Today marks the fortieth anniversary of the death of one my favorite modern theologians, Romano Guardini (1885-1968), who wrote many excellent works on liturgy, spirituality, philosophy, Christology, and modernity, and who had a tremendous influence on the young Joseph Ratzinger. Sandro Magister of Chiesa writes:
Guardini's books nourished the most lively segment of Catholic thought during the 1900's. And one of his students was special – he's the current pope. When he was a student not much over the age of twenty, Joseph Ratzinger had the chance not only to read, but also to listen in person to the man he chose as his great "master."
As theologian, as cardinal, and also as pope, Ratzinger has repeatedly acknowledged in his books that he intends to proceed along the pathways opened by Guardini. In "Jesus of Nazareth," he declares from the very first lines that he has in mind one of the classics by his master: "The Lord." And in his "Introduction to the Spirit of the Liturgy," he shows right from the title that he takes his inspiration from one of the masterpieces of Guardini himself, "The Spirit of the Liturgy."
Magister has also posted an essay, "Ratzinger and Guardini, a decisive encounter," written by Silvano Zucal, a professor of philosophy at the University of Trent and the editor of the complete critical edition of Guardini's works, published in Italy by Morcelliana:
In this essay, we would like to call attention to the relationship between Romano Guardini and Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. The pope has called Guardini "a great figure, a Christian interpreter of the world and of his own time," and he often turns to Guardini, in almost all of his writings.
In reality, Ratzinger considers Guardini's voice still relevant, one that, if anything, should be made audible again. The Italian-German thinker, in fact, did not only write many books that have been translated into a variety of languages, but in his time he succeeded in shaping an entire generation, a generation of which the pontiff himself considers himself a member.
There are, in fact, many elements common to these two thinkers, who would later become decisive figures for the twentieth-century Church. If the one would become a cardinal, and then pope, Guardini would also be offered to be made a cardinal, although he would refuse. Both were preoccupied with rediscovering the essential in Christianity by seeking to respond to Feuerbach's provocation. Guardini would write a splendid book about this in 1938, entitled "The Essence of Christianity," while Ratzinger would dedicate to this topic his "Introduction to Christianity," written in 1968, undoubtedly his most famous work and, in all likelihood, his most important.
Read the entire essay here.
A lengthy bio and a large number of excerpts from Guardini's books can be accessed here. More links, including links to the full text of Guardini's The Spirit of the Liturgy, are available on this blog.
Related Links from Ignatius Insight and Ignatius Press:
• "Introduction to Christianity": Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow | Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger | Preface to the Second Edition (2004) of Introduction To Christianity
• The "Spirit of the Liturgy" website
• Biography of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI
• NEW books by or about Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI
• All books by or about Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI
• Excerpts from books by Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI
• Articles about Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI