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Ritual, Roots and the Christian Experience

Ritual tells the story of our roots. It protects us from amnesia as it helps us keep alive the memory of how we came to be the people we are. Perhaps the only meaningless ritual is one that does not tell some people’s story. Ritual activity locates us in the world; it roots us in the ritualizing community and provides us a home. Ritual bonds the individual to the community, preventing aimless wandering; it helps us know who we are in relation to others and the world. Membership in the ritual community preserves us from the ultimate, radical identity crisis.

Religious ritual – all true ritual has about it a religious character – is the patterned way in which the community stands before God. It is the time-tested path, the community’s admittance to the holy ground. It is a particular moment of revelation in which the community experiences the story of its belief. In the telling and the doing of this story, the community meets its source and sustenance.

In Christian ritual activity, the divine is revealed in the ordinary – the people, their bread and wine, water and oil, the spoken word, the laying on of hands – disclosing the value, meaning and purpose of the world and of those who live in it. Christian ritual names the true order of things and fortifies us against the chaos of sin. Our ritual prayer is an experience of who and what we believe.

 

*Taken from ‘Preparing for Liturgy: A Theology and Spirituality’ by Austin Fleming with Victoria M. Tufano

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