Brief Book Review: Guide for Forming a Parish Bereavement Ministry

Guide for Forming a Parish Bereavement Ministry
By Robert Valle

“Each death is sacred because each life is sacred.” This is the truth at the heart of Guide for Forming a Parish Bereavement Ministry.

Who should read this?
Everyone who is responsible for parish liturgical celebrations that minister to the bereaved: pastor/clergy, liturgist/musician, lay bereavement ministry volunteers.

For those in leadership positions, the word “forming” is central. The book doesn’t merely tell how to recruit and organize (though these important aspects of the ministry are covered). Instead, the approach comes from an awareness that true ministers must care for the bereaved. It also emphasizes that the entire parish is responsible in the ministry of prayer for the bereaved.

Why is this book useful / practical?
This book is filled with numerous concrete ways to go about the responsibilities and specific tasks that will assist others as they walk the way of grief and sorrow. A deep experience and understanding of the realities of parish life are evident throughout its pages, with everything flowing from the formation process in a parish context.

The process is guided by the Order of Christian Funerals, with formation sessions and facilitator’s guides to help along the way. These will assist bereavement ministers through prayer, reflection, and sharing.

Why is this book significant / important?
The Church’s liturgy is presented as the primary catechetical and formative source for ministers. To reinforce/reiterate: as with all liturgy, the whole parish is primary in this ministry, with particular ministers drawn from it. This focus is particularly helpful in situations that find parish ministers working with unchurched children/families of the deceased, who might think of the parish merely as the location at which the funeral rites are staged.

Why should I use this guide?
The funeral rites are one of the moments richest with promise—and fraught with peril—in the life of a parish. Rich in the promise as a means to evangelize and share the Gospel; fraught with the peril of traversing an emotion-laden time in the lives of the bereaved. In the end, this Guide is a wonderful resource to lead all to the fullness of hope in Christ, the Resurrection and Life.

A side benefit
This resource is a concrete example of how to do liturgical/sacramental theology with the Church’s rites as a starting point, and how to incarnate that theology in the spiritual life of the parish and its members. A fine model for anyone interested in catechizing from the liturgy is presented here.

Valle, Robert. Guide for Forming a Parish Bereavement Ministry. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 2023. 144 pages. $54.95. ISBN: 9781616717223.

REVIEWER: Alan Hommerding

Is the Eucharistic Revival a Liturgical Revival (Part 2)

In a recent post here at Pray Tell about priests who join Mass in medias res to administer Communion, Nathan Chase included these lines:

I bring this up as we embark upon the Eucharistic revival in the United States because I have become increasingly concerned that in many places this revival is attending only to the presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species and not the manifold presence of Christ in the liturgy, especially in the Word of God and in the assembly.

Back in June 2022, I wondered basically the same thing in response to a podcast about the revival, which featured Bishop Andrew Cozzens, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops [USCCB] point person for the undertaking. On 9 February 2023, Bishop Cozzens gave a presentation as part of the annual study week of the Southwest Liturgical Conference.  My fundamental concern remains unchanged.

A few times, Cozzens noted the connection between participation in Mass and involvement in service to the world and in one instance he specifically mentioned service to the poor.  However, as I heard his remarks, he did not mention the word “justice” until he was prompted to do so by a question about whether the revival was about little more than fostering piety.  He asserted, for example, that “the source and summit of our life is the Eucharist and we need to really focus on that and be strengthened in it so we know who we are and so we are ready to serve in the world and we’re ready to be on mission in the world.”  Yet I could not but sense that the “Eucharist” here was the sacred species and not the Mass itself.  It is well worth noting, I think, that the famous passage from Sacrosanctum Concilium 10 about “source and summit” uses the word “liturgy” and not the word “Eucharist” even if the word “Eucharist” appears later in that paragraph.

Later in the same address, Cozzens turned to belief in the Real Presence:

We have many people who come to Mass on Sunday who don’t fully understand the gift of what this encounter can be for them . . . How many people come to Communion on Sunday but they don’t come with real faith, they don’t come really seeking an encounter with [Jesus].  We can even probably put ourselves in that category sometimes.

