Review: Becoming the Sign: Sacramental Living in a Post-Conciliar Church

Becoming the Sign: Sacramental Living in a Post-Conciliar ChurchBecoming the Sign: Sacramental Living in a Post-Conciliar Church by Kathleen Hughes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book represents the printed version of the 2012 Madeleva Lecture in Spirituality, organised by St Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, delivered by the author.

The lecture/book is an engaging visitation of the power of the reformed liturgy that came into existence in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, looking at the context of the Council, the growth of the liturgical movement in the decades beforehand, and the liturgical and sacramental principles that have arisen from the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. Hughes’ clear mastery of her subject matter reveals a great understanding of the pastoral and practical consequences of the Constitution and the liturgical reforms that spring from it.

But this is not just a historical examination. There is a practicality to Hughes’ words that seek to inspire the hearer/reader to a deeper understanding of the sacramental life inherent to the post-conciliar liturgical reforms, a life that is more than the celebration of sacramental moments, of a thing, but a recognition that the sacramental life is something that is embraced and renewed over and over again.

Highly recommended for all students of the liturgy, and for all those who wish to deepen their Christian life by reflecting on the nature of sacrament and the sacramental life.

From the back cover:

In Becoming the Sign, Kathleen Hughes explores the liturgical and sacramental reform that issued from the Second Vatican Council and considers the reception of the liturgical reform in the United States. She concludes that because of the volume of changes and the speed with which the revised rites were implemented, genuine catechesis based on a new theology of sacrament did not happen, and thus an older sacramental theology prevails. We need a fresh attempt to open up the mystery of our sacramental life and its intimate relationship with the way we live our lives. To that end, Hughes explores appropriate methods to welcome believers into a new and deeper way of sacramental living, both relating the liturgy to daily life and discovering sacramental experience in ordinary time.

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