Inspired by advances in ritual studies since the 1960s, this book maps out the interplay between body, soul, mind and action, towards an understanding of ritual “in itself “ as experienced in Catholic tradition in the West. Through an analysis of the dynamics of and within the Body at worship, the polarities of public and self, formality and casualness, submission and self-expression, fixity and adaptation, complexity and thinness are explored. The different facets of “words” are investigated: ritual, communicative, commentative and conversational. The tension between ritual and a striving for immediacy in communication and participation is discussed. This journey touches on the related disciplines of translation studies and play theory. The issues at stake are tested through examples drawn from ritual praxis and history: actions of facing, feeding, fasting, chanting, gifting and transforming. A synthesis is drawn from these reflections with the intent of fostering a rediscovery of the authentic path of ritual in Christian practice.
Anton Usher is an alumnus of the University of Melbourne, Australia, from which he received his Master of Laws and Bachelor of Science. He works in the field of corporate and finance law, and maintains an active interest in ritual studies and practice. He serves as lay reader at St Nicholas’s Russian Catholic Church in Melbourne.