SCM Study Guide
Martin Foster & Peter McGrail (eds.)A Liturgical Reference Book
The intended audience of this textbook by members of the Liturgical Formation Sub-Committee of the Bishops’ Conference is those undergoing formation as ministers in the Roman Catholic church. It provides well-structured, lucidly written introductions to the principles and theology of Catholic liturgy and sacraments, and detailed commentaries on the liturgy of each sacrament, funeral rites and the provision for times and seasons. While it contextualizes current practice with reference to twentieth-century Vatican positions on matters such as the adoption of vernacular languages in liturgy, the only earlier theologian receiving more than a cursory reference is Aquinas. The book only extends its intended readers beyond a basic understanding of ‘why we do what we do’ through questions for reflection, some hinting at critically important matters, included in boxes in each chapter, but not discussed, and a further reading list which could usefully have been annotated. For Anglican readers, the opening chapters provide succinct summaries of Roman Catholic theology useful for comparative purposes, while the later commentaries on practice could be pastorally valuable, for example, when explaining why the rite used when Catholics marry other Christians does not include Mass.
Reviewed by John Moss
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