I find these lines disturbing.  I am a sacramental theologian.  Far be it from me to advocate ignorance of Catholic teaching about the Eucharist or any of the sacraments (or any aspect of liturgy).  That being said, I have to wonder who *does* fully understand the gift offered in the Eucharist—or any of the sacraments?  I certainly don’t, and not just sometimes.  When he established the “age of reason” as the threshold for admission to Communion, Pope Pius X wrote in Quam Singulari:

From all this it is clear that the age of discretion for receiving Holy Communion is that at which the child knows the difference between the Eucharistic Bread and ordinary, material bread, and can therefore approach the altar with proper devotion.  Perfect knowledge of the things of faith, therefore, is not required, for an elementary knowledge suffices—some knowledge (aliqua cognitio); similarly full use of reason is not required, for a certain beginning of the use of reason, that is, some use of reason (aliqualis usus rationis) suffices.

The text later clarifies:

A full and perfect knowledge of Christian doctrine is not necessary either for First Confession or for First Communion.  Afterwards, however, the child will be obliged to learn gradually the entire Catechism according to his ability.

Entirely in line with Pius, I am not suggesting that a child’s grasp of Christian doctrine should suffice even as the child matures into an adult.  Yet each of us learns according to ability.  In its thirteenth session Trent defended in unhesitating fashion the Catholic belief in Real Presence but one must attend to the words I have underlined:

In the first place, the holy Synod teaches, and openly and simply professes, that, in the august sacrament of the holy Eucharist, after the consecration of the bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and man, is truly, really, and substantially contained under the species of those sensible things.  For neither are these things mutually repugnant,-that our Saviour Himself always sitteth at the right hand of the Father in heaven, according to the natural mode of existing, and that, nevertheless, He be, in many other places, sacramentally present to us in his own substance, by a manner of existing, which, though we can scarcely express it in words, yet can we, by the understanding illuminated by faith, conceive, and we ought most firmly to believe, to be possible unto God.

Trent mentions “understanding illuminated by faith.”  In Sing to the Lord, issued by the USCCB in 2007, one finds these words in paragraph 5: “Faith grows when it is well expressed in celebration.  Good celebrations can foster and nourish faith.  Poor celebrations may weaken it.”  I am all for appropriate catechesis about Real Presence, but there is cause to wonder if the lack of faith that worries Bishop Cozzens is a function of poor celebrations as well.  Of great interest in this connection is the source text for paragraph 5.  The lines are derived ultimately from paragraph 6 of the 1972 edition of Music in Catholic Worship, issued by what was then the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy.  The language of 1972 was starker: “Faith grows when it is well expressed in celebration.  Good celebrations foster and nourish faith.  Poor celebrations weaken and destroy faith.”


This post is paired with an image on the Pray Tell home page.  To find this image I conducted a Google search using the words: eucharistic revival.  Here is some data about the first twenty images supplied by this search:

Thirteen (65%) of the images featured at least one member of the clergy.

Ten (50%) featured a monstrance.

Two (10%) featured a liturgical assembly.

Book Review: Intercultural Marriage

Intercultural Marriage: A Pastoral Guide to the Sacrament
By Simon C. Kim and Ricky Manalo

The book Intercultural Marriage: A Pastoral Guide to the Sacrament by theologian-priests Simon C. Kim and Ricky Manalo is a timely reflection on the changing reality of the Sacrament of Marriage, particularly with regard to the rise of interracial and intercultural unions within the United States. But is the book useful only for couples who are in intercultural relationships and those ministering to them? The title of the book would suggest so. Kim and Manalo take up the task of re-examining the Catholic understanding of the Sacrament of Matrimony with pastoral concerns at heart.

