In the Apostolic Letter, Ubicumque et semper, wherein Pope Benedict XVI created the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, he notes that, while recent technological advancements may have had a positive impact on the material quality of life, they have had a deleterious effect on the spiritual quality of life. He roots this latter deterioration in a “loss of the sense of the sacred,” which has corrupted, on a wide scale, the Christian belief in a person God. However, although Pope Benedict XVI identifies the loss of the sense of the sacred as a root cause of secularism’s advance, he leaves open the question as to what precisely constitutes this sense, as well as, consequently, the best means of restoring it in contemporary society.
This article will argue that a broader look at Benedict XVI’s writings reveals that his understanding of the sense of the sacred closely parallels that of the twentieth century French Jesuit, Henri Cardinal de Lubac. Tracing the mutual influence of de Lubac and Ratzinger in this question, moreover, can help explain some of Benedict XVI’s more recent comments about the unique role that the liturgy can and must play in restoring that sense in the modern world.