Linking Liturgy and Devotion

Even in action is there interplay between liturgy and devotion. The liturgy is first and foremost an act of the church. It comprises the official rites and understandings of a ritual or feast, is enshrined in the liturgical books and calendars, and seeks to guide and mould the worship and spirituality of the faithful. The liturgical tradition is marked by history, continuity, grace and change, but in this it offers the ecclesial sense of worship. Devotion and piety are quite different. They reflect the personal history and warmth in which believers, as individuals and groups, take up particular aspects of the mystery of God.

Devotion and liturgy are closely connected, and it would be unfortunate to see liturgy as ‘cold’ and ‘official’, with devotion ‘warm’ and ‘personal’. In worship we bring our devotion and piety to the rites, and fill them with the experience, needs and desires of our lives. Yet devotions and pious practices have a life outside worship, and are given expression in countless ways. The Christmas nativity crib and plays; the Advent wreath; the peculiarities of our Lenten fast; the chocolate Easter egg or in Australia the emerging Easter Bilby; devotions and prayers around Our Lady, patron saints and the life are all faith-filled expressions of our lives in space and time, culture and community, history and eternity. While at times devotion and liturgical worship clash, most often our devotional lives and liturgical celebrations mutually enrich our appreciation of the Gospel and our participation in the life of the triune God, the human community and creation itself. Our pieties need to be firmly anchored in the liturgy of the church, while the enculturation of our worship is often best done through devotional insights and practices.

Gerard Moore, Earth Unites with Heaven: An Introduction to the Liturgical Year (Northcote, VIC: Morning Star Publishing, 2014), 13-14. ISBN: 978-1-9252-0858-0.

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Article by Andrew Doohan

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