Existing books on Christian ritual and the sacraments tend to presuppose a good acquaintance with Roman Catholic thought and practice. Today, however, even at Catholic institutions students tend to lack even a basic knowledge of Christian ritual. Moreover, for many modern people the word "ritual" carries negative connotations of rigidity and boredom. In this accessibly-written book two noted authors offer an engaging introduction to this important topic. Their goal is first to demonstrate that celebration, ritual and symbol are already central to the readers' lives, even though most do not see their actions as symbolic or ritualistic. Once this point has been made, the book connects central Christian symbols to the symbols and rituals already present in the readers' lives. The Christian theology of symbol, ritual, and sacrament is thus placed in the context of everyday life. The authors go on to discuss such questions as how rituals establish and maintain power relationships, how "official" rituals are different from other "popular" Christian rituals and devotions, and how Christian rituals function in the process of human "salvation."
Their lively yet solidly grounded work will appeal to intelligent lay readers and discussion groups, as well as being useful for courses in ritual and the sacraments at the undergraduate and seminary level.