Questions for Chapter 1

10 a
Recall a time when you experienced the presence of a person who was physically absent or the presence of a saint or the presence of God.

10 b
If you had to come up with some descriptive adjectives or phrases for the experience you just recalled, which ones would you use?

11 a
Describe an experience in which space and/or time felt sacred, precious, or important (for example, an experience in nature, being in a historic building, or when something special happened in your life).

11 b
Name some things (objects, sounds, smells, writings, rituals, art, music) that can elicit spiritual experiences or experiences of the sacred for you.

12 a
What is something that has mana for you?

Name someone who has charisma in your eyes.

12 b
If you think of a mystery as a spiritual reality that is experienced but only partially understood, what sorts of things would you consider mysteries?

When are some times that you felt you were in the presence of mystery?

13 a
During his lifetime, how might Jesus have been someone through whom people experienced the presence and power of God?

How do images and stories of Jesus mediate the mystery of God to you?

13 b
How have you experienced difficulty finding God in your life or seeing God at work in the world?

Which images or representations of Jesus don’t work for you?

14 a
In what ways have science and secularization made it hard for you to experience mystery?

What are some other characteristics of contemporary life that interfere with the experience of mystery?

Name some religious symbols or activities that do not speak to you as much as they did in the past or as much as they did to a previous generation.

14 b
What are some ways that we perceive social realities rather easily through symbols (for example, uniforms and other kinds of special clothing)?

Think of a stable and hierarchically organized society (such as a family, a tribe, a club, a team, a workplace, or a military organization) in which rules of behavior and social position are fairly clear. Give an example of the effectiveness of symbols or rituals in such as society.

15
Describe something that happened to you that you would be willing to call a peak experience or a plateau experience in a nonreligious context.

17 a
Name some conventional signs and some natural signs. Give some examples of signs that are simply informative and signs that are also symbolic.

17 b
Give some of your own examples of symbols that can have an emotional impact on people.

17 c
Think of a symbol that can mean different things to different people.

18 a
Think of a symbol that has more than one meaning for you.

18 b
Using examples, discuss how ads and commercials use symbolic elements to manipulate people into buying products.

19 a
Use your own examples to discuss the surface and deeper meanings (or overt and covert meanings) of religious symbols such as objects, images, and even stories.

19 b
Come up with some examples of symbols that no longer speak to people even though they were effective in the past.

20
Name some archetypal symbols that have spoken to you in nature or that have appeared in your dreams.

21 a
If myth is a symbolic narrative that expresses sacred meaning in story form, discuss the deeper meaning of a biblical story of your choice.

21 b
To see for yourself how stories are always expressions of something that is understood, think of an idea that you would like to express in story form. Then think of a story that might convey that idea to those who listen to it.

22
Think of a Christmas or Easter pageant that you have participated in, or a movie that you have seen about the life of Christ. What effect did that dramatic enactment of religious truth have on you?

23 a
If you are familiar with symbols from other religions, name some that do not speak to you and, if possible, some that do.

23 b
Think of two stories that have the same essential meaning, or suggest two stories that would convey essentially the same message.

24 a
Remember a time when you felt really close to someone (a parent, a friend, a loved one) and enjoyed being in their presence, maybe even to the point that you felt you were communicating even without speaking. How is this similar to your experience of God’s presence?

24 b
Recall a time when you as a child were taught how to behave (or how not to behave), or when you as an adult corrected a child’s behavior. How does proper behavior relate to worship?

24 c
Recall a childhood experience of play-acting or pretending to be someone in a make-believe story.
How are religious services structured like a drama, with a beginning, middle, and end?

25 a
Recall a time during childhood or adolescence when you learned the rules of a game or practiced an activity in order to do it well. How does knowing what to do at a church service affect your experience of worship?

25 b
Recall a time when you rejected an adult ritual as empty or meaningless. If possible, think of a time when a previously meaningless ritual became meaningful to you. What is your reaction when you attend a ritual that feels meaningless?

26 a
Think of some family rituals (e.g., summer vacation, Thanksgiving dinner) that help to pass traditions and values from one generation to the next. How does this apply to participation in worship?

26 b
Personal development can be helped or hindered by institutional religion. Think of a time when religion helped or hurt your personal growth.

27 a
Think of a symbol or ritual that made an impression on you when you were younger. What kind of impression did it make?

27 b
Give an example of what may have been a liminal period in your life.

Name some liminal groups besides those mentioned in the text.

28 a
Describe a feeling or state of liminality that you experienced in worship.

28 b
Describe an experience of communitas that you have felt in a secular or religious setting.

29 a
Name some groups or events in which people probably have the experience of communitas.

29 b
Think of a time (possibly a religious ritual) when you wanted to experience communitas but were unable to.

29 c
Think of a symbol or ritual that initially you did not fully appreciate, but that later became more significant to you.

30 a
Give an example of how you became the person you are today through the process of ritualization.

30 b
Give an example of how a religious ritual enabled you to express a religious ideal or to experience the importance of a religious belief.


Questions for Chapter 2

37 a
Do you think religion is less important in society than it used to be? Give reasons for your answer.

37 b
Where do you see religion in public life, apart from church-related activities?

38
Give examples (from your own experience, if possible) of how religion performs each of the following social functions:

• providing support, consolation, or reconciliation

• offering a relationship to a transcendent reality

• sacralizing the norms and values of society

• critiquing the norms and values of society

• giving people a sense of identity

39 a
Recall a time when you watched a play or film and were emotionally moved. What did you see or hear that aroused your deeper emotions?

Name someone you consider to be a hero now or someone you thought of as a hero when you were younger.
What qualities or values does this individual symbolize for you?

How can the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ be a symbol of how Christians are supposed to live?

39 b
What images or experiences of nature symbolize for you God’s presence in the universe?

What are some symbols you have seen and stories you have heard in church that have taught you how to live according to the values and ideals of the Christian myth?

40
How are some sacramental rituals related to stories that can be found in the Bible?

41 a
Think of something you learned as a child from someone you looked up to. At the time, or now looking back at it, was this a significant or precious experience for you?

Give examples of how you became the person you are today by imitating behavior that was modeled for you by others.

41 b
What are some family rituals (meals, holidays, outdoor activities, etc.) that drew your family together and gave you a sense of belonging?

41 c
Give an example of how regular participation in Sunday worship both expresses people’s commitment to Christianity and helps them to interiorize Christian beliefs and values.

42
What effects are various sacraments supposed to have on people?

43
Compare a time when a religious ritual had a strong effect on you and a time when it had little or no effect on you.

44 a
Contrast the effects that a wedding ceremony has on you with the effects that a funeral service has on you.

44 b
Give an example from your own experience of the unifying effect of ritual.

45
What do you think about the idea that a religious ritual can intensify a group’s unity only if it is already unified to some extent? Use an example from your own experience to argue for or against this idea.

46 a
Name some rites of passage that are not church rituals.

Analyze a graduation ceremony, showing how it can be divided into a phase of separation, a phase of liminality, and a phase of incorporation.

46 b
How does a baptismal ritual proceed through stages of separation, liminality, and incorporation?

46 c
How can the phases of separation, liminality, and incorporation be seen in a wedding or ordination ceremony?

46 d
 
Describe a confirmation or first communion ceremony in terms of separation, liminality, and incorporation.

47 a
 
How might the concepts of separation, liminality, and incorporation be applied to the process of going to confession?

47 b

How might the anointing of the sick be regarded as a transition ritual?

48 a

Give your own examples to illustrate the difference between the automatic effects of a ritual and effects that may or may not occur.

48 b

What is the difference between the observable or empirical effects of a religious ritual and the theological effects or meaning that it might have?


49 a 
Give an example (from your own experience, if possible) of the way religious ritual can communicate beliefs and values from one generation to the next. 

49 b 
Describe how a religious ritual may have reminded you of some aspect of your faith that you had forgotten. 

50 a 
What are some aspects of church rituals that may be out of date, or that no longer speak to you? 

50 b 
What more could be done to make the sacraments more meaningful to people today? 

51 a 
To what extent do you evaluate the truth or value of other religions based on their similarity to your own? 

51 b 
If Christianity is about 2,000 years old and Judaism is about 1,000 years older than that, would you consider them to be old or new religions? Explain your answer. 

52 a 
When you hear phrases such as “early religion,” “tribal religion,” or “primitive religion,” what images or ideas come to mind? 

52 b 
Primal religion was the universal form of religion until around 5,000 BC. Where can it still be found in the world today? 

53
Looking at the characteristics of early or primal culture, consciousness, and religion, which aspects do you find attractive and which do you find unattractive? 

