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Christ the Liturgy

Christ the Liturgy

By William Daniel

206 pp

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About the Book

We are Homo liturgicus—liturgical beings. But what is liturgy? What does it mean to do liturgy? How is liturgy related to the agency of God in the world? In this profound work, William Daniel discloses liturgy as the inner movement of the triune God, into which creation is gathered by and through Christ who is Liturgy.

Christ the Liturgy is a work of historical and liturgical theology that articulates how we make manifest both our true selves and God through bodily comportment and particular movements. Daniel explores the participatory nature of liturgy: how we encounter our natural nature in measure with our involvement in the agency of Christ, which in turn is inseparable from the comportment and movements of others, the spatial realities of our environment, and the grammatical structure and language used to account for each. All are interwoven and affect our capacity to know and experience ourselves as bearers of divine agency—as beings known by God. Christ-centered at every turn and grounded in scripture, Daniel’s work situates human agency within the Agency of God—the Liturgy who is, a participatory ontology materialized through dispositions of faith.


“The liturgy is not the work of the people. Instead, argues William Daniel, the liturgy is Christ—the gate linking divine and human, heaven and earth. Daniel holds out to us the way of ‘intra-action’: we become human in and through God’s action in the liturgy. Christ the Liturgy offers what liturgical theology is most in need of: a deep recovery of the patristic ontology of participation.”


“In terms at once clear and sophisticated, William Daniel explains how liturgy is in no way a mere appendage either to Christian Life or to Theology. Our very access to God is through worship, which synergically fuses the divine and the human and renders us supremely receptive only through the highest pitch of our activity. It is the Incarnation that enacts and enables this fusion, and the offering of the liturgy is itself the perpetuation of the Incarnation. The consequent Augustinian identity of Christ with true praise of God is here articulated with a new directness and precision.”


“In this beautiful book, William Daniel explores how, in the liturgy, Christ restores to us our ‘natural nature.’ Through a deep probing of scripture, early Christian writers, and contemporary everyday life, he shows how the words and spaces and habits and people of the liturgy transform who we are—not through the work of any one of us, but through our participation in Christ’s action. Both scholarly and practical, this book seamlessly unites the sublime and the mundane, drawing our modest attempts at faithfulness into a cosmic drama.”


Christ the Liturgy is a profound work, simultaneously a theological epistemology, anthropology, ethics, and an elucidation of the Trinity. Daniel puts an end to the translation of leitourgia as ‘work of the people,’ which is not only a poor translation but, more importantly, misleads from a proper notion of the relation between human and divine agency. Liturgy is a transcendent participation in the eternal liturgy that is Christ’s offering. And yet, human participation in liturgy is earthly, akin to composting. Beautifully written, drawn from diverse genres, Christ the Liturgy should become the standard text in liturgical theology.”


Christ the Liturgy traces the contours of a sacramental economy founded upon, in the author’s apt expression, ‘the liturgy Jesus is.’ Our eyes are thereby opened to a new way of seeing the operations of grace all around us but nowhere so present as in acts of worship. In the gift of liturgy we find how we ourselves—and the Creation in which we live, move, and have our being—are patterned in this sacramental oikonomia, this household of grace.”


“This is an extraordinary work, from which I benefited greatly. I recommend it in the highest terms.”


About the Author

William Daniel (Ph.D., University of Nottingham) is rector of St. Michael’s Church, Dean for Liturgy and Formation in the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, and adjunct professor of humanities at SUNY Geneseo, in Geneseo, New York. He is the author of Inhabited by Grace (Church Publishing, Inc.), various works of poetry and social commentary, and is a roaster of coffee. You can follow Fr. Daniel at

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