In This Issue: Worship, October 2015

Here are abstracts from the September issue of Worship as well as the list of books that were reviewed. For more information on Worship, or to subscribe to the journal, please visit its website.

Richard McCarron, with Eileen Crowley and John Pawlikowski, OSM: “Worshiping in a Religiously Pluralistic Age – Catholic and Jewish Reflections”

A group of Jewish and Christian scholars gathered to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II’s Nostra aetate, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions. This joint consultation meeting in Chicago probed the reception of this document, noting that this anniversary offers an opportunity to revivify dialogue and assess the liturgical implications of NA’s vision. This consultation also revisited the USCCB document God’s Mercy Endures Forever: Guidelines on the Presentation of Jews and Judaism in Catholic Preaching (1988). From this conversation emerged issues around reforming the Lectionary and preaching, marking shared liturgical time, resourcing parish catechesis, and planning for strategic collaboration to continue and extend dialogue in the daily life of local churches.



Ruth Langer: “Jewish Reflections on Worshiping in a Religiously Pluralist Age: The Case of Aleynu”

Some regularly recited Jewish prayers construct Jewish identity by denigrating the religious other. While justifiable historically, this is problematic today. The Aleynu prayer was interpreted by medieval Jews and Christians to include a coded slur of Christianity (although this was likely not its original intent). Even though the churches censored the problematic words from prayer books, most Jews continued to recite them, some even spitting while doing so. Eighteenth-century Prussian decrees forced Jews to skip the words in public prayer. However, as Jews became European citizens (19th c.), they themselves confronted the identity statement of the prayer, even without its direct slur, offering commentaries or, where allowed, revised texts that reflected the positive pluralism of their new contexts. Thus, this prayer’s modern liturgical transformations responded to Jews’ new sociological (and aspirational) interreligious context, predating Christians’ confrontation with their heritage of theological anti-Judaism.



Brigitte Sion: “Pilgrimage, Healing Practices, and Tourism at Maimonides’s Synagogue in Cairo”

Jews in Egypt treasured the small synagogue in Cairo known as the Rambam (Maimonides) Synagogue for its healing properties. They would take a nap in the basement and hope for Maimonides, the 12th-century physician and rabbi, to heal them in their sleep. This popular folk ritual lasted until the forced exile of the Jewish community from Egypt in 1956. The synagogue was shut down and fell into utter decay, until the early 21st century, when the Egyptian government sponsored its renovation.

This article looks at Jewish pilgrimage, healing practices, and Sephardic folk rituals through the prism of the Maimonides synagogue, and how it has turned from pilgrimage destination to tourism attraction.



Andrew Wymer: “The Word of God ‘Enfleshed Anew’: The Implications of a Latent Baptist Sacramental Sensibility for the Lord’s Supper”

This article highlights the often unexamined, latent sacramental sensibility of Baptist homiletical theories and practices, which locate God’s presence and activity in the material and actions of the preaching event. The author will argue that this sensibility provides both a means of critically engaging renewal efforts toward constructive Baptist sacramental theologies and a means of reimagining the relationship between Baptist theories and practices and those of the broader church. Employing a literature-based method, this essay will draw from a selection of Baptist perspectives both past and present, highlighting sacramental characteristics that profoundly connect the material with spiritual. Bringing these works into conversation with the renewal of a sacramental understanding of preaching in Roman Catholic theology, the author will suggest that these findings can serve as both a pre-existing foundation for a future construction of a Baptist sacramental perspective of the Lord’s Supper and a means of Baptist engagement with the broader church.



Theodore Pulcini: “Thyranoixia and Hajmah : A Study of Polyvalence in Antiochian-Usage Byzantine Liturgical Ritual”

Two of the most compelling ceremonies of the Antiochian-usage Byzantine churches are the consecration of a church (thyranoixia) and the “Rush Procession” (hajmah) conducted on Pascha (Easter). While markedly different in purpose and context, the two rituals share a number of characteristics; both are preceded by ritual actions inside the church building, followed by an exit from the building and a threefold circumambulation around its exterior, with a subsequent re-entry into the church. These shared elements, however, take on markedly divergent (sometimes diametrically opposite!) meanings in the two rituals. A comparative analysis of the textual enactment performed in these rituals and their symbolic components provides a striking example of ritual polyvalence within the same liturgical tradition. That Antiochian-usage Byzantine Christians can witness and participate in both of these rituals without experiencing a disturbing sense of dissonance bears witness to the subtle power of ritual polyvalence in general and of Byzantine ritual polyvalence in particular.



The Amen Corner: Don E. Saliers, “Liturgical Aesthetics Again”

Questions about relations between liturgy, art and aesthetics are perennial. In what ways and to what extent can we claim that Christian liturgical rites are “artful”? At the heart of the gathered assembly are corporately shared symbolic forms through which adoration, praise, thanksgiving, lament and all sacramental mediations of grace are offered and received. These require more than recitation of text. The “poetics” of the assembly’s participation always draws upon specific cultural modes of speech, song, and symbolic action. Experiential catechesis is called for.

Any reflection on liturgical aesthetics thus asks us to take seriously the permanent tensions that are involved if liturgical rites are to form us into a faithful way of being in the world. The essay calls for a deepened eschatological imagination that marks the feasts and seasons of life in the body of Christ.



Book Reviews


  • Eucharist as Meaning: Critical Metaphysics and Contemporary Sacramental Theology. By Joseph C. Mudd. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2014. Pages, 249. Paper, $29.95. ISBN: 978-0-8146-8221-0. Reviewed by John Baldovin, SJ.
  • Common Worship: Anglican Identity and Liturgical Diversity. By Mark Earey. London: SCM Press 2013. Pages, xii + 164. Paper, £ 16.99. ISBN: 978-0-334-04739-1. Reviewed by Ruth Meyers.
  • A Vision of Justice: Engaging Catholic Social Teaching on the College Campus. Edited by Susan Crawford Sullivan and Ron Pagnucco. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2014. Pages, xxii + 209. Paper, $24.95. ISBN: 978-0-8146-8216-6. Reviewed by Denis Edwards.
  • Ordination of Women to the Diaconate in the Eastern Churches. Essays by Cipriano Vagaggini. Edited by Phyllis Zagano. A Michael Glazier Book. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2013. Pages, 63. Paper, $9.95. ISBN: 978-0-8146-8310-1. Reviewed by Susan Roll.


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