54 a 
Summarize in your own words why the discovery of planting crops and domesticating animals might have encouraged human beings to give up hunting and gathering for a living, and to live instead in villages, towns, and cities. 

54 b 
Which aspects of classical religion can be found in religion today? Which aspects are not found in religion today? 

54 c 
Classical religion puts a strong emphasis on salvation. What is your understanding of the concept of salvation in Christianity? 

55 a 
Classical religion puts a strong emphasis on orthodoxy or correct belief. What are some positive and negative consequences of this emphasis? 

55 b
Classical religion emphasizes differences between sacred and profane, religious and secular, divine and human, moral and immoral. What are some positive and negative consequences of such dualism?

56
The world’s great religions embody the ideals of their respective founders, but they also tend to develop in ways that run counter to those ideals. What are some examples of this in your own faith tradition?

57 a
Modern culture began during the Renaissance with the rise of scientific thinking, the questioning of authority, and the emergence of nationalism. What are some positive and negative consequences of these developments?

57 b
What are some examples of how contemporary Catholicism is becoming more like early Protestantism and exhibiting characteristics of modern religion?

58 a
What are some social and cultural changes in the last few decades that you are aware of in your family, in your town or city, in your country, or in the world?

58 b
Illustrate the characteristic of differentiation modern consciousness and culture with examples from what you know about the multiplication of academic disciplines, professional careers, types of businesses, special interest groups, subcultures, genres of art and music, etc.

58 c
Illustrate the characteristic of integration modern consciousness and culture with examples from what you know about interdisciplinary studies, interfaith dialogue, multiculturalism, racial integration, environmentalism, systems theory, megatrends, world music, etc.

59 a
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the characterization of modern religious consciousness presented here?

59 b
Give examples of how Christianity and Catholicism are less dualistic than they were in the past. In what ways would you like to see even greater tolerance for diversity in the church?

60 a
Do you perceive the lack of commitment to common symbols (church rituals, Christian art, religious architecture, liturgical music, etc.) as a problem or not? Explain your answer.

60 b
What are some religious symbols or symbolic activities that are less meaningful than they were in the past? What might be done to remedy this situation?

61 a
How can a worldwide church like Catholicism speak to people in cultures that are sometimes very different from one another? What efforts in this direction are you aware of?

61 b
How can a church with a long history such as Catholicism preserve cultural elements from the past in its contemporary religious practices? Give examples of attempts to do this that, in your opinion, were successful or unsuccessful.


Questions for Chapter 3

66
Almost everything we do is some sort of ritual or routine, from our “morning ritual” of waking up, washing and dressing, eating breakfast, and so on, to the regularly scheduled activities at home, school, or work, to the places we shop and recreate and the routes we travel when going there, to the way we wind down at the end of the day and put ourselves to bed. To heighten your awareness of the pervasiveness of ritual in human life, list at least a dozen or routines in your own life.

67
In addition to the ones mentioned in the text, list as many calendrical rituals or routines as you can, being sure to include some that are yearly, monthly, and weekly.

68
Do you agree that Eucharist is the only sacrament of the seven that can be called a calendrical ritual? Explain the reasoning behind your answer.

69
What are some secular transition ceremonies besides the types already mentioned? See how many you can name.

Do you agree that six of the seven sacraments are transition rituals? Explain the reasoning behind your answer.

In addition to the sacraments, what other religious rites of passage can you think of? Think, for example, about entering a religious order, welcoming a new pastor, commissioning catechists, and other events of that nature.

70 a
Evaluate the argument that the sacrament of confirmation today is ineffective because it does not celebrate an actual transition in the lives of young people. Give your reasons for accepting or rejecting the argument.

70 b
Evaluate the argument that the wedding ceremony is no longer a rite of passage as it was in the past. Do you think anything can or should be done about cohabitation before marriage? If couples have been living together without being married, what does the wedding ceremony actually celebrate?

71
Would you favor individual churches developing rituals to publicly recognize and possibly facilitate the transition from being married to being single again? If so, what do you imagine such a ceremony might look like? If not, why not?

72 a
Name some types of gift giving, exchange, and social communion in secular society. What effects do you see resulting from those rituals?

72 b
How do you feel about Christian prayer being compared with the practices of religions that believe in other gods and spirits?

72 c
What types of Catholic and other Christian prayer practices have you witnessed or taken part in? Do the different types of practices feel different from one another in any way? What similarities do they have in common?

73 a
When a priest or minister reads a prayer from a book, to what extent are you able to make that prayer your own—or is the experience more like listening to someone else praying?

73 b
What images come to mind when you think about sacrifices in pagan religions or the religion of ancient Israel? How does the common conception of religious sacrifice differ from the one being presented here? Does this interpretation of sacrifice make sense to you? Why or why not?

74 a
Does this explanation of how the eucharistic bread and wine came to be called the body and blood of Christ seem plausible to you? If so, why? If not, what other explanation would you give?

74 b
Do you remember the Latin Mass and the explanation of the holy sacrifice of the Mass in terms similar to those given here? How did that theological explanation affect your perception of what was going on at the altar? Was it difficult or easy for you to experience what you were told was happening at Mass?

74 c
When you hear the word “sacrifice” during the eucharistic prayer, what (if anything) does it mean to you? Read the excerpts in footnote 22 and summarize what the word apparently means in those texts.

76 a
Do you remember experiencing the presence of Christ in the consecrated elements on the altar during Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, or while engaging in eucharistic adoration before the tabernacle? How did that sacramental experience shape your spirituality and your relation to God? If you can, compare your experience of the real presence of Christ during the Latin Mass before Vatican II with your experience of Christ in the liturgy today.

76 b
What are your routines for treating everyday physical and spiritual ailments?

76 c
What are some healing rituals that you have read about, seen in documentaries, or perhaps witnessed for yourself?

78 a
Look up some of the scripture passages referred to in this paragraph (see footnotes 29-32 on the bottom of page 77) to familiarize yourself with healing rituals in early Christianity. Briefly summarize what you find.

78 b
Think of times when you have gone to confession, participated in a penance service, been present at an anointing, or attended a funeral. How would you describe any healing you may have felt yourself or perceived in others?

79 a
Does it make sense to call baptism a healing ritual as well as a rite of passage? Why or why not?

79 b
Name some secular festivals that you have attended. What made them festive for you?

80 a
Have you attended or seen documentaries of Christian or other religious festivals? What did you think of the festivities?

80 b
Have you practiced fasting for religious or health reasons? If so, describe your experience and the benefits (if any) that you derived from fasting.

80 c
If you are old enough to remember fasting from midnight before receiving Communion, describe what effect that practice had on your spirituality.

81 a
How many governmental rituals and political symbols of power can you think of?

81 b
Before you had read this explanation, where did you think the term “holy orders” came from?

Have you ever attended an ordination? If so, what rites and symbols of power do you remember seeing there? If not, look at ordinations on this website (available under Sacraments in Pictures and Sacraments in Motion), and then answer the question.

82 a
Have you ever attended a profession of vows or other ceremony for those in religious orders? If not, look at some at the bottom of Ordination page in the Sacraments in Motion section of the website. How is this type of ceremony similar to and different from an ordination ceremony?

82 b 
Is talking really a matter of patterned behavior? Argue for or against the idea that speech is the routinized production of sounds.

83 a
Come up with some of your own examples of the difference between less formal and more formal activities.

83 b
Do the same for less formal and more formal rituals or ceremonies.

84 a
Illustrate from your own experience, if possible, the different levels of formality in Catholic worship before Vatican II, during the decade after the council, and today. Alternatively, compare the traditional Latin Mass with the contemporary Cathedral Mass listed on the Eucharist page of the Sacraments in Motion section of the website.

84 b
Look up "vestment" in the online Wikipedia and summarize what you find out about the traditional cassock, stole, surplice, chasuble, and dalmatic.

84 c
What are some of the traditional elements in your family’s holiday gatherings? Think not only of Christmas and Easter but also of birthdays, anniversaries, and summer outings.

84 d
What elements of the Christian liturgy or other forms of religious worship strike you as being traditional in nature?

85 a
Think of the aspects of an informal ritual (for example, having a party) that do not vary, as well as the aspects of the ritual that vary from one instance to the next.

85 b
What are some invariant features of Sunday worship that have a positive effect on you? What are some invariant features that you would like to see some variation in?

86 a
Have you ever thought about how your life is quite scripted by written and unwritten rules? What are some of those rules? Which ones are you grateful for? Which ones would you rather live without?

86 b
Have you traveled in a country where the rules of etiquette or the rules of the road were different from those at home? If so, describe your experience.

