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Gregory Dix still speaks July 27, 2016

Posted by charleswread in Uncategorized.
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After the appalling murder of Jacques Hamel at Mass in Rouen, I am reminded again of these famous words of Gregory Dix, foremost liturgical scholar of his generation and whose work shapes all western liturgical revision since the 1940’s.

“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 thick 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.”

(Dix, Dom Gregory, 1945, The Shape of the Liturgy, London: Dacre, p.744.)

(NB The picture of Dix, above, is a common one and I don’t know where it is originally from, but I got his version from this site:  https://sedangli.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/dix-on-the-eucharist/)