Romano Guardini's The Spirit of the Liturgy "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.... We were now willing to see the liturgy 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." — Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
In the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council wrote that liturgical reform and renewal must accord with what they called "the spirit of the liturgy". But what did they mean by this? Popes had written and spoken about this spirit in the decades before the council, but another important source is the 1918 book The Spirit of the Liturgy by Romano Guardini, which Pope Benedict XVI credits with sparking the liturgical movement in Germany.
The Seven Gifts of The Spirit of the Liturgy is a study of Guardini's watershed text. With contributions from Bishop Arthur Serratelli, Cassian Folsom, O.S.B., Michon Matthiesen, David Fagerberg, Daniel Cardó, Bishop James Conley, Emery de Gaál, and Susan Benofy, as well as Christopher Carstens, it analyzes each of the seven core features of the liturgical spirit as Guardini defined it: objective, corporate, universal, symbolic, meaningful, beautiful, and logical.
The Second Vatican Council saw each of these seven characteristics as integral to authentic liturgical reform. Too often they remain absent from liturgical celebrations even today, when subjectivism and individualism take the place of an objective, corporate spirit; when custom-made liturgies neglect the dimension of universality; when frivolous, anemic symbols stand in for a robust symbolism that truly manifests Christ; when beauty and seriousness fade into the background.
We hold back the spirit of the liturgy if we don't know what it is, if we don't desire it, and if we don't work to let it animate liturgical prayer and practice. For this reason, nine experts on the liturgy recall in this book Guardini's key spiritual insights, showing how these can deepen our liturgical understanding and practice today.