One of the hallmarks of modern society has been a heightened awareness of human bodiliness in all aspects of life– sexual, economic, legal, religious, and so on. Academia has also experienced a heightened awareness of the body. Along with the academy and wider society, Christian theology and pastoral practice have sought to take human bodiliness more prominently into account. However, the ambiguous "career" the body has had in Christian history and tradition, as well as the serious criticisms leveled by secular society at the Church's teachings and practices concerning the body, has made this a challenging task.
Bodies of Worship takes on that challenge. First, it systematically explores the various bodies engaged in the Church's worship–ecclesial, ritual, personal, and cultural. It examines each in light of how such humanly sanctifying work continues Christ's mission in the power of the Holy Spirit. The five chapters of Part One are purposefully arranged so they unfold the multivalancy of bodies at worship, thus displaying a certain theological coherence. Then the four chapters in Part Two describe and analyze specific liturgical, physical, and spiritual practices. These chapters offer further insights into the irreducibly bodily nature of the celebration of the Christian life as worship of God.
The entire work is introduced by means of a narrative that describes an actual liturgy which took place just a few years ago. A brief conclusion reflects back across the landscape of the chapters to the narrative and symbolic basis for liturgical theology insofar as it is, at origin and end, practical and pastoral.
Chapters and authors in Part One are the introduction "Initial Considerations: Theory and Practice of the Body in Liturgy Today," by Bruce T. Morrill, SJ; "The Many Bodies of Worship: Locating the Spirit's Work," by Bruce T. Morrill, SJ; "Body and Mystical Body: The Church as Communion," by Bernard J. Cooke; "The Liturgical Body: Symbol and Ritual," by Margaret Mary Kelleher, OSU; "Spirituality and the Body," by Colleen M. Griffith; and "The Cultural Bodies of Worship," by James L. Empereur, SJ.
Chapters and authors in Part Two are "Christian Marriage: Sacramentality and Ritual Forms," by Paul Covino; "Walking the Labyrinth: Recovering a Sacred Tradition," by Bruce T. Morrill, SJ, with Leo Keegan; "The Physicality of Worship," by James L. Empereur, SJ; "Liturgical Music: Bodies Proclaiming and Responding to the Word of God," by Bruce T. Morrill, SJ, with Andrea Goodrich; and the onclusion "Nonsystematic Reflections on the Practical Character of Liturgy and Theology," by Bruce T. Morrill, SJ.
Bruce T. Morrill, SJ, holds the Edward A. Malloy Chair of Catholic Studies in the divinity school at Vanderbilt University where he is also Professor of Theological Studies. In addition to numerous journal articles, book chapters, and reviews, he has published several books, most recently Encountering Christ in the Eucharist: The Paschal Mystery in People, Word, and Sacrament (Paulist Press, 2012). His most recent book with liturgical Press is Divine Worship and Human Healing: Liturgical Theology at the Margins of Life and Death Pueblo/Liturgical Press, 2009).