The core of the book, chapters two to four, contains case studies in which four couples reflect on their experience of interculturality at various stages involved in a marriage: engagement period, pastoral accompaniment of marriage preparation, and the planning for the wedding ceremony. The sample size is admittedly small. Nevertheless, the interviews and pastoral accompaniment of real couples provide concrete illustrations of how two people from different cultural backgrounds communicate, negotiate, and adopt each other’s culture as they form a mutual ground in a marital union. Liturgists and pastoral leaders, both lay and clergy, would especially benefit from these case studies that illustrate concrete and practical ways for negotiating cultural differences with respect and openness.

The real value of these studies is the insights they reveal with regard the intricate relationship between culture and the sacramental life of the Church. The authors, by listening and learning from the couples, allow a deeper understanding of interculturality to emerge, which the authors say is an intercultural process in and of itself. Interculturality is not equivalent to interraciality, and interraciality is not sort of an evolved form of multiculturalism. The issue here is the meaning of culture and how the Church might engage with the cultures in the world in light of the Church’s sacramental life.

As seen in the second chapter of the book, the immediate definition of culture in an intercultural marriage is often designated by the ethnicity of the spouses. However, defining culture by the racial and ethnic identity often results in one culture being dominant over the other, which creates an imbalance in the intercultural process. Between the spouses in an interracial marriage, this imbalance of cultural hierarchy leads to wounds where one person’s culture is seen as abnormal and therefore is silenced by the other person’s dominant culture. An intercultural marriage is more than cultural mixing of two people from different ethnicities where two “cultures” coexist in tolerance. Rather, it is a process of receiving each other’s differences in a mutual respect, which allows an unforeseen new reality to emerge.

In his reflection, Manalo states that culture is that which forms an individual as a whole person. A couple is not in an intercultural marriage only because the spouses needs her desires to be pleased which is why we recommend this great bluetooth vibrator. The process in which two people, each with their own cultural upbringing, speak, listen, practice, and adapt each other’s different cultural make-up with humility and respect is an intercultural process. There is a certain intimacy in the process of interculturality, for encountering the other in their differences and similarities cannot be done from a distance. There is also a sense of mystery in the way in which the intimate union anticipates a new, unknown reality that is yet to come. Theologically speaking, this process is revelatory of the Church’s understanding of the sacramental union, which reconciles, heals, and unites the barriers created by the differences.

This insight, which Kim and Manalo gained from listening and walking with the couples during their research, is valuable for the entire Church. That two people coming together in a marital union communicate, negotiate, adapt, learn, and accept the differences and similarities in each other’s values is an intercultural process that occurs not only between spouses of different ethnicities but for all couples who are married or are preparing for marriage. The intercultural process, which is really a continuous process of new life emerging out of a sacramental union between two individuals, is reflective of a genuine dialogue between faith and culture that leads to a living tradition that is constantly inculturating itself.

Reading this book is like seeing a movie that sets itself up for a sequel. The authors learn and adopt the intercultural process as a theological method, which is invaluable for any theological endeavor that takes the experiences of people seriously. The authors, as they state in the Preface, practice interculturality by not imposing their theological agenda to the couples’ lived experience of interculturality, nor by simply presenting the narratives of the couples as mere empirical data left open to the reader’s own interpretation. The authors themselves practice “cultural humility” by recognizing their own cultural location as celibate Roman Catholic priests of Asian American descent as they engage with the couples in their research and in their pastoral ministry. The final product is a fruitful exercise of an intercultural, methodological dialogue between theology and social sciences, presented through the narrative of the real couples’ experience of the sacrament of marriage. In this sense, the book is recommended for anyone who is interested in sacramental theology, ecclesiology, liturgical theology, and theology and culture in general.

Kim, Simon C. and Ricky Manalo. Intercultural Marriage: A Pastoral Guide to the Sacrament. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2022. 106 pages. $19.95. ISBN: 9780809154067.

REVIEWER: Hansol Goo
Hansol is a PhD candidate in Liturgical Studies at University of Notre Dame.

Amen Corner: The Fijian Meal Tradition

Previously published in Worship 96 (October 2022).

