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General information on the discipline of liturgical studies

Page from a liturgical manuscript, Jumièges, late 11th century, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale

Liturgical studies is the discipline of theology that studies the practice of praying and worship in the Church or, more precisely, the gathering of worshipers that manifests the mystery of Christ and enables the faithful to enter into dialogue with God through words and signs. Starting from this understanding of the liturgy as described by the Second Vatican Council, liturgical studies is concerned with the many different historical and current forms of worship and the theological foundations and anthropological conditions on which they are based.
Liturgical studies must embrace contemporary changes in theology and religious practice. It is characterized by its ecumenical orientation and seeks dialogue with other theological and non-theological disciplines. More than any other discipline, liturgical studies reveals through its study of worship – which, according to the Bible, is the second source of faith – that investigating the question of God goes beyond mere discourse and that the ways in which the faith is celebrated must also be taken into consideration. Liturgical studies ensures that all disciplines of theology remain aware of the doxology, the origin and goal of all theology.
While worship is not the only aspect of the Church’s activity, the liturgy is – as the Second Vatican Council emphasizes – ‘the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows’ (SC 10).

The Council has therefore declared that liturgical studies is one of the main disciplines of theology.

The history of liturgical studies in Eichstätt

Although liturgical studies was not defined as one of the main subjects of theology until the Second Vatican Council issued the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (cf. SC 16), the discipline itself is of course much older.

Ever since the lyceum (an institution for the study of philosophy and theology) that later became the Faculty of Theology was established here in 1843, there have always been people in Eichstätt who represented the discipline of liturgical studies and its concerns in teaching and research.

These included well known scholars such as Valentin Thalhofer, Ludwig Eisenhofer, Joseph Lechner, and Theodor Maas-Ewerd.

(General information on the history of the discipline in the German-speaking area is available in: Benedikt Kranemann, Grenzgängerin zwischen den theologischen Disziplinen. Die Entwicklung der deutschsprachigen Liturgiewissenschaft im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, in: Trierer Theologische Zeitschrift 108. 1999, 253-272).