Brief Book Review: Worship and Church

Worship and Church: An Ecclesial Liturgy
Essays in Honor of Gerard Austin, OP
Edited by Sallie Latkovich and Peter C. Phan

Who’s it for? Those who need a quick review of foundational issues in liturgical understanding and practice at Vatican II as well as those who are willing to be challenged by the unfinished work of liturgical and ecclesial renewal.

Why is this book significant? The essays, “in honor of Gerard Austin, OP,” are actually reflective of the ecclesial and initiatory focus of his work that highlights the ecclesial and liturgical role of all the baptized. In his own article, Austin highlights Vatican II’s “theology that sees not just the ordained minister but the entire assembly as the proper subject of liturgical actions” (page 105).

What will get you thinking? The articles that build on Vatican II’s baptismal ecclesiology in describing the contemporary challenges this ecclesiology and its expression in worship offer to all the baptized. Consider how the “new cosmology” critiques not only the world that the liturgy presents “through all its symbolic languages” but also the way we express foundational beliefs exposed by those languages (Catherine Vincie, RHSM).

Global. One of the interesting things about this collection of essays is the diversity of authors and, therefore, the diversity of perspectives they bring to the study of liturgy and its implications for church and Christian life. Not surprisingly, several authors share the North American academic contexts in which Austin taught (The Catholic University of America, The Blessed Edmund Rice School for Pastoral Ministry). Others, however, have experienced his teaching and his personal influence in other contexts and nations, such as Australia, that are now emerging as sources for new and interesting approaches to the church and its liturgy.

A challenge and a prayer. It is indeed a fitting tribute to Father Austin and his work. It is appropriate, therefore, as a summary of the riches in this work, to pray with Father Austin himself (page 118): May the liturgical reform and renewal through which we are now living inaugurate a new life cycle of the church, a new beginning where our liturgy is truly a foretaste of heaven, a sign of that kingdom that will know no end, a sign of that kingdom where there will be no Jew of Greek, no slave or freeperson, no male or female, but all will be one, in Christ Jesus! Amen

Sallie Latkovich and Peter C. Phan, eds., Worship and Church: An Ecclesial Liturgy. Essays in Honor of Gerard Austin, OP (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2019). 360 pages. $39.95. ISBN: 9780809154241.

REVIEWER: Gordon Truitt
Dr. Gordon E. Truitt is the retired Senior Editor of the
National Association of Pastoral Musicians.

One comment

  1. I am a big fan of Jerry Austin, and anything that provides a fitting tribute to him will be worth reading. Thanks, Gordon!

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