celebration is an epiphany of the liturgy in the last times

Chapter 9: The Celebration as Epiphany of the Liturgy

  • What does it mean to “celebrate” the liturgy?
  • Why celebrate the liturgy?

Celebration as a “Moment” in the Liturgy

  • The liturgy is NOT reducible to the content of our celebrations of it.
  • Christ is at every moment celebrating the liturgy before the Father.
  • The liturgy shapes history and gives vitality to the Church in our world; it is constantly at work and is offered to us.
  • Our celebrations are “moments” – in the same sense as all other events in the economy of salvation – a special intervention of the living God in human history. 117.
  • Kairoi – moments of grace, occasions of decision – promptings by God to return to Him.
  • The economy turned into liturgy once the river of life leaped forth from the tomb 117.
  • Every celebration of the liturgy is geared to that lived liturgy in which each instant of life should become a “moment” of grace 117.
  • The celebration is thus a fontal moment in which the river of life renews the trees of life and gives them new growth and vitality 117.
  • An ecclesial moment, or it does not exist at all.
  • The Spirit gives life to men by making them the body of Christ 118.
  • Without celebration of the liturgy, we would die of thirst… etc.
  • You cannot live in communion with the Lord while at the same time live in isolation and separation from Him or say you go to the Father while scorn the way he has given us to go to him… it’s a disincarnate spiritualism – a form of death – a contradiction in the faith – that does not recognize the body of Christ.
  • Pseudomysticism / Individualism / Disincarnate Spiritualism

The Celebration as a Place of the Liturgy

  • A celebration is the moment in which Church participates in the heavenly liturgy.
  • Local participation, particular place.
  • Difference in expression, NOT in the mystery being expressed
  • Through the celebration that all the local Churches manifest, concretize, and communicate their unity in catholicity.
  • Everything in the Church is liturgy: unity in faith and communion in love, ministries and mission, prayer and the sacred canons. The liturgy is the source 121.

The Celebration as Center of the Liturgy

  • The Church’s celebration is the center from which the light of the mystery radiates into the world of the last times. It “focuses” the energies of the transfiguration and applies them to a particular human situation here and now.

The Celebration as Epiphany – since it allows it to radiate out in various energies.

The Divine Liturgy contains the whole of the mystery – cannot be put on the same level as any other celebration.

The Celebration as Feast of the Liturgy – to celebrate orients us to the experience of feast. To celebrate the liturgy is to enter into the joy of the Father, the only joy that can enable us to share Christ’s exultation in the Holy Spirit (Lk 1o:21).

  • our festive celebrations make 2 demands of us.
  • The first demand is for faith and conversion, because a celebration is a moment on intensity in the coming of the Lord.
  • The second demand is living authentically in Paschal joy. How can we celebrate the liturgy if we do not live it? ** And we can only live it if we celebrate it.
  • The 2 levels of which the Apocalypse speaks to us – the drama of history and the eternal liturgy – can be glimpsed as present in the celebration.

Chapter 10: The Outstreaming of the Liturgy in the Celebration

  • How does the liturgy as manifested in the celebration give us life?

Cracked water tanks

  • the elements of our sacramental celebrations are signs that are consistent with the entire economy of the Incarnation.
  • 3 forms of the temptation to make the liturgy fit a mold that is “intelligible”
  • (1) cultural,
  • (2) cultic,
  • (3) omnisacramentalism – Christ present in everything, BUT Christ is “not yet” all in all – everything subsists in him, but this world is still in the power of the evil one.
  • Because the event of the Cross and the Resurrection is always life giving here and now, ritualism is overcome: a sacred sign and the event it signifies are no longer separated 134-5.
  • The newness of Christ makes available to us the wellspring, the liturgy

“He Split the Rock and Out Streamed the Water” (Is 48:21)

