What are the sacraments, really?
For centuries, the religious lives of Catholics and other Christians have revolved around church rituals with generally accepted individual and social effects. What, precisely, are those effects, and how are they produced? Traditional theology used Greek philosophy to understand the sacraments and how they work. But is there no other way to understand them? In fact, there are a number of ways, and this book invites you to look at the sacraments through a variety of lenses: psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, theology, morality, and spirituality.
As the introduction to this volume challenges, "If you read this book, and especially if you engage in the interactive study to which it invites you, your understanding of sacraments will be changed forever."
Joseph Martos is author of Doors to the Sacred: A Historical Introduction to Sacraments in the Catholic Church, which for more than a quarter of a century has been the most widely read book on the subject. Recently retired from full-time teaching, he has been a visiting professor in universities and theology schools in Canada and Australia as well as around the United States.
I recommend this volume for all professors and students of sacraments and liturgy and anyone else who wants a fine introduction to a varied approach to sacraments.
Joseph Martos demonstrated many years ago that he was a very competent sacramental theologian. He demonstrates it here again, only this time in a creative, interactive way that yields a new and fruitful approach to Catholic sacraments. Readers will learn much from simply reading the book. They will learn even more by taking advantage of the interactive website Dr. Martos has set up to enable conversation with him on questions that arise from readers' reflection on what they read. I urge every reader to interactively use this website; they will not be disappointed.
Michael G. Lawler, Professor Emeritus of Catholic Theology, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska
As a textbook for an undergraduate course in the sacraments or an introduction to religious studies, this book provides clearly written and well organized themes for discussion or debate. It is a pedagogical gem, in that its interactive style allows for the experience and questions of students/readers to count.
Building on his previous work in sacramental theology and history, Joseph Martos now gives us the best text for teaching sacramental theology from a pastoral point of view. Martos does not follow the usual method of dealing with the seven sacraments of beginning with the New Testament and proceeding through the patristic and medieval times, through the Counter Reformation up to modern time, an approach not very attractive to present students. Rather, he reorganizes this material according the social sciences: psychology, sociology, ritual studies, and history before dealing with the theology, morality, and spirituality of the sacraments. This should prove to be immensely more attractive to students today.
Jake Empereur, SJ, St. Matthew Catholic Church, San Antonio, Texas
The book is a welcome addition to the literature (and web sites) available to college instructors in sacramental theology.
In this book Martos has done much more than simply revise and extend his previous works on sacraments. He has distilled the wisdom of the last century's work at reform and renewal in clear, nontechnical language and he has laid a solid foundation for future development. The book provides a concise, insightful, and challenging overview of contemporary sacramental theology. Online interactive resources offer opportunity for experiential learning and personal transformation. This is the first book that I will recommend to anyone seeking deeper understanding and more effective practice of the Catholic sacraments.
James Dallen, Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies, Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington
The book provides a concise, insightful, and challenging overview of contemporary sacramental theology. Online interactive resources offer opportunity for experiential learning and personal transformation. This is the first book that I will recommend to anyone seeking deeper understanding and more effective practice of Catholic sacraments.
The Midwest Book Review
This new edition of Joseph Martos' The Sacraments delightfully draws one in. The interactive text complete with online questions and discussion is not only a scholarly guide to the sacraments but a bold and challenging engagement with the experience of Christian ritual. A book to be savored by anyone interested in the role of ritual in human life, it is the best introduction to Catholic sacraments now available.
Gary Macy, John Nobili, S.J. Professor of Theology, Santa Clara University, California