Would many believers consider a wake or funeral an act of worship? What does it mean to say that in anointing the sick or administering Viaticum to the dying humans are healed? Such questions plumb the biblical and traditional depths of the paschal mystery. Just as Jesus' ministry at the social-religious margins revealed the center of his faith in God's reign, so also the church's ministry to sickness and death reveals much about the baptismal and eucharistic worship so central to its entire life.
In Divine Worship and Human Healing Bruce Morrill turns to the rites serving the sick, dying, deceased, and grieving to show why sacramental liturgy is so fundamental to the life of faith. Readers will appreciate both his compelling narratives from actual pastoral experience and his engagement with biblical, theological, historical, and social-scientific resources. Morrill invites readers to discover how the liturgical ministry of healing discloses God's merciful love amid communities of faith.
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).
With all the gifts of a well-trained theologian, the skills of an experienced liturgist, and the heart of a pastor, Bruce Morrill has crafted a unique and compelling resource for ministers, medical professionals, and all concerned with the pastoral and ritual care of the sick and dying. Eschewing mechanistic and biomedical approaches to sickness, Morrill offers a holistic vision of healing rooted in an evocative vision of Jesus the healer in dialogue with the fully contextualized faith community. . . . This mind-expanding work is a must read for all those committed to the care and nourishment of the sick and dying.
Edward Foley, Capuchin, Director, Ecumenical Doctor of Ministry Program, Professor of Liturgy and Music, Catholic Theological Union
This book deserves a careful read, study, and discussion by clergy, hospital and care facility chaplains, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion who serve the sick and homebound, bereavement committee members, family members who are dealing with a chronically ill loved one. It is filled with hope and promise, tender stories and good suggestions for pastoral practice. It brings one in touch with Jesus the Healer and our God of compassion. We owe Fr. Morrill a debt of thanks for giving us such a fine pastoral aid.
Timely and thought-provoking not only for those in the world of academic theology proper, but for all those who take pastoral care of the sick to mean a serious, faith-filled, informed and compassionate extension of the healing mystery of the cross and resurrection.
American Theological Inquiry
Bruce Morrill's wide-ranging study . . . invites us to see healing as a helpful postmodern lens by which we can revisit liturgical renewal, eschatology, and, above all, salvation. The book is about the rites for the sick and the dying and the dead, but it is much more than that. In new and fresh ways, Morrill draws us into [realizing] that . . . the more the fullness of well-done symbolic ritual is experienced, the more people will be able to enter into and be transformed by their participation in the eucharist . . . and indeed, all the ecclesial actions which create and express our faith in the Triune God.
Dr. Lizette Larson-Miller, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California
Morrill deftly relates the Church's liturgical tradition and its revised liturgies for sickness, dying, and death to the paschal mystery of Christ and the biblical tradition of Jesus as Healer, as well as to contemporary perceptions of illness and death. With a solid theological foundation, the book is useful for pastoral ministers, lay and ordained, who wish to see how these liturgies relate to human life, personal and social, in [today's] world.
David N. Power, OMI, Professor Emeritus, The Catholic University of America
Few theologians writing today can match the rare combination of Bruce Morrill's encyclopedic understanding of contemporary biblical and theological currents and his graceful writing style. Morrill's new book offers a compelling case for the importance of Christian worship for the healing of broken persons, a wounded church, and a world wracked by violence and despair. To read and ponder this volume is to wonder how Christianity ever got to the bizarre situation, so evident today, in which the ministry of healing is seen as an occasional element of the church's mission rather than the very heart of the good news it preaches.
Richard R. Gaillardetz, Murray/Bacik Professor of Catholic Studies, University of Toledo
Not only invigorating but also inspirational.
Everyone committed to the care of the sick, the dying, and the grieving, or who want to grow in their understanding of healing as it is grounded in Scripture and tradition, and manifested in the rites of the Church, should read this book.