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The Mysteries of Christianity is Matthias Joseph Scheeben’s youthful magnum opus, a logically rigorous and spiritually profound dogmatic theology. In its pages, he explores the intelligibility of Christianity’s supernatural mysteries and their deep connectedness, ultimately demonstrating that Christian theology constitutes a science before the court of human reason, even as its object transcends human comprehension.
Scheeben’s task is to present a unified view of the whole panorama of revealed truth, and he pursues this by considering nine key Christian mysteries: the Trinity, creation, sin, the Incarnation, the Eucharist, the Church and its sacraments, justification, eschatological glory, and predestination. Since the mystery of the Trinity is the root of the supernatural order, Scheeben begins here, showing that the foundation of the salvific economy lies in the eternal processions of persons in God—the begetting of the Son and the spiration of the Spirit being in different ways the cause of the life of grace in the human soul. When the Son and the Spirit are sent into the world in the Incarnation and through the bestowal of grace, they provide the way for human beings to see God face-to-face in the beatific vision, the end for which God created humans.
Among the means of return to God, Scheeben particularly emphasizes the Eucharist, on account of its close connection with the mystery of the Incarnation. By placing his treatment of the Eucharist before that of the Church, he signals that his is a genuinely Eucharistic ecclesiology, centered on the abiding presence of the incarnate divine Son.
Matthias Joseph Scheeben (1835–1888) was a German priest and scholar whose theology points to the inner coherence of the Christian faith and its supernatural mysteries. Notable in his own time, Scheeben later received praise from Pope Pius XI, who in 1935 encouraged study of the late theologian’s works, reflecting: “The entire theology of Scheeben bears the stamp of a pious ascetical theology.” Hans Urs von Balthasar credited Scheeben as “the greatest German theologian to date.” Scheeben’s works include Nature and Grace, The Mysteries of Christianity, and the unfinished Handbook of Catholic Dogmatics.
“Matthias Joseph Scheeben’s Mysteries of Christianity is one of the greatest and most important works of Catholic theology of the nineteenth century. In the early twenty-first century, a time replete with many forms of theological confusion, it is of urgent importance to continue reading the Mysteries. Being a classic of Catholic theology, the Mysteries do not grow old or cold, but speak to every subsequent age with the fullness of an unreduced Catholicity.”
The Catholic University of America
“The nineteenth century saw its share of theological masterpieces, but Matthias Scheeben’s The Mysteries of Christianity is the crowning achievement of the age, a masterful synthesis of the Bible, the Fathers, and the great scholastics. More than anything, though, Scheeben’s Mysteries is a modern classic of Christian spirituality and mysticism. It remains quite simply unrivalled and without peer as a model of what Catholic theology can be.”
R. Trent Pomplun
University of Notre Dame
“As Catholic theologians today labor to revive the long-dormant practice of dogmatic theology, we have no surer guide and goad than this great work of Scheeben. No single piece of Catholic theology since the Enlightenment brings together the virtues needed for dogmatic theology in quite the way Scheeben does here: intellectual rigor, reverence before the mysteries of the faith, and perception of the content and connections of those mysteries.”
Bruce D. Marshall
Southern Methodist University
“The greatest single-volume dogmatics of the nineteenth century, Mysteries presents the Christian faith as a series of organically unfolding mysteries, springing from their Trinitarian root and flowering in the beatific vision. Students of theology will do well to apprentice themselves to this great master.”
Fr. Aaron Pidel, SJ
Marquette University / Pontifical Gregorian University