(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

After several years of economic turmoil and hardship in Germany, many people were thirsting for a leader, a father figure who could save them from their economic and political ills. Adolf Hitler appealed to this popular thirst for a Führer (father). At the same time, with the explosion of comparative religion and the Nazi revival of neo-pagan ideology, many German Christians began to wonder what was so special about Christianity and Christ.

Romano Guardini’s personal conversion, which took place in 1905, and his subsequent study of other great religious figures in comparison with Jesus, deepened his faith in Christ, convincing him that the person of Jesus was unique in that the Christ was fully human and thus approachable by people at all times and places but also fully divine. Unlike any other man in history, Jesus was “wholly Other” and therefore ultimately beyond complete human comprehension. Nonetheless as the most complete expression of God’s love of human creation, the person of Jesus invites everyone into a deeply personal and individual encounter with him that teaches what it is to be fully human, fully alive, and fully loved.

Guardini hoped to introduce his students and parishioners to this living God-man as the only person worthy of complete trust. There could be only one Savior for all creation and times, and in the Germany of the 1930’s, this savior was not Hitler, but Christ. The Lord, then, began as a series of meditations on the life of Christ as described in the Gospels. Drawing on his own and others’ study of Jesus, including earlier historical critical literature, Guardini, a Roman Catholic priest, wrote his meditations as sermons and preached them to his students at Saint Benedict’s Chapel in Berlin and to commoners who attended Mass at Burg Rothenfels from 1932 through 1936. He then collected the meditations and rewrote them, producing a single coherent narrative that became The Lord.

The book consists of eighty-six meditations on the Scriptures and is divided into seven parts, which examine the life of Christ in approximate chronological order, beginning with the entry...

(The entire section is 881 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Guardini, Romano. Learning the Virtues That Lead You to God. Manchester, N.H.: Sophia Institute Press, 1998. A book of meditations by Guardini on the virtues that lead to a mature moral life.

Guardini, Romano. Power and Responsibility. Translated by Elinor C. Brief. 1951. Reprint. Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1961. Guardini reflects on how humans must use the increasing knowledge of science not in the destructive ways of modern ideologies, but in recognition of the obligation to serve as stewards of God’s creation.

Guardini, Romano. The Spirit of the Liturgy. Translated by Ada Lane. New York: Crossroad, 1998. One of Guardini’s most influential books, apart from The Lord. Underscores Guardini’s conviction that the encounter with Christ is made possible in time and history through the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church.

Krieg, Robert A. Romano Guardini. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997. This comprehensive biography of Guardini, one of the few available in English, offers assessments of his life and work, including an insightful summary of The Lord as a pivotal event in Guardini’s life.