  • How does the liturgy that manifests itself in the celebration give us life?
  • We must go from the mystery as revealed to us in the economy of salvation to its concretization in the liturgy.
  • It is the meeting of two freedoms – that of faith and that of the Spirit – that the transfiguration, that is, the sacramental liturgy, is experienced.
  • Think of sacraments in terms of : (1) life, (2) energies
  • One can slake one’s thirst at the living, streaming water only if one experiences the astonishing synergy of the Spirit and the Church 136.
  • “The sacraments are the masterpieces of creation” ~ Nicholas Cabasilas
  • Creation is the first kenosis of the love in the Holy Trinity
  • *** In the celebration of the sacraments, just as in our life in the Spirit, there is an inverse proportion between spectacle and authenticity, between appearance and effectiveness. 139. In his masterpieces the Father uses a minimum of show and a maximum of omnipotence: “He is, and he is coming”.
  • Only through this synergy – our response of faith to God’s kenosis in the sacraments – does a sacrament exist.
  • 3 constants that mark the operation of this synergy in the celebration of the sacraments:
    • (1) radical movement of every celebration – the river of life that rises from the throne of God and the Lamb then begins to flow back to him in the celebrating Church 140. for God’s glory & human salvation.
    • (2) overall rhythm of every celebration – streaming forth threefold synergy of the Spirit and the Bride: manifest, transform, communion.
    • (3) subordinate rhythms – “sacramental units” – combo of action, word, song.

“He will guide them to springs of living water” (Is 49:10)

  • 4 mystagogical methods from the Fathers down to our times that differ b/c of their viewpoint: (1) point-oriented, (2) linear, (3) panoramic, (4) epicletic.
  • This 4th way is what Corbon follows. The uniquely special epiclesis – the power of the Resurrection operative in the sacrament to bring out the profound unity of the liturgy as grasped by a simple faith.

Chapter 11: The Sacraments of Sacraments

  • The Eucharist is “the sacrament of sacraments” in which the body of Christ brings to bear all the energies contained in his transfiguration and “accomplishes” his mystery in the Church.
  • The Holy Spirit is the principal “liturgist” – He enables us to experience the Eucharist as the mysterious symphony of the incarnate Word; through the Spirit everything that lives and breathes is gathered together in the unity of the Son and sings of the Father’s joy 146.
  • Celebrated Liturgy as “Symphony”:
    • prelude
    • 1st movement – liturgy of word
    • 2nd – anaphora
    • 3rd – communion
    • finale – everything begins anew.
  • NEEDS OUR COOPERATION TOO – Prepare ourselves for it and respond to it. The celebration is a constant synergy between him and us. 2 step rhythm: awakening of our faith and the faith event. **

Liturgy of the Word

  • 1st movement – movement of love by which the Father gives us his Word – we must turn and be open (1st conversion) – conversion then leads to adoration, we need time and depth of silence to receive the Word.

The Eucharistic Anaphora

  • 2nd movement – purpose to make the Passage of Jesus become ours – brings a new time into existence – it is we who become present to the crucified and risen Christ – the Spirit brings us into the reality that is the body of Christ
  • In the celebrated Eucharist the “prayer” and the mystery become one: everything is recapitulated in the body of Christ (Eph 1:10).

The Eucharistic Communion

  • Spirit illumines the “eyes of our faith” by a vision of the Lamb of God.
  • The fruit of the Eucharist, to which all the power of the river of life is directed, is Communion, koinonia, with the Blessed Trinity. 155.
  • I belong to Jesus and He belongs to me and to the Father.
  • We will be transfigured and divinized.

From Prelude to Finale

  • we often fail to appreciate this.
  • First blessing – Holy Spirit opens us to liturgy about to be celebrated
  • Final blessing – sends us forth to the liturgy of life.
  • We must respond with an authentic life of charity, give our gift fully. divest ourselves in the same kneosis of love, so that we will belong solely to him.

Chapter 12: The Sacramental Epicleses

To discover the unity, diversity, and harmony of the sacramental energies, we must place ourselves once again at their source. 160.

In each of the sacraments we experience the three movements of the Passage of Jesus: the Father gives us his beloved Son, the Word assumes our flesh and our death in order to raise us up with himself, and his Spirit brings us into the eternal communion of the Father 161.

The Spirit and the Church act in various sacraments because the members are many and have many needs for eternal life and many functions in the body of Christ 162.

Each sacrament is distinguished from the others by its special epiclesis 162.

The epiclesis of baptism is for birth according to the Spirit 163. The coming of the Holy Spirit into the water… the consecration of the baptismal water… born from the maternal womb of the Church 164.

The virginal fruitfulness of the Church is the masterpiece of the Spirit 164.

Every epiclesis is a sacramental Pentecost

The epiclesis of confirmation has for its specific content the marvelous total gift Christ the Lord makes of himself in this anointing: he hands over his own personal Spirit and engraves or imprints this Spirit on the hearts of those to whom he has just been united forever. The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit gives the baptized a participation in the synergy of the fontal liturgy; the Spirit is henceforth united with the spirits of the baptized so that the latter may live a wholly new life in which the two wills can produce the one fruit of the Spirit.

The epiclesis of healing in the sacrament of reconciliation consists in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a kenosis of love in the hearts of sinners who consent to open themselves to the Father’s compassion and reestablishes “the unity of the Spirit” among the members “by the peace that binds you together” (Eph 4:3).

The epiclesis of healing in the anointing of the sick configures us to Jesus in his sufferings, transforms our weakness into life-giving love, and completes in our members the irresistible passage of him who is head of the body.

The epiclesis of sacramental marriage is the gift of the Holy Spirit that unites bridegroom and bride in a divine bond. 173.

The epiclesis of ordained ministry, signified by the laying on of hands, is entirely original in that it pours out upon some members the most  hidden and most selfless ecclesial energy, for it makes them servants of the other sacramental epicleses. 174.

The Sacramental Harmony of the Body of Christ

  • All epicleses of the sacraments are organically related to the epiclesis of the sacrament of sacraments, the Eucharist. 176.
  • Each sacrament is distinguished from the others by the energy of the Holy Spirit that is asked for in the epiclesis… and they all flow from the Eucharist and lead back to it 177.

Chapter 13: The Celebration of a New Time

At the source of our celebrations is an energy of the Holy Spirit from which we must constantly drink, and this energy is the new time inaugurated by the Resurrection. 179.

The “today” of the living God is the hour of Jesus that runs through all of history and sustains it… transforming our time and making it sacramental 179.

The Liturgy of the Hours is where “we give everything back” in praise, a divine service with the sole occupation of loving. The office is our incarnate participation in the prayer of Jesus himself. The office is a prism allowing the pure light of the Son’s own praise to be channeled through the adopted sons of God. The Psalms are where the entire economy of salvation becomes prayer.  The office is the divine occupation par excellence, the occupation of those who dwell in the kingdom of love transcending individuals and making them one in community 186-7.

Chapter 14: The Sacramental Space of the Celebration

The economy of salvation that is revealed to us in the Bible and brought to fulfillment in our celebrations is marked from one end to the other by the search for a dwelling place (189).

God prepared earth to be a dwelling place but man rebelled and made it into a hiding place. Jesus came into our hiding place and by defeating death, changed everything: “Space, like time, explodes, it is no longer closed in upon itself but is delivered from death and filled with him who contains all things in his very body” (191).

The Church of stone or wood, although being a space within the world, is indeed set apart from the world because it is a space that the Resurrection has burst open. God’s promise of a new dwelling place is fulfilled. We must see this sacramental space through the eyes of faith. Like all sacramental synergies, the space of our celebrations is in an eschatological condition; that is, in it the kingdom is “already” coming, but the space is given to us precisely because the kingdom is “not yet” fully here (194).

Christ is our living space, the mysterious place, “hidden in the Father”, in which we sacramentally celebrate the eternal liturgy (189). Abiding in Him – and He is us – we will doubtless cease to celebrate His liturgy, but we will begin to live it (195).


Liturgy & Life

  • Goal of liturgy = may water our entire life and render it fruitful.

Liturgy Celebrated & Liturgy Lived

  • “None of us is ever so much himself, nor is the Church so much herself, nor are the universe and history so exalted in hope of glory, as when the liturgy is being celebrated.
  • if the celebration is the “moment” of sowing, life is more the “time” for bearing fruit.
  • If the Lord of glory has transfigured us, then we must now radiate him in our kenosis.

The Liturgy: Beyond Worship and Moral Life

  • our sinfulness is less the cause than the effect of the separation we maintain between celebration and life.
  • Old Covenant – twofold deadly rift in Spirit’s pedagogy: cult & worship and moral life. did not contain saving events as present.
  • The New Covenant takes us beyond the separation of cult and moral life. This “beyond” is liturgy “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:24).

Rev 22 Exigesis:

  • radical movement of every celebration – the river of life that rises from the throne of God and the Lamb then begins to flow back to him in the celebrating Church 140

What is the liturgy?