86 c
How strictly should the rules governing liturgical rituals be followed? Argue in favor of legalistic enforcement or in favor of creative adaptation.

87 a
Have you ever attended an Orthodox liturgy—or a Byzantine Catholic liturgy, which is very similar? If not, look at some examples of Orthodox worship on the website.

What are some of the liturgical rules that the priest and attendants seemed to be following? In addition, name some of the formal and traditional aspects of the liturgy that you observed?

87 b
Have you ever attended a service in a nonliturgical Protestant (for example, Baptist, Presbyterian or Christian) church? If not, look at some examples of Protestant worship on the website.What rules seemed to govern the behavior of the pastor and the people before, during, and after that service?

87 c
Thinking about what normally happens at Sunday worship in your church, what new rules would you like to see implemented in order to enhance the experience of worship?

88 a
The notion that sacredness can be equated with importance, preciousness, significance, meaningfulness, and so on, is probably new to you. Does it make sense to you? If so, why, and if not, why not?

What do you think of the argument that holiness, truth, and other spiritual realities are not purely subjective but have an objectivity that is generally recognized by society?

88 b
Give an example of something that is precious or sacred to you, but not to someone else. Try to put into your own words the idea that when we see a physical symbol, we perceive what it represents by looking through the symbol, as it were.

89 a
Give your own example of a symbol that is regarded as sacred because what it represents to people is sacred.

89 b
Do you have a memory of being introduced to religious or national values by visiting shrines or monuments when you were a youngster, or of doing that as an adult with your own children, as a teacher with your students, or the like? If so, briefly describe it.

89 c
Do you have a memory of encountering a symbol through which you experienced a spiritual reality? If so, briefly describe it.

90 a
If you are not old enough to remember the Latin Mass, look at the one from St. Thomas Becket Catholic Church on the Eucharist page of Sacraments in Motion on the website. How does the performance dimension of the Latin Mass compare with that of today's Catholic Mass or with the performance dimension of Protestant services that you have attended?

90 b
Liturgists contend that robust symbols (large gestures, real bread, fragrant oil, and so on) enhance the quality of the liturgical experience. To what extent do you find this to be true or not? Give examples of what you are talking about.

91 a
Right after Vatican II, it was not uncommon to have a Mass in someone’s home or to have a wedding in an outdoor setting. More recently, the rules have been changed so that virtually all sacramental ceremonies take place in a church. How do you think this difference in physical framing might affect people’s perception of the sacrament and the church?

91 b
Think of a church ritual that you attended, and that might have been more effective if those in charge had been more attentive to the performance elements of the ceremony.

92 a
Think of something that you do—or that someone else does—ritualistically.

92 b
Has it ever occurred to you that a church ceremony was being performed—or that part of it was being done—ritualistically? Describe what you remember seeing.

93 a
Give some examples of what you understand to be decorous behavior, that is, things that people say and do almost automatically to be polite and to show they know how to conduct themselves.

93 b
Thinking about meetings that you have attended, what are some examples of decorous behavior that you have observed? What would be an example of undecorous behavior?

93 c
Reflect on secular and religious ceremonies you have attended, and identify some of the beliefs and values that are asserted in them.

94 a
Think about secular or religious ceremonies that you have seen, and analyze them in terms of the power relations that they embody.

94 b
When have you noticed what might be called ritual dishonesty—contradictions between what a ritual was saying and the way the ritual performers otherwise behave?

94 c
Has your own understanding of myth developed beyond the popular conception of myth as a false story or an untrue idea? If so, what led you to develop a more complex understanding of myth?

95
According to this understanding of magic, almost all of our interactions with technology rely on magical perception. Does this claim make sense to you or not? If so, come up with some examples of magical perception from your own experience, beyond the ones given here.

96 a
What do you think about the claim that magical thinking enables us to perceive people as truly different after they have gone through a transition ritual? If you disagree with this explanation, what other explanation would you give?

96 b
What are some ways that you or other people have engaged in this type of magical thinking?

96 c
What are some ways that you have noticed people engaging in magical thinking in connection with the sacraments or other aspects of religion?

97 a
To what extent have you yourself experienced some of these effects resulting from involvement in liturgical ritual?

97 b
Does this distinction between the physical and the spiritual make sense to you? If not, what seems to be the difficulty? If so, what examples can you think of to illustrate the difference between physical and spiritual realities?

98 a
Name some spiritual realities or mysteries that are important to you besides the ones already mentioned. Why would you say they are sacred to you?

98 b
In what ways does religion connect or reconnect you with beliefs and ideas, values and ideals, principles and hopes that are precious and important to you? If possible, try to describe what you connect with in both secular and religious terms, that is, using both ordinary language and the language of faith.

98 c
Does the explanation of religion presented here sound reductionistic to you, that is, does it seem to reduce religion to humanism, theology to philosophy, or matters of faith to matters of experience? If so, how would you formulate your objections to it? If not, why are you comfortable with it?

99 a
Have you ever attended a religious festival in honor of Christ, Mary, or one of the saints? Describe the festive elements you experienced in it. If you can, also point out elements of liturgy, ceremony, and magic (in the sense described here) that you may have noticed during the festival.

99 b
Do you agree that talking about celebrating the sacraments is a linguistic mistake? Give your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing.

100 a
Do you agree that sacramental celebrations always refer to something other than themselves? If so, why? If not, how do you interpret the phrase “celebrating the sacraments”?

100 b
Illustrate how celebrations have a referent in the present with an example from your own experience.

100 c
Illustrate how celebrations have a referent in the past with a remembered example of a celebration in which this referent was prominent, such as during a Memorial Day ceremony.

101 a
How have you understood Catholicism’s claim that the sacraments were instituted by Christ? Has your interpretation of this teaching changed over the years? If so, how?

101b
How do you feel about interpreting the Catholic claim that Christ instituted the sacraments as meaning that all of the sacraments have a past referent in the life and ministry of Christ?

102 a
Illustrate how celebrations refer to the future with a remembered example of a celebration in which this reference was prominent, such as at a graduation ceremony.

102 b
Up till now, what has been your understanding of the kingdom of God or the reign of God?

102 c
What do you think about this understanding of the kingdom of God?

103
Do you find this interpretation of the future referent of the sacraments plausible? If so, how does it make sense to you? If not, why doesn’t it make sense to you?


Questions for Chapter 4

109
How would you describe Jesus’ charisms or gifts?

110 a
Put into your own words the idea that Jesus was and is a sacrament of God.

110 b
When have you experienced personal sacramentality? That is, when has someone symbolized God’s love, God’s providence, or such for you?

111 a
If you have had experience with the charismatic renewal movement or with Pentecostal worship, what were the charisms or gifts of the Holy Spirit that you witnessed or heard about?

111 b
Reflect on a time when you prayed or worshiped with a small group with whom you felt close, for instance, a youth group or a retreat group. How did the intimacy of that group affect your experience of prayer or worship?

112
Imagine yourself as a Christian in the first centuries when small communities gathered in people’s homes to pray and worship. How might your group’s practices evolve over time? For ideas, draw on your own experience in your family, in school, in clubs, in organizations, etc.

113
Look at one or more of the Orthodox liturgies on the Eucharist page of Sacraments in Motion to see what the Christian liturgy looked like in the fifth or sixth century. The liturgies of those churches were written during the patristic period and have not changed much since then. Even the Roman liturgy in those centuries would have looked more like one of these liturgies. What similarities and differences do you notice between the Eastern liturgies and today’s Western liturgy? 

114
Think of a secular ritual that is automatically effective, for example, becoming a naturalized citizen, or being sworn in to public office. Describe what happens during the ceremony and try to explain how its effect is produced.

115 a
Do you think of baptism and confirmation as being automatically effective? From your perspective, would you say there is a difference in the effectiveness of those two sacraments? Give reasons for your answers.

115 b
Think about your experience of going to confession or being anointed by a priest. What effects did you experience, if any, during or after that ritual? How might the effects be called automatic? If you have never participated in these sacraments, what do you imagine their effects might be?

116
Think about a wedding or ordination you attended. How did that ritual change the people involved, that is, what was different about them after the ceremony? How would you explain this automatic effectiveness?

117
Think about a Protestant service that you may have attended or have seen on the Eucharist page of Sacraments in Motion. What parts of it, if any, did you experience as sacramental? That is, did you find yourself spiritually affected by the music, the prayers, the sermon, or some other aspect of the service? 

118
From your own memory, or after viewing one of the Latin Catholic Masses on the Eucharist page of Sacraments in Motion, how would you describe the sacramentality of that ritual? How would you characterize the spirituality of that style of worship?

