"All of Life is preparation for Liturgy"
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 1:50 PM [+]
This is something ArchDeacon Kirill said to us during the Diaconal Liturgical Practicum. He noted that too often we tend to see our preparation as being perhaps - at most - attending Vespers on Saturday and saying our Pre-Communion prayers, but in fact if we can begin to understand the reality and the centrality to our lives of what we do on Sunday mornings then we will see how everything is connected and hinged to it and correspondingly all is preparation for it. Our minds, in considering preparation, will often drift toward the obvious: keeping the weekly fasts and the Mystery of Confession. And many of us with families can attest to seemingly "ruining" our Sundays by having one of those rough mornings in which we lose our composure with our kids and siblings and then feel the need to refrain from communion. I can recall when my kids were younger leaving Liturgy altogether and in utter frustration going home believing that we were no longer prepared for receiving communion and just could not handle "it" any longer. But of course, these are the obvious preparations (or lack thereof) that one might expect even if all we were doing on Sunday morning was a ritual that had certain requirements of its participants. But, as we all know, this is not at all what the Divine Liturgy is for us. It is first and foremost REAL...as real as the Body and Blood we consume. It is not merely a "remembrance" and it certainly isn't merely a pretty ceremony. Yes, it is "symbolic" but not as we typically understand the word. It's more real and more important that any of life's most real and most important events; think births, marriages, graduations, milestone birthdays, the love for our spouses and our children, charity to others, care for our elderly parents, or even death. The Divine Liturgy is not only a hinge point for all of these, but it alone (by virtue of what it is and who He is) flushes out the fullness of meaning in all these other life events. Without it, we are testing God's admonition that "man shall not live by bread alone."
In my mind, this makes the notion that everyday life is a preparation for Liturgy quite clear. What I do on any given Monday morning with regard to myself, my coworkers, my family, and strangers on the street is all connected with, and ought to be seen in the context of what I did the morning before and what I'll do the following Sunday morning. It should be the melody of the song we dance to, and it's tangible reality very close to our hearts and minds. This is also why our presence and participation there as lay people and/or our service there as choir members or clergy is so much more than a performance or ritual....it's not an act at all. It is REAL LIFE. The MOST real in fact.