Tilling the Church is a theology for the pilgrim church. In this book, Richard Lennan shows how the ecclesial community looks toward the fullness of God’s reign but lives within the flux of history, the site of its relationship to the trinitarian God. In this way, God’s grace “tills” the church, constantly refreshing the tradition of faith and prompting the discipleship that embodies the gospel. Tilling the Church explores the possibilities for a more faithful, just, and creative church, one responsive to the movement of grace. Fruitful engagement with grace requires the church’s conversion, the ongoing formation of a community whose words and actions reflect the hope that grace engenders.
Richard Lennan is a priest of the diocese of Maitland-Newcastle (Australia) and holds a doctorate from the University of Innsbruck (Austria). He is currently professor of systematic theology in the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College.
"The fruit of Richard Lennan's thirty years of teaching, reflections, and ministry, Tilling the Church applies to the Catholic Church the much-needed rationale, imperative, and dynamics of tilling the earth. Responding to Pope Francis's call for 'ecological conversion,' Lennan explores the elements in the church that promote conversion: learning from both past accomplishments and failures, nourishing present signs of life, and being open to the possibilities in the unknowable future. Like a patient and experienced farmer, Lennan teaches us where, when, and how to plant the seeds of grace in the church-field, a task destined to remain an 'unfinished project' until the eschaton."
Peter C. Phan, The Ignacio Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Thought, Georgetown University
"Viewing the church’s mystery through the lens of the mystery of divine grace and human freedom, Richard Lennan’s Tilling the Church opens up fresh perspectives on what ecclesial faithfulness to God requires. Continuity with the living Gospel demands creativity in passing on the faith in response to ever-new questions and challenges; the church must be always changing in order to maintain its identity. This stimulating book is a welcome reminder of the need for constant care in safeguarding the church’s full flourishing."
Ormond Rush, Australian Catholic University