119 a
If you have lived through the changes in the Catholic Church after Vatican II, what differences in the liturgy had the greatest effect on you?

119 b
Have the questions and exercises in this book helped you to differentiate elements in sacramental worship that you did not notice before? If so, which elements or factors do you understand better, now that you have thought about them?

120 a
Catholic worship today allows for the integration of the old and the new. What are some old things that you are aware of, and what are some new things? Think about prayers, vestments, music, lay ministers, etc.

120 b
Today, Catholics worship in a variety of cultural styles. Have you attended Mass in a different country or in an ethnic parish? If you have, what differences did you notice between that liturgy and the Sunday worship of most American Catholics?


Questions for Chapter 5

130
Traditional Catholic doctrine, the Code of Canon Law, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church all speak of sacraments in terms that were introduced by the schoolmen of the Middle Agesterms like sanctifying grace, actual grace, instrumental cause, sacramental reality, administering and receiving, valid and invalid, substance and accidents, and transubstantiation. How many of these terms do you recognize, and where did have you heard them?

131 a 
In what ways was there was a good match or correspondence between the scholastic approach to theology and the European practice of Christianity in the Middle Ages?

131 b
Can you follow the scholastics’ reasoning that sacramental rituals can be viewed as both signs and causes? Say why you would agree or disagree with it.

132 a
Grace is a biblical word (charis in Greek, gratia in Latin) that became a central term in Christian theology, yet its meaning is not precise. What is your own understanding of grace?

132 b
Has a sacrament ever been a channel of grace for you? That is, have you ever experienced a spiritual benefit from participating in a religious ritual? If you have, then you can get a handle on what the scholastics were referring to when they said that sacraments are instruments through which God provides grace to Christians. How would you put this in your own words?

132 c
Are you able to follow the scholastics’ reasoning in inferring the existence of something that is both sign and reality (usually called a sacramental reality in textbooks) that resulted when a sacramental ritual was performed? Explain your answer.

If grace is a supernatural gift from God that can be lost by committing a mortal sin, how would you explain the sacramental effects that cannot be lost—such as being permanently a Christian after being baptized, or such as being permanently a priest after being ordained?

133 a
Did you realize that when Catholics speak about administering and receiving sacraments, they are talking about sacramentum et res, the sacramental reality that was thought to give Christians special powers, such as the ability to love as Christ loved, the power to grant absolution from sins in confession, or the ability to have an indissoluble marriage? Why might this explanation of how sacraments work be less convincing today than it was in the Middle Ages?

133 b
What are some benefits and drawbacks of talking about sacraments in ways that do not take into account the changing circumstances of actual religious rituals?

134
The scholastics had their way of taking intentions and attitudes (dispositions) into account when talking about sacraments. How do you believe intentions and attitudes affect what happens during a sacramental ritual?

135 a 
What do you know about the Second Vatican Council? When and how did you hear about it?

135 b
In saying that the eucharistic liturgy is the high point of the church’s activity and the source of its power, were the bishops speaking about each and every Mass, or might they have been speaking abstractly and essentially, as the scholastics did? Which way would you yourself interpret this statement?

136
Even though Vatican II had a very pastoral orientation, there is evidence of the scholastic approach to theology in this quotation. What is it?

137 a
To what extent do you see that the bishops’ desire for full, conscious, and active participation in the liturgy by all Catholics has been realized? Do you think that more could or should be done to increase people’s involvement in liturgical worship? If you do, what would you suggest?

137 b
If you are not familiar with Schillebeeckx and Rahner, look these theologians on the internet and write one thing about each of them. If you have already heard or read about them, what is your impression of their work and their contribution to theology in the twentieth century? 

138
If you are not familiar with existentialism and phenomenology, look up these philosophies on the internet and write one thing about each of them. If you have alread read about these philosophical approaches to life as it is lived and reality as it is perceived, how do you think they might might be used in theology? 

139 a
Have you ever thought that the way a rock or plant looks is a sign of what it is, or an expression of its nature? How might this idea affect the way you think about signs and symbols?

139 b
How would you describe the relationship between your inner self and your outward appearance? If the way you behave, dress, and talk is an outward representation of who you are inside, can you change who you are by changing the way you act, look, and sound?

140 a
What do you make of the claim that we can reveal our inner selves to others only through external signs that they can perceive, and that we can get to know what other people are really like on the inside only through what we can see with our eyes and hear with our ears?

How can the fact that all human communication is through signs and symbols be used to understand the way that God communicates—and, for that matter, has to communicate—with human beings?

140 b
Can you put this paragraph's theological reasoning into your own words?

140 c
Would you say that you have encountered Christ in prayer, in reading the Bible, in hearing stories about Jesus, in listening to religious music, or in contemplating images of Christ in art? How would you describe that encounter? How did Christ become real to you through such religious experiences?

141 a
In your own religious journey, was the church—either as an institution or the people in it—instrumental in helping you to encounter Christ? If so, how did that encounter come about?

Today, is the church a sacrament of Christ in the world? If so, how?

141 b
In your own way of looking at it, how do the sacraments embody and express the inner reality of the church? In other words, what does baptism reveal about the church, and so on with the other sacraments?

142
Do you remember meeting God during a sacramental ceremony that you participated in or attended as an onlooker? If so, what was that experience like for you? How would you account for the fact that sometimes you are present at a sacramental ceremony and nothing special seems to happen?

143 a
Write one thing you know about Karl Marx and one thing you know about Marxism. If necessary, look them up on the internet.

Write two things you know about liberation theology. If necessary, look it up on the internet.

Do you think it is possible to use philosophies developed by nonbelievers in developing a Christian understanding of life and the world in which we live? Why or why not?

143 b
Can you appreciate how the idealistic seminarians of the sixties and seventies saw parallels between oppression in the ancient world and oppression in what was then called the Third World? What biblical comparisons might be made with poverty and oppression in the underdeveloped world today?

144
What have you learned from ritual theory (pages 94-97 and elsewhere) that might support Segundo’s contention that the uneducated had a magical perception of the sacraments and that church authorities used religious rituals to buttress their power?

145
What parallels do you see between Segundo’s analysis of religion in history and Bellah’s analysis summarized in chapter 2, section 4, above? Could Segundo be arguing that the separation of the divine from the human that was characteristic of classical religion needs to integrate the two dimensions in the modern era? Give your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with Segundo.

146 a
Of the three senses in which magic can be understood (discussed on pages 94-97), which understanding of magic is Segundo employing here?

Is Segundo suggesting that Jesus was promoting a return to an undifferentiated religious consciousness that does not separate the sacred from the profane, that Jesus was promoting an integrated religious consciousness that reunited the sacred and the profane, or something entirely different? Use ideas from chapter 2, section 4, in this book to develop your answer.

Is Segundo trying to eliminate the transcendent dimension of religion by insisting on a radically secular interpretation of religion and morality? Explain your answer.

146 b
Given the differences between first-century Christianity and the medieval Christianity that became set in Tridentine Catholicism, how plausible is Segundo’s claim that the first followers of Jesus understood their communal rituals very differently from the way the sacraments came to be understood centuries later?

147 a
Based on what you learned about magical perception in chapter 3, section 4d, is Segundo being too harsh on the magical aspects of medieval Christianity? Explain why you think Segundo’s criticism is valid or not.

147 b
Did you ever come across an explanation of sacraments that sounds like the one described here? Did it make sense to you then? Does it make sense to you now?

147 c
Do you agree with Segundo that the promise of “pie in the sky when you die” was a way that the rich and powerful could keep the poor and oppressed content with their lot and not challenge the injustice of their social situation? Support whichever position you take.

148 a
Many Catholic bishops were socially and politically active during the sixties and seventies, but in the eighties and nineties the hierarchy became more focused on internal church concerns and matters of individual conscience. How would you evaluate this shift?

148 b
How does Segundo’s vision of the church compare with your own?

149
Do you agree that the church’s rituals can and should be vehicles of social liberation? Have you ever experienced some sort of consciousness raising or heightened moral awareness during a religious celebration? Segundo’s vision sounds exciting to some, but is it realistic? Support your answers with reasons.

151
Does this description of falling in love relate to your own experience? In retrospect, could you call it a type of conversion or change in consciousness? Explain your answers.

152 a
Cooke is suggesting that sacraments give grace by making positive changes in people’s lives. Would you agree with this broadened understanding of grace? Why or why not?

152 b
The good things in our lives can be regarded as blessings or gifts from God—grace, in other words—that transform our lives and make it better. Explain why you agree with this idea or not.

