The Spirit of the Liturgy
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The Spirit of the Liturgy

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4.5 of 5 stars 4.50  ·  rating details  ·  677 ratings  ·  26 reviews
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. In his own foreward to the book, Cardinal Ratzinger compares this work to a m...more
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published September 1st 2000 by Ignatius Press (first published 2000)
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Ray
As a Protestant, despite some high church leanings, I find plenty to disagree with here. But this book wasn't written for me, and I greatly respect Ratzinger's learned, devout approach to his topic. This is the best overview of Catholic worship I have found.

He named this book intentionally after his hero, Guardini's 1918 book of the same name. It is divided into four parts (The Essence of the Liturgy, Time and Space in the Liturgy, Art and Liturgy, Liturgical Form)

It is very important to note...more
booklady
June 7, 2011 Update: Listened to the first podcast last night. I really like Fr. Riccardo. Thanks again for the recommendation Lynda.

May 31, 2011 Update: A friend just recommended this set of podcasts by Fr. John Riccardo as very helpful in understanding this book. Can't wait 'til I have some time to listen! Thanks Lynda!

I'm not sure if it was good or bad that it took me so long to finish this book. It isn't what I'd call a 'cover-to-cover' read anyway. By that I mean, you don't necessarily hav...more
Adam
Benedict XVI surely puts the "Lit" back in "Liturgy" with this fascinating and refulgent view of the recently watered down Catholic Mass. With unabashed defenses of incense, gregorian chant and literary scriptural roots, His Holiness expresses a much needed return to the basics of liturgy and provides the Cliff's Notes of how to get the Mass back on track. I for one will regurgitate at the next "Folk Mass" I am obligated to attend.
Barbara Moeller
Prayers, music, postures, gestures, history, and development of the liturgy. Immensely readable. Best part: "Liturgical dance has no place in Christian worship." I feel so validated.
Bojan Tunguz
Liturgy is the heart and apex of Christian life. And even though it is not true that we take away from it as much as we are willing to give (we always gain more than we could ever hope to give), it behooves us to know and understand deeply and thoughtfully the significance and importance of liturgy's various parts. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now pope Benedict XVI) has set out in this relatively slim volume to examine and meditate on various aspects of the Liturgy, and to defend it from various c...more
Nick
Feb 27, 2008 Nick rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Catholics
"The Spirit of the Liturgy" will forever be within arm's reach. This simple statement of then-Cardinal Ratzinger's theology of liturgy opened my eyes to the genius and the beauty of Catholic worship--admittedly a dry subject but one that is increasingly important for Catholics to grow in appreciation of. One might claim that it is precisely the failure to convey the intention and meaning of the Council's revision of the liturgy that has created the confusion and apathy so many Catholics now face...more
Andrew
Third (maybe fourth) time reading this, but first time reviewing. It's still five stars and always will be. Along with Introduction to Christianity, this is, in my mind, the classic Raztinger/Benedict title. Up front, it really is a Catholic insider baseball book with a tiny secular audience, so may not be everybody's cup of tea - in other words, you may want to move on from this review and book.

That being said (or his dictis since we're in a Catholic realm) it should live on the shelf of all Ca...more
David Pucik
Excellent book. Concise introduction to the spiritual meaning of the liturgy, especially as relates to larger philosophical categories like cosmos and history, matter and spirit. Not light reading, but aimed toward the non-liturgist. While His Holiness writes from a Catholic perspective (obviously...), there is much insight to be gained regardless of one's tradition.
Yong Cho
So far I have learned from Benedict's Biblical interpretation of Scripture in faithfulness to the early Father's, why and how Jesus' life, death and resurrection restores man's relationship with God. Benedict's selection of key scripture verses and its interpretation, gave me a clear picture of the role Jesus played in Salvation History. At first, it was difficult reading. I had to reread the first couple of chapters to get used to the writing style and gain some foundation to build on the next...more
Froilan Diaz
Hands down- a book that every Catholic MUST read. Then Cardinal Ratzinger, now His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, goes through great lengths to explain that the liturgy is connected to time, and yet connected outside of time to the Divine. Through its connection to time, the liturgy is bound by history, yet is organically in development. I went to this book looking some opinions from our current Pope on how to bring liturgical renewal back into the church. He lays out the elements of the liturgy, t...more
Margaret Kerry
Really great theology with a wonderful sense of the Sacred in every day life. Any of Ratzinger's books, if you take them slowly, will change the way you see life and religio (the way of spirituality).
Kevin de Ataíde
Card. Ratzinger always makes good sense and presents his thoughts and arguments clearly. You don't have to be a theologian to understand him. Here, he speaks of the spirit of the traditional liturgy, and debates the trends that followed the liturgical renewal after the Second Vatican Council. This is a must read for all Catholics, that they may understand the difference between what the Council intended and what actually happened. There was, in many places, a disastrously large difference in vis...more
Joyce
The following sections were strong ones in the text: the cosmic and historical dimensions of the liturgy; liturgical art; corporal gestures in the liturgy.

