Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Point To Ponder From Dom Gregory Dix

"In this period of the disintegration and attempted reconstruction of thought about our secular society, the individual's relation to society and his need for a securing of material things are the haunting problems of the age. There is a Christian pattern of a solution which is expressed for us and by us at the Eucharist. There the individual is perfectly integrated in society, for there the individual Christian only exists as a Christian individual inasmuch as he is fully exercising his own function in the Christian society. There his need of and utter dependence upon material things even for 'the good life' in this world is not denied or even ascetically repressed, but emphasized and met. Yet his needs are met from the resources of the whole society, not by his self-regarding provision. But there the resources of the society are nothing else but the total substance freely offered by each of its members for all. There, too, is displayed a true hierarchy of functions within a society organically adapted to a single end, together with a complete equality of recompense.
But the Eucharist is not a mere symbolic mystery representing the right order of earthly life, though it is that incidentally and as a consequence. It is the representative act of a fully redeemed human life. This perfect society is not an end in itself, but is consciously and wholly directed to the only end which can give meaning and dignity to human life--the eternal God and the loving and conscious obedience of man in time to His known will. There the eternal and absolute value of each individual is affirmed by setting him in the most direct of all earthly relations with the eternal and absolute being of God; through it is thus affirmed and established only through his membership of the perfect society. There the only means to that end is proclaimed and accepted and employed--man's redemption through the personal sacrifice of Jesus Christ at a particular time and place in human history, communicated to us at other times and places through the church which is the 'fulfillment' of Him. That is the Eucharist. Over against the dissatisfied 'Acquisitive Man' and his no less avid successor the dehumanised 'Mass-Man' of our economically focused societies insecurely organised for time, Christianity set the type of 'Eucharistic Man'--man giving thanks with the product of his labours upon the gifts of God, and daily rejoicing with his fellows in the worshiping society which is grounded in eternity."
Dom Gregory Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy (1945)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful passage! It explains something that I have always felt to be true, but could never quite put into words: The world only *makes sense* during the Holy Eucharist. That must be because it is only during the Mass that we are enabled to be what we were always meant to be, and to escape the poisonous deceptions of our dehumanizing modern society.

The challenge then becomes how we can bring the "rightness" of the Eucharist (which "rightness" is the presence of the living Christ) into our daily lives, so that we are not immediately swallowed up again by greed and callousness when we leave the church.

Hurrah for Eucharistic Man!

-Kathryn Stoddard

June 2, 2008 at 11:54 AM  

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Welcome to Tracts for the Times

The title "Tracts for the Times" captures what we hope to accomplish with this blog. The Tracts for the Times were published between September 9, 1833 and January 25, 1841 and were written by such illustrious Church of England clergy as John Henry Newman, John Keble and E.B Pusey, all of whom were associated with the University of Oxford. The Tracts were part of a concerted effort to recall the Church of England back to her catholic principles during a time when the established church was drifting away from catholic Christianity into what Newman called "Church of Englandism," that is a merely cultural Christianity which consisted of whatever nineteenth century Englishmen would accept as "religion".
The Tracts were phenomenally successful and enjoyed a wide circulation in Britain, largely because they addressed the issues facing the Church of England from a thoroughly theological perspective. The conviction animating all the Tracts was that the Church was a divine institution founded on apostolic authority and that she had a commission from God to proclaim an authoratative Gospel and to celebrate sacraments through which her Lord was present and in which he powerfully worked. At a time during which British religion was becoming more and more sentimental and agnostic (and Gnostic!), the Tractarians held to the ideal of Christianity as a religion centered enduring, objective Truth (dogma) and and constituted by the redeeming work of the Triune God.
Our hope is to carry on the work of the Tracts for our own day, acknowledging that our situation is quite similar to that of the Tractarians. Our committment is to inform, to challenge, to stimulate and, above all, to recall the Church to her catholic foundations with the hope of rendering a robust witness to the incomparable work of God in the world.
Michael Petty


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