152 c
Does the notion that human love is symbolic of divine love make sense to you? Why or why not?

153 a
How plausible to you is this analogy between signs of love in a healthy family and sacraments in the Christian community? Support your response with reasons.

153 b
What do you think of the claim that, since learning occurs in proportion to the intensity or duration of learning experiences, the way Christians look at life (their hermeneutic of experience) is affected by intense ritual experiences and by regular participation in sacramental celebrations?

154 a
Does ascribing this deeply transformative role to the sacraments sound realistic to you? Explain your answer.

154 b 
What have you heard or read about postmodernism? If necessary, do some quick research about postmodernism on the internet and write about two things that you learned. 

155 a 
Do these ideas of postmodernist thinkers make sense to you? If so, what kind of sense do they make? If not, why not? 

155 b 
What have you heard or read about Martin Heidegger? If necessary, read about this philosopher on the internet and write down two things that you learned about him. 


155 c
Does Chauvet appear to make the same sort of negative assessment of scholastic theology as Segundo? What similarities do you notice between the criticisms of these two thinkers?

156 a
What do you think of Chauvet’s claim that the meaningful world we live in is entirely mediated by language? Try to think of some things that you know that you can’t put into words.

156 b
Is this description of the symbolic nature of language clear to you? If so, does it seem to be true? What seems plausible to you, and what doesn’t, when you reflect on how you use language and how language governs what you think?

157 a
What relationship do you see between words and rituals on the one hand and spiritual realities on the other. Do you agree that language has the power to govern spiritual realities? Give reasons to support your positions.

157 b
Do you agree that Christian identity is mediated by the church? To what extent is this believable, and to what extent is it not?

157 c
Do you agree that the three dimensions of Christian identity and existence—scripture, sacrament, and ethics—are connected in the way described? Why or why not?

158 a
Put into your own words the connection that Chauvet sees between ethical living, what is revealed in the scriptures, and what is celebrated in the sacraments. To what extent does this connection make sense to you?

What similarities do you notice between this analysis by Chauvet and Rahner’s analysis of the symbolic nature of human existence on page 139 above? Remember that both thinkers were influenced by Heidegger.

158 b
Chauvet contends that what we believe is what is real because we accept the church’s language of faith, which is found in its liturgy. What do you think about this contention?

158 c
Chauvet is critical of the notion that grace is a spiritual substance that can be received into the soul. Have you come across this notion of grace before, perhaps when it was being explained to you as a child?

159 a
Chauvet implies that the effects of some sacraments are automatic and permanent. Is this realistic? Explain your answer.

Chauvet claims that the power of language is not magical, but based on what was said previously about magic in chapter 3, section 4, this claim may not be tenable. What do you think?

159 b
After claiming earlier that reality is always mediated by language, Chauvet later suggests that some spiritual realities are not the same as what can be said about them. Can he logically have it both ways? Support your answer with reasons.

160 a
When you read or hear about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, how do you understand that real presence?

160 b
Does this explanation of the real presence of Christ make sense to you? Why or why not?

160 c
Does this way of looking at the Emmaus story help you to understand, on the one hand, how Christ can be seen but not recognized, and on the other hand, how he can be recognized even though he cannot be seen? Give your own evaluation of this interpretation.

163
Is the distinction between general liturgical theology and special liturgical theology clear to you? For more about general liturgical theology, look at the last four paragraphs in this section. Then explain the distinction in your own words.

164 a
Have you found your own consciousness and behavior being shaped by deep participation in the liturgy? Can you see connections between what Schmemann, Cooke, and Chauvet say about the relation between liturgy and life?

164 b
Are you familiar with any of Kavanagh’s writings? If so, how have they influenced your thinking about liturgy? If not, look up Aidan Kavanagh on the internet and write down two things you learned about him and his work.

165
How would you define liturgy? However you define it at this point, Fagerberg would say that you are talking about liturgy in the thin sense, a meaning that is stripped down to the bare necessities. Do you agree with him? Why or why not?

166 a
Liturgists sometimes say that this etymology of the word shows that liturgy requires participation by the people. If so, what might be said of those who are not participating but just present in church?

166 b
This sounds rather cryptic. Taking the first sentence in this paragraph as a clue, what do you think it means?

166 c
How many of these formulations of liturgy in the thick or rich sense can you relate to? If they make sense to you, try putting them in your own words.

167 a
Fagerberg uses the Greek leitourgia to refer to the practice of living in everyday life what is lived ritually in liturgical celebrations. Does this explanation help to clarify what is being said in this paragraph? If so, try to say it in your own words.

167 b
In the terminology of special liturgical theology, all liturgists are theologians. How would you translate this into ordinary English?

168
From the perspective of these writers, the theology that is experienced in deep liturgical worship is the foundation for all other theology, that is, theology that is put into words. What do you think about this claim?

169 a
In addition to the ones named here, what are some books or articles you have read that would fit under the umbrella of liturgical theology in the broad sense?

169 b
The reason there can be competing interpretations of the sacraments is that sacraments are one thing and interpretations are another. Even if there is only one correct theology of the sacraments, the claim of correctness presupposes that there is a difference between the sacraments themselves and the theory that correctly explains them. Does this make sense to you? Why or why not?

170 a
Catholics are fond of talking about sacraments in generalities, and in doing so they assume that they are talking about something real. The contention being presented here, however, is that such statements are abstractions, and that the only real sacraments are the ones that are actually going on at any given time. Do you agree or disagree with this contention? Why?

170 b
Another way of putting this is to say that the proper object of sacramental theology is sacramental performance, not ecclesiastical statements about sacramental performance. In other words, church teachings can and should be used to illuminate what can and should be happening in sacramental rituals, but they do not always state what is actually going on in those rituals, for the teachings are abstract and general but sacramental acts are always concrete and particular. Do you agree or disagree with this contention? Why?
170 c
The understanding of sacramental theology that is being presented here in effect puts all theologies on the same level—whether they are the church’s official theology or the offerings of individual theologians. They are all abstract, and they all can be used to make sense of what is going on during and as a result of actual sacramental performances. Is this acceptable to you or not? Why?

171 a
Are you familiar with this understanding of models? If you have read Models of the Church by Avery Dulles or Models of Jesus by John O’Grady, what similarities do you see between their approaches and the one being taken here? If you have not read those books, where else might you have heard about mental, conceptual or mathematical models?


171 b
Does this brief description give you a general idea of what mental models are and how we use them? If so, give some other examples of models that are based on your own experience.

171 c
This paragraph expands the notion of models a bit. Are you familiar enough with science or history that you can come up with your own examples in addition to the ones given here? If so, add some examples of your own.

172 a
If what is said in this paragraph is accurate, then the debate between evolution and creationism is based on the misunderstanding that the theory of evolution offers a picture of what has gone on in the past, whereas the theory is actually used by scientists to interpret the relationships between fossils that they find in the present. (Of course, it is easier to teach the idea of evolution to students by presenting it as a description of what happened millions of years ago. Hence the confusion.) Does either the paragraph in the text or these comments on it make the notion of theoretical or disclosure models clearer to you? If so, put what you understand in your own words.

172 b
If you have studied psychology, you may remember reading about the theories of Freud, Adler, Skinner, and others. Early in the history of psychology, they all claimed to be the true theory of how the mind works. Today these theories are generally regarded as different disclosure models that can help us to understand various aspects of consciousness and behavior. Could differing sacramental theologies perform the same service for Catholics who want to understand their church rituals? Explain your answer.

173 a
Does the notion of theologies as disclosure models sound dangerously relativistic or excitingly open-minded to you? Why or why not?

173 b
Does talking about models in this way make sense to you? If so, what kind of sense does it make?

174 a
It is being suggested here that taking sacramental theologies as models has some practical benefits. Can you state those suggested benefits in your own words? Do these suggestions sound realistic to you?

174 b
Look at the section on the postmodern approach to sacraments and formulate a question that could be asked from that perspective.


Questions for Chapter 6

185
When you hear the phrase “paschal mystery” in a homily or read it in a book, what do you think it refers to?

186 a
Most Evangelical Protestants and many conservative Catholics assume that the satisfaction theory, according to which Jesus’ suffering and death compensated for the sins of humanity, is found in the Bible, but the theory was actually introduced only in the Middle Ages. How do you understand the relation between Christ and salvation?

186 b
How do you think Jesus’ way of life as lived by his followers would result in something that could be called salvation or redemption from sin?

186 c
In chapter 1, it was proposed that mystery is best understood as something that is experienced and only partly understood, rather than as a statement (for example, “There are three Persons in one God”) that is only partly understood. What are some of life’s mysteries that you have experienced?

