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Book: Romano Guardini: A Precursor to Vatican II
Author: Robert A. Krieg, C.S.C.
University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN pp.270

Excerpt from Introduction:

The pages that follow shed light on the change in the church by examining the life and thought of a theological pioneer who helped to open the way from Vatican I to Vatican II: Romano Guardini [1885-1968]. Born in Italy, he lived all but his first year in Germany and, after the First World War, emerged as one of Germany’s most original Catholic minds. Throughout his career, he pursued a twofold commitment: to retrieve the wisdom of the Judeo-Christian tradition and simultaneously to engage in an intellectual exchange with contemporary thought. Although short in stature, soft-spoken, and shy, he attracted hundreds of people to his lectures and sermons. Moreover, he wrote more than one hundred articles and over seventy books, many of which went through numerous printings in German and were translated into other languages. For instance, Vom Geist der Liturgie (The Spirit of Liturgy) was reprinted nineteen times, and Der Herr (The Lord) thirteen times, and both have appeared in four or five languages. Prior to 1950, neoscholastic scholars and church officials saw little of theological merit in Guardini’s writings, and yet, since Vatican II, respected theologians such as Karl Rahner, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger have acknowledged their indebtedness to Guardini. Voicing an assessment with which most commentators would now agree, Paul Misner has said of Guardini that “in German-speaking lands there is no one who deserves more to be called a precursor to Vatican Council II.

This book shows that Romano Guardini set the stage for the Second Vatican Council in three ways. First, by his dialogue with modernity he opened a way out of Vatican I’s ghetto or self-enclosed Catholicism to Vatican II’s “church in the modern world.” Second, breaking with neoscholasticism, he employed an experimental or inductive approach to theological reflection that anticipated Vatican II’s efforts to read the “signs of the times.” Third, he retrieved neglected aspects of the Christian faith’s major tenets concerning revelation, Jesus Christ, and the church, and some of the ideas that he promoted were adopted and amplified by the council.

Table of Contents

Chapter One. From Vatican I to Vatican II

The Life of a Theological Precursor

An Inductive Method of Inquiry

Seven Theological Themes

Chapter Two. The Self-Disclosure of God

Four Notions of Revelation

A Conversion

Toward a Theology of Revelation

Toward Vatican II on Revelation

Chapter Three. The Church: A Light to the Nations

The Desire to Belong

Recovering an Ancient Ecclesiology

Living a Theology of Church

Toward Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium

Chapter Four. Liturgy as Play before God

Recovering a Sense of Worship

A Theology of Liturgy

The Renewal of Worship

Chapter Five. Christian Faith and Literature

Into the Cultural Mainstream

A “Dialogue” with Rainer Maria Rilke

The Reception of Guardini’s Literary Interpretations

Toward Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes

Chapter Six. Nazism : A Negation of the Person

Religion and Politics in the Early 1930's

Guardini’s View of Nazism

What More Could One Theologian Have Done?

Chapter Seven. Jesus Christ, Mediator

Interpreting the Bible

The Living Christ

Literary Interpretation and Christology

Toward Vatican II’s View of Jesus Christ

Chapter Eight. A Christian View of the Modern World

The Secularization of Germany

Coming to Terms with Modernity

Personal Existence in the Modern World

Toward Vatican II on the Church in the Modern World

Chapter Nine. An Interpreter of Truth

Waiting on God

The Reception of Romano Guardini’s Writings

Romano Guardini’s Legacy Today

Appendix 1. Romano Guardini, “Prayer in the Hour of Enduring”

Appendix 2. Chronology of Romano Guardini’s Life

Excerpt from Book

Truth is a power, however, only when one requires of it no immediate effect, but has patience and figures on a long wait. Still better, when one does not in general think about its effects but wants to present truth for its own sake, for its holy, divine greatness . . . As already said, one must have patience. Here months may mean nothing and also years. And one must have no specific aims. Somehow, lack of an agenda is the greatest power. Sometimes, especially in recent years, I had the sense that truth was standing as reality in the room.