Liturgy Institute London

For a detailed and peaceful study of Liturgy

Research unit in liturgy

We began the Research unit in Liturgy at Ealing Abbey on 24 September 2010
and also at St Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough on 7 January 2011
1. Foundations

The Institutum Liturgicum foundation board members ensure that the Institutum Liturgicum  is based on sound research. It must, according to the instructions of the second Vatican Council, have the following aims:

  1. assure the progress of liturgical studies through research and publications (Sacrosanctum Concilium  no  23)
  2. its (higher-level education’s) object is that a progressively deeper understanding of  … (the individual disciplines) may be achieved, and by a careful attention to the current problems of these changing times and to the research being undertaken, the convergence of faith and reason (fides et ratio) in the one truth may be seen more clearly (Gravissimum educationis, 28, no 10)
  3. assure the progress of liturgical studies through research and publications (Sacrosanctum Concilium no  23). Thus, research and publication should support any future teaching

We are grateful to Abbots Martin Shipperlee and Cuthbert Brogan for their encouragement and provision of facilities


2. Fundamental research

Within the reseach unit in liturgy (liturgia) we give attention to four dimensions of research in the liturgical self-representation of the church in the liturgy – signa sensibilia. These are:

knowledge of original languages of textual composition (lingua);
history of liturgy, and its development (historia);
interpretation  (hermeneia);
theology (doctrina).

Within each of these four dimensions written, artistic and architectural texts may be examined theologically (both empirically and hermeneutically) and normative judgements are made in view of both church teaching and pastoral practice. Thus the study of liturgy is conceived as a descriptive and normative science of texts. Within these four domains the corpus of texts produced by the church is the starting point of theological reflection.

3. Liturgia: signa sensibilia, ritual, liturgy and sacraments

Under this heading comes the scientific research in the various fields of the study of liturgy: Central is a clear understanding of how people celebrate their faith and show it by means of a multitude of expressions in word, act, art and architecture. Special attention is paid to the fundamental reflection on the signa sensibilia of liturgical celebrations (ritus et preces), guided by a clear understanding of the unfolding of history in particular contexts.

Some important sectors of research, which depend upon the maintenance of a research dimension of the Institutum Liturgicum, support our teaching during the summer programme of the following courses:

Publications:  we have already published two books in the Documenta Rerum Ecclesiasticarum Instauratum series (St Michael’s Abbey Press, Farnborough Abbey).

project: Appreciating the Liturgy


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© James Leachman, O.S.B.,  updated 6 February 2012