187 a
Does translating agápē as care or caring make sense to you? Why or why not?

187 b
Have you ever experienced living with a group of people, even temporarily, where you watched out for one another and took care of each others’ needs? Are you living in such a situation now? How does it work? What does it feel like?

188 a
What do you think of the idea that salvation in the New Testament might refer to well-being or morally healthy living, rather than going to heaven after dying?

188 b
Have you ever experienced going from self-effacement to self-fulfillment, that is, finding fulfillment in taking care of others? Describe your experience.

188 c
The word for Easter in other languages is often derived from pascha, such as Pasqua in Italian, Pascua in Spanish, and Pâques in French, which is also the word for the Jewish feast of Passover in those languages. How might using the word for an ancient pagan spring festival obscure the actual referent of the Christian celebration?

189 a
Does this argument make sense to you? That is, could it be that the early followers of Jesus took his death and resurrection as emblematic of his entire life of self-giving and revitalization? Look again at the four New Testament texts alluded to earlier (1 Cor 5:7; 1 Pet 1:18f; John 1:29; Rev 5:6 - 8:1), and see if this interpretation fits. Explain your answer.

189 b
This explanation of how the paschal mystery was discovered, lived, and celebrated by the first followers of Jesus is rather down-to-earth and not very complicated. Do you think it is intellectually satisfying, or do you see problems with it?

190
Do you see any problem in trying to connect an event that happened twenty centuries ago with spiritual benefits that are available today? If the connection is not the one being proposed here, how do you think they might be connected?

191 a
Billy and Keating argue, in effect, that Christ’s death and resurrection had the metaphysical effect of enabling Christians to give of themselves, the way Jesus did. The argument being presented here is that putting the needs of others ahead of one’s own wants is a way of living that is always available but not always found. Since it is a timeless mystery, there is no problem of trying to connect Jesus’ self-sacrifice with ours today, for both are instances of the same spiritual process. Which of these two explanations sounds more plausible to you? Why?

191 b
Look at the quotations at the beginning of this section and see if the experiential understanding being presented here fits what they say about the paschal mystery. Evaluate your findings.

191 c
To what extent does the eucharistic liturgy or communion service in your church celebrate the paschal mystery in the sense described here? Do you see any connections between the sacraments and the paschal mystery besides the ones mentioned here?

192
Most people associate morality with the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, but Christian morality is arguably what Jesus teaches in the New Testament, namely, taking care of others the way you yourself would like to be cared for. What do you think about this understanding of Christian morality?

193 a
When you hear or read about the kingdom of God, what do you think of?

193 b
Do these scripture texts clarify or confuse your understanding of the kingdom of God? Explain.

194
Look up a number of these passages to see for yourself whether the interpretations presented here accurately reflect the meaning of the texts. Describe what you find. 

195 a
Express in your own words the understanding of the kingdom of God that is being presented here. Does this explanation seem plausible to you? Why or why not?

195 b
Do you agree that this explanation of the kingdom of God helps these quotations from Vatican II make more sense? Why or why not?

196
Is it fair to take this Old Testament passage, which referred to Jewish temple worship, and apply it to Christian rituals? Why or why not?

197 a
Does this interpretation of John’s and Jesus’ call to repentance make sense to you? Why or why not?

197 b
To what extent does this picture of the early Christian community square with your own image of the beginnings of Christianity?

198 a
Although the followers of Jesus did not invent the ritual of baptism, they may have adopted it because it was symbolically congruent with immersion in a new community and a new lifestyle, which converts were already beginning to experience. Does this idea make sense to you? Why or why not?

198 b
What do you think of the suggestion being made here that rituals demand honesty of everyone involved in them?

198 c
What do you think of the argument that denying church membership to people in canonically irregular marriages does an injustice to them?

199
The argument here is that many people in the world are in need of salvation in a very down-to-earth sense, and so the church should be as active today in spreading the kingdom of God as it was during centuries of great missionary activity. What do you think of this argument?

200 a
In a sense, the rite of confirmation developed before the theology of confirmation. Do you think it should have been the other way around? Explain why or why not.

200 b
When you were confirmed, what was the theological explanation of the sacrament that was given to you?

200 c
Do you agree that the meaning of confirmation could be expanded to include a social justice dimension? Why or why not?

200 d
Do you agree that there is an obligation in justice for the bishops to provide a unified and plausible theology of confirmation? Why or why not?

201 a
Do you agree that there is an obligation in justice for the church to do more to enable confirmed teenagers—and, by extension, people who are confirmed as adults—to live up to their baptismal call by engaging in ministry within the church and in the world with the church’s support? Why or why not? If so, how might parishes do this?

201 b
From what you know about the history of this sacrament, is it right to say that it originated as a response to the perceived unfairness of not extending God’s mercy to those who sought it? Explain your answer.

202 a
When you hear or read about justice, which concept of justice do you usually think of?

202 b
If Christians had the same attitude toward sinners that Jesus did, how would they behave toward people who behave immorally? Explain your answer.

202 c
What does your parish do to promote reconciliation among its members and social justice in the world around it? What do you think it could be doing if it were more fully a reconciling community?

203 a
What do you think of the argument that denying a sacramental sign of forgiveness to people in priestless communities, or to people who would feel comfortable only with the third form of the rite, is a matter of social injustice?

203 b
Have you ever been to a charismatic or Pentecostal healing service? What is your opinion of this sort of healing ministry?

204 a
Are you old enough to remember when this sacrament was called extreme unction? What do you think about the changes in this sacrament?

204 b
What do you think of the contention that this sacrament’s gestures have more symbolic impact than its words? If you can, support your answer by referring to times when you have attended or participated in this sacramental ceremony.

205 a
What do you think of the argument that Catholics today should implement the meaning of this sacrament by envisioning new ways to meet the healthcare needs of the poor?

205 b
What do you think of the argument that the church has an obligation in justice to allow other people besides priests to be ministers of this sacrament?

205 c
The church developed marriage laws at a time when civil society did not have any. Now that spouses and children are fully protected by civil laws, do you think that the church should get away from the legal regulation of marriage, as all other churches have done? Give reasons for the position you take.

206 a
Do you think that the church should live up to its teaching on marriage by doing more to strengthen marriages and support families at the parish and diocesan levels? If so, how might it do that?

206 b
How well do you understand the church’s annulment laws and the theology behind them? Does the practice of annulments really make sense to you, or do find you have to take it on faith? Why?

207 a
The church’s annulment policies seem to raise a number of social justice issues. How many can you think of? On the other hand, is it right to question the church’s laws and theology of marriage? Support your answer with reasons.

207 b
What do you think about the argument that it is not right for the church to consider questions of marriage, annulment, and divorce closed to discussion when so many people are adversely affected by its teaching and laws on marriage?

208 a
Considering that male members of religious orders were not necessarily ordained (and female members were never ordained), would you agree that ministry has not been the exclusive province of the clergy in much of church history? Explain your answer.

208 b
What is your understanding of why people converted to Christianity during the early centuries of the church’s history? Which of the two views presented here makes more sense to you, and why?

208 c
What do you think of the claim that excluding women from certain positions is evidence of injustice in the church?

209 a
To what extent do sex scandals and other scandals in the church diminish your appreciation for those who serve in parishes as priests?

209 b
What do you know of the official explanations for why women can’t be priests? Explain why you are persuaded by them or not.

209 c
What do you think of the argument that the rule of celibacy unjustly excludes married Catholic men from becoming priests?

210
What do you think of the argument that modern education requirements unjustly prevent poorer countries from having a native clergy?

211 a
Do you agree that if Jesus did not discriminate against people who were socially undesirable, God wants everyone to be treated equally and fairly? Why or why not?

211 b
How would you assess these scriptural arguments for social justice?

211 c
What do you think of the idea that Jesus’ Last Supper and the Lord’s supper of the early Christians were celebrations of the paschal mystery that Jesus had lived and that they were living?

212 a
Does this way of talking about the change of bread and wine into the body of blood of Christ make sense to you in term of your experience? Can someone experience the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist without believing in it? Can someone believe in it without experiencing it? Why do you say what you do?

212 b
What do you think of the idea that the eucharistic liturgy is supposed to be a time to thank God for revealing the paschal mystery to us and allowing us to experience the joy of living it?

213 a
If what was said in this paragraph is true, might some people at Mass have little or nothing to celebrate? Explain your reasoning.

213 b
What do you think about the argument that if the church’s leadership believes what Vatican II said about the Eucharist, they should be doing much more to enhance the experience of liturgical worship?

