Eucharist and American Culture: Liturgy, Unity, and Individualism

Eucharist and American Culture: Liturgy, Unity, and Individualism


Dennis C. Smolarski, SJ (Author)



Liturgy, which tries to foster the unity of the body of Christ, can be a countercultural experience since trends in modern American society emphasize individualism.

In John 17, Jesus prays that all may be one, a theme which appears in other ways in other parts of scripture (such as the image of one bread-one body ) and in writings throughout Christian history. In contrast, U.S. society is characterized by individualism and, according to various recent scholarly publications, is becoming more individualistic. Americans are less likely now to participate in social groups than they were a couple of decades ago. As a result, some aspects of good liturgy, for example, common posture or communal singing, are increasingly countercultural.

This book looks at the various ways the call to unity of the followers of Christ appears in scripture and in Christian tradition up to the present. It also looks at the works of secular authors such as Alexi de Tocqueville, Robert Bellah, Robert Putnam, and Jean Twenge, among others, and how they evaluate the challenges of American life, especially in the contemporary era, regarding the more and more individualistic behavioral aspects. It then goes through the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and shows how liturgy tries to bring about the unity Christ prayed for. Finally, the book tries to address the problems faced in making unity a reality in contemporary American culture.



Publication Date



Paulist Press



Eucharist and American Culture: Liturgy, Unity, and Individualism