Thursday, April 09, 2009

Remember me

Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacles of earthly greatness to the refuges of fugitives in caves and the dens of the earth.

Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church; for the proclamation of a dogma or for a good crop of wheat; for the wisdom of the Parliament of a mighty nation or for a sick old woman afraid to die; for a schoolboy sitting an examination or for Columbus setting out to discover America; for the famine of whole provinces or for the soul of a dead lover; in thankfulness because my father did not die of pneumonia; for a village headman much tempted to return to fetish because the yams have failed; because the Turk was at the gates of Vienna; for the repentance of Margaret; for the settlement of a strike; for a son for a barren woman; for Captain so-and-so, wounded and prisoner of war; while the lions roared in the nearby amphitheatre; on the beach at Dunkirk; while the hiss of scythes in the think June grass came faintly through the windows of the church; tremulously, by an old monk on the fiftieth anniversary of his vows; furtively, by an exiled bishop who had hewn timber all day in a prison camp near Murmansk; gorgeously, for the canonisation of S. Joan of Arc – one could fill many pages with the reasons why men have done this, and not tell a hundred part of them.

And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of Christendom, the pastors have done this just to make the plebs sancta Dei – the holy common people of God.

Dom Gregory Dix: The Shape of the Liturgy (London 1945)

So this is what I shall do in a couple of hours...Oh the privilege of this calling!

1 comment:

Crimson Rambler said...

oh yes indeed! I do love this piece out of Dix, I have read it aloud a number of times in a liturgical setting, sometimes I get more than blank stares.
BTW I had a lovely internet browse on Stanley Spencer -- the Crucifixion 1958 doesn't seem to be anywhere visible except in Oz itself, but I did confirm my suspicion that he painted that wonderful Last Supper where they all have such enormous feet... It was one of the "spiritual postcards" on my cork-board for some time!
you be well. My snuffles seem to have abated and I hope yours and your sore throat have done so also.