of an important
I SPOKE last week of our ten". dency to think of religion as something apart from ordinary life. Part of this is, of course, due to our secularist society. Also we are working and living with people whose religious ideas are entirely different from ours, and with whom we naturally try to find common ground. (Having found it we then. unfortunately, stay there.) But part of the trouble too. I think.. is the way we picture our natural and our supernatural lives, as though they were two separate streams flowing side by side but never destined to meet.
For instance, as children we studied the sacraments, and saw how the sacramental system follows the pattern of our ordinary life: baptism parallels birth. Confirmation growing up, the Eucharist food. Confession medicine, and o on. If we are not careful we end up with a feeling that the sacrament of marriage parallels marriage — and we are left with Holy Orders like the unplayed card in a game of Old Maid — there doesn't seem to he any parallel for it, so priests are outside ordinary life altogether.
LEADING TO CONFUSION
LL this is bound to lead to a certain confusion about our position: it's had enough trying to adjust to being both matter and spirit, without having to work out how to relate these two lives as well.
Very often we seem to feel that religion is concerned with the higher life (supernatural) of the higher part of us (spirit).
This does make it difficult to see how it can have anything much to do with' our everyday concerns.
This is, I think, the chief reason for the failure of cornmunication between us and other people: we give this very special life its own special language, and when they pose a problem about ordinary life in ordinary terms we are quite unable to answer it except by transposing it into our special terms.
The answer may satisfy us, but it is, literally, meaningless to them.
BEING SO SELF-CENTRED
PERHAPS this is also why we give such a poor showing in matters of social justice and the life of the community: we are too occupied in tending the garden of our own soul (which we are trying to save) to care whether people are killed on the roads, or starving in India.
When Christ told us to seek first the kingdom of God, this is certainly not what he meant. It is not a kingdom we can find by forgetting the rest of the human race and then ignoring part of our own nature; And we arc fortunate to be living in a period when theology and liturgy are combining to emphasise our oneness with each other in the mystical body, and our oneness within ourselves in being not souls imprisoned in bodies, but body-souls destined to achieve the fullness of both unities in heaven.
A VALUABLE CORRECTIVE
ASMALL BOOK which sums up this present current in theology very well is Liturgy and Doctrine, by Charles Davis (Sheed and Ward. 4s, 6d.)
Fr. Davis begins by pointing out that the Mass is the family meal of the Christian community; the liturgy is therefore not a hobby, but a living affair in which we all have our part to play.
He goes on to study the doctrine that underlies the liturgy — our relationship to the risen humanity of Christ, the pattern of the history of mankind's salvation, the function of the liturgy in cornmunicating the divine reality to men and expressing that reality to them, and the whole sacramental structure.
He shows most clearly that our life in Christ is our life, that the history of salvation is the history of humanity.
As a corrective to the separatecompartment attitude these ideas are invaluable.
'IMAGES AND SYMBOLS'
I N comparison, it is interesting to read Mircea Eliade's latest book "Images and Symbols" (Harvill Press, lbs )
Professor Eliade is writing about the images and symbols which are found in different religious patterns of thought all over the world, and it is fascinating to see how many of these universal symbols exist in our own sacramental system.
We fear sometimes that Christianity is expressed too much in the ways of thought of a Western European tradition, but this hook makes one realise what a universally human religion it is— not merely in the sense that it is what all men need. but that it is also what their own religious strivings show that they want.