Review: Liturgy and Personality

Liturgy and PersonalityLiturgy and Personality by Dietrich von Hildebrand
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At the heart of this new edition of Hildebrand’s 1933 treatise is a recognition that only through participation in the liturgy for the sake of recognising the liturgy has having a value unto itself are individuals able to be drawn towards the greatness of personality that they aspire to.

This simple recognition is, however, contrary to the stated maxim of contemporary society wherein ‘personality’ is inward focused, derived from something innate to the individual, rather than something that is gained only through an individual coming to realise that true value for the sake of the value lies beyond the individual, lies with the Utterly Transcendent that we name as God. In order to be a truly great personality, with ‘great’ used in its classical formulation of grand or large or superlative, an individual must recognise within themselves the utterly impossibility of achieving that greatness of personality – something we are all called to – by our own efforts.

There is much in Hildebrand’s thesis that bears significantly on the Church and the world of today, and reading a philosophical treatise such as this, though it is certainly tough terrain to traverse at times, is a powerful reminder for the individual to seek true value for the sake of the true value itself, not for what the individual can gain from the true value. Only when the individual does this can true greatness of personality be achieved – and then through no effort of our own.

As I mentioned, tough going at various points, but I suspect that could be more to do with my philosophical rustiness than with the content of the work.

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