February 20, 2013 |

Grace: To worship God with my entire heart during this Lenten season, resisting the temptation to be halfhearted in my participation at Sunday liturgy.

Text for Prayer: Revelation 4:8-11

Reflection: Past writers on this blog have described spiritual tepidity as a type of sluggishness, particularly in prayer, that is caused in our souls by an excessive attachment to things other than God. But tepidity in our personal spiritual practices is undoubtedly less scandalous to non-Christians than tepidity in our public worship. For Catholics, one salutary goal during this Lenten season could be to “give up” liturgical tepidity, which manifests itself in many different ways.

In Revelation 4, the Bible offers a vision of heavenly worship that is as striking as lightning and more transcendental than any drug trip. But in Lent, our American parishes may frequently offer a vision of worship that feels more like a living room social, and hardly distinguishable to the casual observer from the liturgical seasons that precede and follow it. Here is matter for self-reflection on the tepidity that we bring, both personally and socially, to our public worship.

Liturgical tepidity could manifest itself firstly through pedestrian music and lazy architectural design. Many of us worship in “living room” style churches and chapels which reflect pragmatism more than an effort to lift the spirits to God. The music we sing is too often familiar rather than transcendent, leading us to complain about a childish “Disney” style of worship.

Obviously, many of us have no control over the liturgical planning in our parishes, and are therefore unable to implement musical or architectural changes (as we have been fortunate enough to attempt in my own Jesuit community) more conducive to solemnity of the Biblical sort. However, we do have some control over the attitudes we bring to mass, and we are certainly free to get more involved in our Sunday liturgy. Indeed, it may often be nothing more than tepidity that holds us back from doing more.

Today we might ask ourselves if we truly love God with all of our mind, body and strength when we attend mass. Are we participating fully in the prayers, reflection periods and songs? Or do we find ourselves frequently distracted by secondary thoughts which we’ve made too important in our lives?

How can we give up our liturgical tepidity for Lent? There is no easy answer and each of us must examine his conscience to discern the best way of proceeding. Perhaps it might include getting more involved in liturgical ministries, making more time to reflect on the readings in advance, or simply opening ourselves to the liturgical action by resisting the urge to “go through the motions.”

February 20th, 2013 | |