Well written, but can be challenging for those who have not had much experience in academic and theological writings (though this book isn't so much theological as theoretical about liturgy...).
Cecilia Gonzalez
There are many things I never considered about Liturgy. The connection to the cosmic beginning and the old testament about a celebration that renews the most beautiful sacrifice made for all. Sadly not all will embrace it, but those of use who appreciate and taste the goodness of Liturgy, we'll have to keep praying for the others.
Kathy
Oct 25, 2009 Kathy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kathy by: Benedicts Book Club
This book was wonderful. I've taken several classes on liturgy and though I had a firm grasp of the mysteries, but there were chapters that really amazed me. The stuff about cosmology and the liturgy is facinating. I particularly enjoyed the chapter about history. This is a wonderful read if you want to learn to love liturgy more.
Jane Francis
It took me a long time to get through this one; lots of information to process. Unlike Pope Benedict's other books, which tend to be meditative, this one is very instructional. A good study-book. (For me, a little too heavy, and a bit dry)
Adam DeVille, Ph.D.
Very compelling in most respects, though Ratzinger seems to pull his punches in a few places, and also leaves tantalizing thoughts (e.g., about Western iconoclasm) unhelpfully undeveloped.
Herb Dulzo
Went over lots of detail in the Liturgy that I never knew or just plain for got. Just reading this book makes going to Mass a more rewarding experience.
Danny
A pretty impressive range of coverage from biblical theology to historical theology to the problem of "liturgical anarchy" (my words) following Vatican 2.
Jon
I have looked over sections of this work and look forward to reading it in its entirety! Thanks, Nick!
Rachel Noffke
Finally finished this masterpiece! Reminds me once again of why I love reading Ratzinger so much!
Pishowi
"All true human art is an assimilation to the artist, to Christ, to the mind of the Creator."
Jane
Benedict XVI - You are brilliant and you will be missed.
Simona
Daug gerų ir naudingų paaiškinimų liturgijos klausimais.
Rich
Still reading, but gleaning much.
Ian
Good argument in favor of the (valid) Tridentine Mass and against the (invalid) "Novus Ordo"
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Pope Benedict XVI (Latin: Benedictus PP. XVI; Italian: Benedetto XVI; German: Benedikt XVI.; born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on 16 April 1927) was the 265th Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the head of the Roman Catholic Church. He was elected on 19 April 2005 in a papal conclave, celebrated his Papal Inauguration Mass on 24 April 2005, an...more
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“The glory of God is the living man, but the life of man is the vision of God', says St. Irenaeus, getting to the heart of what happens when man meets God on the mountain in the wilderness. Ultimately, it is the very life of man, man himself as living righteously, that is the true worship of God, but life only becomes real life when it receives its form from looking toward God.” 14 likes
“Whether it is Bach or Mozart that we hear in church, we have a sense in either case of what gloria Dei, the glory of God, means. The mystery of infinite beauty is there and enables us to experience the presence of God more truly and vividly than in many sermons. But there are already signs of danger to come. Subjective experience and passion are still held in check by the order of the musical universe, reflecting as it does the order of the divine creation itself. But there is already the threat of invasion by the virtuoso mentality, the vanity of technique, which is no longer the servant of the whole but wants to push itself to the fore. During the nineteenth century, the century of self-emancipating subjectivity, this led in many places to the obscuring of the sacred by the operatic. The dangers that had forced the Council of Trent to intervene were back again. In similar fashion, Pope Pius X tried to remove the operatic element from the liturgy and declared Gregorian chant and the great polyphony of the age of the Catholic Reformation (of which Palestrina was the outstanding representative) to be the standard for liturgical music. A clear distinction was made between liturgical music and religious music in general, just as visual art in the liturgy has to conform to different standards from those employed in religious art in general. Art in the liturgy has a very specific responsibility, and precisely as such does it serve as a wellspring of culture, which in the final analysis owes its existence to cult.” 3 likes
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