“Kneeling or uncovering of the head”

Whenever men really believe that they can get to the spiritual they always employ the material. When the purpose is good, it is bread and wine; when the purpose is evil, it is eye of newt and toe of frog. In this particular matter the witch’s charm included the hair of a black cat. But this is no more insane than the ingredients that have been immortalized by Shakspere. And indeed it is beside the mark to call the ingredients insane. They are chosen because they are insane. They are meant to put men into communication with the insane elements of the universe — with the lunatics of the spiritual world. How far they can succeed nobody can tell; but it is as reasonable to suppose that ugly actions (like tearing off a frog’s toe) may dispose us toward bad influences as to suppose that beautiful actions (like kneeling or uncovering of the head) may dispose us toward good ones. How much is the act and how much the association we do not know; but neither do we know it in daily life. If you are braced with a sea bath you do not know how much of it is the chemistry of the salt and how much of it is the poetry of the sea. If you are warmed with a glass of wine you do not know how much of it is wine and how much of it is the idea of wine.

Illustrated London News, 6 October 1906.

Published in: on May 21, 2008 at 8:04 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Thus, ritual constitutes one of the most important forms of education: symbolism behind specific actions, whether good or evil, speaks to the human person, is often imitated, and accepted. The Church is the greatest educational organization, and has always fostered true education, that is, formation of the soul, through the finest architecture, the most beautiful art, and the most magnificent ceremonies, since the beginning. Thus, through its most noble work of bringing souls to the Truth, it also became the greatest charitable structure ever known to man, a proof of its veractiy.

    And this is what Chesterton means: [good] ritual educates the person and aids in proper “disposition” towards what is true, good, and beautiful. For man, by nature, is naturally oriented towards these, which produce true happiness.


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