The Fijian Meal Tradition:
An Invitation to Liturgical Inculturation
By Iosefo Lui and Carmel Pilcher

The Fijian Islands are world renowned for their friendliness and generous hospitality to visitors. The locals are extremely gracious to any newcomer, most especially when it comes to sharing food. If one is walking by a family sharing a picnic in a park inevitably someone in the group will call out with the greeting, “Come and eat.” Commensality is characteristic of many societies but is a special characteristic of Fiji and the neighboring Pacific Islands.

A formal meeting or a catch-up with a friend will always include food.
No Fijian ever comes empty-handed to a gathering, and their offerings will be bountiful. The customary “bring a plate” in Western society could more accurately be described as “bring many plates” in Fiji—soqo. When the host provides an overabundance of food the guest is expected to come back for “seconds.” The host will typically urge everyone to “have some more.”

Whether a family gathering or a ceremonial meal commemorating a special event, meal sharing always includes a formal element, spoken or unspoken. Food is shared and so is time. Fijians joke that they live in their own “Pacific time.” Spending hours preparing a meal is only eclipsed by the time that participants will take to enjoy both the food and each other. Thomas O’Loughlin tells us that “societies express and define themselves by their meal practices.”(1) If this is so then Fijian society can be described as exceptionally hospitable, generous, and respectful of all persons, friend or stranger alike.

Fijian commensality extends to their religious faith. Catholics come to celebrate Eucharist, not only on Sundays, but often on weekdays. Baptisms, funerals and anniversaries, weddings, birthdays, all are celebrated in the context of Eucharist and continue with a shared meal. Conscious of Pope Francis’s call to Indigenous peoples to inculturate the liturgy, (2) we ask the question: could aspects of Fijian cultural meals be incorporated into the church’s eucharistic tradition? (3)

Indigenous Fijians have a long and rich cultural tradition surrounding meals. In the villages locals gather to eat twice a day—in the morning before working in the fields, and for the more important meal in the evening, when every person in the household is present, including the head of the family and the elders. (4) Seniority and gender determine the sitting arrangements around the ibe ni kana—eating mat. Elders and heads of households sit at the head or upper end of the circle facing the main entrance of the house, then the sons, in order of seniority. The women and girls sit at the other end so that they can serve the meal, which is placed in the center of the circle. While the women eat last, it is expected that those served first ensure enough food is left for all to eat.

When a family sits around the eating mat for an evening meal on any given day the participation of the whole family and the sense of presence to each other symbolizes unity, respect, and care for each other. Traditional meal sharing ex- tends beyond the family. The women always prepare more food than is needed to accommodate extra guests. It is customary that the head of the household invites anyone who passes by during mealtime to join the meal. Moreover, leftovers symbolise sautu—prosperity. Each family belongs to a clan or village. Whatever an individual or individual household does, for good or for ill, affects the whole village. If the family is divided or there is insufficient food to feed guests, not only is the family found wanting, but the reputation of the village is also at stake.

Ceremonial meals such as a wedding feast, a birthday, or a funeral, follow the pattern of a family meal, but with additional elements. When all the participants are gathered on the mat, magiti—a ritual presentation of food that might also include mats, kerosene, or even the most highly prized gift of all, the tabua, whale’s tooth—are ritually presented. Accompanying the magiti is vosa—a formal speech given by the matanivanua—a special clan of orators who act as spokespersons for the chief of the village. It is their role to acknowledge the occasion in the context of vanua (5)—the deep interconnectedness that indigenous Fijians experience not only with the land, the sea, and each other but, by extension, with all of creation.

In Fijian society the matanivanua, the orator, whose craft is passed from generation to generation through instruction and imitation, gives vosa, voice, to a word that embodies and brings to consciousness the strength and power of the vanua. The vosa always follows the same pattern, a threefold structure. It begins with au vura saka—an acknowledgement of the chief and people— before the central message is communicated, and always concludes with the words:

“Au tekivuna tiko mai vuna, vagauna taka tiko, me yaco yani sovuna, me savurogo I lomani vale.”

“I end the message, beginning from the roots to the stem, to the shoots, may the message find a hearing in the house.”

