Leonard J. DeLorenzo
The saints are good company. They are the heroes of the faith who blazed new and creative paths to holiness; they are the witnesses whose testimonies echo throughout the ages in the memory of the Church. Most Christians, and particularly Catholics, are likely to have their own favorite saints, those who inspire and “speak” to believers as they pray and struggle through the challenges of their own lives. Leonard DeLorenzo’s book addresses the idea of the communion of saints, rather than individual saints, with the conviction that what makes the saints holy and what forms them into a communion is one and the same. Work of Love investigates the issue of communication within the communio sanctorum and the fullness of Christian hope in the face of the meaning—or meaninglessness—of death. In an effort to revitalize a theological topic that for much of Catholic history has been an indelible part of the Catholic imaginary, DeLorenzo invokes the ideas of not only many theological figures (Rahner, Ratzinger, Balthasar, and de Lubac, among others) but also historians, philosophers (notably Heidegger and Nietzsche), and literary figures (Rilke and Dante) to create a rich tableau. By working across several disciplines, DeLorenzo argues for a vigorous renewal in the Christian imagination of the theological concept of the communion of saints. He concludes that the embodied witness of the saints themselves, as well as the liturgical and devotional movements of the Church at prayer, testifies to the central importance of the communion of saints as the eschatological hope and fulfillment of the promises of Christ.
“DeLorenzo makes a singular contribution to the needed ‘recovery of an eschatological imagination’ for contemporary Christians. He brings new depth and clarity to the issue, both analytically and synthetically. A most impressive piece of scholarship, in which theology and spirituality enrich one another.” — Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, author of Rekindling the Christic Imagination
“Work of Love: A Theological Reconstruction of the Communion of Saints is a masterly contribution by a promising young theologian. Building upon and irenically critiquing Thiel and Johnson, DeLorenzo shows why the communion of saints is not a mere pious add-on to Catholic theology, but instead belongs to its very heart. Today we are facing an urgent need to retrieve the theology of the communion of saints, lest our ecclesiology and pastoral practice wither away on a merely sociological vine. This book is a major first step toward revitalizing the core of Christian communio.” — Matthew Levering, James N. and Mary D. Perry, Jr. Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary
“Leonard DeLorenzo’s Work of Love attends to limitations in our modern ways of thinking and imagining the world. His ‘lives of the saints’ is no mere gloss over our fragmented world. In his study, the saints are living and active as we begin to see the deep connection between holiness and communion, between our good end in God and God’s ever-active presence to the world.” — David M. McCarthy, Fr. James M. Forker Professor of Catholic Social Teaching, Mount St. Mary’s University
“For Protestant readers, Work of Love is . . . a chance to experience the doctrine of the communion of saints in its Catholic fullness, to see how the veneration of one’s forebears in the faith might attest to and not distract from a robust belief in Christ’s Godhood. Most of all, though, the book is a work of love because it teaches us how to think about our own dead—that ever-lengthening mental list of people who, in their friendship or antagonism or both, give us bits of ourselves, then leave.” — Christian Century