Sunday, June 19, 2016

Practicing Self Denial

Usually when we hear the phrase self denial, we think of things like what we give up for lent. In today's gospel we hear

If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself

And the more one reflects on it, the more difficult it becomes. We all have egos and, truth be, told there is a bit of control freak in each of us. 

Have you ever heard a really good choir? In a really good choir you hear no one. You hear sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses. They may be outstanding, but no one stands out. The hard part about singing in a choir, is the constant listening and blending required to not stick out. 

Have you ever asked yourself the difference between personal prayer and liturgical prayer?

Liturgical prayer is precisely an exercise in self-denial. In liturgical prayer, we surrender our selves. The words, the gestures, the postures are all dictated by the Church. All most all of the texts are straight out of the Bible from the first "In the name of the Father..." to the last "Thanks be to God." 

The ministers wear vestments to cover up the self.  The people stand, sit, kneel, and respond in unison. We all are supposed to check our egos at the door and for that hour on Sunday deny your self and be part of the Church. 

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

It's not just about being a martyr. We are called to loose ourself, every time we engage in liturgical prayer, even if it is the liturgy of the hours and we are praying at home alone. We surrender to the liturgy. We loose our self, in the prayer of the Church. 

Think of it as practice, for the selflessness we should be living every day of our lives.