Review: Deconstructing Sacramental Theology and Reconstructing Catholic Ritual

Deconstructing Sacramental Theology and Reconstructing Catholic RitualDeconstructing Sacramental Theology and Reconstructing Catholic Ritual by Joseph Martos
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A challenging and at times unconvincing argument is put forward by Martos. His deconstruction of sacramental theology, at least from the perspective of scholastic sacramental theology, is compelling and worthwhile, yet his attempt to ‘reconstruct’ something from Catholic sacramental and ritual practice doesn’t, in my estimation, completely succeed. At least not without appearing to be dismissive of church authority and appear as the agenda for a more progressive agenda for the life of the Church. It is, perhaps, this alone that makes Martos’ efforts unconvincing for this reader.

The argument can perhaps be a little dense and hard to access at times, but thankfully Martos provides a concise summary of his argument at the end of the book. I would suggest that readers might like to peruse that summary prior to returning to the main contents of the book. If nothing else, this approach allows for the depth of Martos’ argument to be unfolded a little more coherently – if unconvincingly – during the major part of the book.

This book also provides a very good summary, as part of the deconstructing of Catholic sacramental theology, of the very theology it seeks to deconstruct. From that perspective alone the first parts of the book could be of benefit for anyone wanting an introduction to the prevailing understanding of sacramental theology in the contemporary Church.

Not a book for the fainthearted, but worth persevering with nevertheless.

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Article by Andrew Doohan

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