Book launch of ‘Shaping the Assembly’

August 29, 2023 in News

John F. Baldovin SJ, Professor of Historical and Liturgical Theology at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, was a guest speaker at the book launch of Shaping the Assembly: How our Buildings Form us in Worship (Messenger Publications) at St Patrick’s Pontifical University, Maynooth on 9 August 2023. The launch took place during the international conference of the Societas Liturgica that promoted the study and development of liturgy and worship in an ecumenical forum.

Professor Baldovin is an internationally recognised expert on liturgy and is a contributor to the book that tries to answer the question of how space affects people in worship.

In his presentation, Professor Baldovin gave a few introductory words about the book. Referring to the intentions of editor Thomas O’Loughlin and his collaborators, he said: “In the light of the modern liturgical reform our liturgical space needs to be so arranged that we can meet one another as the Body of Christ.”

Professor Baldovin started by giving an example of a church in Tampa, Florida that “hearkens back to a pre-Vatican II spatial arrangement” with the addition of altar rails for the purposes of communion on one’s knees. He said, “This chapel is sadly a statement that the only way for the Roman Catholic Church to go forward is to go back”.

He moved on to present a variety of spaces described and pictured in the book’s collection that makes “the celebration of the post-Vatican II liturgy a living reality”.

For example, he spoke of the arrangement of the convent chapel in Vence, France which is filled with ‘bottles of light’; a church in San Jose, California in the form of a Greek cross which was re-organised in a central plan; and the renovation of St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford with clean lines in a traditional configuration that invite the assembly to active participation.

Professor Baldovin included his own Jesuit community chapel in Boston that was reconfigured to make it more accommodating to the liturgical reform. It was transformed from what he called a ‘bowling alley’ to a choir-style arrangement whereby the whole Body of Christ face each other in worship.

Click here to read the full presentation (with photos) ».