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Thomas O’Loughlin: Making the most of the lectionary.

Thomas O’Loughlin

Making the Most of the Lectionary:

A User’s guide

ISBN: 9780 2810 6587 5

SPCK, 2012, 176pp, £12.99

Brothers and sisters who know Professor O’Loughlin from Formation Studies at Arkley Convent are familiar with how his engaging style gets us all hooked, even as he challenges cherished assumptions and stirs up reactions in his provocative questioning about much his audience thought they could take for granted. In this book too he is not afraid to ask some basic questions: Why do we read the scriptures at all, in Church? What is a Gospel? Why bother with the Old Testament? Is a lectionary a good idea?

His message however is predominantly a positive one. Father Tom prioritises hearing the performance of the scriptures (as originally intended) over following them in a Bible or pew sheet, and this is a book about the predominantly common cycle of principal readings heard each Sunday by Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Christians of most mainline Western churches. That reality represents a remarkable ecumenical achievement and ‘the great undiscovered masterpiece of modern Christian liturgy’, a lectionary that achieves a liturgical celebration alongside didactic instruction in a way that has not existed in Western Christianity since the fifth or sixth century.

No lectionary is perfect, and different priorities and solutions to technical problems lie behind the fact that what we now use is a family of three closely related lectionaries (our own Common Worship Lectionary being one of them) but this book will help readers, preachers and listeners alike to get beyond a sense of the lectionary as just a ‘convenient album of biblical texts’ to a deeper appreciation of the subtleties of why we hear what we hear when we hear it as ‘the people of the covenant established by Jesus… gather as a church to express this relationship in the meal of blessing and thanking the Father… and recall the events that established it.’

Desmond Alban SSF