Is liturgy all just a matter of preferences?
Are you frustrated when people tell you that you should not object to liturgical abuses, because questions about what’s appropriate in the liturgy are merely questions of taste? Of course you are; aren’t we all?
But do you know how to answer that argument persuasively? Proper liturgy is not just a matter of taste, nor is it just a matter of following the rules. Liturgy is “the entirely objective and impersonal method of prayer practiced by the Church as a whole.”
Those are the words of the great theologian Romano Guardini, and there’s a lot of profound yet perfectly understandable thought behind them. In his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy, Guardini gives powerful, convincing answers to the argument that it’s all a matter of preference. At the same time he deepens the reader’s understanding of the liturgy—which is to say, he enriches the reader’s spiritual life.
As a Lenten project of spiritual renewal, my favorite author is leading her blog readers through a study of Guardini’s book—which will be followed by a reading of another book, with the same name, by a theologian who very consciously followed in Guardini’s footsteps: Joseph Ratzinger, aka Benedict XVI. The first installment of the series—which concentrates on the question of “preferences”—is available here. You’ll love it.
(When my wife told me that my meal was waiting for me, I said that I was caught up in reading this piece, and wouldn’t come until I was finished. She forgave me.)
The Guardini book is available in a free (if not beautiful) online version as well as a more attractive bound copy from Aeterna Press. Pope Benedict’s Spirit of the Liturgy (written before he was Pope, of course) is published by Ignatius Press.
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