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{{vm.product.SpProduct.Article}} Principles of Sacred Liturgy
Forming a Sacramental Vision

Christopher Carstens

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Jesus’ saving Paschal work continues today in the liturgy and sacraments. They have the power to sanctify and beatify those who engage the liturgy with proper minds and hearts.

In this comprehensive and accessible book, author Christopher Carstens:

  • Explains the Church’s teaching on the sacred liturgy.
  • Shows the meaning of ritual, the characteristics of liturgical rituals, and why men and women today may find ritual challenging.
  • Clarifies the place signs and symbols have in liturgical worship.
  • Provides a mystagogical explanation of the liturgical rites of the Church and various elements of the rite, leading the readers from what they can sense—a calendar day, a musical instrument, and word—to what is otherwise undetectable: Jesus Christ. Carstens does so with the paradigm established by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which looks to the core meaning of each liturgical element in creation, culture, the Old Testament, Christ, and heaven.
  • Explains the Church’s use of liturgical language, time, ministers, music, and architecture, and the theology that informs each.

Principles of Sacred Liturgy not only introduces pastors, seminarians, permanent deacons, diocesan directors of worship, and liturgical ministers and coordinators to the laws and rubrics of the liturgy, but also to the theological, liturgical, and pastoral rationale that informs them.

“No text can provide a complete summary of the Sacred Liturgy, but this book is an excellent starting place—or refresher—for those who would like to understand Catholic worship in the West. From origins to modern influences, from symbolism to practical details, Principles of Sacred Liturgy: Forming a Sacramental Vision is an overview that will leave the reader with a solid foundation.”
—Rev Andrew Menke Executive Director USCCB Secretariat of Divine Worship

“As one of Christopher Carstens’ former students, I found that Principles of Sacred Liturgy: Forming a Sacramental Vision brings together the best of his classroom teaching and puts it into the hands of students of the Church’s liturgy. This thorough yet approachable work will reward anyone searching for a faithful and inspiring tutorial in what it means for the Church to pray.”
—Rev. John Nicholas Blaha Priest of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas

“There is a gaggle of liturgical scholars, myself included, who theorize about liturgy but have no responsibility for the practice of liturgy. There is also a crowd of liturgy directors who have not the time to engage in history, theology, and theory. But, Carstens occupies both worlds in his identity as an instructor at the Liturgical Institute at University of St. Mary of the Lake /Mundelein Seminary, and diocesan director of liturgy at La Crosse, Wisconsin. His life moves between liturgical principle and liturgical practice. Insofar as this book intends to improve a person’s liturgical formation, it offers clear theology and practical guidance. This book will stand out on the shelves of liturgy because it makes solid use of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and this book will stand out on the shelves of theology because its treatment of sacramental sign includes art, architecture, music, and ritual performance.”
—David W. Fagerberg, PhD Professor, Department of Theology University of Notre Dame

“Throughout the ages of humanity, we have often sought ways to express our ideas about true worship and communion with God. God, of course, has been so astonishingly clear about that communion with us, as only the Master can be. Nevertheless, and happily so, Christopher Carstens presents us now with a new book that is scholarly, historic, profound, and spiritual. The liturgical movement through the ages of salvation history, Prophets, Apostles, Fathers and Doctors is offered for our delight in the pages Carstens offers with such honor, reverence and respect.

I have happily relived many of my fond memories of liturgical study and experience while reading this book. I find that I am rediscovering, perhaps as one does with age, the “book-learning” of the past so richly touched with ritual and ceremony that are so much a part of the lived experience of my priesthood, both ordained and Baptismal.
I believe that many people will remember and celebrate the best part of the essence of the liturgy with this book. The author offers us the best insights of his deeply founded academic and spiritual prowess. Prayerful study and reflection concerning the liturgy leads us ever onward along the path of the good, the true, and the beautiful. The author offers us quite a successful foray into such delights: pleasing to the mind, the heart, and the soul. Take this book on your next retreat and remember to enjoy praying, believing, and celebrating. The heritage of our Faith is rich and classic!”
—Most Reverend William Patrick Callahan Diocese of La Crosse, WI

“Christopher Carstens offers a comprehensive and enlightening resource for anyone who cares for the sacred liturgy. Steeped in the Church’s authentic theology and grounded in sound practice, this book deepens our understanding of the liturgy and guides us to its true end: the encounter with the Crucified and Risen Christ.”
—Reverend Uwe Michael Lang, Cong. Orat. St Mary’s University Twickenham, London

