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Book Reviews The ABCs of Good Liturgical Theology: Aquinas, Berger, and Candler St Thomas Aquinas The Blessed Sacrament and the Mass Translated and edited by F. O’Neill Fort Collins CO: Roman Catholic Books, 2006 xii+178 pages. $21.95 David Berger Thomas Aquinas and the Liturgy. Translated by Christopher Grosz Ann Arbor MI: Sapientia, 2004 x+133 pages. $14.95 Peter M. Candler, Jr. Theology, Rhetoric, Manuduction, or Reading Scripture Together on the Path to God Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2006 xi+190 pages. $26.00 In contemporary liturgical studies, St Thomas Aquinas tends to occupy a marginal place. Aquinas’ eucharistic theology is held in high regard among orthodox Catholic scholars, but even the most stalwart Thomist tends to overlook his explanations of the rites and ceremonies of the Roman Mass. For others, St Thomas’ liturgiology is not merely to be ignored but contemned, a lesson in how not to approach the liturgy. Aquinas’ awe of custom and tradition, his propensity for allegorical explanations, his lack of so-called historical consciousness, and his vigorous use and development of pre-modern metaphysics render him in almost every way the diametric opposite of today’s respected liturgist. Berger’s Thomas Aquinas It is to redress this situation that David Berger, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the German periodical Doctor Angelicus, has written Thomas Aquinas and the Liturgy. The book was originally published in German and is already in its second French edition; it was made available to Anglophones in 2005 thanks to translator Christopher Grosz. Thomas Aquinas, which comes endorsed by Alcuin Reid and Antiphon 13.2 (2009) 176 Antiphon 13.2 (2009) Aidan Nichols, documents the influence of the liturgy on Aquinas’ life and thought as well as his central teachings on the liturgy and Eucharist. Berger begins in Chapter One by establishing Aquinas’ authority, citing one magisterial document after another, and goes on to argue for Thomas’ ongoing relevance to contemporary theology. Chapter Two hones Berger’s thesis by establishing Aquinas’ mastery over liturgical matters, debunking the widespread presumption that – to quote one prominent Thomist – Aquinas had “obviously no great sense for liturgy” (2). Berger recounts Aquinas’ debt to Benedictine liturgically centered spirituality, his deep love of the Psalms, his devotion to the Eucharist, and the occasions on which he had mystical experiences (for lack of a better word) during a liturgical celebration. Aquinas, it would appear, was much more liturgically oriented than has hitherto been recognized. Yet perhaps calling Aquinas’ liturgical-mindedness a “mastery” of the subject is misleading, for Aquinas saw himself not as liturgy’s master but its servant. Chapter Three, “Liturgy as Auctoritas in the Theology of Thomas Aquinas,” argues that Aquinas placed the Church’s liturgical practice on par with Scripture itself and above the authority even of the Church Fathers (20). How this is reflected in Aquinas’ concrete judgments is the subject of the fourth chapter, an exegesis of question 83 of the third part of the Summa Theologiae. While most modern liturgists would recoil at Thomas’ allegorical interpretations of the Ordo Missae, Berger notes that this method is crucial in reconciling the tension between symbol and reality in Christian thought. Berger likens Aquinas’ methodology to a statement made by Martin Mosebach, that we should look at every rubric of the missal as “an angel,” a divine messenger (40). The fifth chapter, “The Central Aspects of Thomist Liturgiology,” is the largest and most substantive. Berger enumerates three general leitmotifs to Aquinas’ theology and ten others that are more specific to his liturgiology. Regarding the former, Berger mentions: Aquinas’ “analectic” method, that is, a constant focus on the whole cosmos and the beautiful interconnectedness of being; a theocentric sense of mystery, which rejects as false any contradistinction between logic and mystery; and a healthy respect for tradition. Regarding the latter, Berger discusses, among other things, liturgy as a system of signs; man as a liturgical being by nature; the instrumental causality of Jesus’ human nature; Jesus Christ as priest, sacrificial gift, and God; and the Eucharist as center of the whole liturgical cosmos. This last leitmotif serves as the springboard for Chapter Six, on Aquinas’ august theology of transubstantiation...


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