Br. David M. Spencer, O. de M., earned a Master of Theology (Cum Laude) from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in May, 2011. Br. David used the opportunity of prayerfully contemplating, researching, and writing his thesis to explore more deeply the nature of Christian Liturgy and its efficacy in the redemptive mission.
Utilizing a rich trove of biblical, liturgical, and historical sources, Br. David demonstrates that liturgy is a Theophanic encounter permitting the participant to share in the Trinitarian life and in the mission of redemption. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, liturgy becomes an incarnational experience by the use of material elements, human language, and formulae. Noting that the earthly ritual is a celebration of the single mystery proclaimed in the heavenly liturgy, the meeting of God is not a mere philosophical or emotional experience, but rather a true encounter with the Messiah.
Beginning with the central question, “What is Liturgy” and then carefully building a historical foundation with a “Lectio Divina of Jewish Liturgy”, Br. David concludes with the ‘Efficacy of Christian Liturgy in the Redemptive Mission’. He explores the significant and deep reality of the Paschal Mystery in the life of the Church’s liturgical work. It is this efficacy, which performs the ransoming mission of Christ. It is in the liturgy that the clergy and laity are inserted into the mission of redemption – whether in praying the Liturgy of the Hours, the prayers of the Sacraments, or through participating in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist – the faithful are able to mark the points from creation-redemption-captivity-freedom with Christ.
Br. David thus summarizes the vision of St. Peter Nolasco toward the captive Christians – that God’s embrace of His people is always oriented toward the preparation of His people for the coming of His Son, as Messiah, who would redeem his people from the darkness and ransom them from captivity. The effective fruit of Christ on His Cross transcends the limits of space and time; otherwise, we, and the generations before and after are left without the benefits of His Mission. What, then, is the connecting point between the historic Paschal Mystery and its redemptive effect and our lives today? It is the sacred liturgical action of the Church that God uses to ransom his people and the means by which redemption is extended even to our own day.