The participants then proclaim with one voice: “Io”—“yes,” followed by cobo—three hollow claps. Then follows another speech, ulivi ni vosa, that acknowledges reception of the message. To that speech the gathering responds, “Mana eiii dina”—“Amen—let it be.” (6)

In ancient Fijian tradition, customary rituals always culminated in the sharing of a meal, whether the occasion called for gratitude, reconciliation, or healing. With every first harvest of the land or catch from the sea, a meal was prepared and ceremonially given to the chief or to the priest with gratitude to persons, the land, and the gods who continued to provide them with bounty from generation to generation. Today vosa is offered to soldiers and people before they leave their home shores for duties across the seas, depart for boarding school, or visit another island—vanua. It belongs to a father when he addresses a member of the household to redress a wrong done, or for appreciation for a task fulfilled, and to a village when vanua is broken by deliberate acts of harm toward persons or a group or the land itself. Fijians continue to ritualize their belief and hope through commensality, in the past to the creator gods and, with the advent of Christianity, to the God of Jesus, confident that the creator God would continue to nourish the land and sea for the livelihood of the people. (7)

So many elements of Fijian meal sharing are comparable to Jesus’ own meal sharing recorded in the Scriptures. The lavish nature of a Fijian meal recalls
the wedding feast of Cana, where Jesus provided an abundance of wine for
the guests when the wine supply ran low, thus avoiding shame for the hosts. Fijian women who serve with love and care identify with the Christ who washed the disciples’ feet at the final supper before his death. Those friendships forged by Jesus at meals, particularly with the outcast and those needing forgiveness, reflect Fijian hospitality that welcomes the stranger without questioning status or background. The Fijian gathering around an eating mat arranged hierarchically but structurally a circle where those served first are mindful of all concurs with Paul’s challenge to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:17-33) that at the Lord’s Supper all are welcome and are to behave as one body in Christ. Scholars re- mind us that the banquet stories, often put onto the lips of Jesus, anticipate the Parousia. This could also be said of the long Fijian tradition of meal sharing.

Christians gather with each other on Sunday to commemorate the Lord’s Supper. With the same care taken to prepare their own meals, Fijian Catholics take time to prepare for Sunday Eucharist. They decorate the sanctuary space with beautiful flowers and special cloths, usually the color of the liturgical season. They also reflect on the Word of God each week with their own family and local parish sector. Fijians ensure that the music to be sung is the best it can be by regular practice. For a special celebration the choir might gather for weeks to practice the hymns for several hours each evening. The glorious Pacifican singing not only binds the liturgy together but lifts it to a higher plane, so that it brings about a sense of the divine in the present.

But when it comes to the prayers of the Eucharist, it is simply assumed that these belong to the ordained priest who will make his own choices and prepare his homily, generally without any connection to the peoples’ insights from their own Bible study, or even to the intentions of the universal prayer. There seems a clear demarcation in the minds of those who participate in the Lord’s Supper between what the priest prepares and does, and what “belongs” to the assembly. This is such a contrast with the Fijian meal tradition where, although people take on different tasks, there is a sense that everyone works together, and when the celebration takes place, it is one meal where each relates to the other, bonded in friendship through the common food that is shared.

The gap between Fijian and church traditional meal sharing became clearer
in 2021, at the height of the COVID pandemic. Fiji was in lockdown for seven continuous months to overcome the quick spread of the delta virus.
This had a serious effect on the society’s meal-sharing tradition. Not only was any form of gathering forbidden by the government, but domestic meals were limited to the food that was available. Rather than food in abundance, Fijian families who were struck by sickness and unemployment found they did not even have sufficient food each day. Many started growing crops, while others had to rely on the generosity of others. Food packages were delivered to the poor in villages. Sadly, despite restrictions in movement many caught the virus, and too many people died. Because people were unable to physically gather, all meal sharing ceased and no traditional rites could be performed.

