New York: Benziger Brothers, 1931. Original blue cloth (6 1/8 inches tall), gilt spine and front board, original printed dust wrapper. Slight mottling to cloth, minor soiling, wear and toning to wrapper. An exceptional copy. Item #1393
"THE CATHOLIC LITURGY IS THE SUPREME EXAMPLE OF AN OBJECTIVELY ESTABLISHED RULE OF SPIRITUAL LIFE"
Uncommon first American edition of Romano Guardini's first major book—a landmark of the Liturgical Movement. A bright, fresh copy—complete as published with the scarce original printed dust wrapper.
First published Germany in 1918 (when Guardini was only thirty-three), the Spirit of the Liturgy places the communal prayer of worship at the very center of the Church. "Guardini's views on the need for a more participatory and interpersonal sense in the liturgy played a major role in the growing movement for liturgical reform up to the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) and beyond" (Robert Royal). The book is divided into seven sections: 1. The Prayer of the Liturgy, 2. The Fellowship of the Liturgy, 3. The Style of the Liturgy, 4. The Symbolism of the Liturgy, 5. The Playfulness of the Liturgy, 6. The Seriousness of the Liturgy, 7. The Primacy of the Logos over the Ethos. With a title page printed in red-and-black, both the half title and the rear inner flap of the dust wrapper refer to Guardini's earlier book on the liturgy, Sacred Signs ("Uniform with this Edition").
The Spirit of the Liturgy was a direct influence of Joseph Ratzinger's own book of the same name (1978). Guardini's "slim volume may rightly be said to have inaugurated the Liturgical Movement in Germany. Its contribution was decisive. It helped us to rediscover the liturgy in all its beauty, hidden wealth, and time-transcending grandeur, to see it as the animating center of the Church, the very center of Christian life. It led to a striving for a celebration of the liturgy that would be 'more substantial' (wesentlicher, one of Guardini’s favorite words). We were now willing to see the liturgy—in its inner demands and form—as the prayer of the Church, a prayer moved and guided by the Holy Spirit himself, a prayer in which Christ unceasingly becomes contemporary with us, enters into our lives" (Josef Ratzinger in The Spirit of the Liturgy). Published in England in the same year by Sheed and Ward, this edition bears the British approbations (October 1930). Robert Royal. A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century.