Summer “What We’ve Been Reading” Wednesday

The concept of “summer reading” carries a certain charm that conjures up thoughts of the sweet taste of lemonade, not the bitter rush of a RedBull.  But it will likely be the later that I will have nearby when I pick up Jannach’s German for Reading Knowledge by Richard A. Korb.  Coupled with Introduction to Theological German by J.D. Manton and relying on my family’s German genes and an occasional cold brew I should get to a decent reading level.

One upshot to studying in Europe is that the academic year does not begin until about mid-October and so my time for summer reading is vastly extended – so much so that it is also fall reading.  Here are some titles on my list.

I was introduced to Fellow Workers with God: Orthodox Thinking on Theosis by Norman Russell back in January at the North American Academy of Liturgy conference.  It is as excellent and powerful as it is clearly written.  The concept of participation in the life of Christ by the sacraments and imitation of Christ’s life by asceticism is alone a rich meditation.

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains is Nicholas Carr’s fuller investigation into the history of communication mediums and the almost immediate effect Internet use has on the physical structure of the brain, and consequently our slipping ability to dive deeply into thought and wisdom as first presented in his The Atlantic article.

Trauma Myth deals not with a pleasant topic but an immensely important one.  Ultimately the author, Susan Clancy, encourages society as a whole and particularly the victim advocate community to be more attentive to the real needs of victims who may not experience trauma but do experience harm.  This is a good read for anyone in a pastoral ministry setting.

This year I have been working systematically through the famous 15-volume work of Prosper Gueranger, OSB, The Liturgical Year.  I am now on volume 11 in these days following Pentecost according to the extraordinary form.

Benedict XVI and the Sacred Liturgy is a collection of essays given at the Fota International Liturgy Conference.  No doubt the current Holy Father continues to be one of the most influential liturgists the Church has, both academically and pastorally.  His impact needs to be ever evaluated and considered.

Last summer I read Thoughts Matter by Sr. Mary Funk upon recommendation by a dear friend whose work as a PhD psychologist puts him into contact with helpful resources both secular and spiritual.  And so, pleased with the insights by Sr. Funk, this summer I will take up another of her works, Humility Matters, because hey, especially in the online world, humility does matter!

I have a confession to make.  One of my joys is to visit the Notre Dame bookstore at the start of every academic session, fall, spring, and summer.  I raid the theology section to see what titles professors are proposing for students to read.  And I usually buy some of the books.  Yes, I am the reason why on the first day of class one of the 30 students in a course does not have a book even though the professor ordered 30 copies months earlier.  I bought it.  It was I.

And so as a result of the most recent raid I will be reading Translating Tradition: A Chant Historian Reads Liturgiam Authenticam by Peter Jeffery.  I look forward to this read because it is quite timely with the upcoming release of the English missal and I also recently finished a year-long course with Msgr. De Zan on the history and translations of collects.  No one has a mere opinion of Liturgiam Authenticam.  Everyone has a strong opinion of LA.  I look forward to finding out what Jeffery’s is.

Richard McCall’s Do This: Liturgy as Performance has an eye-catching title.  I think of “perform” as putting into form, not as stagecraft.  We’ve all experienced the result of the Missal of Paul VI which by its nature (perhaps more specifically by the free-standing altar and versus populum) places more emphasis on the personality of the presider as well as the presider’s “presence” and voice projection, lines of sight, and the influence it has had on architecture so that seating and line of sight take on greater importance.  I find all of this to be fascinating and practical and I am eager to read McCall’s insight.

And lastly, I will continue through the summer to peruse the usual list of blogs and online journals / magazines.  Buona lettura!

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  1. I first read Gueranger’s Liturgical Year in the 1950’s as a high school student. It was a reference book in St. Vincent College library. Read a little each time I visited; a few years ago purchased the set. These volumes played a key role in solidifying my liturgical spirituality and views on the liturgy.

    I had already discovered the Short Breviary. Gueranger’s emphasis on the Divine Office confirmed my experience that the Divine Office like the Mass was central to liturgy and Christian life.

    I already knew the Eastern rites through many churches in Western Pa. and Bishop Sheen’s pilgrimages to Mt. Macrina where he concelebrated the Divine Liturgy (just coming into English).

    Gueranger’s drawing upon both Eastern and Western rites (including those no longer in existence) legitimated my life long practice of drawing my own Divine Office and liturgical spirituality from both East and West and of recycling past liturgical debris in my own prayer life.

    The surprise in the Liturgical Year was the vanished Western diversity. What a tragedy! In a very traditionalist reaction, I lamented the past was no longer with us! But Vatican II opens the possibility of Western liturgical diversity in the future.

    What a surprise to learn later that Gueranger saw the Eastern Rites as inferior, and destroyed the vestiges of the Gallican rite. How disappointing! But his book helped me interpret my liturgical spirituality. Inspiration works in strange ways!

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