Faith leaders responded to the closure of places of worship by providing alternatives. Catholics were able to access televised and livestreamed Masses led by priests from their homes. The livestreaming and recordings of the Eucharist served a pastoral need, as is evident by the many Catholics who tuned in daily for the celebration of the Eucharist. The eucharistic celebration followed the usual format, but with only the ordained and whoever else might be physically resident in his home celebrating. Meanwhile families gathered in their homes, around their technological device that was often surrounded by religious images. They sang the hymns and prayed the responses, albeit remotely. At the time of the usual Communion procession to the table, a prayer desiring spiritual communion was recited while the presider ate and drank alone.

Issues about virtual Mass have been addressed by many liturgical scholars. Here we wish only to comment on the eucharistic meal tradition as under- stood by Fijian Catholics. With the restrictions brought about by the government’s response to the pandemic, Fijians were quick to realize that without physical presence it was not possible to share a ceremonial meal. By contrast, those same people did not question virtually celebrating the Eucharist—also a meal—only expressing disappointment that they could not partake in Communion.

The church teaches that each Sunday an assembly of priestly people gathers
to be fed and nourished, both at the table of the Word and the table of the Eucharist. Fijian worshipers did not seem to understand this clearly. Could including aspects of the rich heritage of Fijian meal sharing in eucharistic celebrations strengthen the Fijian consciousness to realize that the memorial meal is central to the celebration of the Eucharist?

Earlier we established that there are enough common elements between the two meal traditions to enter into a meaningful dialogue between the ancient cultural wisdom of Fijian commensality and the memorial meal of the Eucharist. So what might this look like?

Sitting on the floor is the Fijian gesture for respect. In village churches where most sit on mats during the celebration, the ritual meal of Eucharist would be visually strengthened if the presider and lector also sat on those same mats at low tables. Cloths that embellish the space, and vestments, could be tapa— traditionally made cloths with local earth-colored patterns—rather than the typical seasonally imported colored cloths of the Roman tradition.

The presentation of magiti is comparable to the bringing of gifts to the eucharistic table. While usually bread and wine and soli—monetary gifts—are presented, in addition, first fruits and other contributions including those ritually offered at a traditional ceremonial meal could be presented. They could be presented using the traditional gesture of outstretched hands and received in the usual Fijian manner—with the recipient clapping—cobo. It would help make the connection between the gifts brought to the table and the meal to be shared. Just as no Fijian considers eating alone, or from food prepared from another meal, so all share in communion with the body and blood of Christ’s sacrifice in communion at the table.

The presider, deacon, and lectors pray in God’s name and speak God’s Word. They are the matanivanua, the orators, at a celebration of the Eucharist in Fiji. (8) They too speak the vosa, giving voice to a word that embodies and brings to consciousness the strength and power of the vanua that connects all of creation in Christ, continuing the memory of the ancestors. Mindful of Pope Francis’s instruction that the homily is a dialogue (9) it would be possible to craft the homily with the threefold structure of the vosa of the matanivanua, the ulivi ni vosa, and the congregational responses, which would both make a direct connection with a Fijian ceremonial meal and also enhance conscious and active participation for the assembly. (10)

The traditional meal sharing reflects how indigenous Fijians (11) view their society, and what it should be. A critical reflection of traditional societal meal sharing, including the way ancient ceremony has been moderated and adjusted over time to suit current situations seems opportune. This study would make it possible to identify Fijian values that are also Christian and that continue to be affirmed both ritually and symbolically at meals. The eucharistic meal celebrates the paschal mystery, a memorial meal of Christ’s selfless love. A catechesis of the eucharistic celebration based on the gospel meal tradition could assist Catholics to realize what it is that they do when they gather around the table of Eucharist as Christ’s priestly people on the Lord’s Day.

Inculturating the liturgy is a challenge to us all, but when embraced fully it can bring about genuine participation that flows into right living. A re-evaluation of traditional meal sharing can serve to restore cultural values, just as a deliberate attempt to bring into the Christian liturgy elements of Fijian meal sharing might provide a conscious eucharistic celebration that ensures the community that what is celebrated as a memorial of Christ’s meal tradition flows into everyday life.


1) Thomas O’Loughlin, The Eucharist: Origins and Contemporary Understandings (London: T & T Clark, 2015), 86.

