Catherine Vincie’s Celebrating Divine Mystery: A Primer in Liturgical Theology (Liturgical Press, 2009), should be included on the reading list of any pastoral minister, particularly in the Roman Catholic tradition. In this volume, Vincie provides an integrated and well-resourced account of liturgical theology which devotedly attends to the living Christian community; it is at once immensely readable and richly informative.
This book is particularly useful because it begins by grounding contemporary liturgical theology not only in the twentieth century’s Second Vatican Council, but in the rich trajectory of liturgical reform which took place throughout the nineteenth century. By doing so, Vincie is able to describe both the gifts of the vision of liturgical reform—such as a renewed theology of the liturgical assembly—and the challenges of reform which have not yet been realized among the faithful, such as a deeper appreciation of the interconnection between the liturgy and social justice.
Her subsequent chapters explore how key themes of liturgical theology intersect with on-the-ground liturgical experiences. First, she emphasizes the dialogical nature of the liturgy, highlighting the liturgy as a gift that comes from God, as well as a work of the people. For example, her next chapter pairs the Paschal Mystery with liturgical anamnesis, allowing key mystagogical texts and classic liturgical scholarship to pose questions about how we “remember” in contemporary liturgical worship: do we remember justice for all peoples? Do we remember those who are suffering hardship?
Vincie’s chapter on “Naming Toward God” could stand alone as a reading for use in courses on the Bible, systematic theology, or liturgical studies, as she engages the highly relevant pastoral issue of how we address God—and how we imagine God. A chapter on liturgy and time both points the reader to key resources for the liturgical prayer and the divine office, and provides a brief history of the development of time-tables for the liturgy—a task which is not easy to do in fewer than twenty pages! Her chapters on the symbolic nature of liturgy and sacrament, and the role of the symbol in liturgy, provide a survey of key theological approaches which have shaped both post-Conciliar reforms and contemporary liturgical theologies. She concludes with an important chapter on liturgy and culture, reminding us of the significance of embodiment, socio-historical contexts, and the reality of the world Church.
Vincie’s Celebrating Divine Mystery would be particularly useful as a textbook for students at the masters level pursuing programs related to fields of pastoral ministry (either lay ecclesial or seminary) or liturgical studies. Her book could be paired easily with more extensive primary or secondary source readings which align with her chapters, which serve as apt foundations for each topic.