  • This coming of the river of life in its hour of fullness (78).
  • The energy of the people of God. 97.
  • The overflow of his life-giving Spirit 99.
  • This space (the new, unbounded space in which everything is penetrated by the light radiating from the body of the Lord (in the liturgical icon of the transfiguration of Christ)) that dispels the shadow of death 101.
  • The Church’s deepest life 121.
  • the mystery of the river of life that streams from the Father and the Lamb 199
  • celebrated at certain moments but lived at every moment, is the one mystery of Christ who gives life to men 204
  • The Christ whom we celebrate is the identical Christ by whom we live; his mystery permeates both celebration and life.
  • *Q. But without celebration no life is possible, for if we are not filled by the river of life, how can we bear the fruits of the Spirit?

Chapter 15: Prayer, the Liturgy of the Heart

The Heart is Our Place

  • Prayer = where the outstreaming of the mystery of the liturgy into the rest of life begins.
  • The heart = the point where the river of life rises as a wellspring in the midst of human experience. The existential starting point of the entire movement of the liturgy, both celebrated and lived.
  • Prayer of the heart = where liturgy becomes life.
  • ** we pray as we live and we live as we love. 206.
  • Only in the heart are we ourselves; only there do we become ourselves.
  • The heart is the place of authentic encounter with ourselves, with others and above all, with the living God.
  • The heart is alive, the place of decision, prior to and present in our consciousness of it,
  • The heart is the man as image of the trinitarian communion and in search of the likeness, that is, of divine communion. divine presence alone fills the heart by expanding and drawing it.
  • it is our heart that prays.

To enter into the name of the holy lord Jesus

  • Before the Holy Spirit lays hold of us, “we do not know how to pray properly” (Rom 8:26), but once he has brought us into the prayer of Jesus, we will not know what we pray for: we will simply pray.
  • liturgy of heart = is as indescribable as the mystery that it lives out.
  • Holy Spirit = pedagogue in prayer & mystagogue in celebration.
  • begins with liturgy of word – holy spirit bringing the risen Christ into the heart that is awakening to prayer.
  • JESUS: the one word that expresses everything – contains presence it invokes – opens heart by drawing it to him.
  • Prayer “to” Jesus is our way of genuinely entering into the liturgy of the heart b/c when we call upon Jesus “in the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3), we enter into the mystery of his holy name. 209
  • Invocation of the name of Jesus = NOT an optional method like a prayer technique, but the first movement of the Spirit in the heart of the Bride. We become immersed into Christ’s mystery.
  • Our prayer can ONLY be Jesus, the incarnate Word; otherwise it is empty words and lapses back into death.

The Altar of the Heart

  • The decisive question for prayer –> what presence dwells in that space?

The Epiclesis of the heart

  • on the altar of our hearts we can offer everything.
  • the more our will is submissive to that of the Father, the more the Father does our will!
  • more stripped of attachments = more filled by Spirit.
  • more humble and trusting the silence = more name of Jesus expands it with its presence.
  • prayer is a combat in which the Spirit strengthens us as we fight – it is in the depths of night that silent love wins victory over death.

The Altar of Communion

  • The ceaseless prayer of Jesus is identical with the etneral liturgy taht he celebrates before the face of the Father.
  • praying heart’s true space = ongoing event of ascension.
  • the altar of the heart is in the end the banquet table at which the communion of the Blessed Trinity is constantly given to us in the body of Christ, but given in order that we may share it with others.
  • true fasting = sitting at the table of hungry sinners.
  • the liturgy of heart


Chapter 16: The Divinization of Man

If we consent in prayer to be flooded by the river of life, our entire being will be transformed; we will become trees of life and be increasingly able to produce the fruit of the Spirit: we will love with the very Love that is our God 216.

We must radically consent in our hearts to submit unconditionally to the energy of the Holy Spirit

If love is to become our life… it must impregnate our entire nature

The mystery of the lived liturgy is summed up in divinization.

Through baptism and the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit we become “sharers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

Self-divinization is the primal temptation ever lurking in wait

“Man becomes God as much as God becomes a man” ~ St. Maximus the Confessor.

Christian holiness is divinization because in our concrete humanity we share in the divinity of the Word who married our flesh (218).