2) Pope Francis reminded the Amazonian church that “[t]he Second Vatican Council called for this effort to inculturate the liturgy amongst indigenous peoples.” Francis, Querida Amazonia 82, _exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20200202_querida -amazonia.html.

3) We are grateful for the valuable insights of Dr. Peter Loy Chong, the current archbishop of Suva, who both affirmed our conclusions and has already begun the process of implementing them.

4) Details concerning traditional Fijian meals are sourced from Asesela Ravuvu, The Fijian Way of Life: The Many Functions of Food (Fiji: Institute of Pacific Studies, USP, 1993).

5) For a Fijian understanding of vanua see Dr. Donato Kivi’s explanation in the previous essay in Worship: “The Pandemic Push for Inculturation,” Worship 96 (July 2022): 197.

6) We acknowledge Dr. Peter Loy Chong for this explanation and translation.

7) Ilaitia Tuwere, Vanua: Towards a Fijian Theology of Place (Fiji: Institute of Pacific Studies, USP, 2002), 173.

8) At a recent ordination in Suva, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong used the matanivanua as an analogy for the role of the deacon and a homilist.

9) Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 137, /apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii -gaudium.html.

10) Archbishop Peter Loy Chong is in the process of instructing his catechists to preach in the pattern of the matanivanua at a traditional meal when they lead services of Word and Communion in remote villages. Communicated by email: May 5, 2022.

11) While our discussion only focused on indigenous Fijians, Indo and Chinese Fijians (and others who call Fiji home) could bring their own traditional cultural values to enhance the liturgy.

Brief Book Review: The Euchalogion Unveiled

The Euchologion Unveiled:
An Explanation of Byzantine Liturgical Practice II
By Archbishop Job Getcha

Who’s it for? Those involved in liturgical and pastoral ministry, primarily in the Orthodox Church, as well as liturgical historians and theologians interested in the development of the sacramental life of the Christian East.

What is this? This volume is the fourth book in the Orthodox Liturgy Series published by St. Vladimir’s Press and the second by Archbishop Job Getcha. This contribution explains the history and present rite of the sacraments of the Orthodox Church.

Why is this book useful? By examining selected manuscripts over the centuries, the author shows how these rites have evolved to their present form. The book is most helpful when it draws theological meaning from the text and their contextual rubrics.

Kudos. The volume not only presents the standard “seven” sacraments, but expands our understanding of the “mysteries” of the Church by using older lists (of what was  considered a “sacrament”) and includes the rites for taking Monastic vows, a Funeral (and its variations), sanctification of Myron [Chrism], Dedication of a Church and the Blessing of water (Great Blessing on Theophany as well as the small blessing.) The explanations are highly detailed and the author also outlines the differences in Slavic verses Greek practice of these rites. Of particular note are the parallels between the rites of Initiation of a Christian and the Dedication of a Church. In addition, liturgiologists might be especially interested in seeing the juxtaposition of the ancient Cathedral rite (i.e. the Asmaticos office) with the influence of the Palestinian monastic office in the funeral service prescribed for clergy.

Quibbles. As the title of the book suggests, the book references the service order and prayers found in the Euchologion [Prayer Book] of the Orthodox Church. The author assumes a familiarity with these prayers and only includes the opening phrase when referencing them.  For the reader unfamiliar with said prayers, cross-referencing with the Prayer Book is necessary. As customary in the Orthodox world (but not in other Christian traditions), the author references all psalms with LXX numbering. As noted above, the book is most helpful to pastors and students of liturgy when he draws a theological meaning from the text. However, the author also includes commentary from medieval mystagogical explanations of the rites that I found less helpful. Still, the work is well researched and a complement to his earlier contribution to the series.

Getcha, Archbishop Job. The Euchologion Unveiled: An Explanation of Byzantine Liturgical Practice II.  Yonkers, New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2021. 259 pages. $32.00. ISBN: 9780881416350.

REVIEWER: Teva Regule
President of the Orthodox Theological Society in America
Adjunct Professor of Theology, Boston College