“In Principles of Sacred Liturgy: Forming a Sacramental Vision, Christopher Carstens offers a comprehensive treatment of the words, the signs, and the rites of the sacred liturgy. Drawing upon the leaders of the twentieth century liturgical movement, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, St. John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI, Carstens is able to reveal the heart of the liturgy: Jesus Christ. Anyone, who is responsible for liturgical and mystagogical catechesis at any level, should own a copy of Carstens’ book. Hopefully, Principles of Sacred Liturgy will become a standard introductory text on the sacred liturgy for any course focused on the liturgy in a university or seminary. This book will help anyone to understand, to appreciate, to celebrate, and/or to participate fully in the sacred liturgy.”
—Roland Millare, STD Theology Department Chair, St. John XXIII College Preparatory, Katy, TX Adjunct Professor of Theology, University of St. Thomas School of Theology Program Director of Shepherd’s Heart, St. John Paul II Foundation

“In this substantial yet accessible book on liturgical catechesis, Christopher Carstens shows us the deep roots of the Liturgy, with connections not only to the past, but to glimpses of the eschatological flash that awaits us in the heavenly Jerusalem. Principles of Sacred Liturgy: Forming a Sacramental Vision introduces future pastors, permanent deacons, and liturgical ministers to the laws and rubrics of the liturgy, and—perhaps more importantly—to the theological, liturgical, and pastoral rationale that informs them."
—Most Reverend James S. Wall Bishop of the Diocese of Gallup, NM

“Anchored in the Church’s living tradition and imbued with the spirit of the liturgy, Principles of Sacred Liturgy is the fruit of twenty years of experience assisting diocesan bishops, forming seminarians for the priesthood, and helping the faithful to engage in prayerful participation in the Church’s Liturgy. This accessible book is a masterpiece of liturgical theology!”
—Jeremy J. Priest, STL Chair, Department of Discipleship FormationDirector, Office of Worship, Catholic Diocese of Lansing, MI

“Guided by the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and the Catechism, this ambitious project advances a harmonious view of the liturgy through the lens of recent popes and key figures in the modern liturgical movement. Writing from both academic and pastoral experience, Christopher Carstens recognizes that liturgical catechesis has practical value only insofar as it gets to the ultimate purpose of active participation: our eschatological fulfillment in Christ.”
—Brian W. MacMichael Director, Office of Worship Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

“Carstens’ Principles of Sacred Liturgy: Forming a Sacramental Vision has an immediate audience in every member of the Church. Each part of the book—the descriptions of the Sacred Liturgy, its various ritual characteristics, and the sacramental significance of its every dimension—leads the reader to a more profound grasp of the mystery of Jesus Christ, the mystery the Liturgy celebrates.”
—Rev. Gerald Dennis Gill Rector and Pastor, Philadelphia Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul Director of the Office for Divine Worship, Archdiocese of Philadelphia Professor of Sacred Liturgy, Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary

“Christopher Carstens is a careful and precise scholar whose examination of the Sacraments—in all their theological, liturgical, mystagogical, and historical facets—yields an account that is engaging, vibrant, and orthodox. Principles of Sacred Liturgy will be a unique and comprehensive tool for solid sacramental catechesis because Carstens' penetrating gaze into the sacramental life of the Church captures not only what the sacraments look like, but what they are: encounters with the very Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
—Deacon Michael Malarkey Theology Department Chair Cascia Hall Catholic Preparatory School, Tulsa, OK

“In this groundbreaking book, Christopher Carstens offers a profound synthesis on the sacred liturgy that draws upon his vast experience as a teacher of graduate students, seminarians, clergy, parish liturgy personnel, and the laity alike. His vision is fresh and inspiring for the next generation of Catholics, drawing upon the timeless and ever-living riches of the Church’s liturgical thought and praxis. This book belongs on the desk of every student studying the liturgy, in the hands of anyone involved in parish liturgical celebrations, and on the shelf of every Catholic who desires to understand and participate in the sacred liturgy more deeply and fruitfully. Once again, Carstens has offered the Church an immense and timely source of reflection on the very source of the Church’s life and mission itself.”
—Adam Bartlett President and Editor Illuminare Publications

“Christopher Carstens' book is a great achievement, worthy of a place alongside many of the great theological expositions of the liturgy from the post-conciliar period. Not only does this book bring the essence of the sacred liturgy into clearer focus, Carstens includes the kind of pastoral and personal application that will stir up genuine renewal. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to understand why the liturgy is both the summit and font of the whole Christian life.”
—James Pauley Professor of Theology and Catechetics Franciscan University of Steubenville