Now available from Ignatius Press:
Signs of the Holy One: Liturgy, Ritual, and Expression of the Sacred
by Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, of the Oratory
Catholic liturgy is far more than its texts. It is a synthesis that also includes several other elements—gesture, music, art, and architecture—which are aspects of the non-verbal language of the sacred and are what make the liturgy beautiful.
Father Lang’s consideration of the beauty of the liturgy addresses the modern notion that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that the experience of beauty is entirely subjective. This idea makes it difficult to articulate criteria for what is beautiful, yet sacred liturgy does indeed have objective measures for evaluating its principal elements. Reflecting upon these and quoting from authoritative Church documents, Father Lang discusses sacred music, art, and architecture, and demonstrates how the beauty of these elements makes present the sacred.
Pope Benedict XVI said, “The greatness of the liturgy depends—we shall have to repeat this frequently—on its non-spontaneity.” Continuous liturgical experimentation is unable to induce a sense of meaning or peace, writes Father Lang, because novelty does not satisfy the yearning for the Transcendent within the human psyche, which is rarely far from the surface.
Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, Mag.Theol. (Vienna), D.Phil. (Oxford), a native of Germany, is a priest of the Oratory of St Philip Neri in London, where he serves as Parish Priest, and Lecturer in Church History at Heythrop College, University of London. He is an Associate Staff member at the Maryvale Institute, Birmingham and on the Visiting Faculty of the Liturgical Institute in Mundelein, Illinois. He is a Board Member of the Society for Catholic Liturgy and the Editor of Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal. Among his publications are Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer, and The Voice of the Church at Prayer: Reflections on Liturgy and Language, both published by Ignatius Press.
Praise for Signs of the Holy One:
"In this wonderful book, Fr. Lang explores the beauty of sacred symbols and actions in the Catholic liturgy and explains why their rediscovery is important in our modern age. Deserves to be widely read."
— Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy
"There are many reasons to recommend this book, including its convenient gathering together of many sources and documents of the Church, its ample footnotes and bibliography, its concise summaries of key issues, and its evaluation of various viewpoints concerning the sacred in contemporary theology."
— Fr. Samuel F. Weber, O.S.B., Author, The Office of Compline
"Fr. Lang reminds us that the liturgy is first and foremost the action of Christ Himself. He provides a welcome resource for that formation in the spirit and power of the liturgy for which the Second Vatican Council called."
— Dom Alcuin Reid, Author, The Organic Development of the Liturgy
"Fr. Lang urges us to think about liturgy as an event, not merely a collection of texts. After providing a comprehensive anthropological and theological foundation for sacred worship, he invites his readers to reflect on how the liturgy is performed."
— Milton Walsh, Author, In Memory of Me: Meditations on the Roman Canon
"This is an original synthesis, based upon a sound grasp of modern anthropological and theological foundations, showing the intrinsic connection between the beautiful and the sacred."
— Professor William Mahrt, Stanford University