The Rite of Christian Initiation: Adult Rituals and Roman Catholic Ecclesiology, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Rite of Christian Initiation

Adult Rituals and Roman Catholic Ecclesiology, 1st Edition

By Peter McGrail


230 pages

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pub: 2013-08-28
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In the wake of recent papal legislation, the various liturgies of the Roman Rite may today be celebrated in either their post-Tridentine or post-Vatican II forms. Whilst much discussion of this new situation focuses on purely liturgical issues, this book breaks new ground by arguing that the coexistence of the two forms raises questions of a profoundly ecclesiological character. Peter McGrail explores the relationship between ritual form, ecclesial self- understanding and constructs of the world that are at play as adults become members of the Church. Analysing the rites by which adults were taken into the Church for three and a half centuries, this book goes on to explore attempts to find a new ritual expression for the journey to Christian Initiation, set against the divergent and even conflicting ecclesiologies which were at play before and during the Council.


’The influence of the RCIA upon the wider church has encouraged new and imaginative approaches to Christian initiation. However ecumenical appreciation of the rite seldom extends to its ecclesiological foundations within Roman Catholicism. Peter McGrail provides a fascinating insight into how the RCIA reflects ecclesiological shifts within the Roman Catholic Church. The result is a very welcome, stimulating and enlightening read that will provoke serious thought about how Christian initiation enacts communal Christian identity.’ James Steven, Sarum College, UK 'This is a proactive book in the best sense of that word. Placing side by side the primary theology of initiatory ritual practice and the systematic presentation of evolving ecclesiology, the reader is at once reminded that the choice of the ritual form of inititation goes beyond taste and preferences while being informed of the ecclesiological ramifications of such choices. Peter McGrail's detailed study is to be very much welcomed into the initiation and ecclesiology repertiore!' Anaphora

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: The perfect society and the mystical body: Catholic ecclesiology from Trent to Pope Pius XII; The extraordinary form 1: the 1614 Ordo Baptismi Adultorum; Sacrament of Christ and people of God: ecclesiology at the eve of Vatican II; The extraordinary form 2: the Christian initiation of adults from 1948 to Vatican II; The ecclesiologies of Vatican II: the Church ad intra; The ordinary form: the rite of Christian initiation of adults; Christian initiation and the Church ad extra; Hermeneutics of continuity and discontinuity; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Peter McGrail has considerable personal experience of celebrating adult initiation as a Roman Catholic priest and educator. As a member of the Liturgy Committee of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales - and especially as Chair of its Liturgical Formation Sub-Committee - he has an extensive and in-depth understanding of current liturgical developments in the Roman Catholic Church internationally.

About the Series

Liturgy, Worship and Society Series

The Liturgy, Worship and Society series provides a library of innovative scholarship in liturgical studies at a time of vital changes in liturgical life and vigorous debates in academia. The series highlights contemporary work in liturgical studies, attuned both to traditional scholarly inquiry and to recent and emerging questions. In particular, the series is committed to exploring the relationship between liturgical life in Christian churches worldwide and the broader cultural and social contexts in which worship takes place. By offering a thorough grounding in the historical and theological foundations of liturgy as well as determined attention to contemporary developments and concerns, the Liturgy, Worship and Society series is set to make a vital contribution not only to scholarship in liturgical studies but also to the practice of Christian worship in the world today.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / Theology