In This Issue: Worship 96 (April 2022)

Summary of the April 2022 issue of Worship

Worship is a peer-reviewed, international ecumenical journal for the study of liturgy and liturgical renewal. Founded in 1926 by Virgil Michel, OSB, and the monks of Saint John’s Abbey, Worship is published quarterly in Collegeville, Minnesota. Subscribe to Worship here.

A Clash of Languages
Genevieve Glen, OSB

Saving Water
Liam Bergin
This paper proposes talking points to initiate a wider conversation on saving water that is moderated from a liturgical-sacramental perspective.  It begins with a reflection on the symbolism of water as source of life, natural and supernatural.  It then investigates the ethical imperative that the baptismal use of this gift imposes.  The intrinsic link between creation, incarnation, redemption and salvation is revisited as humanity is relocated within nature rather than outside or above it.  This prompts a critique of how some of our liturgical prayers view creation and its place in the economy of salvation. Particular attention is given to the prayer for the “Blessing of Water and the Invocation of God over the Water” that is used in the baptismal liturgy and suggestions for a revised text are proposed.

Liberating Liturgical Theology:
Learning from the Building Blocks of Black Worship
Edgar “Trey” Clark III
If the field of liturgical theology is to faithfully reflect and serve the global church in a world of painfully persistent white supremacy, it must be liberated from its largely Eurocentric biases. This article argues that an exploration of select building blocks of African American or Black worship can provide a helpful step toward liberating liturgical theology from some of its Eurocentric biases. Building on Michael B. Aune’s important two-part essay entitled “Liturgy and Theology,” I consider some of the Bausteine, or building blocks, of Black Protestant worship—preaching, prayer, and singing. While these liturgical practices are present in most European American liturgical traditions, I suggest that they take on a unique shape and meaning in African American worship due to a distinct Black hermeneutic, a hermeneutic that affirms the God-given dignity of African Americans and anticipates their liberation.

To further this argument, the article offers a brief overview of the social history of African Americans and Black Protestant liturgical traditions. In light of this history, three aspects of a Black hermeneutic are described—a unique conception of anthropology, cosmology, and time. The heart of the article draws on a few representative African American Protestant scholars of worship—Wyatt T. Walker, William B. McClain, and Melva W. Costen—to consider the nature and meaning of three Bausteine of Black worship from the perspective of a Black hermeneutic. The article ends with concluding remarks on how Black worship might contribute toward a more liberating liturgical theology.

Eating in the Presence of Enemies:
Hong Kong Food Fights and the Theopolitics of the Eucharist
Sze-Long A. Wong
The 2019 social movements in Hong Kong presented competing narratives of solidarity and justice in terms of eating apart from enemies. The food fights found their way to some churches. Taking William T. Cavanaugh as a dialogue partner, the paper explores the political aspects of Chinese dining culture manifested in the social movements and their bearing on understanding the Eucharist as a theopolitical meal. The author argues that Chinese communal eating practices, which foreground the presence of all invited guests in their alterity and interaction, highlight God’s subversive generosity offered at the eucharistic table. Partaking of the Eucharist in the presence of enemies is thus an act of justice compelled by love to honor the host who invites generously.

Spiritual Communion or Desire for Communion?:
Sacraments and Their Substitutes in the Time of COVID-19
Anthony R. Lusvardi, SJ
This article critiques the concept of “spiritual communion” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It traces the idea’s roots to the earlier doctrine of baptism of desire and explores how the scholastic distinction between the sacramentum and res sacramenti supports it. However, it argues that such a distinction runs the risk of reductivism, discounting the embodied and communal dimension of the celebration of the sacraments. It suggests that understanding the Eucharist to represent a single irreducible good which produces multiple secondary goods provides a better way to understand the sacrament. Such a framework is able to account for what is positive in such practices as spiritual communion or televised liturgies while avoiding the danger of presenting them as replacements for the sacrament itself.

Christ’s Descent to the Dead: A Commentary
Gerald O’Collins, SJ
This article begins by contrasting Western and Eastern iconography of the resurrection, exemplified by the paintings of Piero della Francesca and Matthias Grünewald, on the one hand, and the Anastasis icon, on the other. The article provides a fresh translation (with commentary) of extracts from a homily, attributed to Epiphanius of Salamis, used for the Divine Office on Holy Saturday, and corresponding to the Eastern iconography. These extracts deal with Christ’s descent to the dead and center on the meeting in the underworld between the First Adam and Christ, who is the Second/Last Adam. Permeated with biblical language, the homily recalls the sin of Adam and Eve and the passion narrative of Christ who delivers those who “sit in darkness and the shadow of death.”

Michael S. Driscoll reviews Marco Benini, Liturgische Bibelhermeneutik: Die Heilige Schrift im Horizont des GottesdienstesWiesbaden: Aschendorff Verlag, 2020. xvi + 574 pages. €76.00. ISBN: 9783402112786.

Bob Hurd reviews William Blaine-Wallace, When Tears Sing: The Art of Lament in Christian Community. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2020. 168 pages. $24.00. ISBN: 9781626983670.

Paul Turner reviews David W. Kling, A History of Christian Conversion. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020. xvi + 836 pages. $150.00. ISBN: 9780195320923.


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