"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

David Fagerberg on Liturgical Asceticism

As I noted previously, David Fagerberg of Notre Dame has written one of the best books around introducing us to the topic of liturgical theology, and drawing extensively on Orthodoxy's most beloved practitioner of it, Alexander Schmemann. Now he has another one coming out in the spring of 2013: On Liturgical Asceticism (CUA Press, March 2013),  272pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
Drawing on the Eastern Orthodox tradition of asceticism and integrating it with recent Western thought on liturgy, David W. Fagerberg examines the interaction between the two and presents a powerful argument that asceticism is necessary for understanding liturgy as the foundation of theology. Asceticism may have been perfected in the sands of the desert, but it is demanded of every theologian and, indeed, every Christian. It grants the capacity for pondering liturgy and sharing the life of Christ. Fagerberg brings to light asceticism's essential importance in liturgical theology.

Fagerberg's earlier work, Theologia Prima, understood liturgy as the foundation of theology. To that framework, he now adds the relevance of asceticism. Asceticism was understood to overcome the passions by cooperating with grace. It detailed how to train the life of grace and produce what the ancient church called a theologian. Fagerberg carries the wisdom of the earliest centuries forward. He develops a new framework called liturgical asceticism that combines discipline with sharing the life of Christ.
One of Orthodoxy's most respected theologians today has this praise for the book:
The idea of liturgical theology has become popular during the past few decades, wresting liturgy from the liturgiologists and testing what the church teaches against how the church prays liturgically. In this powerful and original book, David Fagerberg takes this development a stage further. By exploring Christian asceticism, mostly using Orthodox sources, he introduces another dimension, essential if liturgical theology is to be fully assimilated in the lives of Christians. -- Andrew Louth, professor emeritus of patristic and Byzantine studies, Durham University

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