“I am alive; yet it is no longer I, but Christ living in me” (Gal 2:20).

The Realism of the Liturgy of the Heart

  • the mystical realism of our divinization is the fruit of the sacramental realism of the liturgy.
  • At certain “moments” the celebrated liturgy gives us an intense experience of the economy of salvation, which is divinization, in order that we may live it at all “times”, these new times into which it has brought us.
  • In order to divinize us, the Spirit must divinize us often and sometimes very intensely.
  • The celebration of the liturgy is the place and moment in which the river of life, hidden in the economy, penetrates the life of the baptized in order to divinize it (221).

The Holy Spirit, Iconographer of Divinization

  • The Holy Spirit makes us christs in Christ.
  • Our divinization is NOT passively imposed on us, but is our own vital activity, proceeding inseparably from him and from ourselves (221).
  • What the Spirit finds is a remnant of glory, an icon of the Son: ceaselessly loved, but broken and disfigured (222).
  • 3 great Questions that haunt everyone: the search for our origin, the quest for dialogue, the aspiration for communion — are the primary imprints in me of the image of glory, of the call of my very being to the divine likeness in which my divinization will be completed.
  • Following these three pathways of the transfigured icon, we are divinized to the extent that the least impulses of our nature find fulfillment in the communion of the Blessed Trinity.
  • We must simply but resolutely turn every moment of possessiveness into an offering.


Chapter 17: The Liturgy in Work and Culture

The Unrecognized Iconography

  • the new thing that the liturgy accomplishes is the restoration of this wonderful oneness of life.
  • the liturgy is action: the work of God and the human person in all the dimensions of man
  • Work and culture are the place where men and the world meet in the glory of God.
  • From the divinization of man and the liturgy of the heart (flows the transformation of work and culture?)
  • The iconography of the Spirit goes unrecognized as long as creation is held captive (Rom 8:19-22), but the Spirit divinizes men so that creation and men may attain to the freedom of the glory of God.

Work Transfigured

  • The iconographical work of the Spirit is one of imprinting and giving light.
  • The iconography of the Spirit consists in transfiguring the hearts of men in their work.
  • In the heart of the worker, work is the place of epiclesis
  • the light of communion that incites to sharing

The Iconography of Culture

  • Shall the river of life save a culture form the barronness of death?
  • If beauty is to save the world, it must first cleanse the world (230).
  • Culture is an iconography of the sSpirt and man, or it is the beauty solely of the devil.
  • The supreme activity of man is to consent to a marriage with the Word (231).


Chapter 18: The Liturgy in the Human Community

Either our life is ruled by one or other morality and by nothing more, or it is seized and transfigured by the mystery of Christ.

The realism of the liturgy, both celebrated and lived, consists in making the ideal become a vital principle; the Holy Spirit and the human heart then become a source of life, and we are confronted agains with the mystery of the synergy, the unparalleled Christian synergy (232).

This passage from law to grace, from a deadly moral life to a “mystical” life of conformity to Christ, is always the moment when the river of life crosses a new barrier. Every time that we fall back into our moralism with its promise of security, we dam up the energy of the Holy Spirit; the liturgy is then cut off from the life that it ought to be watering 233.

The irruption of the kingdom of the Holy Spirit into a human group was thus the event that established authentic community among persons.

Realism of our sacramental celebrations leads to realism of the prayer of the heart and this leads to realism of the communion in the Church. 

The fruit of this communion is the body of Christ: a body always crucified, in which hatred is put to death, but also already risen, so that from Her the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh (240).

Chapter 19: Compassion, the Liturgy of the Poor

The wonder of the lived liturgy, then, is that in it the mystery of divine love becomes coextensive with our life. In its source, in its flow, in its fruits, this love seeks to permeate everything: the depths of the heart and of the person’s being, work and culture, relations between individuals and the very texture of societies… But this same love also urges us to go ceaselessly further, as far as love can go… the liturgy of compassion (241). 

The epiclesis of divine charity always takes place in its kenosis (241). 

