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Discerning the Lord's Body
The Rationale of a Catholic Democracy

By Frederic Hastings Smyth, Ph.D.
Superior of the Society of the Catholic Commonwealth

Louisville, Kentucky: The Cloister Press, 1946.


THIS BOOK had its origin in the need for a manual of instruction for the use of the Members of the Society of the Catholic Commonwealth. During the course of writing, that which was intended as a manual for a limited use has assumed the dimensions of a book which now sets forth in considerable detail a dogmatic analysis of the nature of the Christian Church and of her central Liturgical Memorial.

The origin of this work accounts for its somewhat didactic tin form. I hope, however, that this method of exposition may not be without appeal to many Liturgical Christians who are interested in relating their Liturgical practice to a progressive social action in their environmental world. This origin also accounts for the reappearance here of certain arguments and illustrations taken from my earlier book Manhood Into God, but now in more compact and, as I trust, clearer and more generally useful forms.

In this same earlier work I had attempted to extend the Sacramental concept of Transubstantiation to cover a wider process than that permitted by its rigid Scholastic definition. I have come to believe that this is inadvisable. Therefore, to the Liturgical process as a whole I have given the name of Metacosmesis. I have also concluded from reasoning developed in the text that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of St. Mary, the Mother of Our Lord, now held as a "pious opinion" by many Anglicans, is a doctrine which is essential to all Liturgical Christians if they are to avoid the Scylla of Pelagianism on the one hand and the Charybdis of neo-orthodoxy on the other. I hope that the reader will permit his judgment on these controverted matters to wait upon a reading of the sequent pages.

In the preparation of this book all my fellow Members in the Society of the Catholic Commonwealth have had then-important part; since it is only out of the dialectic of my own association in this Society that the arguments here presented have emerged. But I am under a particular obligation to three Members, Professor Marshall Swan, of Tufts College, Dr. David Hecht and Mrs. Dora Hoague. These have given generously of their energy and time to criticising the manuscript and helping with proof correction.

F. H. S.

Oratory of Saint Mary and Saint Michael, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
, 1945.

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