New Softcover Edition with Index!
Considered by Ratzinger devotees as his greatest work on the Liturgy, this profound and beautifully written treatment of the "great prayer of the Church" will help readers rediscover the Liturgy in all its hidden spiritual wealth and transcendent grandeur as the very center of our Christian life.
Among the many liturgical issues that he covers in this work, Cardinal Ratzinger discusses fundamental misunderstandings of the Second Vatican Council's intentions for liturgical renewal, especially the orientation of prayer at the Eucharistic sacrifice, the placement of the tabernacle, and the posture of kneeling.
Other important topics he discusses include the following: the essence of worship; Jewish roots and new elements of the Christian Liturgy; the historic and cosmic dimensions of the Liturgy; the relationship of the Liturgy to time and space; art, music, and the Liturgy; active participation of all the faithful; gestures, posture, and vestments.
"My purpose here is to assist this renewal of understanding of the Liturgy. Its basic intentions coincide with what Guardini wanted to achieve. The only difference is that I have had to translate what Guardini did at the end of the First World War, in a totally different historical situation, into the context of our present-day questions, hopes, and dangers. Like Guardini, I am not attempting to involve myself with scholarly discussion and research. I am simply offering an aid to the understanding of the faith and to the right way to give the faith its central form of expression in the Liturgy."
- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, from the preface
"The first theologian in modern times to discover to our wonder and joy the fully sacramental character of the Mass was, doubtless, that profound and personal thinker, Abbot Vonier." - Fr. W. Barden, O.P.
In his greatest, and most influential masterpiece, Abbot Vonier gives a spiritually and intellectually enriching explanation of the Eucharist based on a careful study of “the great sacramental doctrine of the Church” found in the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Council of Trent. Vonier writes, “To conceive the sacrifice of Mass as a sacrament is a simple visualization of a great truth which, if it be once grasped by the mind … makes all the difference between light and fantasy.” The great beauty and intellectual clarity of the Church’s theology as explained by Vonier reminds the reader over and over that “In theological matters the spark that illumines always comes from under the hoof of strict reasoning.”
This is a book of wisdom and insight that explains how providential are the trials through which the Catholic Church is now passing. The need of the Papal Primacy to ensure Christian unity; the true meaning of the Priesthood as a sacrament and not a mere ministry; the necessity of the Eucharist as the Sacrifice of the Savior now offering Himself on our altars; the role of the Bishops as successors of the Apostles, united with the successor of St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome; the value of suffering in union with Christ crucified; the indispensable service of the laity in the apostolate - all these themes receive from Cardinal Ratzinger new clarity and depth.