The altar of the poor

  • We leave the altar of the Eucharist (liturgy celebrated) only to go to the altar of the poor (liturgy lived). We receive everything by sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist and we must then respond by sharing and giving ourselves completely to the poor. 
  • “We can understand why Andrei Rublev was always loath to paint a fresco of the Last imgres-3Judgment in the apocryphal style so popular in the Middle Ages. He was too deeply in touch with the wretchedness of man to falsify in this way the mercy of his Lord. We all know what the fruit of Rublev’s long silent fast was: the icon of the divine hospitality in which the altar of the world is received into the midst of the Blessed Trinity. It is on the altar of the poor that the passion of God becomes the compassion of his Church for man” (244-5). 

The Church of Compassion

  • The Church can serve the poor only by becoming poor like her Lord. 
  • Compassions first movement is creative forgiveness. 
  • The abyss of divine compassion reveals itself in the real scandals of life
  • The Cross of his Son is the place from which he seems most absent but in which he in fact gives himself most completely. 
  • It is only a stone’s throw between the slumber of the disciples and the agony of their Lord: to cross that space is to enter into the struggle of prayer, intercession, and compassion (247). 
  • For to suffer with, to be powerless, is to share in the weakness of God on the Cross (247). 
  • Let us learn to suffer with others. 
  • “The glory of God is man fully alive”, says Saint Irenaeus, and the glory of God is in a state of kenosis in man. 
  • Compassion is the liturgy of the poor. 


Chapter 20: Mission and the Liturgy of the Last Times

Our hearts must be converted, tilled, and watered by the divine compassion if we want the mystery of the Church’s mission to become part of our lives.

Continuous prayer = the lived liturgy begins its life-giving work in our hearts through more and more continuous prayer; with the heart at its starting point it then permeates our nature, our activity, and all our relationships. The more it divinizes us, the more our lives become God’s work; the more the divine communion renews our relationships, the more we become the Church. 

The 3 great synergies of the Spirit and the Church: manifest, transform, communicate, are the same 3 that inspire from within the entire movement of mission.

The Church’s mission in the last times is to be both the human face of God, the face in which man can recognize him whom he is seeking, and, in the same light, the face of man, in which the glory of God is reflected (cf. 2 Cor 4:6). 

The Paschal Mystery of Mission

  • It is in celebrating the eternal liturgy that the Church receives and learns her mission.
  • The mission of the Church is understandable only within the mystery of the last times. 
  • The celebrated liturgy and the liturgy of mission are two phases of a single love. 
  • A liturgical celebration is certainly a moment of intensity in which each ecclesial community renews its consciousness of its mission (252). 

Mission, Epiphany of Compassion

  • Mission is “an epiphany of Christ through his Church as the new community of love” (254). 
  • The good news that she proclaims be her mere existence is that impossible love is here as a real event (254). 
  • Jesus “is the only truly human being, because he knows in his own flesh both the struggle sinners have and the freedom to live divinely as a man” (255). 
  • If our mission does not encounter opposition, we are false prophets. 

Mission, Pentecost of the Last Times

  • The prayer of the heart ensures that the liturgy of mission will never become a dried-up stream. 
  • The prayer that fills the heart of the Church is the epiclesis of its unbroken mission. 
  • Monastic life is thus a hidden charism, but its hiding place is in the front lines of the eschatological combat, and it supports the entire mission of the Church. In the words of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, to live a monastic life is to be love at the heart of the Church (258). 

Conclusion: The Liturgy, Handing on of the Mystery

Liturgy is for us to be entered into and be carried along by its life-giving stream. 

  • The liturgy is the great river into which all the energies and manifestations of the mystery flow together, ever since the very body of the Lord who lives with the Father has been ceaselessly “given up” to men in the Church in order that they may have life (261). 
  • The liturgy is not something static, or a mental memorial, a model, a principle of action, a form of self-expression, or an escape into angelism. It reaches far beyond the signs in which it manifests itself and the effectiveness it contains. It is not reducible to its celebrations, although it is indivisibly contained in them. It finds expression in the human words of God that are written in the Bible and sung by the Church, but these never exhaust it. It is at home in all cultures and no reducible to any of them. It unites the multitude of local Churches without causing them to lose their originality. It feeds all the children of God, and it is in them that it ceaselessly grows. Although it is constantly being celebrated, it is never repeated by it always new (261). 
  • The total Christ event… that assumes and permeates all of history, as well as all  men and each of them in all their dimensions, and the whole cosmos and all of creation (262). 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: