Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Meaning of Worship

At Mass on Wednesday, a memory was stirred up in me regarding the meaning of worship. During the Communion procession, we sang a song that repeated in the refrain "I worship, I worship You." As I meditated on this I remembered a whole slew of scenes.

In one of these I was an energetic, excited young charismatic, in my dining room listening to and singing (what are now really old) Hosanna! Integrity worship songs. I remember being struck with my own cluelessness about the connection between the resurrection of Christ and our worship of Him, other than that these were two "religious" things. "Worship" had heretofore meant something that happened when I went to church on Sunday. Now that I was "worshipping" at home on a weekday, I really had no idea what I was doing. I had to get out my Bible and figure out what really was so important about Jesus rising from the dead.

Throughout my pre-Catholic charismatic years I came to see worship as involving an intimate encounter with Jesus through prayer, usually done corporately, but not always. Worship meant allowing God's Holy Spirit to move my heart to reach out to God in prayer and praise and to allow God to meet me with His glory. And still, worshipping with my friends left this intense yearning in my heart. In another scene I remember walking from my apartment to my car one summer day with a yearning in my heart so painful that it absolutely could not be ignored. And yet, nothing I could offer God could satisfy it.

Just a few weeks before I finally took leave from Risen Savior Fellowship (my pre-Catholic church, or one of them) I attended a Sunday evening service with a guest preacher. He was an energetic one, a southern black gentleman who more or less sang his message. We had had, of course, the customary praise and worship at the beginning of the service, and in the small congregation it was not hard to pick out my voice, as I tend to sing with a lot of gusto. After his message, he invited those who wished to come forward for prayer. Nearly everyone but myself went forward. At the very last, this preacher called me forward. Now, I imagine that at least someone in the congregation was saying to himself "if you were truly a prophet, you would know what sort of woman this is!" Because you see, everyone knew I was leaving to become a Catholic. The preacher joyfully and loudly blessed my singing voice and told me that God sent me forth to worship Him and to teach others how to worship Him.

At the time I didn't think too much of what the preacher said, and in hindsight I still don't know that it was any inspired utterance. I haven't even thought about it in years. But I realized today that I hope this is one way that God is able to use me.

Today when I think of worship, I think of giving myself. I offer my life with Christ's offering of Himself on the altar to the Father. I make my daily offering of my duty, my joys, my sorrows, my labors, my prayers. I strive to live the Eucharistic giving throughout my day, whether it seems to be going well or not (that part doesn't matter, I think.) And best of all, I am fed. I am no longer left with this aching longing, for whose fulfillment I grope about in the dark. I am assured of Who fulfills this ache -- Jesus Himself, Whom I receive. The Eucharist is the pledge of heaven, the foretaste of the heavenly banquet, where we will gather, sing, fall down, and receive back the lives we have given away here in imitation of Him.

Doesn't it make you want to give your whole self away?!


Leonie said...

I like the idea of worship as giving of self...

Shauna said...

Great reflection Marie!!