In Memoriam: Hans-Christoph Schmidt-Lauber

A major concern in his academic research and teaching as well as his personal spiritual life had always been liturgy, and especially the Eucharist. Hans-Christoph Schmidt-Lauber was a heartfelt liturgist and a noted ecumenist. The emeritus professor for practical theology at the protestant faculty, university of Vienna, was married with five children. On 25 April, aged 81, he died all of a sudden, shortly after he had given a lecture about the Lima Document and its references to Baptism, Eucharist and Office.

He completed his studies at the universities of Marburg, Tübingen, Heidelberg and Birmingham, and received his doctor in theology at Heidelberg university in 1953. In the following years he held various offices for communal and educational institutions, in Lübeck, Kiel, South and South-West Africa, until in 1977 he was offered a chair at the university of Vienna.

Schmidt-Lauber was involved with the foundational congress of Societas Liturgica in Driebergen (NL) in 1967 and an active member of this international and interconfessional society for the enhancement of the study and renewal of liturgy.

He was the last living founding member of the Societas. With the congress in Paris 1981 he was elected president for two years and he headed the congress about “Liturgy and Spirituality” in Vienna 1983.

His considerable bibliography is a reflection of his studies and largely concentrates on the Eucharist and its decent celebration. One of his major works is the “Handbuch der Liturgik” (Handbook of Liturgy, 1995, together with Karl-Heinz Bierietz, and in 2003 with Michael Meyer-Blanck) which became a standard reference for the examination of protestant liturgy. He was not only the editor but also authored, among others, the chapter on the Eucharist (in the edition of 2003: pp. 207-246).

In 2003, Anselm Grün and Reinhard Deichgräber issued a book called “Freude an der Eucharistie” (The Joy of the Eucharist) and Schmidt-Lauber wrote the article about “Eucharistiefrömmigkeit im Spiegel der Liturgiegeschichte” (The Eucharist as depicted in liturgical history, pp. 35-51). He deals with the evolution concerning the understanding and the celebration of the Eucharist and the different forms of spirituality that emerged from it in 2000 years.


His final remarks conclude that the 20th century saw a change in both the protestant and catholic perception of the Eucharist towards a renewal and consolidation of Christ’s Anamnesis: an orientation towards the early tradition of the Eucharist in an undivided Church.

May he, who esteemed the Eucharist and lived from it, share the joy of the redeemed and take part in the eternal Supper.

Artur Waibel

Die Liturgie und besonders die Eucharistie standen im Mittelpunkt seines wissenschaftlichen Lehrens und Forschens und seiner Spiritualität. Hans-Christoph Schmidt-Lauber war Liturge und Liturgiker mit ökumenischer Leidenschaft. Am 25. April ist der frühere Ordinarius für Praktische Theologie an der Evangelisch-theologischen Fakultät der Universität Wien, Familienvater mit fünf Kindern, im Alter von 81 Jahren überraschend verstorben, nachdem er am gleichen Tag noch einen Vortrag über das Lima-Dokument zu Taufe, Eucharistie und Amt gehalten hatte.

Nach dem Studium der evangelischen Theologie in Marburg, Tübingen, Heidelberg und Birmingham (GB) mit Promotion zum Dr. theol. 1953

in Heidelberg war Schmidt-Lauber zunächst in verschiedenen Funktionen der Gemeinde- und Bildungsarbeit in Lübeck, Kiel und Süd- und Südwestafrika eingesetzt, bis er 1977 den Ruf an die Universität Wien erhielt.

Schmidt-Lauber hat am Gründungskongress der Societas Liturgica 1967 in Driebergen (NL) teilgenommen und war bis zuletzt engagiertes Mitglied dieser internationalen und interkonfessionellen Vereinigung zur Förderung des Studiums und der Erneuerung der Liturgie. Auf dem Kongress 1981 in Paris wurde er für zwei Jahre zum Präsidenten gewählt und hat 1983 den Kongress in Wien über „Liturgie und Spiritualität“ geleitet.

In seiner umfangreichen Bibliografie geht es immer wieder um die Eucharistie und ihre angemessene Feier. Zusammen mit Karl-Heinrich Bieritz (und ab 32003 mit Michael Meyer-Blanck) hat Schmidt-Lauber das „Handbuch der Liturgik“, das Standardwerk der evangelischen Liturgiewissenschaft (Göttingen 1995), herausgegeben und darin unter anderem das Kapitel über die Eucharistie (in 32003 S. 207-246) geschrieben.


In dem von Anselm Grün und Reinhard Deichgräber herausgegebenen Bändchen „Freude an der Eucharistie“ (Göttingen 2003) schrieb Schmidt-Lauber den Beitrag „Eucharistiefrömmigkeit im Spiegel der Liturgiegeschichte“ (35-51). Er geht darin auf die Veränderungen ein, die sich im Verständnis und in der Feier der Eucharistie und in den daraus sich entwickelnden Frömmigkeitsformen im Laufe von 2000 Jahren ergeben haben, und schließt mit der Feststellung, dass im 20. Jahrhundert die Eucharistie sowohl in der katholischen als auch in der evangelischen Kirche neu und vertieft als Christusanamnese und als Danksagung verstanden wird, sodass „man sich wieder an der altkirchlichen Eucharistie der ungeteilten Kirche“ orientiert.

Möge er, der die Eucharistie so hoch geschätzt und aus ihr gelebt hat, jetzt in der Freude der Erlösten am Gastmahl des ewigen Lebens teilhaben.

Artur Waibel

In Memoriam: Rev. Dr. Geevarghese Panicker

The end of 2008 was also the end of the noble earthly life and meritorious activities of Rev. Dr. Geevarghese Panicker. He passed away on December 28, after about a month of intensive and competent medical care.

Dr. Panicker was not a common place individual. His academic qualifications include the Master’s degree in both Philosophy and Theology from the Pontifical Athaneum at Kandy in Sri Lanka where he underwent training for the priesthood. He secured the Master’s degree in English language and literature from the University college, Trivandrum and the Doctorate in these subjects from the Catholic University of America.

He served as a member of the Senate, Member of the Board of Postgraduate studies in English Literature, Member of the Doctoral Committee of English Literature,  Chairman of the Faculty of studies of Syriac and Hebrew, and Member of the Academic Council of the University of Kerala and also President of the Private College Principals Council.


He served as a member of the Senate, Member of the Board of Postgraduate studies in English Literature, Member of the Doctoral Committee of English Literature,  Chairman of the Faculty of studies of Syriac and Hebrew, and Member of the Academic Council of the University of Kerala and also President of the Private College Principals Council.  He was a member of State Advisory Board of Education, Member of State Advisory Board for Higher Education and Member of the Committee constituted by the Kerala State for Autonomous Colleges.

Dr. Panicker possessed great wisdom and extraordinary vision. He was an educator par excellence. Thousands of young men and women who had their undergraduate, graduate or post graduate education in the Mar Ivanios College at Trivandrum during his 20 years as Vice Principal and Principal of that reputed institution, nurture in their hearts, deep and sincere appreciation, respect and affection for him.

After his retirement from the college, Dr. Panicker was appointed by the Bishops’ Council of Kerala as Rector of the St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary at Aluva, which before its bifurcation had a student strength of more than 700 clerics, like Meynouth in Ireland, decades ago. Dr. Panicker’s tenure as Rector was for two consecutive terms of 3 years each (1979-1985).

Thus, thousands of priests of the Roman Catholic, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Churches of Kerala have had the benefit of the guidance of this man of God. He went on to become the Rector of the newly established Major Seminary of the Malankara Catholic Church, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He played a major role in its establishment and progress. His final field of activity for 18 years – 1987 to 2005 – was SEERI, where he served as Dean of Studies. Eminent scholars from various countries who visited SEERI as participants of World Syriac Conferences held here or friends and patrons of this singular Institution which promotes Syriac studies have known Dr. Panicker personally. All of them will lament his demise.

Dr. Panicker’s scholarship and expertise in various fields was put to good use in the many offices he held. Above all, he was a priest of God and a devoted servant of the Church. His homilies were eloquent and often quite sharp. Many members of the congregation squatting on the carpets in the church must have squirmed when his sonorous voice thundered like that of the Baptist urging “the brood of vipers” to repentance and baptism. His published writings are not extensive, yet precious.


