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Rituals of Reenactment and Transformation

It should be noted that  the reenactment ritual helps to re-orient one's life to sacred reality. Participants enter into the presence of the sacred and are transformed, touched by its power to renew life and reestablish identity according to sacred reality.  Thus, the rituals often have the effect of conforming  life socially and individually to the sacred reality. Not only is the individual re-oriented to sacred reality, he or she is reconnected to the community of the faithful. By celebrating the Passover, Jews experience a unity with those who came out of Egypt as well as a unity with fellow Jews who are participating in the Passover.  Transformation is also an integral part of the Eucharist: restoration of communion with God is experienced, but "it is not simply a personal state of bliss, it is shared with the rest of the Body." (Cannon, Six Ways of Being Religious, 361). Indeed, the entire congregation experiences a unity as it is transformed into the body of the risen Christ. 

A similar transformation is evident in the the life of Malcolm X after his participation in the hajj.  The hajj not only led to a personal transformation, but to a sense of unity with many people that Malcolm X had never considered as his brothers and sisters:

 "My pilgrimage broadened my scope.  Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and the overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this Ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad, and all the other prophets of the Holy Scriptures.  For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors."  (The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Bantam Books, 1965, p 339.).

 

The importance of rituals of reenactment to religion cannot be overstated. They are an effective way of retelling and re-experiencing the basic stories that express sacred reality. They provide continuity and a sense of unity, and those who participate in them experience a sense of being re-connected with the sacred order.