What are Vespers? Where have the consecration bells gone? Why do some liturgical ministers vest and others don't? Blinking sneakers on altar servers, Christmas trees in January . . . what is that all about? These are some of the candid questions that Catholics and others often wonder about the liturgy. In What's the Smoke For? expert liturgist Johan van Parys offers helpful and engaging answers. Based on church teaching and rooted in sound theology, Johan's responses invite inquiring minds to continue to think about what is happening in the church and to be engaged in learning more about liturgy and the arts.
Johan van Parys is the author of Symbols That Surround Us, is a native of Belgium, and has been Director of Liturgy and the Sacred Arts at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis since 1995. Since 1997 he has been managing editor for the award-winning Basilica Magazine. He is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgists and Societas Liturgica.
Who says that liturgical catechesis has to be dull and grueling? Based on a series of magazine columns by Johan van Parys, the Basilica of St. Mary's (Minneapolis, MN) director of worship, What's the Smoke For? is a down-to-earth blend of etiquette and erudition on matters liturgical. Consisting of ninety-one questions and answers in areas such as liturgical art and architecture, prayer and devotions, furniture and objects, posture and gestures, vesture and the keeping of seasons, I would highlight the author's treatment of liturgical praxis and theology as especially helpful. Highly recommended for clergy, seminarians, and liturgical ministers (as well as parish secretaries who may be looking for material to fill out the weekend bulletin).
Fr. Jan Michael Joncas, Artist in Residence and Research Fellow in Catholic Studies, University of St. Thomas
This fresh work explains the liturgy in all its aspects. The author answers many questions that many are thinking, but afraid to ask. I would recommend this to anyone who would like to understand what the liturgy is, how it functions, and why churches in the prayer book tradition hold so firmly to it.
Johan's an excellent teacher. He balances an engaging wit with rich expression. He connects reason and understanding with historical hinges. He gives me more than I asked but everything I needed to really comprehend. Delightful and engaging. I kept saying, again and again, "Let me read just one more question and then I'll put it down." He's like an uncle, a professor, and an actor. He's warm and engaging, knows his stuff and presents it in an entertaining and engaging manner.
Leland Nagel, Executive Director, National Conference for Catechetical Leadership
A helpful guide in teaching about the liturgy. The author's pleasant tone and enlightening examples can assist the average person in the pew. His answers are rooted in sound theology, church teaching, and liturgical law. They foster a deeper appreciation of our liturgical habits of past and present.
What's the Smoke For? is equal parts theology, history, and explanation with practical applications for Catholics today. Johan van Parys anchors our current spiritual practices, symbols, sacramentals, and even our art and architecture both in our traditions and in our Tradition. His clearly written, concise responses to real questions make this a delightful book, enjoyable either one topic at a time or as an extended trip through the Catholic world. You will certainly appreciate these fun facts about Catholicism!
Robert J. McCarty, DMin, National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry
Johan van Parys uses an engaging and simple question-and-answer format to teach basic liturgical theology and provide historical background for the art and architecture, rituals and symbols, prayers and practices of the Catholic Church. This book demonstrates that Catholic liturgy was never unchanging, but has always been shaped by particular historical eras with their varied spiritualties and cultures. The author's personal memories will help readers to experience vicariously some of the liturgical rituals with which they may not be familiar.
Delores Dufner, a member of St. Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, MN, is a widely published author of liturgical hymn texts