THE MEANING OF RITUAL by Leonel L. Mitchell


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Programmed worship in the Western Christian tradition is the subject of this descriptive and analytical history. The caves of Lascaux and Stone Age cultures provide background, with Mircea Eliada and others as interpreters (""God was involved at every stage in the preparation of food""). The mystery religions, Greek rites, and above all Judaism are shown as the theory and practice on which first-century Christianity built. In the development of Christian liturgy, the Constantinian change from the tiny, illegal house gathering to the large crowd assembled in an imperial basilica is seen as one turning point. Another is found in the current attempts to recover a fuller meaning in the classical liturgies. ""Liturgical problems of the present do not admit of liturgical solutions but are symptomatic of a malaise of society,"" Mitchell Observes. Mary Douglas and Alexander Schmemann are cited here, and Louis Boyer throughout. Perhaps because the material has been used in the author's undergraduate classes at Notre Dame, the book easily holds attention and is completely clear. Mitchell writes as a participant, and the meaning of the rite to the worshipper is the focus rather than the decisions of ecclesiastical councils. Catholic and Protestant church practice is covered, in a manner acceptable to all An excellent book for anyone wishing to know more of the ways of worship.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Paulist Press