Today at the ever helpful Crisis there is a piece by Anthony Esolen (who is being persecuted by Providence College – HERE) with thoughts on disposition and sacred worship stemming from the thought of Dietrich von Hildebrand in his work Liturgy and Personality, which is out in a new edition.
I warmly recommend both… Esolen and von Hildebrand.
If you have never read anything by Dietrich von Hildebrand… whew… are you in for a treat. It is a hard treat, mind you.
Under immediately discussion is disposition for participation in sacred liturgical worship. This could be helpful – and a real challenge – for a lot of readers.
In other words, the liturgy sweeps us out of ourselves. We do not set about this transformation directly, says Hildebrand. That would be a contradiction. We cannot forget ourselves while assiduously gauging the measure of our spiritual progress. We do not participate in the liturgy for the experience: the ravishment comes “in an entirely gratuitous manner.” The proper attitude of the man being transformed by the liturgy “is like that of love which is entirely directed towards its object, a love which in its very essence is a pure response-to-value, which comes into existence only as a response to the value of the beloved.” Had Dante said, “I think I shall fall in love with this girl Beatrice, because she will enable me to write great poetry,” he would have been but one of the great crowd of poetic poseurs, and could never have written his Commedia. Hildebrand insists upon the necessity of love. If we say, “I shall attend this Mass because it will be good for me,” it will be of no avail. It would be like trying to win the love of a woman by gazing into a mirror.
I am determined now to reread Liturgy and Personality.
Mind you, the title of this blog post is meant to provoke. There are many levels of benefits that flow from different levels of participation on our sacred liturgical worship. Should we be satisfied with the lesser, when the greater is possible?
Hence, there is also a great challenge on the table for PRIESTS AND BISHOPS. Consider ars celebrandi and the knock on effect it MUST have for the congregation. Consider the rite itself! What choices about liturgical worship are going to foster the greater rather than the mere lowest common denominator? The easy path. The utilitarian.
Fathers… read and ponder. It’s on us.