Mystery presence

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: Since I asked you a question about the historical liturgical readings, I have been reading your blog regularly. As a result, I know that you also know German. This means that you are the most qualified person to be asked the following questions: How is the expression “Mysteriengegenwart” coined by Odo Casel translated into English? Does this term refer to the sacraments only?

Greetings from Germany.


A: Thank you for your confidence in my abilities, but I’m turning to Gary Feldhege, who addressed this on his blog some years ago:

The temptation is to use an English expression such as “mysterious presence,” but that does not capture Casel’s concept. 

Gary calls it “mystery-in-the-present”, but I think one could also argue for “presence in mystery.” 

Best would be “mystery presence,” which puts two English nouns in apposition and describes the type of presence we experience in worship. We experience Christ present in mystery. 

I don’t know if Casel limited this to sacraments only, but in Catholic theology, the sacraments would surely be its most sublime expression.