Saturday, May 23, 2009

Liturgy for Dummies - the Missing Resources

Where are the good, current textbooks on liturgy? Struggling over the past few months in a collaboration on the revision of the University of Dayton VLCFF "Introduction to Liturgy" course to find a good up-to-date book on liturgy designed for the average Catholic to use as a textbook. I am talking about the catechist or DRE, or faithful member of the assembly, who has no connection to liturgical ministry.

Much of what is out there is very much out of date. There are good theological books (mostly on the Eucharist) that are more current, a few very nice books on understanding Mass (soon to be out of date when the changes take place), and some great resources for individual liturgical ministries, but the basic general stuff about what liturgy is and about non-Eucharistic celebrations is just not available. There are some great articles, online resources and Catholic Updates, but not books.

One of the best older books, Liturgy with Style and Grace by Gabe Huck and Gerald Chinchar, is out of date, but no longer going to be revised. Mark Searles' Liturgy Made Simple is from 1981. There are others, but they, too are 10 years or so out of date. Perhaps, since we have known for a long time that the Roman Missal text will be changing, authors have been waiting. I do anticipate there will be some good books on the Mass.

However, that still leaves room for resources on general principals - on that "style and grace" - on the meaning and quality of ritual, on liturgical celebration in general. Is it the writers or the publishers who are hanging fire on this one? I wonder. Who, out there, is writing book-length, usable generalist resources on liturgy?

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