Rorate Caeli

Fine new edition of Bouyer's Christian Initiation

Our friends at Cluny Media continue to impress with their reprints of old out-of-print Catholic classics. Whatever you may think about this or that element of Louis Bouyer's writings, he was a major theologian of the 20th century, of a stature that almost no one can compare to today; he had a commitment to traditional theological principles, on the basis of which he eventually came to regret some of the progressive ideas he espoused as a younger scholar; and he did penance for his involvement with the Consilium by telling the world in his Memoirs about the mendacity of its leader and the incompetence of many of its members. 

This book, Christian Initiation, is an eloquent and penetrating little book, an interesting combination of apologetics and mystagogy. Here is a summary , courtesy of the publisher.

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Louis Bouyer (1913–2004) was a member of the French Oratory and one of the most respected and visionary Catholic scholars and theologians of his time. Formerly a Lutheran minister, Bouyer entered the Catholic Church in 1939. A visionary Catholic scholar and theologian, Bouyer was peer and friend of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Joseph Ratzinger as well as T. S. Eliot and J. R. R. Tolkien.

First published in 1958, Christian Initiation serves in many ways as a point of entry for Bouyer’s theological oeuvre. Addressing the central elements of the Christian faith in a simple and straightforward manner, the book is meant as an initiation into Christian truth and life for those who profess—or hope to profess—faith in Jesus Christ. Each chapter is a “discovery” of that new life which Christ brings to the believer, infusing each and every experience with the light of his own risen glory.

Rev. Michael Heintz, associate professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, has revised and rejuvenated the original English translation and provided annotations indentifying scriptural and other references for the text. Endorsed by Bouyer’s executors, this new edition of Christian Initiation is a welcome addition to any library.

“A book on initiation simply asks, Where does it begin? Where does our life in God begin? Bouyer answers in a way reminiscent of the light dawning on the whole. In morning twilight is a religious search by man for God. As day breaks, we are astounded by an evangelical search by God for man. And by a higher sun we are able to see the living Church, her mysteries, her Eucharist, her Spouse. A bright new life awaits one’s ascetical passage through Cross to resurrection. As the author himself says, 'This book is intended for every Christian, actual or potential,' for he strives to make God’s truths attractive to our hearts.” – David. W. Fagerberg, University of Notre Dame