Contrary to his expressed wish, the funeral, the day after death, was far from simple. Among his disciples are many who occupy eminent positions in various fields – administrators and politicians, advocates and judges, actors and entertainers, ecclesiastical dignitaries and civil luminaries. Most of them were in attendance of the funeral to pay their homage. The Lord whom he served zealously over decades will certainly greet him as his faithful servant and welcome him into the eternal abode of bliss. May he rest in peace!

Kottayam, January 2009         Rev. Dr. Jacob Thekeparampil

Aidan Kavanagh +

It is an honor to be invited to say a few words in memory and tribute to my professor, Fr. Aidan Kavanagh, who died July 9, 2006 at the age of 77. Many knew him from the classroom, and many more knew him through his writings, which were simultaneously profound and poetic. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1957, sent by his superior at St. Meinrad Benedictine monastery to study liturgy at Trier with Balthasar Fischer, and then served as a teacher, first at St. Meinrad’s, and then at the University of Notre Dame (1966-1974) where his influence continues in the existence of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy

(which currently has on staff three of his students: Pamela Jackson, Nathan Mitchell, and myself). The majority of his career was spent at Yale University, the Institute of Sacred Music, where he worked from 1974 until his retirement in 1994.

These decades are among the most interesting and challenging decades of the modern Church. Kavanagh’s career spanned Vatican II and our subsequent struggle to appreciate the aggiornamento it expects of us. As he traveled through these decades, he worked on multiple fronts, of which I will name only three. First, he is known for his exceptional work on Baptism and Confirmation, articulating the consequences of the RCIA (he wrote “when we are into initiation we are face to face with conversion in Jesus Christ dead and rising; and when we are into conversion in Jesus Christ dead and rising we are at the storm center of the universe”). Second, he was interested in understanding the liturgy as Rite, and as such, understood it as creative of our identities. Liturgy is an act of rite; the act and the assembly which does it are coterminous, one thing (in class he used to say, “we don’t go to mass because we’re Catholic, we’re Catholic because we go to mass”). Third, he entered into dialogue with Alexander Schmemann to introduce us to a new understanding of Liturgical Theology.


This is the place he was when I met him. I arrived at graduate school eager to perform theology upon some facet of worship, as a surgeon might perform an operation upon some part of the human body. Kavanagh was not teaching that semester, due to a load of administrative responsibilities, so I begged him for an independent study. He was just finishing the Hale Memorial lectures that would become his book On Liturgical Theology. (I begged him for a copy of that manuscript and succeeded by striking the deal to type it for submission to the publisher. Kavanagh gave me several yellow legal pads with the hand-written text, no corrections, no erasures, no insertions.) He agreed to the independent study on the condition that we read everything we could find by Schmemann. I’ve often described the rest of my graduate studies as trying to get the number of the bus that hit me.

Liturgical theology is not, for Kavanagh, a study done by academic theologians directed at the liturgy. Liturgical theology is the Church’s own faith in motion in the liturgy. The presence of the living God brings the worshiping assembly to the edge of chaos, and “what results in the first instance from such an experience is deep change in the very lives of those who participate in the liturgical act. And deep change will affect their next liturgical act, however slightly … It is the adjustment which is theological in all this.

I hold that it is theology being born, theology in the first instance. It is what tradition has called theologia prima.”
o communicate the message more pointedly, he personified the primary theologian as Mrs. Murphy. By her I am quite sure he meant someone who has been capacitated by the liturgical rite. He does not mean to suggest we can discover liturgical theology by taking a poll of deeply held opinions or widespread current practices. Mrs. Murphy is someone who has been taught by the tradition to speak the language of the primary theologian which “more often consists in symbolic, metaphorical, sacramental words and actions which throw flashes of light upon chasms of rich ambiguity.” In this, Kavanagh was taking a stand on the contentious debate concerning the relationship between lex orandi and lex credendi. He cited its origins in Prosper of Aquitaine and maintained that there was a verb in the original form which cannot be overlooked. “That verb was statuat, as in lex supplicandi legem statuat credendi: The law of worshiping founds the law of believing. So long, I think, as the verb stays in the sentence it is not possible to reverse subject and predicate …”
In all his writings and in each of his classes, he took liturgy from the dusty files and assured us that liturgy is life. It is not a specialized activity for esthetes, rubricists, historians, and ritual studies hobbyists; it is the presence of God transforming creation.


