Monday, November 21, 2016

Liturgy and Personality (Hildebrand Project)

Dietrich von Hildebrand was a Roman Catholic theologian and philosopher, who Pope Pius XII called the "20th Century Doctor of the Church." He was also greatly admired by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. In order to bring his writings to a wider audience, Hildebrand Project was launched. Today, I would like to share my thoughts with you on von Hildebrand's work Liturgy and Personality.

Liturgy and Personality was originally published in German in 1933. It was later republished in English in 1960. Now, over 80 years later, we are presented once again with this work. The book begins with a foreword by Bishop Robert Barron. In this section, he gives us a brief glimpse at von Hildbrand's personality and tells us that the main point of this book is that "the liturgy of the Church decisively shapes a healthy personality." Von Hildebrand also firmly teaches that the liturgy is designed to give praise to God. The book then contains the original introduction which tells the aim of this book, and ten chapters, which contains liturgical related topics like spirit of communion; spirit of reverence; and spirit of awakenedness.

Reading through this book, I stopped and paused multiple times. I was presented with ideas that I had never even thought of considering before. For example, the word "we" dominates the word "I" in the Liturgy, because the Liturgy is not a personal prayer but a "communion-prayer." Another stop and think moments was when von Hildebrand said, "The eternal union with God is also a theme of the Liturgy." We see this in different feasts and seasons, yes, but we primarily see it in Holy Communion, for this is "in which the God-man comes to us in an ineffable manner and unites Himself to us in a way which is far beyond all the possibilities of natural union."

This book, like most von Hildebrand titles, are rich in their intelligence and depth. At times, you have to stop and re-read a line several times just so that it will sink in. The foreword by Bishop Barron helped to set the stage for this important work, but the afterword, by his widow Alice von Hildebrand, helped to further clarify what you just read. In this section, she gives us more examples and definitions of his term personality, which is needed for the modern reader, because he doesn't use the words like we would. This book is a good read for the coming Advent season. If you take a little bit each day, chew on it, and digest it, you will gain a greater understanding and appreciation of not only the Mass, but also the Liturgy of the Hours and the Sacraments. It will also make you more holy and reverent when receiving these great gifts, and not be so casual with them ever again. Highly recommended.

This book was provided to me for free by Hildebrand Project in exchange for an honest review.