Thursday, March 02, 2023

New Edition of Dom Benedict Baur’s 1937 Classic on the Liturgical Year

As the attacks against tradition mount, so do the defenses. Our defenses consist not in carnal weapons but in adherence to the truth, commitment to the good, and rejoicing in the beautiful. No matter how high-ranking, no one can take knowledge away from us, or break our resolve to restore tradition when these sorry days are over, and these shameful assaults become stories for grandfathers to tell their grandchildren after a Solemn Traditional Mass at the local parish.

It is in this spirit that I share the very good news of one of the most beautiful publications I have yet seen in the English-speaking traditionalist movement, namely, a newly typeset and lavishly produced (yet still affordable) edition of Dom Benedict Baur’s long out-of-print 1937 classic Light of the World: Daily Meditations on the Traditional Mass (first published in English in 1952). This over-700-page hardcover offers a full year of meditations on the TLM.

Baur was rather unique in his time, a true spiritual grandson to Dom Guéranger in maintaining the original spirit of the Liturgical Movement among the Benedictines of the Rhineland. His project: Enter and appreciate the givenness of the Roman Rite, not alter it in the name of relevance to modern man. Comparisons between Baur’s Light of the World and Guéranger’s Liturgical Year are not out of place; though not as compendious, there is enough material in Light of the World for several years’ worth of retreats. The style is not verbose or florid like that of the decidedly French Guéranger (Baur was, after all, a German dogmatic theologian), but Light of the World is every bit as devotionally nourishing—and with none of the historical-critical nonsense that so afflicted his time.

The original printing was a hefty two volumes (photo attached), with a number of citation errors and other insufficiencies. Printed on the eve of Vatican II, this set was all but lost in the frenzy of liturgical novelty. Benedictus Books’ new edition is a landmark restoration—and in a single volume.

Happily, the work was published in 1952, and therefore reflects the pre-55 (i.e., Tridentine) Holy Week.

Qualities of the new edition
- Lovely hardback, solid binding
- Clean and crisp new typesetting, smaller but clearly readable in the style of the Benedictus periodical or a typical hand missal
- Excellent paper weight to account for the higher page count (+700!), stays under 1-3/4” thick and not too heavy
- Improved layout with clear textual divisions

The author’s introduction is itself an excellent guide to “praying with the Church,” introducing readers to the transcendent “now” of the liturgical making-present of the mysteries—an aspect that shapes the entire cycle of meditations through the year. Several features of the Roman Rite that fail to receive much focused attention in works of meditation appear here—Septuagesima, Embertide, Rogation days, the O antiphons, even the stational churches!

Notice the text for the feast of St. Agatha (see photos below): there is here no balking at the supposedly “legendary,” no omission of the miraculous in her Collect—just a beautiful recollection and profound typological meditation, in the style of the Church Fathers.

This volume is a superb investment for daily spiritual reading. My heartfelt thanks to Benedictus Books (of Sophia Institute Press) for bringing this back into print, as they have done with a number of other classics. Let the renaissance continue!

For more information, or to order, visit here.

Compared to the original 1952 edition in 2 vols. (no abridgement has been made)

To order, visit Benedictus Books.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: