Friday, August 26, 2022

Announcing a New Edition of Dom Gaspar Lefebvre’s “Catholic Liturgy”


omanitas Press has just published a revised and expanded edition of Dom Gaspar Lefebvre’s monumental study, Catholic Liturgy: Its Fundamental Principles, originally published in French as Liturgia (1920). First published in English in 1924, Dom Gaspar’s flagship work brings to its topic a wealth of biblical, patristic, and magisterial teaching together with the author’s own warmly devout exposition. The first few chapters develop the theocentric orientation of the liturgy: as the Father acts through the Son in the Holy Spirit, so the Church offers praise, thanksgiving, supplication, and (in the case of the Mass) propitiatory sacrifice to the Father through Christ, our High Priest and Mediator, in the Holy Spirit. Only after laying this solid foundation does Dom Gaspar turn his attention to the various aspects of the liturgy: the Mass, the Divine Office, the individual sacraments, sacramentals, the place of Our Lady, the saints and the holy angels in the liturgy, etc. Each chapter is a unique window onto the liturgy as the “primary and indispensable source of the true Christian spirit” (St. Pius X).
As I point out in the Introduction, Dom Gaspar (1880-1966) represents the twentieth-century Liturgical Movement in its early, and in some ways healthiest, phase. His work evinces neither the antiquarianism proscribed by Pius XII in Mediator Dei nor the misguided ecumenism that would toss aside doctrines and practices found objectionable to the Protestant mind. When, for example, he speaks favorably about freestanding altars (particularly as found in the Roman basilicas), it is not because he advocates the celebration of Mass versus populum, whether for antiquarian or ecumenical reasons. Indeed he says nothing about this novelty, and I leave the reader to learn for himself why our author prefers the table-form altar.
The original English translation of Liturgia (Benziger Brothers, 1924) features lithographic chapter headers and footers by the Belgian artist René de Cramer (d. 1951), who also illustrated Dom Gaspar’s immensely popular Saint Andrew’s Daily Missal. A second English printing of Catholic Liturgy (B. Herder Book Co., 1937—a new “impression” rather than an “edition”) omits Cramer’s artwork. The third and last edition of Catholic Liturgy to appear during the author’s lifetime (B. Herder Book Co., 1954) features slightly revised texts (e.g., to take into account the institution, in 1925, of the feast of Christ the King) and an appendix entitled “Liturgy and Catholic Action.” Romanitas Press offers the 1954 edition with a reformatted layout to make for easier reading (e.g., block quotes). Additional features unique to this new printing (softcover, 276 pages) include a short biography of the author, an Introduction situating his work within the Liturgical Movement, select brief biographies of authors whom Dom Gaspar cites (many of them are unknown today, even to students of the Liturgical Movement), and a select bibliography that compensates for poor and inconsistent footnoting. (Oh, and the lithographs are back.)
This enlarged reprint is available at a 10% discount until September 5th. Click HERE to order.

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