214 a
What do you think of the claim that the church’s leadership is not providing the liturgical education it owes in justice to Catholics about eucharistic worship?

214 b
What do you think of the contention that the church’s leadership is committing an injustice by allowing ecclesiastical rules to deprive the faithful of eucharistic worship?

214 c
What do you think of the argument that by not encouraging and facilitating self-sacrifice in Catholic communities, and by not showing people the connection between the sacrifices they are making and what is celebrated in the Eucharist, the church’s leadership is keeping Catholics from knowing the full meaning of their liturgical worship?


Questions for Chapter 7

218
We don’t usually use the word “spirit” the way it was used in ancient times. When Greek and Roman writers talked about a person’s spirit, what do you think they were referring to? What words do we use to talk about those things?

219 a
In some places, the Bible talks about people possessed by evil spirits. Try to describe or explain the behavior that the biblical authors were referring to, without talking about evil spirits.

219 b
Think of some people who have (or had) the spirit of Jesus. What are you referring to when you talk about them in this way?

219 c
How do you understand what is being referred to when theology talks about the Holy Spirit?

219 d
Jesus’ enemies said he had an evil spirit. What do you think they saw in him that led them to say that? 

219 e
Jesus’ followers said he had the spirit of God. Why do you think they saw in him that led them to say that?

219 f
Does this way of trying to get back into the mentality of the first followers of Jesus make sense to you? Why or why not?

219 g
When you learn that the disciples of Jesus were his students, how does this affect your image of the people that the gospels call the disciples? How does this affect your understanding of discipleship?

219 h
Has anyone ever shown you how to live? Who or what has influenced how you live?

219 i
It is important to distinguish what a text says from what a text is talking about. Does this distinction make sense to you? Give an example of two different ways of talking about the same thing.

220 a
Old Testament texts speak of kings and prophets being anointed by God. What do you think those texts are talking about? That is, what personal characteristics are the texts referring to?

220 b
When the first followers of Jesus referred to him as the messiah, what do you think they saw in him that led them to call him that name?

220 c
How did Jesus show that he was filled with the spirit of God? What did he do that led people to say that his was not an ordinary spirit?

220 d
How might the early followers of Jesus have behaved, if people around them said they were anointed with his spirit?

220 e
If you read these passages, you know what the texts are saying. Has it ever occurred to you to ask what these texts are talking about? What do you think the texts are referring to?

220 f
Have you ever wondered how the writers of the New Testament came to use language that later became theological language? If they were not talking about theology, what were they talking about?

220 g
Does this explanation make sense to you? Why or why not?

221 a
A scented oil called chrism is used in confirmation, but it is also used in baptism. What is the connection between the words chrism, chrismation and Christ?

221 b
How might our idea of baptism be different if it were called the sacrament of dunking or the sacrament of immersion?

221 c
Express in your own words what was being referred to by the metaphors of immersion and anointing. If those two biblical images were not available to you, how else might you describe what the New Testament writers were trying to name?

221 d
Why could “putting on Christ” be used to name the experience of personal conversion or spiritual transformation?

221 e
Have you ever had a conversion experience of this sort—not necessarily a religious conversion but any profound change in your outlook or behavior? If so, briefly describe it.

222 a
Do you agree that thinking and feeling can be considered something that we do? Why or why not?

For some Christians, religious conversion is a memorable moment (for example, when they “accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior” or when they “turn their life over to Christ”), but for other Christians, conversion is a slow and gradual process. How would you describe conversion in your life?

222 b
Can you relate to these descriptions of incomplete conversion and conversion becoming undone? If possible, give an example from your own life.

222 c
Name some different types of conversion that can you think of.

222 d
How would you describe the difference between knowing about Christ and knowing Christ?

What do you think is meant by Christ being mediated by or through a church tradition?

222 e
If you experienced becoming a Christian or Catholic as an adult, how was the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults instrumental in your conversion process? If you were raised in the Catholic Church, how were the Mass and other sacraments instrumental in your gradual conversion to Christ? If you were raised in another church or religion, how were the services and rituals of that faith instrumental  in your spiritual growth?

222 f
How can sacraments be both symbols of what we are and symbols of what we are supposed to be?

223 a
These are very personal questions, but why is it important to ask them?

223 b
Is it possible that “disposition” and “fruitfulness” in medieval theology were naming the same inner realities that today are named “conversion” and “authenticity”? Explain your answer.

Give an example of what medieval theology referred to as the reviviscence of a sacrament. How might this process be named or described in more contemporary terms?

223 c
Give another example of people slowly becoming what they do by doing it over and over.

223 d 
Put in your own words what is said here about the times when Eucharist is a true symbol of ourselves. Explain whether you agree with it or not. 

224 a
According to this paragraph, when does the Mass actually symbolize our sacrificing on behalf of others? Explain whether or not you agree with this interpretation.

224 b
What are some nonreligious events in which you participated in the sense being described here. (You might think of musical, political, or sporting events.)

224 c
Can you think of a time when you spiritually connected with the rite of reconciliation and a time when you did not? What do you think made the difference?

224 d
What is being said here about mysteries? How does it relate to what was said earlier in chapter 1, section 2, about mystery?

225 a
Can you relate to this analogy with children’s behavior? If so, how?

225 b
During sacramental ceremonies, have you sometimes felt yourself being spiritually touched or moved in a more Christlike direction? Can you recall at least one such experience?

Have you felt yourself being spiritually touched or moved when reading the Bible or when listening to a sermon? Can you recall at least one such experience?

225 c
How many of these experienced mysteries can you relate to? Give a personal example of one of them.

225 d
Would you say your parish church has spirit or not? Why would you say that?

226 a
Have you attended other churches besides your own? How would you describe the spirit you found there? How would you characterize the spirit in your own church?

226 b
Are there groups within your parish that have their own unique spirit? Do they bring that spirit to the liturgy? Do different weekend Masses feel spiritually different to you? How so?

226 c
Would it be possible for a group of Christians in church to have a spirit that is different from the spirit of Christ? Explain your answer.

226 d
Some scripture scholars suggest that the Pharisees in the gospels represent not Jewish leaders in Jesus’ day but church leaders in the first century. Have you ever felt that Christians were behaving like the Pharisees? How so?

227 a
In what sense can ideals be said to be real? Explain your answer.

227 b
Think of a time when you fell short of an ideal that was important to you.

227 c
Can you relate to any of these situations? Think of an example in your own life.

227 d
How do you understand the connection between ideals and norms? How do you think the ideals lived and exemplified by Jesus became scriptural norms?
227 e
How do you imagine the stories about Jesus and his teachings might have been preserved in community worship, even before they were put into written form?

228 a
Why can what is revealed in the scriptures be called kerygmatic and prophetic? Give an example of a scripture passage that has spoken to you.

228 b
Why can what is revealed in the sacraments be called kerygmatic and prophetic? Give an example of a sacramental ritual that has spoken to you.

228 c
Do you think it is misleading to talk about sacraments as though they always do what they are supposed to do? Explain why you say that.

229 a
Do you agree with the claims being made in this paragraph? Why or why not?

229 b
Is this paragraph realistic? Are the things being said here always true? Explain your answer.

229 c
Can you relate what is said in this paragraph to your own experience? If so, talk about a way that things like this have happened to you.

230 a
Describe a time when you have felt connected to people with whom you shared some common experience, or talk about a group with whom you feel such a connection today.

230 b
Have you ever had the experience of feeling a certain connection with someone with whom you had little in common, but with whom you shared common ideas or interests? Describe what that was like.

230 c
Can you think of a time when you felt connected to someone because of common decisions that you both made (for example, choosing a school, buying a car, or adopting a child). Describe what that was like.

230 d
Does this analysis seem accurate to you? Why or why not?

231 a
We can experience community at the level of common experiences, at the level of common ideas, and at the level of common decisions. To which two levels of community are these questions referring? What is the point of asking such questions?

231 b
Are these valid questions? Why or why not?

231 c
A symbol should express what we are, whether as individuals or as a community. Show how this is true for something like a handshake or a family dinner.

231 d
If we do have common experiences with others, why does that not necessarily make us a community? Illustrate what you say with an example from your own experience.

231 e
If we have done things together with others and worked toward common goals with them, why does that not necessarily make us a community? Illustrate what you say with an example from your own experience.

232 a
What do you think about this argument? Give your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with it.

232 b
What is this paragraph trying to say? Try to put it in your own words.

232 c
What is this paragraph trying to say? Put it in your own words, and then explain why you agree or disagree with it.

