On a liturgical note: August

By Canon Philip Gillespie

The Liturgy is for us a school of prayer. That is to say, it is a place where we learn – both individually and as a community – what are the values and virtues of the Kingdom of God, and how best we can put those values and virtues into practice each and every day.

When we look back on our school days we realise that it has been a period in our lives which has afforded us space and time and the possibility of learning and developing and growing our own skills, characters and potential: it has laid the foundations for future growth.

So it is with the Liturgy. It grounds us in our relationships – the relationship we have with God (in worship of God's majesty and power, forgiveness and tenderness), with ourselves (as Newman said, "God has created me to do Him some definite service"), and with the family and society of which I form a part ("Love one another as I have loved you").

The Liturgy of the Church – with that rich combination of words and rituals, music, space and seasons – affords us the possibility to learn and to grow into the best and most perfect people we can be. We have to use words like possibility and potential because, just as in any school, we can choose not to engage, not to be fully present to the opportunities, not to 'seize the day' which is offered to us.

In this month of August, many of our local school buildings are closed for the summer holidays: not so that school which is the Liturgy, though! It places before us the themes of Transfiguration (6 August), the glory given to the Blessed Virgin Mary (15 August), and the memory of one of our local martyrs (Saint Edmund Arrowsmith, 30 August). We are invited to learn the lessons from these feasts which will benefit and instruct us in Christian living.