C.S. Lewis on Liturgy and Worship

C.S. Lewis on Liturgy and Worship February 10, 2011
I thought this was both interesting and a little bit funny too. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. For those of you who don’t know Lewis was a member of the Church of England. This might give some context to what he’s saying. The COE is generally liturgical and follows the Book of Common prayer, but there is a great deal more freedom with the liturgy then you find in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.



Do you agree with Lewis?





From Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer

It looks as if they believed people can be lured to go to church by incessant brightenings, lightenings, lengthenings, abridgements, simplifications, and complications of the service. And it is probably true that a new, keen vicar will usually be able to form within his parish a minority who are in favour of his innovations. The majority, I believe, never are. Those who remain — many give up churchgoing altogether — merely endure.
Novelty, simply as such, can have only an entertainment value.And they don’t go to church to be entertained. They go to usethe service, or, if you prefer, to enact it. Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best — if you like, it “works” best — when, through long familiarity, we don’t have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don’t notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.
But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about the worship is a different thing from worshipping. The important question about the Grail was “for what does it serve?” “‘Tis mad idolatry that makes the service greater than the god.”
A still worse thing may happen. Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant. You know what I mean. Try as one may to exclude it, the questions “What on earth is he up to now?” will intrude. It lays one’s devotion waste. There is really some excuse for the man who said, “I wish they’d remember that the charge to Peter was Feed my sheep; not Try expirements on my rats, or even, Teach my performing dogs new tricks.”

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