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The Spirit of the Liturgy Hardcover – 1 Sep 2000

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (1 Sept. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898707846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898707847
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 13.5 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 301,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 25 April 2005
Format: Hardcover
Cardinal Ratzinger, newly elected as Pope Benedict XVI, is perhaps one of the greatest intellectuals in the Roman Catholic Church's hierarchy since the second world war. Examples of his ability in the historical and theological disciplines abound, but perhaps a more practical expression of this intelligence is contained in this book, `The Spirit of the Liturgy'. The subject of this book is the central rite of the church, the Eucharistic feast, and the liturgy - the word `liturgy' actually translates into `work of the people', and this includes clergy and laity alike.
The first section of the book works to connect liturgy in the church with the wider world, and indeed the entire cosmos. Ratzinger draws on ideas East and West, from philosophical traditions in the church as well as the biblical witness (both Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament). He sees Jesus as both a role model as well as the central figure in the Eucharist, drawing on all of these sources to make the point of the way worship is done, and what meaning can be derived from it.
Following this introductory section, Ratzinger continues to look at the practical aspects, everything from the language used and the movements done to the architectural implications and the musical elements. Ratzinger was a leading figure in the Second Vatican Council, but navigates an interesting line between some of the traditional elements and the more recent innovations in liturgical worship. He is suspicious of the idea of changing music in service to being popular forms simply for the sake of relating to the culture, seeing that as somewhat of a sell-out to changing forms; he generally disapproves of rock-concert-type music in the liturgy, for example, because it is less a part of the worship as it is a part of the general culture outside.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Aquinas on 4 July 2005
Format: Hardcover
This short book is a gem. It is a book to be cherished and to be returned to time and time. For many of us Catholics (and I point out here that I am relatively young, merely in my late thirties), there is a real feeling that something has been lost in recent times in the liturgy. The Holy Father, as he is now, gives an insight into precisely what has been lost, that sense of the Mass being an unfathomable mystery which we much approach with a cosmic awe - a witness to the everlasing sacrifice of the Son to the Father (the pictorial representation by Dali comes close to illustrating this). I note here that this mystery is presented very well in the Roman Canon, but seems to be hidden in the other Eucharistic prayers, Eucharistic prayer no. 2 being a prime example of brevity potentially disguising truth. A reader of this book with an open heart cannot but find his/her outlook being transformed by this book. There are some difficult ideas but Benedict's humanity shines through, in particular the heart breaking and loving manner in which he recollects the way his parents used to bless him and his brother and sister, as children. Buy this book and keep it close.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Pine Marten TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 29 Aug. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the book by the then Cardinal Ratzinger that I had always intended to read. With the new translation of the Mass in English to be introduced in these parts in 2011, I thought it would be a good idea to read this book. It starts out a little lofty, but as the dustjacket says, if the ideas strike one as lofty, it is not because you are dim, but because the ideas and concepts themselves are lofty, or words to that effect. The second half of the book is an easier read, with various key liturgical issues address, including the offering of Holy Mass ad orientem (facing east), instead of the Mass facing the people that has become the norm since the liturgical revolution after Vatican II, location of the tabernacle, postures, including kneeling, and vestments.

The Cardinal proposes placing a crucifix on the altar in order to provide a focus for Mass, and he also addresses some of the errors of these times concerning liturgical matters as well as discussing the problems that result when the liturgy breaks down.

This book should be read by all priests and seminarians, as well as committed lay people. It might be a good idea to present this book as a gift to priests that you know, and I have already given two copies away to priests!

The book gives a good insight into the thinking of Pope Benedict and gives one hope that the coming decades will bring the genuine liturgical renewal that had been hoped for following the close of the Council.

Highly recommended.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Epiphania on 23 Feb. 2005
Format: Hardcover
Ive still not completed the book, but its been amazing from page 1! I bought it to try to get an understanding on what liturgy was all about and why the Catholic church gives it so much importance - a catholic myself and one quite drawn to the High Mass and the liturgy but having never comprehended it, I should say this book has not been dissapointing at all!! Its been great and brings out the beauty, the theology, the biblical understanding and necessity all excellently. Highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Jun. 2011
Format: Hardcover
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 challenges that have been raised in recent years. Although he clearly comes from Catholic perspective, this book is general enough that can be used and appreciated by all Christians who hold to the importance of Liturgy.

Cardinal Ratzinger uses his entire intellectual prowess in guiding us through various aspects of Liturgy. He is equally at home as a biblical scholar, a theologian, an exegete and a pastor. This combination of talents and worldviews makes him uniquely qualified to take a look at the liturgy that is both deep and wide. Although a teacher and a guardian of faith, his statements are not "dogmatic" in the pejorative sense of the term. Throughout the book one gets the impression that the ideas and the statements promulgated are ultimately propositional in nature, although they come with all the authority that he has. This frees him to make statements about many contemporary topics, such as the use of modern music and dance for which he doesn't seem to have much use. Nonetheless he presents his views in a tone of voice and with an attitude that implies that he would be open for discussion, although it is not very likely that he would be much swayed from his positions.

All of Pope Benedict's writings have an imprint of a careful and systematic thinker, who has a lot to offer to the modern world. This book is a further testament to this, and a wonderful and worthwhile read for anyone interested in deeper exploration of our Christian heritage.
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