Florovsky Paper Abstract 23 - Intellectual Liturgy

Feast of St Kyriake the Great Martyr

THIS PAPER will discuss the tension between the emotional and intellectual components of liturgy. It will argue that the intellectual component is primary, and will outline the problematic tendencies associated with an overly emotional liturgical approach. Furthermore, it will discuss the proper place of emotion within the liturgy, and describe possible instances in which emotional allowances may be beneficial. The Protestant Reformation signaled a rejection of both the objective nature of worship and the necessity of mediation/hierarchy in liturgy. Drawing primarily from two authors (one ancient, and one modern), this paper will argue that this movement towards subjective and individualized (without concrete and consistent membership, priesthood, and ritual) was, and continues to be detrimental to the life of the Church, and is a departure from her authentic Tradition. St. Augustine, for example, discusses in his Confessions the affect which liturgical singing might have on the listener - admitting that while good fruits can come from the emotional uplifting of an individual through beautiful music, this sort of aesthetic appeal ought not be the intended goal, and can in fact be detrimental if it is accompanied by unsound doctrine. Augustine presents us with a critical evaluation of our attraction to beauty which recognizes its ability to point us to the divine, but also takes seriously our failure to see its transcendent property; remaining fixed on the beautiful object itself for the sensory enjoyment it offers us. Twentieth century theologian Romano Guardini provides a further nuanced treatment of the interplay between emotion and intellect, insisting that while emotion has a rightful place in liturgical prayer, it is most proper when present in a decidedly subdued manner. For Guardini, a misappropriation of the emotional element of liturgy is likely to cause one of two reactions: either a sort of forced emotion, which might distort or overshadow authentic prayer experience, or in an outright rejection by those with whom the emotions on display do not resonate. Finally, this paper will suggest that the liturgy can properly be seen as contemplation; a state of restfulness with God. In this sense, it is distinct from the sort of change which is sought after by appeals to emotion.


Dusty Gates currently serves as the Director of Adult Education at the Spiritual Life Center for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, KS, and as an adjunct Professor of Theology at Newman University in Wichita, KS, where he resides with his wife and two children.


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