The Personalist Project

Since the Church in the English-speaking world is about to be renewed by the introduction of a new translation of the novis ordo, it seems a good moment to delve into Dietrich von Hildebrand's great classic Liturgy and Personality, which unfolds the unrealized depths and riches in the Liturgy, in the human personality, and in the mysterious relation between the two.

Accordingly, the first four sessions of our newly re-instituted First Friday Reading Circle gatherings for members will be dedicated to it.  If you'd like to participate either by coming to our home on December 2, or by reading along and listening to Jules' introduction to the text via podcast, be sure to become a member.

For now, we are offering membership to our friends, free of charge.  All we ask is that you be sincere in your interest and friendly in your intention toward the Personalist Project and its mission and members.

This is a line from Alice von Hildebrand's forward to the book:

When properly understood and lived in an attitude of generous self-giving, the Liturgy teaches us holy discretion.  It helps us to grow more recollected.  It transforms mechanistic or purely artificial personal relations into deeply organic ones: with God, our neighbors, and the world.

And this is from the first chapter:

The ultimate dignity of man consists precisely in that he can consciously adore and glorify God.  But this conscious response to God's glory, which belongs to the ultimate significance of man, does not stand juxtaposed to his vocation to praise God through his own value, but is closely linked with it.  In man, the central personal values do not take shape "on their own" as does his physical stature or his temperament; they grow, on the contrary, out of man's experienced communion with the world of values, out of his conscious turning to the realm of values and his response to them.  A person can never be good, if he does not will the good, rejoice in it and love it.  He cannot attain sanctification without adoring God, without loving Christ and bending his knee before Him.

Thus, the illumination received from the world of values and from the Face of Christ, and the conscious response to God's glory, are the conditions for man's inner transformation, the ripening of the central personal values, and, above all, of the supernatural beauty by which God is objectively praised and glorified.

Comments (3)

Helvi Moore

#1, Nov 28, 2011 9:06am

Von Hildebrand uses the word "classical" to describe the ideal personality, yet does not define what he means by classicity.  Is there another work in which this is explained more clearly?  I think that I intuitively know what he means, but am stumped when I try to explain it to others.  I think it is key to understanding VH's vision of the human person.  Can anyone help?

Helvi in England

Jules van Schaijik

#2, Nov 29, 2011 7:31am

I'm thinking about it, Helvi, but also find it difficult to put into words. I wonder if von Hildebrand defines it more clearly in his Aesthetics, which I have not yet read.

I am especially puzzled by some passages in the last chapter of the book, on "The Classical Spirit in the Liturgy," in which he distinguishes between classical sins and errors, and unclassical ones. Materialism is a classical error, pragmatism is not. Idolatry is a classical sin, enlightened atheism is not.

I'll keep the question in mind while reading, and, in the meantime, will see if someone else might be able to enlighten us.

Nice to find you here!

Jules van Schaijik

#3, Dec 1, 2011 1:20pm

I mentioned your question to Josef Seifert, and he may write something in response soon. Meanwhile, I made a comment elsewhere that is related to this one.

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