To give liturgy its proper locus, he repeatedly affirmed that “liturgy is doing the world the way the world was meant to be done.”

By  David W. Fagerberg
Associate Professor, the University of Notre Dame
Director, Notre Dame Center for Liturgy

D. Frieder Schulz +

Am Fest der Geburt des Herrn 2005 starb in Heidelberg der Nestor der evangelischen Liturgiewissenschaft und Liturgik, D. Frieder Schulz im Alter von 88 Jahren.

Im Rückblick auf sein Lebenswerk darf er als der kenntnisreichste und wohl auch einflussreichste Liturgiker deutschsprachiger reformatorischer Kirchen im vergangenen Jahrhundert gelten. Diese ver- verdanken ihm weitreichende Studien zu Gebetstexten, Hymnen und Liedern („Die Gebete Luthers“, 1976), eine bemerkenswert ökumenische Zusammenschau ganz unterschiedlicher Liturgien, wie sie exemplarisch im Ev. Gottesdienstbuch (1999) mit seiner Konzeption von „Grundstruktur und Ausformungsvarianten“ realisiert ist, in allem eine äußerst sorgfältige Aufarbeitung der in sich reichen liturgischen Traditionen evangelischen Glaubens und Christseins überhaupt.

Schulz war seit den fünfziger Jahren in der Lutherischen Liturgischen Konferenzüberaus tätig und richtungsweisend. Der Societas hat er Grundlegendes zur Frage der liturgischen Zeit vermittelt (Paris 1981). Die Edition „Coena Domini I“ hat er durch seine Beiträge zur reformatorischen Abendmahlsliturgie wesentlich mitgestaltet. In seiner klaren schönen Handschrift konnte der seit Anfang der siebziger Jahre  linksseitig armamputierte Gelehrte auf einer Postkarte ihrem Empfänger eine komplette liturgiewissenschaftliche Monographie in nuce liefern.

Mit einer „Festschrift für Frieder Schulz“ (1987/88) und zwei Sammelbänden („Mit Singen und mit Beten“, 1995; „Synaxis“, mit Bibliogr.1954-1997) ist Frieder Schulz’ reiches Lebenswerk umfassend gewürdigt und dokumentiert. Die Societas Liturgica gedenkt ihres langjährigen Mitglieds in großer Dankbarkeit: Er möge ruhen in Frieden, und das ewige Licht leuchte ihm!

Alexander Völker


Heikki Kotila in memoriam

Professor and assistant dean of the Theological Faculty of Helsinki/Helsingfors University, Heikki Kotila died in the 12th of May 2010 after a quickly progressing illness. Kotila was born in Toholampi, Finland on the 10th of July 1960. He was widowed when his two children Saara (born 1991) and Johannes (born 1993) were still quite young. Now they also have lost their father.

Kotila graduated as master of theology in 1984 in Helsinki and as doctor of philosophy in patristics in Cambridge university in 1990. The subject of his dissertation is the commemoration of the dead in the writings of St Augustin. As a project scholar of the Finnish Academy he turned his interest to liturgy and spirituality. He was named associate professor in dogmatics in Helsinki University in 1996 and in the University of Joensuu in 2000. In 2003 he was made professor in Practical Theology of Helsinki University. His special subjects were then defined as liturgy, pastoral theology and diacony. As assistant dean from 2007 he was also active in the planning process for the renewal of the theological studies from 2010. He had a special capacity in combining the academic requirements with the capacity of listening and understanding his fellow teachers and students.

Apart from his academical function Kotila was also used as a theological expert in several areas of the Lutheran Church of Finland. He was a member of the Church Synod as well as of the commission for pastoral care in the hospitals in Finland.

I did not know Heikki very closely but knew him as an excellent scholar. He was nice to talk to, as he spoke both Swedish and English beautifully and fluently, in addition to Finnish, his mother tongue.  All three languages he spoke in a very kind and soft voice. As his “godmother” in Societas Liturgica I regret that he was not given the time to take part in more than one Congress, because I am sure that he could have contributed greatly to our work later on.

Yngvill Martola