Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Liturgy and Life

I have been preparing to teach a class on the Christian Liturgy.  One of my main concerns as I work out how to present what I'm learning is how to break the liturgy down, to take it apart, without killing the mystery and life which it holds, such as what happens when one dissects a frog, leaving an understanding of systems but losing on understanding of its "frogginess", or as Bitzer from Hard Times, by Dickens, would understand a horse.

'Bitzer,' said Thomas Gradgrind. 'Your definition of a horse.'
'Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.' Thus (and much more) Bitzer.
'Now girl number twenty,' said Mr. Gradgrind. 'You know what a horse is.'

Perhaps the only way to prevent such a thing from happening is to participate.  Just as we would greatly increase our understanding of "frogginess" by observing frogs in their natural habitat  or of horses by living around them as did Sally Jupe, a.k.a., girl number twenty, and even more so by becoming a frog or a horse if that were possible, Christ invites us to participate in the divine, looking forward to the Heavenly banquet, we may partake of it in the here and now in the bread and the wine, because Christ himself is present.  Christ lives in us and we in him.  That is what prevents the liturgy from becoming a just a system or ritual or set of theories.


  1. Looking forward to the study - I hope to be able to make some of the classes, but very interested in the materials - but also to experience the reality of liturgy by attending some traditonal service.

    Thanks for doing this...


  2. Hey Dave,

    Stan sent me a list of folks who have signed up for the class and it was good to see your name on it. The book we'll be using has become a classic on the topic of sacramental theology, well worth the price of the class. ;o)