232 d
Give your own examples of how the following might (or might not) participate in the spiritual reality of truth: saying how you feel; giving your opinion about a work of art; a kiss.

233 a
If a mystery is a spiritual reality that can be experienced, what does it mean to name it in faith? How might it be possible to name a mystery in the faith language of a different religious tradition?

233 b
In the past, how have you understood the phrase, ex opere operato?

233 c
The argument here is that transition rituals can change spiritual realities such as social identity. The scholastics recognized this and talked about it in metaphysical terms (e.g., the sacramental character), but it is possible to talk about the same process in other ways without denying the reality of the changes in question. Do you agree or disagree with this argument, and why?

234 a
Can priestly powers, such as the ability to consecrate the Eucharist and to grant absolution for sins, be real even if they are not thought of as metaphysical realities? Why or why not?

234 b
If everything is a gift from God, is it correct to say that a spiritual reality experienced more intensely in a sacramental ritual is a gift from God—traditionally called charis, gratia, or grace? Is it even proper to say that the heightened experience is a gift or moment of grace? Why or why not?

234 c
In order to agree with this paragraph, you have to be able to distinguish between spiritual realities on the one hand, and the words or phrases that are used to talk about them on the other hand. Are you able to make that distinction? If so, give an example. If not, what do you think is preventing you?

234 d
Do you think these are important questions to ask? Why or why not?

235 a
How would these questions be answered in your own parish?

235 b
How would these questions be answered in your own parish?

235 c
How would these questions be answered in your own parish?

235 d
How would these questions be answered in your own parish?

235 e
How would these questions be answered in your own parish?

236 a
How would these questions be answered in your own parish?

236 b
How would these questions be answered in your own parish?

236 c
Put the ideas in this paragraph into your own words and explain why you agree or disagree with what is being said here.

236 d
Put the ideas in this paragraph into your own words and explain why you agree or disagree with what is being said here.

236 e
Put the ideas in this paragraph into your own words and explain why you agree or disagree with what is being said here.

237 a
Do you have some Protestant friends who talk in ways that Catholics usually do not, or who engage in church-related activities that are different from yours? How would you describe the religious differences between them and you?

237 b
Have you attended non-Catholic church services? How would you describe the spirit of worship in those churches, compared with the spirit of worship in a Catholic church?

238 a
How is the nature of a school, business, or nonprofit organization expressed in what it does? Explain in your own words the idea that what an institution does is symbolic of what it is. Why can it be said that a church signifies or symbolizes what it is by what it does?

238 b
Express in your own words the idea that the seven sacraments are special expressions of the spirit of Catholicism, and so they are distinctive ways that the nature of the Catholic Church can be seen. Explain why you agree or disagree with this idea.

238 c
What are some of the spiritual realities that you would say the Catholic Church tries to incarnate or embody as an institution?

238 d
Put these ideas into your own words and explain why you agree or disagree with them.

239
What do you think about the idea that God communicates with human beings through visible signs, including symbolic rituals? Through what other means might God’s self-revelation take place?

240 a
To what extent are you aware of and proud of your Catholic heritage? Does the church’s history give Catholics a sense of who they are as believers? Should it? Explain what you think.

240 b
What do you think the Catholic Church says about itself by having a liturgical ritual for entering into priestly ministry? What would you say are the institutional beliefs and ideals, values and commitments that are symbolized by the sacrament of holy orders?

240 c
What do you think the Catholic Church says about itself by having a liturgical ritual for entering into wedded life? What would you say are the institutional beliefs and ideals, values and commitments that are symbolized by the sacrament of marriage?

241 a
What do you think the Catholic Church says about itself by having a liturgical ritual for the forgiveness of sins? What would you say are the institutional beliefs and ideals, values and commitments that are symbolized by the sacrament of reconciliation?

241 b
What do you think the Catholic Church says about itself by having a liturgical ritual for ministering to the aged and infirm? What would you say are the institutional beliefs and ideals, values and commitments that are symbolized by the anointing of the sick?

241 c
What do you think the Catholic Church says about itself by having a liturgical ritual such as the sacrament of confirmation? What would you say are the institutional beliefs and ideals, values and commitments that are symbolized by this sacrament?

241 d
What do you think the Catholic Church says about itself by having a liturgical ritual for initiation into the Christian community? What would you say are the institutional beliefs and ideals, values and commitments that are symbolized by the sacrament of baptism?

242 a
Do you agree that the eucharistic liturgy symbolically expresses all these things about the Catholic Church? Why or why not?

What other institutional beliefs and ideals, values and commitments do you see manifested in this sacrament?

242 b
What do you think should be the relationship between an institution’s symbolic representations of itself and the institution’s historical and current reality?

242 c
Do you remember reading about those criticisms in the earlier chapters of this book? What did you think about them at the time?

243 a
Can you think of any other reasons that the church should not get rid of its sacraments even though they do not always accurately represent what is going on in the institution?

243 b
Does this argument sound plausible to you? Why or why not?

243 c
Put into your own words the idea that the sacraments are prophetic symbols, and explain whether or not you agree with this idea.

243 d
Put into your own words the idea that the sacraments are kerygmatic symbols, and explain whether or not you agree with this idea.

243 e
Put into your own words the idea that the sacraments are redemptive symbols, and explain whether or not you agree with this idea.

243 f
Put into your own words the idea that the sacraments are eschatological symbols, and explain whether or not you agree with this idea.

244 a
Do you believe that the sacraments can have a transformative effect on the church as an institution? Why or why not?

244 b
Would you agree that the sacraments give the Catholic Church a unique institutional spirit? Why or why not?

244 c
What do you think about the assertion that it is almost impossible to be a generic Christian, living the way that Jesus taught, without being connected to some church?

244 d
Do you agree with these statements? Why or why not?

245 a
To what extent have you experienced the world becoming smaller during your own lifetime?

245 b
What are some of the characteristics of Western science and technology?


What are some indications that this spirit now reaches around the planet?

245 c
What do you think of the assertion that, according to the teaching of Jesus, our neighbor is anyone we see in need?

245 d
To phrase the question a different way, should our global awareness be permeated by the ideals and values of Jesus if we call ourselves Christians?

245 e
Do you agree that it is wrong to disconnect our Christian beliefs and values from our awareness of all that is going on in the world? Why or why not?

246 a
To what extent does this paragraph describe your inner attitudes?

246 b
If “catholic” means universal, is it a contradiction in terms to call ourselves Catholics and not be concerned about what is going on in the world around us?

246 c
In what ways would you say the church is already a sacrament of salvation?


In what ways might your parish be a sign and instrument of salvation in more ways than it already is?

246 d
Think of some examples from your own life of what is said here about religious experience, ritualism, and legalism.

Does what is said here about salvation square with what you know about church history? How so?

247 a
At what point in your life would you say that you began to develop a global consciousness?

247 b
What is this paragraph trying to say? Do you agree with it?

248 a
How much do you know about the history of Catholic social teaching?

How much have you thought about the social justice issues mentioned here?

248 b
What is the theological task being proposed here? State it in your own words.

249 a
What is the argument being presented here? Do you agree with it or not?

249 b
What do you think of this summary of the meaning of baptism?

249 c
Which of these implications of baptism would you agree with? Which ones not? Explain your thinking.

250 a
What do you think of this summary of the meaning of confirmation?

250 b
Which of these implications of confirmation would you agree with? Which ones not? Explain your thinking.

250 c
What do you think of this summary of the meaning of sacramental reconciliation?

251 a
Which of these implications of reconciliation would you agree with? Which ones not? Explain your thinking.

251 b
What do you think of this summary of the meaning of sacramental anointing?

252 a
Which of these implications of sacramental anointing would you agree with? Which ones not? Explain your thinking.

252 b
What do you think of this summary of the meaning of marriage?

252 c
Which of these implications of sacramental marriage would you agree with? Which ones not? Explain your thinking.

253 a
What do you think of this summary of the meaning of ordination?

253 b
What do you think of this summary of the meaning of ministry?

253 c
Which of these implications of ordination would you agree with? Which ones not? Explain your thinking.

253 d
What do you think of this summary of the meaning of Eucharist?

254 a
Which of these implications of eucharistic worship would you agree with? Which ones not? Explain your thinking.

254 b
What do you think of this summary of what it means to be a Christian?

254 c
Do you agree with this summary of liturgical history and the recent reforms? Why or why not?

255 a
What is the argument being presented here? What do you think about it?

255 b
What is the argument being presented here? What do you think about it?

256
What is the vision of the future being presented here? What do you think about it?

Last modified: Saturday, 16 May 2015, 12:41 AM